Silencers on a firearm are used to reduce the gunshot sound that emanates from the barrel when shooting. A gunshot’s loud sound comes from the explosion and rapid expansion of gasses caused by the ignition of the bullet’s gun powder. When a silencer is fitted to the weapon, the internal baffles (walls) of the silencer slowdown and reduce the energy of the escaping gasses, thus reducing the level of noise heard from the gun.
However, airsoft guns don’t have exploding gunpower or gasses which need slowing down, so do silencers actually work on airsoft guns?
First of all, you need to understand how airsoft guns work and how the noise from one is generated. There are 2 key components of an AEG which produces noise. There’s the noise caused by the motor spinning and the gears engaging, producing a “whhrr” sound. Then there’s the noise caused by the piston firing forward and hitting the front of the gearbox to compress the air, producing a “thwack”.
The problem with these noises if that they’re primarily transmitted from the receiver of the AEG. The noise emanates from there and is therefore very difficult to silence or remove entirely with a simple suppressor.
What does a silencer do to an AEG?
A small amount of noise from the AEG is emitted from the barrel and this sound can be effectively removed or suppressed by an airsoft suppressor. The suppressors are often filled with foam to further reduce the sound. However, the sound which comes from the gearbox remains.
A suppressor on the barrel will, however, adjust the sound signature of the airsoft gun. It may make the sound of the gun sound like a quieter “pop” than a louder “thwack”.
What about other airsoft gun types?
Spring rifles (like sniper rifles) are rather quiet guns already. However, if you think you need to make it even quieter, a suppressor can bring this muzzle volume down slightly. It’ll change the sound and make it harder to pin-point its exact origin.
Since these guns don’t have a loud gearbox, there’s almost no noise that comes from the operation of the weapon, it’s simply the piston smacking the front of the cylinder.
Combine a quality suppressor with an air-break or a sorbothane padded cylinder head, and the rifle can be made to be almost silent past 30+ meters.
Gas blow back weapons are hard to suppress. The majority of their sound comes from the actual back and forth operation of the weapon, not the expanding gasses. Providing the weapon is well maintained and clean, a suppressor again, will change the muzzle report and make it harder to pinpoint but there’s only so much you can do to reduce the sound of its operation.
How to make your gun quieter
Making your airsoft gun quieter is all about tuning it to work as effectively and as efficiently as possible. Sound is energy, and any energy not going into the creation of BBs down range is wasted energy.