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View Full Version : Can a 2-liter bottle really work as a gun silencer?


billfritter
09-07-2005, 03:09 PM
On a CSI rerun last night they had someone use an empty 2-liter soda bottle as a gun silencer.
Would that really work?
Also, I've seen for decades that shooting through a pillow works as a silencer. Does it?
If so, why don't gang members tie pillows to their guns when they go on a drive-by shooting? It would presumably aid their escape if the noise was reduced.
Yet, out of the hundreds of murders in this city every year, I've never read of a pillow being involved. Nor a bottle. Nor, for that matter even, a silencer. Are silencers just a writer's device for spy fiction?

Future days
09-07-2005, 03:17 PM
Probably because pillows are bulky.

Shagnasty
09-07-2005, 03:17 PM
The sound of a gun firing is caused by 1) the muzzle blast coming out of the barrel of the gun and 2) the bullet breaking the sound barrier.

Wrapping a pillow around a gun is going to do zero if the end of the barrel is exposed (and you need it to be). I am not sure what it will sound like if you stick a pillow to the end of the barrel and pull the trigger. Most likely, you will have a pillow with a hole it and a deformed bullet that doesn't go very far. You certainly couldn't use it if you actually wanted to shoot something else. It would probably still be pretty loud too.

The only type of gun that I know of that is easy to make a silencer for is a .22 pistol or rifle. Even then, it still takes time and materials and those guns aren't very loud or powerful to begin with.

August West
09-07-2005, 03:20 PM
Let me offer a personal anecdote. At one of the houses I lived in during college a friend of one of my roommates told us that a 2 liter bottle duct taped to the end of a shotgun would work as a silencer. He was encouraged to demonstrate this (but not by me, let me go on record that I think amateur modification of a firearm in any way is VERY silly and dangerous) in the backyard and I would say that, if anything, it amplified the sound.

Shagnasty
09-07-2005, 03:24 PM
To answer your other question, silencers really do exist but they are generally illegal and hard to find. My father was a firearm's dealer and we had an Uzi with a silencer when I was growing up. The silencer worked pretty pretty well although you could still hear the action clank when it cycled. It wasn't as though the shot was truly silent, it was that it was pretty quiet and it didn't sound like a gunshot anymore. You could probably shot it in a house without anyone outside hearing it.

awldune
09-07-2005, 03:40 PM
Haven't tried a 2-liter bottle, but a 20-ounce bottle _will_ work as a silencer for a .22 rifle.

.22's are the loudest firearms in the world, so your results might not be as dramatic for other guns. Definitely quite effective for a .22 though.

awldune
09-07-2005, 03:41 PM
.22's are the loudest firearms in the world

aren't, dammit!

St_Ides
09-07-2005, 03:44 PM
To answer your other question, silencers really do exist but they are generally illegal and hard to find.

They're not illegal, from what I understand, in certain US states all that's needed is basically a one-time tax-stamp (I seem to recall $200 being the cost) to legally purchase, posess and own.

CynicalGabe
09-07-2005, 04:08 PM
They're not illegal, from what I understand, in certain US states all that's needed is basically a one-time tax-stamp (I seem to recall $200 being the cost) to legally purchase, posess and own.

Haven't been to California lately, have you? :)

Definitely and explicitly illegal here.

As for the OP:
Sure, a 2 liter bottle will work as a silencer. About as well as saran wrap will work as a condom - not so much. For many of the same reasons.

SisterCoyote
09-07-2005, 05:02 PM
In the CSI ep, it's a 20-oz bottle, not a 2-liter one. don't remember the caliber of the gun, though.

Carnac the Magnificent!
09-07-2005, 10:04 PM
If so, why don't gang members tie pillows to their guns when they go on a drive-by shooting? It would presumably aid their escape if the noise was reduced. Yet, out of the hundreds of murders in this city every year, I've never read of a pillow being involved. Nor a bottle. Nor, for that matter even, a silencer. Are silencers just a writer's device for spy fiction?


You ever price a good down pillow, fella?

Actually, I think the noise serves a clear psychological purpose. Gangs are basically domestic terrorists with a clear, if illegal, business model, rather than a sociological or political agenda. A gang's goal is typically to instill fear in neighborhoods and keep the locals in check. A blast of machinegun fire from drive-by shootings basically announces, "We're in charge."

Driving around with fluffy, hypoallergenic pillows strapped to your weapons isn't likely to help a gangsta's street cred.

Padeye
09-07-2005, 10:38 PM
They're not illegal, from what I understand, in certain US states all that's needed is basically a one-time tax-stamp (I seem to recall $200 being the cost) to legally purchase, posess and own.It's somewhat more complicated. Yes there is a $200 tax stamp required to manufacture or transfer a sound suppressor and is required each time it changes ownership. It also requires registration with the BATFE which means an FBI background check with photo and fingerprints as well as approval from your county sheriff. And of course not all states allow you to own one.

This is not something to screw around with. Having an unregistered suppressor is as serious as owning an illegal machine gun. Do not consider doing something illegal like making an improvised suppressor.

Carnac the Magnificent!
09-07-2005, 10:42 PM
This is not something to screw around with. Having an unregistered suppressor is as serious as owning an illegal machine gun. Do not consider doing something illegal like making an improvised suppressor.


Great. Next thing you know, the liberals will be requiring registration of ginger ale and pillows.


Dumb Question: Did the CSI bottle have an open end? Hate to sound ignorant, but those injection-molded bottles are rugged. I wouldn't be comfortable firing a .22 into the center bottom of one.

wolf_meister
09-07-2005, 11:11 PM
Think California has stringent gun laws? Try Massachusetts.
Here you need a Firearms permit to buy any type of rifle (yes even a BB gun). The permit costs $100 and MUST be renewed every five years (and it is $100 every time you renew) and you have to go to your local police station (usually on a workday) where you get fingerprinted every time you renew. AND after all that hassle, this permit is NOT good whatsoever, at all, ever, so don't even think about purchasing a pistol.
You want a pistol permit ??? (If there were a rolling on the floor hysterically laughing my ass off smilie this would be the spot for it).
Of course I never have inquired about the legality of buying a silencer in this state. Maybe it is possible. (This would be a great spot for a few dozen of those above-mentioned smilies).
Sorry for the rant. Guess I've been spending too much time in "the Pit".

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that there are .22 rounds which travel at sub-sonic velocities which would eliminate one of the problems shagnasty cited.
Granted, a .22 round is not the macho destroyer that any gang-member, thug, miscreant would ever be caught using. But I'm sure it has its uses.

WonJohnSoup
09-07-2005, 11:38 PM
Granted, a .22 round is not the macho destroyer that any gang-member, thug, miscreant would ever be caught using. But I'm sure it has its uses.

Actually, I think most of the guns gangbangers carry are .22s.

You know, I haven't touched my old bebe gun in years. If I have time this weekend, I think I'll go plinking in my backyard and maybe tell you how the 2-liter bottle thing works on an air rifle ;)

Enola Straight
09-07-2005, 11:53 PM
Some semi-auto assault rifles have a threaded barrel to attach a flash suppressor.

Screwing on a automotive oil filter (with the bottom drilled through with a hole just big enough for the bullet) would make an excellent cheap silencer.

wolf_meister
09-08-2005, 12:03 AM
WonJohnSoup
Actually I'm a big fan of the .22 round and 75% of all ammunition sold is .22 caliber.
Its "puny" reputation is undeserved and I think anyone who uses the expression "Hey it's only a .22" is an accident waiting to happen.

danceswithcats
09-08-2005, 12:34 AM
Maybe it's easier to stick a Mac10 into the bum of a Care Bear than worry about pillows.

Valgard
09-08-2005, 12:44 AM
Actually, I think most of the guns gangbangers carry are .22s.

You know, I haven't touched my old bebe gun in years. If I have time this weekend, I think I'll go plinking in my backyard and maybe tell you how the 2-liter bottle thing works on an air rifle ;)

Careful about that, even with an air rifle. There's a guy who has a page detailing his interaction with the BATF when he tried to build a supressor for his paintball gun (CO2 power, fires gelatin-based balls at 300fps). Although it looked like there was no way it could possibly be used on an actual firearm they didn't make any distinction.

wissdok
09-08-2005, 01:24 AM
Yes, both two-liter bottles and pillows make cheap silencers. The U. S. Army even teaches the use of the two-liters bottle in sniper school. As for pillows, they were once an often used device in organized crime murders. The typical MO was to have two guys, one to hold the victim and the other to shoot him using the pillow to muzzle the sound. The limitation of both is they are only good one time. The bottle once shot was worthless for any more use because the same reason that it muzzled the sound the first time,was destroyed in the first shot. The pillow, on the other had, could be repositioned but it normally caught fire from the original shot. But as it was normally only used at point-blank range there was not a need for any more shots.

pkbites
09-08-2005, 02:11 AM
Under federal & many state laws (many, not all) both silencers AND machine guns are legal. Depending on where you live, having either may not be that hard to possess legally. There are plenty of legit reasons to have them.
As a cop, an FFL dealer, and class 3 holder, I could go on and on about what I know, but you all have web access and can find out what is legal, and where without my help.

But as long as we're here: Not only can a soda bottle be made into a silencer, but so can a lot of variety (http://amazon.com/gp/reader/0873645227/ref=sib_dp_pt/002-7839523-0859246#reader-link)
of unusual items, including unlubricated condoms, pillows, balloons, and Owens Corning fiberglass. All these things work, if you know what you're doing. Making it legal depends of the state you live in, and how you fill out the paper work for the BATF.

In person I have seen and fired weapons with silencers. ALL of them were semi-autos of various calibers. Whenver I see an old movie where a silencer is used on a revolver I just have to laugh!:p:smack:

09-08-2005, 02:20 AM
But as it was normally only used at point-blank range there was not a need for any more shots.Also at point-blank because it's really pretty hard to aim a gun with a pillow over the end of it!

Generally, any type of silencer reduces both the range and accuracy of the gun.

Mr. Goob
09-08-2005, 08:42 AM
I was talking about this with some law enforcement friends this last weekend after paintball. Some of the teenagers we play with (gah that sounds bad, play paintball with us) wanted to make a silencer for a paintball gun.

The law enforcment types told us what was just said, supressors are a class three weapon along with machine guns. The 'how to' conversation was stopped because the guys said people have been fired from their department for stupider things than getting caught with illegal weapons.

Too bad, I have a machine shop and was all set to start experimenting.

DougC
09-08-2005, 12:20 PM
- - - A 20-once plastic soda bottle will not silence any firearm. I have seen it tried, in my youth. There is some attenuation but not really very much. Likewise, most of the "improvised silencer" stuff you see randomly tossed around online and even in some of the notorious "Paladin Press" books really doesn't work well at all, except in getting you arrested if you get caught with one. Just about anything you try will work a little, but all the ones I saw/heard that worked well were made pretty much the same. I've only seen instructions for those online a couple places, ever.
- BATF/firearm regulations don't cover anything about airguns because airguns aren't firearms under federal law--but you generally can't make any silencer for an airgun, because the BATF regulations cover "a silencer, or all the components of a silencer, that may be fitted to a firearm". If you make a silencer for an airgun, at some point in time you have all the components in your possession, and that counts as a violation according to the law.
~

AskNott
09-08-2005, 02:46 PM
Maybe it's easier to stick a Mac10 into the bum of a Care Bear than worry about pillows.
I'd think a Barney would be more satisfying, but that's just my opinion. :p

Max Torque
09-08-2005, 03:20 PM
A few years back, when I was at the shooting range, some folks shooting next to us test-fired a pistol with a silencer attached to it. I can tell you the following: I don't know if it was actually made from a 2-liter bottle, but it was about the size of one, so it definitely wasn't concealable. And when it fired, it made a hefty WHUMP, a sound much like thwacking a beanbag chair with a sledgehammer. So, it wasn't particularly silent, either.

BMax
09-08-2005, 03:52 PM
[QUOTE=Shagnasty]Wrapping a pillow around a gun is going to do zero if the end of the barrel is exposed (and you need it to be). I am not sure what it will sound like if you stick a pillow to the end of the barrel and pull the trigger. Most likely, you will have a pillow with a hole it and a deformed bullet that doesn't go very far. You certainly couldn't use it if you actually wanted to shoot something else. It would probably still be pretty loud too.[QUOTE]

I did this by pressing the muzzle of the gun into the pillow. It did silence the pistol to the point that what would have sounded like someone hammering a nail sounded more like a finger snapping. I was firing a .25 caliber pistol into a pile of mattresses. The bullet wasn't deformed at all, but you are correct that it didn't penetrate very far. Oh, yeah. The pillow had a hole in one side with a powder burn all around it and just a little hole in the other side.

Valgard
09-08-2005, 08:01 PM
I was talking about this with some law enforcement friends this last weekend after paintball. Some of the teenagers we play with (gah that sounds bad, play paintball with us) wanted to make a silencer for a paintball gun.

Too bad, I have a machine shop and was all set to start experimenting.

Minor hijack - If you want a silent marker try a low-pressure Autococker (which I think is all of them). I bought a CCM J2 and it's extraordinarily quiet just a few feet away - there's a quiet "pop" and the click of the action but that's all. At normal shooting distances your target will have no noise to help him figure out where the shots are coming from. In fact since it's so quiet he probably won't even notice that he's being shot at until the paint starts raining down. I've done it to my friends many times and it's incredibly satisfying :-)

DrDeth
09-08-2005, 10:06 PM
There is special sub-sonic ammo sold. And, up really close, a .22 short- fired into the back of the head at just the right spot- is deadly. A .22 short isn't very loud or "gun like" in noise as it is- and a silencer would make it pretty damn hard to discern over a busy street. But again- we are talkng firing from a range of inches, with a "pop gun".

On a sub-sonic 9mm, it reduces accuracy and power a bit- and then makes the noise a bit muffled and less "gun like".

pkbites
09-08-2005, 10:23 PM
- - - A 20-once plastic soda bottle will not silence any firearm. I have seen it tried, in my youth.

Then whomever was doing it didn't know what they were doing. I have seen it done successfully. The important part is knowing how to build a makeshift silencer (I won't go into that because without authorization it is illegal to do), and using the right ammunition. (subsonics). The soda bottle silencer doesn't work for very long. The one I saw only lasted for 3 rounds, then it expanded and cracked. And it didn't make that "pwt" sound that silencers of tv do. It was more of a low, muffled "pop".

Nic2004
09-08-2005, 10:24 PM
I have had to bury two friends on seperate occassions from being shot by .22's, and in one case, a single shot. Don't sell them too short.

Gary T
09-08-2005, 11:49 PM
Also, I've seen for decades that shooting through a pillow works as a silencer. Does it?
It can muffle the sound significantly. Calling it a "silencer" though, is probably very misleading.

If so, why don't gang members tie pillows to their guns when they go on a drive-by shooting?
Because it would be stupid?

The idea of the pillow is that it essentially surrounds the area that emits sound, acting as a type of sound insulation. This is with the gun pressed against the target and the pillow partly wrapped around the gun. Part of the deal is that the victim's body is the sound insulation at the muzzle. Shooting through a pillow into the air isn't the same thing.

pkbites
09-09-2005, 01:15 AM
I have had to bury two friends on seperate occassions from being shot by .22's, and in one case, a single shot.

I'm truely sorry to hear that. If it was a criminal act I hope the perps were brought to justice.


Don't sell them too short

I've gotten into debates and arguements over this. The .22 is a viable cartridge. SHOT PLACEMENT is more important than caliber. Getting shot in the head with a .22 can do more damage than getting shot in the leg with a .45.

DougC
09-09-2005, 03:12 AM
...Then whomever was doing it didn't know what they were doing.... pkbites
- - - Well I said it attenuates a little. Almost anything that you stick on the end of a barrel will attenuate a little. By your admission it only lasted three shots, and didn't really silence much. That doesn't sound like it worked very well. ;)
~

Mr. Goob
09-09-2005, 09:16 AM
Minor hijack - If you want a silent marker try a low-pressure Autococker (which I think is all of them). I bought a CCM J2 and it's extraordinarily quiet just a few feet away - there's a quiet "pop" and the click of the action but that's all. At normal shooting distances your target will have no noise to help him figure out where the shots are coming from. In fact since it's so quiet he probably won't even notice that he's being shot at until the paint starts raining down. I've done it to my friends many times and it's incredibly satisfying :-)

Don't mind us, we're have a quiet conversation of our own.

In our group we have a few Autocockers. That's what started the whole idea. The A5 guys wanted to have the same stealthy ability. Me I just put my Spyder on full auto and go from there. Not that accurate or quiet at all, death by volume is my usual plan.

wissdok
09-09-2005, 11:35 AM
The question was can a 2-liter bottle really work as a gun silencer. As stated, both a bottle and a pillow will work. The fact that neither are as good a specially made silencer wasn't the question. But no silencer is a true "silencer" anyway;
You can't muffle all the sound.
As for the range, an effective silencer will reduce range, but I disagree with those that claim it effects accurancy. The "bang" of a gun is the air escaping as the bullet exits the gun, so any item that limits the air's movement will reduce the sound. But more you limit the movement of air, less range you will have. Ever heard about crime labs that fire guns into barrels of water?
It should also be noted that revolvers as a general rule cannot be effectively "silenced." A Revolver releases air around the cylinder which is hard to muffle. Here is where a pillow (and even a towel) comes in handy. But it would be best used directly against the target(or victim!).

Lastly, a legal silencer that works reasonably well is a muffler off a lawnmower.

pkbites
09-09-2005, 11:58 AM
and didn't really silence much.
~


It silenced a lot. It was a low, muffled pop, (sort of like bubble wrap, but not as loud), barely audiable from more than a few feet away, as opposed to the crisp, LOUD "CRACK!" the weapon would make unsilenced, which could be heard for miles.
As for only lasting 3 rounds, you have to remember this was a "quick & dirty" silencer, not a commercially produced suppressor..

awldune
09-09-2005, 01:55 PM
My experience with .22LR fits with pkbytes' description.

While the noise is still fairly loud, you probably wouldn't hear it from another room/floor of a building like you would without the bottle.

Scumpup
09-09-2005, 02:09 PM
FTR,
Neither a lawn mower muffler nor an oil filter are good choices, or safe ones, for use as expedient suppressors. If you are using any round more high pressure than a .22 with such, don't be surprised when it flies apart in grenade-like fashion...perhaps on the first round. At best, it will not do a particularly good job of reducing the sound signature nor will it do so for long and it will almost certainly degrade accuracy to a ridiculous degree.
A good friend of mine is expert on suppressors. He's manufactured them and authored several books on them. He will be the first to tell you that suppressors are fairly simple devices, but they must be manufactured with care and to tight tolerances. The higher pressure the round involved is, the more important the proper choice of materials and attention to detail becomes. He will also be the first to tell you that "improvised" suppressors never function well, last long, or have anything like a comfortable safety margin.
Bottom line: you want a suppressor, pay the tax, do the paperwork and get a properly made one. Illegal in your state or municipality? Guess you're out of luck.

spingears
09-09-2005, 04:25 PM
FTR, A good friend of mine is expert on suppressors. He's manufactured them and authored several books on them. He will be the first to tell you that suppressors are fairly simple devices, but they must be manufactured with care and to tight tolerances. The higher pressure the round involved is, the more important the proper choice of materials and attention to detail becomes. He will also be the first to tell you that "improvised" suppressors never function well, last long, or have anything like a comfortable safety margin.
In addition the silencer/noise suppressor MUST be fitted to a specific firearm(s). ;)

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