Why are some sniper rifles so loud?

Wouldn’t that give away one’s position more than neccesary? Granted, if the bullet is travelling any faster than 1100 fps or so, the round has already passed through the target by the time the report reaches it, so the bad guy didn’t hear a thing. Does sound suppression interfere with accuracy that much? Is the report vague enough as far as determining it’s point of origin? For arguments sake, let’s use the super magnum as a frame of reference.

My WAG would be they are loud because they need to be. The rifle is firing a relatively large round (it’s no .223) over a large distance. This means a large amount of powder and a long barrel. I don’t see how you can have that equation and not have a loud discharge.

But who cares? At the distance you’re using the rifle those on the receiving end (if there is more than one person) might hear the report, but they won’t be able to figure out the direction. With any luck there will be other noise on the battlefield that will cover the report completely.

Another factor is that rifle bullets are supersonic, and create a mini sonic boom as they fly past. Even if you could completely silence the initial blast (which you can’t), the bullet itself would still make noise.

According to Major John Plaster in The Ultimate Sniper, the disadvantages of suppressing a sniper rifle outweigh the advantages for most situations. Suppressors add weight and often degrade accuracy. Also, in any weapon that fires a supersonic projectile, the bullet itself makes a sonic boom unless you reduce it to subsonic velocity. That translates to decreased range and effectiveness.
A skilled sniper team relies more on cammo and “shoot and scoot” tactics than anything else. They fire from concealed positions, from outside the effective range of the personal arms used by most soldiers, and seldom fire more than one shot from the same location. Enemies get very little opportunity to localize where the sound of the shot that killed poor Billy/Ivan/Habib came from. By the time they do figure it out, the sniper team is gone.

Damn! I thought I heard (on The History Channel?) that new technology in sniper rifles makes it very difficult to detect the direction from which the shot is fired.

I think I mentioned this in a previous sniper thread and no one commented. Do so or I’ll shoot. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I’m just thinking out loud, but a gunshot is a short, loud sound. Even if you’re expecting to hear one, a single shot will be difficult to localize to a direction.

I don’t know anything about sound suppression on modern sniper rifles.

But then, this link suppression of high power rifles makes it seem like it is possible.

      • There’s a few reasons: adding or removing a silencer would change the gun’s point-of-impact, sniper calibers need to be high-speed flat-shooting calibers that don’t benefit much from a silencer anyway, a permanently-attached silencer would be one more part that could possibly fail, and the ranges that a sniper rifle are used at means that conventional small arms can’t effectively return fire anyway.
  • Certainly there are sniper rifles that are threaded, and you can put a silencer on (if you had one). But normally the (relatively small) discharge noise is not a major concern.

And why so heavy? 15 lbs? That’s heavier than my bike and I can kill people with my bike at 1400 meters!

What weighs 15 pounds? The rifle? The suppressor? Both together? Unless we are talking about a .50 caliber rifle, 15 pounds is excessive for a sniper rifle. They must have enough weight to allow them to be held steadily but they must not weigh so much that they are burdensome for the sniper to carry while stalking the target (which can take some time and is strenuous itself).

The rifle report or explosive sound is the result of the release of high pressure gasses as the bullet exits the muzzle.
Different guns & cartridges account for differences in the sound.
Sound suppressors affect accuracy to some degree.
Flash supressors OTOH hide the flash to minimize visual detection of the guns position.

The Super Magnum taken for exmple in the OP. Without telescope and empty.

15lbs isn’t at all heavy for a sniper rifle, in fact that’s almost exactly what a Reminton 700 with a big scope and bipod weighs.

Other than the truly monstrous ones, the weight of the rifle actually isn’t particularly important most of the time, compared to the weight of the ammunition(machine gun ammunition in particular), and other items.

Really? Neither my 700 BDL or 700VSSF came in anywhere near that with scope, bipod and sling. Depending on the model, the 700 weighs 7 to 8 pounds or so. You must be using some seriously heavy glass.

Don’t have my copy of Plaster’s book in front of me, but IIRC he recommended a weight in the 8 to 10 lb. range.

A review of this page shows that there are 15+ pound sniper rifles in use. I do note that many of those are autoloaders or use a cartridge larger than the 7.62 NATO. Further, the page only lists them, it doesn’t discuss which ones are most commonly used.

On the site you posted:

M24 SWS: 12.4lbs unloaded without scope.

M40A3: 16.5lbs (presumably with scope)

M40A1: 14.45lbs (also presumably with scope)

All Rem 700 based.

Harris Gunworks M-86 11.5 pounds
**Tango 51 **10.8 pounds
Bravo 51 11 pounds
Genesis 9.5 pounds

All also from that page, 700-based and well under 15 pounds.

Once again, the better question is “What does the average sniper rifle used by real world military/police weigh?” rather than “What do these rifles marketed as sniper rifles weigh?”

In that case, I must respectfully point out that all my examples are standard issue rifles in widespread use within the US armed forces, while the examples you propose are all exotic civilian rifles, with at best very limited use amongst specialized units(only the M86, as far as I can tell makes the “used by SEALS” claim) .

Good point. This is a topic that deserves further research and better references than web pages. I’ll have to root out my copies of Small Arms of the World and Jane’s Guide to Firearms ID and see whether I’m off base due to being too much influenced by Plaster.

To elaborate on this, any relitivly light weight high-powered rifle barrel flexes under the acceleration of recoil, starting before the bullet leaves the barrell. Attaching any heavy object to the muzzle will shift the point of impact, and quite likely adversly change it’s ability to “group” all shots into a small cluster. At least one manufacturer of sporting rifles offers an adjustable muzzle weight for this reason.cite

Sniper rifles shouldn’t be loud. I mean, if you’re toting a bright fuchsia rifle, how are you supposed to sneak around in the forest? Muted colors are the way to go.

The Barrett rifle information on the page linked to in your link, is out-of-date. When I worked with Amalgamated Moron Manufacturing, we made prototype components for Barrett rifles. The muzzle brake in that photo is the old model which is about the size of a deck of cards. The new muzzle brake is roughly four times larger and weighs considerably more. The flash suppressor was even bigger and heavier (it also tended to crack during heat treating). And they’re very popular with folks in police/military circles.