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The 5 Most Quiet Pistols or Handguns

In this article, I will examine the concept of “quiet” concerning handguns and explore the factors contributing to noise levels. Additionally, I will explore the intricacies of the firearms mentioned above in terms of their design and capabilities.

Some of the most quiet pistols or handguns include the Browning Buckmark, Ruger (MK II and Single-Six), and Maxim 9. A suppressor and the cartridge choice can greatly impact a handgun’s noise level. Suppressors reduce the sound of a gun to about 30 dB. The .22 caliber is the most low-noise option.

Without further ado, here is a list of the quietest pistols or handguns, compiled from expert opinions and user feedback found online.

1. Browning Buckmark

The Browning Buckmark is known for being one of the quietest pistols available. 

The integrally suppressed barrel helps to greatly reduce the noise of the gun’s firing. In fact, when firing in a backyard with empty cans as targets, the sound of the cans hitting the ground is often louder than the gun itself. 

Browning buckmark

The action of the gun produces a sound similar to tapping a quarter on a laminate table, and the bullet’s impact can only be heard as a faint thumping sound downrange. The overall noise level is estimated to be around 50 decibels.

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2. Ruger MK II

The Ruger MK II is known for its high accuracy, reliability, and stealth. When fitted with a suppressor, the Ruger MK II firing a .22 caliber round is relatively quiet, with a sound level of around 60 decibels, according to sound recordings. 

This means that all you hear is the “clickety-clack” of the pistol action and nothing more. At the point where the bullet hits the target, you will be lucky to hear anything other than a feeble thud. This explains why the gun has been a favorite for Navy seals, Mossad, and reputable hunters from across the globe. 

Ruger MKII

It’s important to note that the Ruger MK II has since been replaced by the Ruger MK III. Mainspring modification is necessary when switching from subsonic to supersonic ammo, or you will have to manually rack the bolt after every shot.

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3. SilencerCo Maxim 9

The SilencerCo Maxim 9 is a revolutionary handgun, the first commercially available option to feature an integrated suppressor. It is classified as hearing-safe with any 9mm ammunition, making it an ideal choice for those who prioritize safety and stealth. 

Despite its size, the Maxim 9 is still manageable and can be holstered, though it may not be considered small. 

Additionally, it utilizes standard Glock magazines, making it a convenient option for those already familiar with this type of ammunition. 

SilencerCo Maxim 9

When using standard Glock magazines, the sound report of the Maxim 9 is below 139 decibels, which is relatively low compared to the average decibel levels of other guns, which can reach up to 165 decibels. 

Furthermore, when using subsonic ammunition, the sound report of the Maxim 9 does not exceed 100 decibels, making it a truly exceptional option for those who prioritize quiet operation.

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4. Ruger Single-Six

The Ruger Single-Six is considered one of the quietest guns due to the minimal noise produced when firing. The .22 short ammunition used in the Single-Six is known for producing a relatively low sound, making it well-suited for indoor or backyard shooting. 

The sound of the gun firing is often described as similar to what one might expect from gunshots on television, significantly quieter than the loud, ear-ringing reports often associated with other firearms.

Ruger Single-Six

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5. Beretta 21A Bobcat Fitted With Suppressor

The Beretta 21A is considered one of the quietest guns when fitted with a suppressor such as Armtac’s Covert or the “Pill Bottle” suppressor by Gemtech. These suppressors are small, about the size of a keychain. 

When paired with the Beretta 21A’s slide lock, they significantly reduce the noise of the gun, making it nearly as quiet as in movies.

Beretta 21A Bobcat

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The following YouTube video provides a detailed explanation of the operation of the Beretta 21A pistol. It is important to note that in the video demonstration, the Beretta 21A is outfitted a suppressor:


What Makes a Firearm “Quiet?”

Firearms are known for being loud, but there is a way to make them “quieter.” This is done using a device called a suppressor, also known as a silencer. 

However, it’s important to note that suppressors are not the only factor that affects the sound produced by a firearm when discharged. 

Other factors include: 

For example, subsonic ammunition will produce less noise than a supersonic one, a longer barrel will produce less noise than a shorter one, and shooting in an open field will produce more noise than shooting in a closed room. 

Understanding these factors can help in reducing the noise produced by a firearm.

Suppressors

When it comes to suppressors, it’s important to note that their portrayal in movies and TV shows, such as James Bond films, is not entirely accurate. 

In reality, suppressors do not make firearms completely silent, and the handgun itself is not the only factor to consider when discussing suppressor technology. It’s also important to note that internally suppressed handguns are a different subject. 

The truth is that suppressors reduce the noise of a firearm, but they are still loud enough to be heard from inside a house or another room if there is no other noise. 

Suppressors can reduce the sound of a handgun’s discharge by 14.3-43 decibels, making them a valuable addition to any shooter’s arsenal. For many years, individuals had to endure the loud and often deafening noise associated with firearms. 

However, the invention of suppressors has greatly improved the shooting experience of people worldwide. 

When it comes to the noise produced by a handgun, a general principle to keep in mind is that the shorter the barrel, the louder the shot will be. 

An extended barrel length can provide several benefits, including:

  • Improved noise reduction 
  • Increased speed 
  • Enhanced accuracy 

However, for this discussion, let us focus specifically on the noise, or report, generated by a handgun.

Related What Is the Best Pistol to Suppress? | What You Need to Know.

Suppressor Technology

A suppressor is a hollow metal tube with holes covered by an expansion chamber. 

The working mechanism of these baffle tubes is pretty simple: they decompress the hot air and high-pressure gases in a baffle area. 

A rifle with a suppressor

Hot compressed gases propelling the bullet enter the expansion chamber via the holes to decompress and cool off before making contact with ambient air. With almost all gases burned within the barrel, you get no flame at the suppressor muzzle. 

The low pressure also prevents secondary combustion as muzzle gases push and collide with the ambient air around the muzzle at the point of exit. The result is less gunshot sound/report and light flashes, both major wins for gun users. 

It’s pretty simple science, but there is more to a suppressor than just a hollow cylinder. Every detail, including material, length, and size, matters.

A longer suppressor will divert more gases and create more time for the gases to decompress, resulting in a quieter shot. 

For example, a shot from a 30-inch (76-cm) 12 gauge Charles Daly Honcho Xl goose gun with a 6-inch (15-cm) long silencer will cause more damage to the ear than the same shot from a 12-inch long (30-cm) silencer. 

As a general rule, the longer and heavier the suppressor, the more tolerable the sound of the shot will be for the shooter and those around them. 

A BERETTA 92X will record fewer decibels with an 8-inch (20-cm) suppressor than a shorter 5-inch (13-cm) suppressor because of the increased length of the barrel. 

The Suppressor Length Factor

When considering a suppressor for a firearm, it’s natural to want to choose the longest option available. However, it’s important to remember that not all suppressor lengths will provide positive outcomes. 

Even for equal gauge handguns, the length of compatible suppressors will depend on the bullet cartridge chambering. This is a complex issue that I will delve into in more depth later. 

However, it’s worth noting that due to the higher velocity of a handgun, centerfire ammunition typically requires longer suppressors in the 6-8 inch (15-20 cm) range, while rimfire ammunition requires shorter suppressors in the 5-6 inch (13-15 cm) range. 

Therefore, it’s essential to carefully consider the type of ammunition used, the barrel length, and the suppressor length to achieve the best noise reduction possible.

For rifles and shotguns, you will find 6″, 8″, 10″ and 12″ (15, 20, 25, and 30 cm) suppressor configurations depending on the number of baffles. 

Other important considerations to make when sourcing a gun suppressor are:

  • Whether your gun has a threaded barrel: You won’t be able to fit a suppressor if your gun does not have a threaded barrel.
  • Proper sights: Most suppressors will interfere with a gun’s proper sightings. Longer suppressors are more notorious for sight interference. Ensure to get a suppressor that causes the least interference to the line of sight.
  • Cycle springs: Ensure that you have proper spring weights; otherwise, you might have a quiet pistol that has to be cycled by hand after every shot.
  • Manufacturer-fitted suppressors: Also known as integral suppressors, check whether your rifle already has a manufacturer-fitted suppressor. You will not be able to fit a second if one already exists.  

Subsonic Ammunition

An alternative option for a quieter gun is to acquire subsonic ammunition. This option is not only more effective but also more expensive. 

While suppressors may effectively reduce noise, they can become bulky and hot over time and still produce noticeable sound. 

Subsonic ammunition is specifically designed for performance below the speed of sound. Any cartridge that propels its bullet at speeds below 100 feet (30 meters) per second, depending on atmospheric pressure and elevation, can be considered subsonic. 

As a result, the characteristic sonic boom or high-pitched crack, commonly associated with traditional ammunition, is eliminated. Subsonic rounds utilize gunpowder specifically optimized for subsonic performance.

Related How Much Does Ammo Cost? | Detailed Price Analysis.

Recently, there has been a resurgence in the use of subsonic ammunition, as evidenced by sales trends. This resurgence can be attributed to the fact that subsonic ammunition, when used in conjunction with a suppressor, produces extremely minimal noise. 

Additionally, subsonic ammunition has the added benefits of mild recoil and minimal flash. These features make it an ideal option for both hunting and self-defense purposes. 

When it comes to subsonic cartridges, some options to consider include the following: 

  • .450 Bushmaster
  • .458 SOCOM
  • .45-70 Gov’t
  • .350 Legend
  • .45 ACP 

It’s worth noting that this is not a comprehensive list of the best subsonic cartridges but a starting point for those new to the field. 

As a beginner, it is recommended to avoid cartridges such as the .300 magnums and .338 Lapua as they have larger case sizes, which can result in higher velocities and inconsistent spin, thereby increasing the likelihood of muzzle strikes.