Gunshot Decibels range between 140 to 169 decibels
As a firearm enthusiast, I’m often asked how loud a gunshot sounds. The answer depends on many factors, including the type of weapon used, the distance to the source of the sound, and the type of target. For example, a pistol shot at close range is much louder than the same shot fired from a rifle at a greater distance.
A gunshot, or “firecracker” as it’s often called, is a loud noise made by a firearm. It is typically measured in decibels (dB). In the United States, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that all workers wear hearing protection when working with firearms.
The decibel level of a gunshot can vary depending on the type of gun and the distance from which it is measured. In general, gunshots are loud, with decibel levels ranging from 140 to 169 dB. For comparison, a jet engine at takeoff produces about 140 dB of noise, and a loud rock concert can reach levels of around 115 dB.
It is important to note that the decibel scale is logarithmic, which means that a small increase in decibel level corresponds to a large increase in perceived loudness. For example, a gunshot with a decibel level of 169 dB is much louder than a gunshot with a decibel level of 140 dB, even though the difference between the two levels is only 20 dB.
Exposure to loud noises, including gunshots, can cause hearing loss, so it is important to protect your ears when you are around loud noises.
- Shotgun gunshot: 155 dB
- Rifle gunshot: 158 dB
- Pistol gunshot: 158 dB
Highest gunshot decibels by caliber (shotguns):
- 12 ga. (3” ammo) w/choke – 161.5 dB
- 10 ga. (3.5” ammo) – 161.4 dB
- 12 ga. (3” ammo) w/o choke – 161.0 dB
- 12 ga. (hunting ammo) – 161 dB
- 12 ga. (3” ammo) – 160.1 dB
- 12 ga. (2.75” ammo) – 159.7 dB
Highest gunshot decibels by caliber (rifles):
- 7 mm Magnum – 166.5 dB
- .30-06 caliber – 163.6 dB
- .270 caliber – 161.9 dB
- .243 caliber – 160.6 dB
- .45-70 caliber – 160.1 dB
- .50 caliber (black powder) – 159.7 dB
Highest gunshot decibels by caliber (pistols):
- .357 – 169 dB
- .44 caliber – 168.8 dB
- .22 blank – 165.3 dB
- .38 caliber – 164.7 dB
- 9 mm caliber – 163 dB
- .40 caliber – 159 dB
How Many Decibels Is A Gunshot? FAQs
Can gunshot damage hearing?
Yes, exposure to loud noises, such as gunshots, can damage hearing. The risk of hearing damage increases with the decibel level of the noise and the duration of exposure. Gunshots are typically very loud noises, with decibel levels ranging from 140 dB to 169 dB or higher. This level of noise can cause immediate hearing damage if a person is close enough to the source of the noise, or if the person is exposed to the noise for an extended period of time.
Hearing damage from loud noises can be temporary or permanent. Temporary hearing loss may resolve on its own over time, but permanent hearing loss is irreversible. The risk of hearing damage can be reduced by wearing ear protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs, when firing a firearm or when working in a noisy environment. It is important to protect your hearing to prevent long-term hearing loss.
How loud is a gunshot?
The decibel level of a gunshot can vary depending on the type of gun and the distance from which it is measured. The maximum gunshot decibels are 169 by a .357 pistol while the lowest decibels are 155 dB by a Shotgun.
What’s the difference between a shotgun and a revolver?
Shotguns are long-barreled weapons that are usually fired from a bench rest, while revolvers are shorter and lighter.
What Hearing Protection To Use?
There are several types of hearing protection that can be used to reduce the risk of hearing damage from loud noises, such as gunshots. Some options include:
- Earplugs: Earplugs are small plugs that are inserted into the ear canal to block out noise. They can be disposable or reusable and are typically made of foam or silicone. Earplugs can be effective at reducing noise, but they may be less convenient to use than other types of hearing protection because they require the user to insert them into the ear canal.
- Earmuffs: Earmuffs are devices that fit over the ears and block out noise. They typically have a headband that fits over the top of the head and cushioned cups that cover the ears. Earmuffs are easy to use and can be adjusted for a secure fit, but they may be less effective at blocking out noise than earplugs.
- Noise-canceling headphones: Noise-cancelling headphones use active noise-cancellation technology to reduce background noise. They are designed to be worn over the ears and can be effective at blocking out noise, but they may not be as effective at blocking out very loud noises, such as gunshots.
It is important to choose hearing protection that is appropriate for the level of noise you will be exposed to and that is comfortable to wear. It is also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and to replace the hearing protection if it becomes damaged or worn.