|Posted on April 22, 2010 at 3:04 PM|
As I’ve mentioned previously, this season of 24 has been just one shameful, long, tediously unbelievable train wreck. I’m still watching, but now it’s with the same amount of enthusiasm of a self-hating fattie that is just trying to complete the task of making it to the bottom of that gallon container of ice cream so they can move on to the shame phase of the evening. Now I’m not even angered/insulted by the ridonkulous. I just shrug off the absurdly incredible. Secret Russian mole in the paramedic corps that is inexplicably on scene with impeccable timing to kill the terrorist before he can talk? Meh. Sniper perfectly set up with a giant, fully scoped-out weapon resting on a bi-pod that misses a clear shot from like 50 yards? Whatever. 24, you can NO LONGER shock, hurt or surprise me. In fact, I’m fully ready and expecting them to rip off Chloe’s face and have Austin Powers say, “She’s a man, Man!” and then have Jack wake up and declare that it was all just a dream...
So, we’re watching an episode of Flash Forward the other night, which has yet to truly leap off the rails into the insane, and there is a scene where a bad guy walks into a YMCA styled dorm room packed with a bunch of sleeping people. He creeps up to someone, whips out a pistol and pfooot! pfooot! pfooot! puts three silenced rounds into a guy’s chest. No one stirs, and he leaves.
This got me to thinking…just how quiet IS a silenced weapon? And is it even possible to silence a large caliber sniper rifle? Now I don’t know these answers, but what I DO know is who to reach out to, my cousin, Chris, ex-member of SEAL Team 7. (And was invited to come and "interview" with SEAL 6 in Dam Neck, those bad-asses that took down Bin Laden.) He’s cycled through *several* tours and been on multiple direct action missions. So HE has experience handling silenced weapons. (If you ever find yourself in the fortunate position of having Chris in your wedding party, you can count on him *totally* having your pack with a discreetly concealed weapon. You know, in case your soon-to-be-wife issues some crazy last second demand or the minister mis-pronounces your name too many times.)
So, I asked Chris to shed some light on silenced weapons, you know, in case you ever got a need to do some killin’, errr, clandestine target practice. Here’s what he had to say:
"With silenced weapons, there are four issues to deal with. First is the noise from the explosion of the round going off in the chamber. It makes noise and that noise exits through the barrel. Second, if the bullet is traveling very fast (around 1100 feet per second) it makes a "sonic boom" or crack as it moves through the air. Third, the action of the gun (if you're shooting an auto) makes noise as it ejects the spent casing and reloads a fresh round. Fourth, is muzzle flash. A surprisingly large amount of flame comes out of the muzzle as ignited powder clears the barrel."
"Suppressors muffle some of the explosive noise, reduce the flash significantly (which is huge at night, especially if you are shooting out of a darkened building, window, etc.), and some are designed to slow the bullet down to 1,000 fps. You lose energy doing that, but gain some quietness. They also make subsonic ammo which is quieter to shoot. Not much that you can do about the noise of the action unless you are shooting a bolt action rifle, or something that's not an auto."
"So folks sleeping through a shooting in the same room is impossible to believe."
"Depending on what kind of weapon you're shooting (pistol vs sub machine gun (submachine gun, by the way, means a rifle that shoots a pistol cartridge - HK MP5, Thompson Machine Gun, etc.) vs assault rifle, vs bolt gun), you are going to hear differing amounts of noise. The HK MP5SD is a suppressed gun that's built at the factory that way. It's one of the quieter suppressed weapons that I've heard, but it's still loud enough that I'm worried about waking up people in the neighborhood if I'm shooting out lights, or trying to kill a dog in a yard before I enter it. I'd shoot it without ear protection, but it makes a lot of noise in the quiet of the night. Even shooting an M4 (JS: a favorite of spec operators) with a silencer is still pretty loud. I don't like to shoot this without ear protection."
"As for guys shooting heavier weapons with suppressors, yes it's happening. Some is to diffuse the sound when sniping in an urban environment, hey anything helps, and as important is to reduce that muzzle flash. In the dark, the muzzle flash will completely light up a room, giving away your position."
JS: Sonically, how would you describe the sound of a silenced pistol? It is always kind of muffled, high-pitched "pfooot" sound in films. I've read it described more like the sound of slamming a book down on a counter.
"As for the 'pfooot' sound in films, that’s not anything that I've ever heard. As for a silenced pistol, it so depends on where you are and the ambient noise around you. A heavy book, flatly hitting a table, is pretty accurate, but think about how that would sound in your living room in the middle of the night, with no other noise, compared to how it would sound on a busy street at noon, with traffic."
JS: I've also read that the MP5SD is quite quiet, and that the noisiest part of the whole shooting is the clicking metal, mechanicals of the slide system cycling. So, would shooting this be louder than a hand clap?
"The MP5SD is probably the quietest suppressed weapon that I've heard, and you can definitely hear the action working, which is strange to hear because this sound is almost always covered by the noise of the discharge with all other weapon systems you shoot. But it's still not something that you would shoot in your living room without everyone noticing. Might be able to shoot it out of a van with other noise around you and not have it detected. So yes, louder than a hand clap."
Awesome! Thanks, Chris! So, the next time you see any of the JB boys -- James Bond, Jason Bourne, or Jack Bowers -- tap someone out in a room full of people without raising an eyebrow, you can chuckle (oh so softly as to not wake the guy you’re sneaking up on) to yourself and know that Chris is still out there. Doing the hard things for real. Hoo-yah!