Even in gun-crazy America, most of us aren't shooting things as part of our day-to-day routine. So most Americans actually know very little about guns. Hollywood writers realized this a long time ago and, being writers, used it as an excuse to never do any fact-checking ever again.
5Silencers Turn Gunfire Into a Gentle Whisper
Where You've Seen It:
In The Line Of Fire, Die Hard 2, No Country For Old Men, Shooter, practically every James Bond movie.
Cautious spies and assassins know that if you're going to take out a bad guy in an office or a library, be sure to use a silencer. It turns the concussive "bang" into a neutered "ptew."
Itty-bitty handguns aren't the only things you can silence. Giant freaking shotguns can even be fitted with a special silencer that renders them inaudible in quiet suburban neighborhoods.
Also, while silencers look all slick and expensive and fancy, Hollywood says pretty much any long, hollow tube will do the job. Grab a two-liter, stuff it with socks or something, and you can be just as dangerous as Mark Wahlberg in Shooter.
Exploding gunpowder is loud. Really loud. As loud as a jet engine. A little metal tube won't do a whole lot to stop that. This is what a suppressed handgun actually sounds like:
If you can't watch the video, let us sum it up: It still sounds like a freaking handgun. It does not make a soft phut that you could mistake for a kitten landing on a pillow.
An unsilenced gunshot is around 140 to 160 decibels--that's in the range where hearing it once can permanently damage your ears. If you've never had a gun go off next to you, trust us when we say it's loud enough that your whole body will flinch at the sound of it. A silencer can get that all the way down to 120 or 130 decibles, aka the sound of a jackhammer. Still loud enough to cause physical pain if it's close enough to you.
So a silencer really just makes a large gun sound like a smaller gun. If you're James Bond and are sneaking into the enemy's compound with a silenced pistol, you're basically hoping the guards will decide your gun is too small and wimpy to be a serious threat, and leave you be.
Many a GoldenEye guard made this mistake.
So why the hell do silencers even exist? Well, if you're in an outdoor, noisy environment, they can make quite a bit of difference. Specifically, they make it really hard to tell where exactly the shot is coming from, or how far away it is.
And as for silenced shotguns? They do exist. Here's one in action:
Yeah, that actually seemed to make it louder.