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Decibel Ranking of Airguns



DISCLAIMER
Before you view the results, we should explain our motivations for conducting the decibel tests and the conditions that existed during the testing phase. First , the motivation for conducting the decibel tests. For starters, let me say that trying to define sound is a very subjective thing. One man's "loud" is another man's "quiet".  Why is that relevant? Because many of our customers want to know how loud one gun is compared to another. And that is a terribly difficult thing to explain in a meaningful manner. Our goal was to provide a relational look at how loud various airguns are when compared to each other. We were not as concerned with the actual decibel reading as much as we were to the relationship between the guns.

Our tests were simple and practical and any of you can conduct these same tests. We went down to our local Radio Shack store looking for sound measurement devices. The clerk pointed to a decibel meter and said this is what the police use to measure noise and that was good enough for us. Off we went looking for the proper place to conduct sound tests. We looked for an open field surrounded by woods which would form a natural amphitheater without echoes. After finally finding an excellent location, we set up the decibel meter at various distances. At distances of 2, 10, 25 and 50 yds, we fired a series of rounds from each gun. We recorded the numbers and averaged them out to get the decibel rating for each gun. Since most of these gun tests were conducted at the same time and same place with the same weather conditions, we concluded that the readings would give us a scale from the loudest to the quietest. We also measured some common non-gun sounds that would be recognized by most people in the hopes that they would convey some sense of what the decibel numbers from the gun tests actually mean in terms of sound.

AIR RIFLE SOUND TESTS

As I answer questions emailed or phoned in to Straight Shooters, it is very evident that airgunners are immensely interested in two areas of airgun performance. The most common question deals with the power of a particular airgun model. That usually translates to the guns velocity rating. The second concerns the noise level of a particular airgun model. The sheer number of questions about the level of sound/noise led us to conduct the following sound tests on a number of popular airguns.

The tests Craig and I conducted were chosen to respond to the nature of the questions we are asked most commonly about sound and noise. These questions usually fall into the following categories:

· Is XXX gun quiet enough for target shooting in our basement without disturbing the whole family?
· Is XXX gun quiet enough to let me get more than one shot at my quarry without alarming it if I miss?
· I don't want my neighbors to hear me shoot. How loud is XXX gun?
· Which gun is quieter? XXX gun or YYY gun?

In response to these questions, Craig and I tested 19 well known spring airguns at four distances. Point Blank, 10, 25 and 50 yards. We felt that the sound levels captured at the Point Blank and 10 yard ranges would answer the first question. The 25 yard and 50 yard results would provide information for answering the other three questions. All decibel tests were conducted using "A" weighting instead of "C" weighting. "A" weighting is generally used to record the decibel level of a single event while "C" weighting is used to measure continuous noise levels (crowd noise, music etc.). Strings of 10 shots were then averaged, yielding the results below. Tests were conducted outdoors in an open field on a partly cloudy day with winds of 5-10 mph.

Before reading you should be aware that sound/noise is a quite subjective to human hearing. One sound can seem louder than another sound, even though it may not actually measure any louder on a decibel meter.
We don't claim to be acoustical engineers nor are we trying to get into a major scientific discussion. But a simple test shows that bass tones from your stereo carry farther than high tones. The point here is that some sounds seem louder or quieter to us even though they measure the same decibel level. Our idea was to simply find out which guns measured the loudest, the quietest and which gun would be most audible to other people at various distances. What specific animals or birds hear at the same distances is anyone's guess. We took decibel readings of a number of common events to provide a basis of comparison. The following can easily be duplicated at home. All comparison tests were done at a distance of 6 ft.

An Arrow T50 heavy duty stapler into a piece of wood.
97 decibels
A Swingline light duty stapler into a piece of wood
93 decibels
A battery powered 1/2" drill
71 decibels
Closing the door on my SUV (not slammed)
85 decibels
Empty soda can hitting a cement floor from shoulder height
86 decibels
Opening a full soda can
85 decibels
The sound of a doorbell
71 decibels


Interestingly enough, the ranking of most guns in comparison to the other guns varied with the distance. The exception to this was the R7, which remained in 1st place as the quietest gun at all distances. It was very common for a particular gun to move up and down in the comparison rankings at different distances. This may be important if you are concerned about how loud your gun will sound to other people at a certain distance. Be sure to compare how a gun performs at all distances. Results from similar tests conducted by other people may vary slightly. As we said, we are not acoustical engineers although the first person I tried to explain these tests to WAS an acoustical engineer. I found it very embarrassing, although we seemed to be on the right track. Enjoy.

Testing Results
Point Blank (6 ft)
- 19 guns tested. All placed within 7 decibel levels in this category. 1st place = Quietest. 7th place = Loudest
10 Yards (30 ft) - 19 guns tested. All placed within 9 decibel levels in this category. 1st place = Quietest. 9th place = Loudest
25 Yards (75 ft) - 19 guns tested. All placed within 9 decibel levels in this category. 1st place = Quietest. 9th place = Loudest
50 Yards (150 ft) - 19 guns tested. All placed within 8 decibel levels in this category. 1st place = Quietest. 8th place=Loudest

 1st Place
 2nd Place
 3rd Place


To see ranking results for a particular distance click on a different yardage heading.

 
Point Blank
Air Rifles
Decibels
Ranking
Decibels
Ranking
Decibels
Ranking
Decibels
Ranking
R7/HW30S (.177)
88
1st
76
1st
68
1st tie
64
1st
RWS 34 (.22)
90
3rd tie
80
4th
71
3rd tie
69
6th tie
R11/HW98 (.177)
90
3rd tie
83
7th tie
71
3rd tie
66
3rd
HW97 (.177)
90
3rd tie
82
6th tie
72
4th tie
65
2nd
Kodiak/Patriot (.25)
91
4th tie
82
6th tie
80
9th
70
7th tie
TX200  (.177)
91
4th tie
84
8th tie
73
5th tie
67
4th tie
R1/HW80 (.20)
91
4th tie
82
6th tie
73
5th tie
69
6th tie
RX-1/RX-2 (.177)
91
4th tie
82
6th tie
72
4th tie
68
5th tie
R9/HW95 (.177)
91
4th tie
83
7th tie
71
3rd tie
68
5th tie
Kodiak/Patriot (.22)
92
5th tie
85
9th
77
8th
74
8th
R1 (.177)
92
5th tie
83
7th tie
71
3rd tie
68
5th tie
RWS 48 (.22)
93
6th tie
83
7th tie
74
6th tie
68
5th tie
Pro Elite (.177)
94
7th tie
83
7th tie
76
7th
69
6th tie
RX-1/RX-2 (.20)
94
7th tie
84
8th tie
74
6th tie
69
6th tie