Over the weekend I went deer hunting with a friend. Sadly, I saw less wildlife than I normally see in my backyard. That's OK, more years than not I get a shot on opening day, so it's OK if I get skunked once in a while.
But since I'm an optimistic sort, I always bring a gun suitable for squirrels should I fill my deer tag early into the trip. My friend does as well, and this year we each had something new that is designed specifically for hunting.
My friend brought a Gamo Whisper. It's a single shot air gun with an expansion chamber at the muzzle designed to quiet it up a bit. It's effective. Many people don't realize how noisy powerful airguns are. The idea is one can use something like this for hunting small game and not disturb wildlife, and this air gun does a reasonable job of that.
You know what else does a reasonable job? A silencer (or suppressor) on the end of a 22 rimfire gun. After 18 months of waiting, my Silencerco Sparrow finally cleared paperwork and I was able to take possession of it. It's fantastic, I couldn't be happier. I had it mounted on a Browning Buckmark with a 5.5" barrel for this trip.
While neither of us got to try out our guns on small game, we did take a moment to shoot them side by side one afternoon. We were both curious about the quiet solution brought by the other. First, neither of these guns are necessarily "movie" quiet. Both make some noise more then a "wfffft" as you see in movies. But after shooting them side by side, we came to the following conclusion:
1. The suppressed pistol, run wet, is quieter than the air gun.
2. The suppressed pistol, run dry, is louder than the air gun on the first round. (typically known as "first round pop") Since a lot of hunting involves a single shot, in normal use this means the air gun would be quieter.
3. The second, and following, shots from the suppressed pistol with a dry can were about the same volume or perhaps a bit quieter than the air gun.
Of course, none of this was scientific, just two guys listening. As far as how dramatic the first round pop is, my friend was a couple hundred yards off and I fired 3 times. He thought I fired once- he only heard the first round. Running the suppressor wet negates this, but I wasn't going to carry around a gun with water in the suppressor all day. Maybe one day I will, but I'm concerned about corrosion in the gun if I do this for long periods of time. Perhaps my concerns aren't valid, I may test that out sometime.
By this time next year I should have a silencer in my hands I can use on a proper deer rifle, I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited about protecting my hearing, something I did a poor job of in my youth.