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Bite The Bullet

Silencing the debate (2009-06-19)

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There has long been a raging debate in the airsoft community of the effectiveness of silencers on airsoft guns, with some manufacturers claiming them to reduce the muzzle report by as much as 75%, and a large group of the community saying they have no effect at all. To set this debate to rest (or at least provide some sort of middle ground test result) once and for all, We here at Redwolf conducted a test of our own, with a range of 10 different muzzle devices.

Firstly, we needed a test platform. For this we requisitioned a Tokyo Marui M4A1 AEG. At $273 and 280 fps, this is a popular gun with both new and seasoned veterans of airsoft due to it's adaptability, ergonomics and vast array of aftermarket accessories available. It has a 14mm counter-clockwise thread, convenient for mounting muzzle devices.

As a control, we included a standard m4 birdcage flash hider. This would give us the noise level that the AEG produced on its own and give us something to compare the silenced noise levels to.

We used several products from madbull as they have several interesting muzzle devices. Firstly the Madbull Noise-Maker (otherwise known as the Crazy Bull) which allows you to screw a PET bottle to the end of your gun. According to the packaging the device makes a good silencer when an uncut bottle is screwed into it with a hole for the BB drilled into the end. So that's what we did.

We used Madbull's Gemtech G5 Silencer to test as it is rather unique. Instead of the usual foam inserts to silence the muzzle report, the Madbull Gemtech G5 uses felt inserts. These are much more durable and sound dampening than foam and it will make an interesting comparison to see how this stacks up against other silencers.

Lastly from Madbull we also tested Madbull's KX3 Noveske Amplifier flash hider to see if that did as was advertised.

To test whether thicker diameter silencers make better silencers we used king arms silencers. This was because they have a convenient range of silencers in both normal and 'slim' variations. Their normal range of 'light weight' silencers is 40mm in diameter and their 'slim' range of silencers are 30mm in diameter. We chose a middle ground length of 200mm as a length for both the slim and the fat silencer. While a 10mm difference in diameter may not seem like much, it makes a large difference in the volume of the silencer with the fat silencer having 80% more volume than the slim one.

To test the effect of length on silencing ability, we used G&P's Stubby silencer, and G&P's extra long M16 silencer. Both of these are foam filled silencers with low density foam inserts a.cting as sound dampening material. The stubby silencer is only 90mm long while the M16 silencer is 230mm long. The M16 silencer is a very nice piece of kit with a choice of markings available and a nifty QD system that is spring loaded to detach and attach very fast. It also comes with it's own stylish Vortex flash hider compatible with the QD system.

In order to se whether it's just the effect of having a device at the end of your gun that makes the difference, we chose to test a non-silencing tracer silencer from Tokyo Marui. This silencer was not designed to silence at all but rather to illuminate passing BBs in order to make specialized tracer BBs glow. This is a spectacular event to watch during low light situations and a nice accessory for frequent night-gamers.

The PFI smoke cap silencer is another muzzle device not designed specifically for silencing but to ad a smoke effect as each blast of air leaves the muzzle. We included this to test as it works in a similar way to some particular suppressors on real steel guns.

Now with all the equipment ready we then tested the noise output for all the silencers.

All values below are in Decibels.

M4 Birdcage Flash hider Madbull Noise-Maker Madbull KX3 Noveske Amplifier

King Arms 30mm Diameter

King Arms 40mm Diameter G&P Stubby Silencer G&P Long Silencer Tokyo Marui Tracer Silencer PFI Smoke Cap Silencer Madbull Gemtech G5 Silencer
90.8 88.8 88.6 89.3 87.2 89.6 88.8 89.9 89.2 88.0
89.0 86.1 92.3 88.9 83.4 84.9 87.4 87.7 85.1 86.5
86.2 85.7 94.5 88.0 87.0 87.5 84.2 89.0 89.3 85.2
86.0 91.4 90.1 89.0 84.6 83.7 87.8 88.3 90.2 86.7
89.6 88.5 94.1 89.7 86.4 85.5 83.6 88.7 86.4 85.7
avg: 88.3 avg: 88.1 avg: 91.9 avg: 89.0 avg: 85.7 avg: 86.2 avg: 86.4 avg: 88.7 avg: 88.0 avg: 86.4

The average background noise during the test was 50db and bear in mind that an AEG was used so some noise also came from the motor and gearbox.

Next we subtract the base noise created by the control (88.3db from the M4 with Birdcage Flash hider) from all the other values to find the sound amplitude difference created by the silencers.

M4 Birdcage Flash hider Madbull Noise-Maker Madbull KX3 Noveske Amplifier

King Arms 30mm Diameter

King Arms 40mm Diameter G&P Stubby Silencer G&P Long Silencer Tokyo Marui Tracer Silencer PFI Smoke Cap Silencer Madbull Gemtech G5 Silencer
0 -0.2 +3.6 +0.7 -2.6 -2.1 -1.9 +0.4 -0.3 -1.9

From these results we can see that the most effective silencers were the King Arms fat silencer closely followed by the G&P stubby silencer, initially suggesting that size doesn't really have much to do with the ability to silence.

We can also see that apart from the noise maker and the slim silencer, all the silencers that were designed to silence actually did, immediately dispelling the myth that silencers do nothing. On a similar note, the Madbull Noveske KX3 Amplifier did it's job exceptionally well with the muzzle report being 3.6db louder.

From the two King Arms silencers the results support the conclusion that fatter silencers make better silencers presumably because of a larger volume, but that is not the case. the G&P silencers say otherwise with that larger volumed M16 silencer being 0.2db louder, although that number is statistically to small to say it is significantly louder. Therefore we can conclude that at least for airsoft, fatter silencers, not longer ones, make better silencers.