The Better Sound of Gunfire from Downrange

I tried this before, but the camera/recorder I used then was equipped with AGC circuitry, and the extremely wide dynamic range of gunfire made for an unsatisfactory result.  This time I used a dedicated, stereo sound recorder with no compression.

Because the sound of live fire, even from the 400 yard distance in this example, has such a wide dynamic range, you need to crank up your speaker volume very high.  You’ll need a high quality sound system, or some good headphones with good frequency response, from low bass to the upper highs.  You should be able to clearly hear the sound of the rushing creek in the distance between shots, and the high-frequency bullet crack should almost hurt your ears.  Warning;  Make absolutely sure your computer or other device isn’t going to make any other sounds (chimes, alarms, etc.) or it will blow your head off.  Be sure to turn the volume down when you’re done.  When I play these files on the Altec speaker system with sub woofer, it sounds like it did when I was standing there making the recording.

We fired an AR-15 (.223) from 400 yards at plastic water jugs.  You can hear the sound of impact, but it’s not as loud as the bullet’s sonic “crack” or the low frequency muzzle blast that follows.  I was holding the recorder at a position behind a hill from the shooter, about 20 yards off to the side of the bullet path, and about 20 yards up-range from the targets.  This is the same recording in both WMA and MP3 formats;

01 223FireWMA.wma (1.4 MB)

223FireMp3.mp3 (584.91 KB)

Note that you’ve probably never heard this sound in movies or television, with the possible exception of Quigley Down Under, but in that case Quigley’s bullets were sub sonic well before impact at long range and we can forgive the “whoosh-boom” as being probably accurate enough.


7 thoughts on “The Better Sound of Gunfire from Downrange

  1. Don’t play this sound loud next to me unless you want to see a six-foot-tall woman with an AR suddenly appear before your eyes.

  2. I don’t know; the idea of a six-foot tall woman with an AR doesn’t, in and of itself, sound so bad. Depends on her temperament at the time, but I assume you’re saying yours would be somewhat less than comforting ; )

    Yeah; that sound can be pretty annoying. Tends to get up one’s ire in very short order.

  3. I’ve heard that sound before. I was working the target stands at Camp Schwab on Okinawa (IOW “pulling butts”).
    The bullets were passing overhead through the paper targets.

  4. Shooting loads that exceed 1700-1800 fps,(according to published data) in my 1895 Cowboy sound like artillery as depicted in a war movie, if only Quigley had sounded as cool.

  5. T; If the bullet is faster than sound when it passes you, the first thing you’ll hear is the “crack” followed by the hiss. ‘Course, the bigger the bullet and/or the lower the BC, the louder the hiss. Fifty caliber round ball sounds pretty interesting too. Using Joe’s program and Google unit conversion calculator for a .300 Win Mag 190 grain Match load at 500 yards, I get the bullet losing energy to the atmosphere at an average power level of;
    Muzzle energy minus 500 yard downrange energy = 1755 ft/lbs lost
    Time of flight = 0.614 sec at sea level
    That’s 2858.306 ft/lbs/sec average loss
    Google tell us 1 ft/lbs/sec = 1.3558 Watts
    That’s a bullet shedding 3,875 Watts average over its 500 yard flight unless I screwed up the numbers– enough to make plenty of noise. Your large, blunt .45-70 bullets ripping through the air will definitely get your attention as well.

  6. Lyle, you know Mas Ayoob’s “women’s gun attitudes test”?

    My answers were all C.


  7. This “crack-thump” is nothing new to combat infantrymen. Especially in Vietnam, where we were apt to come under fire from a large variety of weapons, it helped not only to locate the source of the incoming fire, but also to ID the weapon. Each weapon has a “voice” and you learn to recognize the voices. Ask any soldier who’s been under fire.

Comments are closed.