[3/6/17] Most of the time when shooters are looking for quiet firearms, they will look for something on which they can mount a suppressor. That is all fine and well if you live in one of the 42 states where silencers are legal and if you can shell out the money ($250 -$1500) for a proper suppressor plus $200 for the permission slip from the ATF. Even if you go the form 1 route to make your own, there are still material costs and once again the $200 tax stamp.
However, if you stop and think about it, there are a number of firearms that are “quiet” in their own right. They may not give you the level of comfort experienced by shooting a suppressed rifle or pistol all day, but a handful of shots from one of these will definitely not “ring your ears” — and some are as quiet as an air rifle.
1. Mosin Nagant M91/30. If your Mosin’s barrel has been cut down in any way or is something like an M91/59 or M44, please do not attempt this, as you will go deaf. I found out by accident on the M91/59.
I had been testing a group of rifles, three suppressed and one unsuppressed. After replacing a target from a suppressed string of fire from an M1A, I went back to my bench and picked up a Mosin Nagant M91/30 sniper rifle.
After charging the rifle with a stripper clip of copper-washed military surplus (milsurp) ammo, I fired a shot. Then I fired another and another and finally realized that my ear protection was sitting on the bench next to me. My ears were not ringing. Out of curiosity, I cranked off another shot. My ears still were not ringing.
Since much of the noise from a gunshot has to do with the combustion of the powder before the bullet has left the barrel, I came to the conclusion that the powder charge was well-contained within the optimal length of the barrel. Coupled with the fact that the long 29-inch barrel was putting that signature about three-feet away from my ears meant I could shoot that all day with no indication of tinnitus.
Make no mistake, if you shoot something like this, people from a mile away may hear it, but you probably will not damage your eardrums if you have no ear pro.
2. Beretta M950. It seems like yesterday that these pistols were everywhere. It was a distinctive-looking, small 22 Short semi-auto pistol with a tip-up barrel. However, these pistols were notoriously quiet because there is just not a whole lot of powder in a 22 Short case. Fully extended, that barrel is going to be three feet away from my eardrums, even if I use the longer 4-inch version.
I used mine about 12 years ago to shoot a field mouse on the back porch. No ears rang, no neighborhood dogs barked, no neighbors came out to investigate and no police were called. The sound signature is like a pellet gun.