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"...Whoa, that was loud."
Wallace Richie, The Man Who Knew Too Little

In a typical movie or video game, the sound of a gun firing is impossible to mistake for anything else; a distinctive booming report with lots of bass accompanies the firing of even the most puny weapon, unless fitted with a magic noise-removing doohickey.

In reality, this boom is closer to the sound of a shotgun firing. Smaller guns typically lack the howitzer-like boom of the movie versions, instead making a sound similar to a firecracker going off. This means when hearing a real gunshot, many people find it hard to tell that's what it is.

This is not to say gunshots are not loud; quite the opposite, a gunshot is the loudest normal sound a human being is likely to hear, which is why ear protectors are mandatory in firing ranges. Hollywood gunshots are usually much too quiet relative to other sounds, with a character in one scene able to shout as loud as a shotgun blast in another. This is really an Acceptable Break from Reality; most shooting enthusiasts will suffer from some degree of sound-induced hearing loss due to their hobby, and movie sound systems typically aren't designed to output noise above the human pain threshold anyway (and that is a good thing). Therefore we are given standard sounds that represent gunfire.

Characters in fiction never seem to flinch or be in pain from the sound of gunshots, even when firing fully automatic weapons in confined spaces. People on TV never experience tinnitus or hearing loss, even temporarily.note  TV characters have the ability to fire their weapons and also hear tiny noises or whispers at the same time.

Gunfire sound effects may also be exploited for other dramatic purposes, most notably a tendency to assign distinctive "good guy" and "bad guy" sounds, akin to Sound-Coded for Your Convenience. Sometimes directors will even assign a distinctive-sounding gunshot effect to a specific character, (as in the Indiana Jones examples below) in order to emphasize their heroic, villainous, or badass nature.

If a gun makes way too much noise when it isn't being fired, that's Noisy Guns, or Dramatic Gun Cock when done on purpose. See also Blown Across the Room for exaggeration of the results of gunfire. For when fistfights are louder than they should be, see Kung-Foley.

(Probably) Not related to the Armchair Cynics song. Not to be confused with More Dakka, although the two naturally go well together. Also not to be confused with Bling-Bling-BANG!


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  • The standoff turned free-for-all in the bathroom in The Rock. That many automatic weapons firing in an enclosed, acoustically reflective space should have deafened every man in there, but no one seems to be affected by the noise. Slightly zigzagged in that Brigadier General Hummel, who wished to avoid violence, repeatedly shouts, "Cease fire!" but nobody (except the viewer) can hear him.
  • In Cars, Lightning is about to pull over and ask the sheriff for help when the sheriff backfires, causing Lightning to panic, thinking he's being shot at.
  • Any movie in which there is a minigun. Terminator 2: Judgment Day had a powerful metal-like noise for its minigun, while the noise made by the one in Predator was more electric. A real electric Gatling gun's sound is completely different. The sound effect used for miniguns in movies is a slightly-sped-up sound from a M2A1 .50 caliber machine gun being fired. To hear what the weapon (commonly called a Ma Deuce) sounds like, it is shown on the History Channel series Mail Call being fired in a non-range situation.
  • The Final Countdown has a scene where a hostage standoff ends in an exchange of fire between three people firing M16 rifles on full auto in a ship's sickbay, yet nobody shows any signs of hearing damage afterward.
  • Played straight in The Godfather: as Mike prepares to hit Solozzo and McClusky, Clemenza explains the loudness of his gun: "Yeah, I left it noisy — that way it scares any pain-in-the-ass innocent bystanders away."
  • Played with in Home Alone, where Kevin tricks Harry and Marv into thinking they've overheard a violent murder in progress, when in reality it's a gangster-movie soundtrack and a packet of firecrackers to amp up the noise. Kevin uses the same "gangster-gunfire-turned-all-the-way-up" trick to fool the pizza delivery boy earlier.
  • According to the DVD commentary for the Indiana Jones movies, the sound used for Indy's handgun was actually a 30/30 rifle, to make it sound more impressive. Astute viewers will note that these movies adhere to the "distinctive gunshot per character" motif as every handgun Indy uses always produces the same sound. It's still very—sometimes distractingly—over the top, though.
    Mike: His pistol sounds like a deck gun on the Bismarck!
  • Aside from using unrealistic gun sounds, the loudest single sound effect in Batman Begins was Joe Chill shooting Bruce's parents. Possibly justified, as it's in a flashback, and represents the impact the event had on Bruce's life, and Bruce was retelling this to Henri Ducard. The sound made by the Joker's machine Glock 18 pistol in The Dark Knight is actually from a minigun.
  • Played with in Star Wars — when Luke and Leia are about to swing over the gap because Luke shot the bridge control panel, Leia fires a shot from a blaster — and a .44 Magnum sound effect plays instead of the usual blaster sound. This came down to a production error. The Stormtooper blaster rifles are cosmetically altered real guns (British-built Sterling sub-machine guns), firing blank rounds for smoke effect. They simply forgot to dub over the pop of the the blank in that scene, and apparently never corrected it.
  • Averted, for the most part, in Public Enemies, the 2009 movie about John Dillinger. Thompson submachine guns and other weapons probably would sound like they do in the movie. For that matter, Michael Mann's other films, Heat and Collateral, featured very realistic gun play as well.
  • Averted in the classic movie Hopscotch (1980) where the main character simulates half of an extended gunfire battle by lighting strings of fire-crackers with carefully-timed delay fuses.
  • In Training Day, when Alonzo fires his .45 Smith & Wesson 4506s, they sound like cannons rather than .45 handguns, especially considering the barrels are only 5 inches.
  • It is said that pistols in Sergio Leone movies sound like rifles, rifles like cannons and cannons like nuclear blasts. When Clint Eastwood and Lee van Cleef have a friendly shoot-out in the beginning of For a Few Dollars More every single one of their shots also sounds like a ricochet, even though they only shoot into the air and the ground.
  • Averted in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Although one of the movie's central themes is its unrealistic style, the gunshot sounds are not altered.
  • In The Men Who Stare at Goats, a group of paranoid security personnel in Iraq start shooting up a market after mistaking a car backfiring for a gunshot.
  • Both Shane and Bonnie and Clyde deliberately made the gunshots much louder than the rest of the noises in a given scene, specifically to make them much more shocking. One anecdote has Redford at the British premiere of Bonnie and Clyde noticing the gunshots aren't loud enough, so he rushes to the projection booth. Sure enough, the projectionist had a chart marking the time for each gunshot, and was manually turning down the sound at those moments. He is purported to have said, "This is the worst sound editing I've heard since Shane, all the gunshots are too loud."
  • Variation in The Other Guys, with a bomb instead of gunshots.
  • Played with in Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave, in which the handguns used by the men in black suddenly shift from pistol sounds to machine-gun sounds when they start firing faster.
  • Somewhat subverted in The Expendables, while almost every gun sounds the same, when Hale Caeser comes to the rescue of them in the tunnel his AA-12 sounds like he's shooting a goddamn howitzer, which in that space with an AA-12 it should.
  • Subverted in Last Action Hero: the bad guy walks in "our world", shoots a man and is surprised the noise didn't attract police or passers-by. Maybe justified in that it was a crapsack neighborhood and most likely a Crapsack World.
  • One character in Black Hawk Down averts the trope. A weapon is fired too close to his head, causing the character to suffer hearing loss for the remainder of the film.
  • The "characters never experience hearing loss or tinnitus" part of the trope is averted in an unusual way in Get Smart. Max and Agent 22 are doing an urban warfare exercise using paintball guns, and 22 fires his right next to Max's ear. Max's ears continue to ring one scene later.
  • Completely averted in Act of Valor. Navy SEALS playing the main cast members fired live ammo on set.
  • Lampshaded in The Goonies.
    Chunk: Mikey, Mikey, Mikey. That sounded like gunshots. Not the big ones that you hear in war movies, but gunshots, real ones. They're trying to kill us!
  • Averted, of all places, by So Bad, It's Good Cult Classic Irish martial arts movie, Fatal Deviation. The punches and kicks are actually louder.
  • In A Fistful of Dollars, when "Joe" is recovering from being beaten, he does some pistol practice. In a modestly sized room. And every other shot is a PEEYOW! ricochet.
  • In Hitman: Agent 47, 47's Ballers sound distinctively suppressed, when they ought to be rather louder.
  • In Mad Max: Fury Road Furiosa steadies a sniper rifle on Max's shoulder before firing a decidedly not that loud shot. In reality a supersonic round should have blown out Max's eardrums.

  • Averted in one John Dickson Carr novel, where a firecracker is used to fake the sound of a gunshot to throw off the investigation.
  • Averted in the Discworld novel Men at Arms, where the gonne is mistaken for fireworks thanks to both the sound and smell.
  • Subverted in Harry Dolan's Bad Things Happen, where a character at first thinks that gunshots are a car backfiring, but then realizes that you don't hear that much anymore.
  • Spider-Man: The Venom Trilogy: Lampshaded in Diane Duane's Spider-Man novel Spider Man The Lizard Sanction; Spidey comments that real gunfire sounds nothing like it does in the movies, and fills in his own descriptions of the actual sounds, such as "rulers being smacked on a desk."
  • In Stephen King's novel The Regulators, gunshots are incredibly loud; a sound of a shotgun is described as the sound of "a detonating backpack missile". Justified, because the shooters are actually figments of a little boy's imagination, made real by an evil force.
  • Subverted in the Confederation of Valor series. The Confederation has the technology to make its Space Marines' KC-7 rifles completely silent, but research showed the end users preferred the shots to be audible.
  • In Rob Grant's solo Red Dwarf novel Backwards, Ace Rimmer's CO resigns his commission and takes a bath before pulling out his sidearm and fires it inside the confines of his bathroom. The gunshot is so loud that his ears start to bleed and he exclaims "Bugger me, that was loud!" Justified in that he's in a confined and tiled space that would amplify the sound of the gunshot.
  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts short story In Remembrance, the protagonist — a sculptor tasked with memorializing a recent victorious war — muses that in Imperial propaganda footage, the lasguns wielded by the Imperial Guard are always erroneously portrayed with loud, dramatic sounds as part of the effort to glamorize the military. When he joins the Ghosts on a patrol and witnesses a firefight, he's stunned to discover firsthand that the sound lasers actually make is more akin to twigs snapping.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Walking Dead (2010):
    • Justified when a herd of Walkers is attracted to Hershel's farm from the sound of a gunshot. The event-in-question is preceded by a conflict between two of the then-main characters who were totally unaware that the herd was nearby, but who had, ironically, spent most of the season modifying their tactics to avoid this outcome.
    • In one episode, Rick seems to have no problem handling the noise of his magnum revolver. Then he shoots it inside a tank... and is temporarily deafened by it.
  • Miami Vice uses shotgun noise for the firing of pistols.
  • The FN Herstal P90 submachine gun in the Stargate-verse sounds very powerful, but that's not the issue here. The issue is that the AK-47 Assault Rifle sounds exactly the same. Particularly strange, because it sounds as if the AK-47 fires far more rounds than you'd guess from watching the action onscreen. The M-16 variants used on occasion also use the same sound effect as the P90s, incidentally. One need only look at the fights in "Heroes" for evidence.
  • Seinfeld has Jerry mistaking a car backfiring for a race's starting pistol, giving him an unfair head start and winning him the race.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Averted in "The Sea Devils", as much genuine Royal Navy ordnance is shot off (including a Bofors anti-aircraft cannon), but the soft (for varying values of "soft", of course) "paf-paf" sound that the real guns actually have on camera is nothing like what an audience might expect.
    • Averted in "The Family of Blood". May have something to do with the fact that it takes place in 1913, so the audience doesn't expect the guns to sound like the Hollywood version of modern guns. Which is odd, because 1913-era guns sound much like modern guns, only with a lower rate of fire. The Hollywood version thereof, however, would have to wait until somebody invents the soundtrack, so The Coconut Effect is averted.
  • In one episode of Shark, it really is a car backfiring.
  • Firefly goes back and forth on this. Most of the guns have somewhat futuristic but quieter laser-like sounds, despite the vast majority of them looking like the same kinds of guns you'd find today (though they are from the future, so maybe they use a different firing mechanism or have been redesigned for better stealth or something). Other times, however, they make more standard gunshot sounds. In the RPG, the explanation is that most firearms have a somewhat computerized firing system. While they can fire without the system working, the electronics make the weapon fire cleaner, thus the whine. And some of the higher-tech (Newtech) weapons are actually Gauss weapons, using a linear accelerator to fire a slug magnetically, not chemically.
  • Lampshaded in the episode "The Perfect Dress" of Gilmore Girls when Paris tells Rory "No, that was just a car backfiring. The real gunfire actually sounds fake."
  • Averted to a degree in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. In part, the aversion was plot determined, in that the "U.N.C.L.E. Special" handgun was capable of firing non-lethal "sleep darts", and when firing in that mode the pistol sounded very little like a firearm. But even when firing regular bullets while un-silenced, the U.N.C.L.E. Special's report was always quite a bit less noisy than the normal run of Hollywood handgun.
  • In the Weeds episode during which Nancy is shot at for the first time in her life, a backfiring car later causes her to drop to the ground in screaming terror in an Anvilicious display of post-trauma. Oddly enough, while guns still make her nervous later on, the post-traumatic stigma isn't there anymore. Hmmm...
  • One episode of CSI: Miami actually attempts this with popping wine bottles. In another, Horatio proves a man witnessed a shooting because he has hearing loss consistent with having been close to a gun being fired.
  • In an episode of Frasier, Niles falls into a depression and locks himself in the bathroom; his friends try to convince him out and hear a gunshot, prompting them to believe he committed suicide. In actuality, the shaving cream can had exploded.
  • In-universe example for Law & Order: Criminal Intent: a criminal makes it seem that she's being held hostage and pops a plastic bag, leading the police to come charging in firing.
  • Averted in The Office (US), in which Dwight shoots a gun next to Andy, causing temporary deafness in one ear.
  • In Fringe Peter became temporarily deaf due to gunshots next to his ears. It was intentional, though.
  • Averted in an episode of Criminal Minds, Morgan has to shoot at an UnSub from inside their moving SUV. Prentis reams him afterward and complains that he's blown out one of her eardrums. In another episode, a gun goes off right next to Hotch's ear, and he is visibly deafened afterwards.
  • Averted in the Young Blades episode "Four Musketeers and a Baby" when the Highwayman warns D'Artagnan that firing a gun next to a baby will injure the baby's eardrums.
  • Discussed in an episode of Supernatural where Dean and Sam use a kid as bait to draw a Monster of the Week into a bedroom. They ask if the kid has heard a gunshot on TV, and he says he has. They tell him it will be much louder, and he should cover his ears.
  • The Closer: In the season 4 episode "Time Bomb", the squad's confrontation with the final member of a teenage terrorist group features fully automatic rifle fire and vast amounts of handgun fire. The sound effects for both are perfect: the automatic reports 'blur' into one another with a standard 'ratatatata' while the slower handgun shots are short, extremely loud and mid-rangey instead of the standard Hollywood BANG.
  • Early seasons of Hill Street Blues use a similar trick to Shane and Bonnie and Clyde as described in the Film section, with the addition of some echo and Overcrank, but it's used only sparingly (and not very consistently) even for a Police Procedural in which only about one episode in four sees an officer even unholster their weapon.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): A staple of every episode is when a bad guy shoots at Wonder Woman and she deflects the bullets with her bracelets. The gun generally makes the standard bang sound.
  • Averted in Mission: Impossible, at least for the effects. During one episode, Rollin Hand is pretending to be deaf. A bad guy 'tests' him by firing a gun off near his ear. He proceeds to manage to keep cover despite the fact that he's one step from bleeding out the eardrums!

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Unsurprisingly, Homicide's themes tend to feature a lot of gun bangs, particularly in the International Wrestling Cartel and when he used 50 Cent's You're not ready in Ring of Honor. here's the theme Konnan did for him.
  • Bullet Club's Last Chance Saloon theme runs through the gamete of stock gun sound effects, from the Dramatic Gun Cock, to the noisy 'BANG', to the 'chachow' ricochet, to the 'dakka' of semi automatics...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Justified case in Warhammer 40,000. Orks find it hard to believe that a gun can do a lot of damage without making a truly deafening noise. This being the case, Ork Mekboyz create firearms designed specifically to make the loudest DAKKADAKKADAKKA you'll ever hear, therefore making the weapon that much more powerful. For a bit of clarification, Ork tech works the way it works because orks think it should work that way. By making them as loud as possible, Mekboyz probably DO, in fact, increase the damage output of the weapon.
    • Made a little more justified in the Rogue Trader supplement Into The Storm, which lets ork Mekboyz kustomize weapons with loudeners. It doesn't make them more powerful, but it does make them sound more dangerous, enhancing the effects of suppressive fire.
  • It's actually pretty hard for a character in GURPS to identify the sound of a gunshot as such if unfamiliar with guns.

    Video Games 
  • Miniguns in video games are often depicted even more unrealistically than on film: not only do they make any of a variety of "rat-tat-tat" noises (with an electric motor noise occasionally thrown in for good measure), but often have such a slow rate of fire that the presence of more than one barrel is completely unnecessary.
    • Averted in Battlefield 2; the mounted miniguns on the Blackhawk transport helicopters sound mostly realistic, if a bit high-pitched.
    • Averted in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and its sequels: the miniguns used by the player at some points fire exceptionally fast.
    • Grand Theft Auto III has an assault rifle that fires at the rate of and sounds like a minigun.
    • PlanetSide 2 has fairly accurate sounds for its miniguns, though their actual firerate is far lower than a real minigun; the MCG makes a realistic "BRRRRRRRRRR" noise but fires at a measly ~800rpm.
    • Resident Evil 4 plays this trope straight with both the mounted minigun in the castle and the miniguns wielded by the Giant Mooks in Chapter 5.
    • F/A-18 Hornet averts this with the titular jet fighter's M61 Vulcan Cannon.
    • Hoo boy is this averted in Hot Dogs, Horseshoes, and Hand Grenades after Update #52 overhauled the sound system. It fires at 2,700 RPM and each individual round gets it's own sound and it is frightening.
    • Metal Gear Solid plays this straight when Vulcan Raven hand-wields the aforementioned M61 Vulcan that he is named after, firing much slower than the 6000 RPM of the real thing.
    • GoldenEye (1997) downplays this with its minigun sentry turrets, which fire much faster than in most media, but still somewhat slower than real life miniguns.
  • Half-Life:
    • The first game plays this totally straight with the Colt Python, which befitting its status as a revolver that is as such the strongest non-energy gun in the game, is ridiculously loud. Half-Life 2 averted this with the 9mm USP Match, which had a rather disappointing (but fairly realistic) "PAFF PAFF" sound.
    • Inverted with the Glock 18, the first of the Standard FPS Guns acquired in the first game's campaign, which makes a strange high-pitched wheezing noise that sounds vaguely like an energy weapon. Black Mesa replaced this effect with a much more realistic sound clip that could well be taken from a real 9mm pistol, as well as switching the Colt's sound out for something a bit quieter but still noticeably deeper and more bass-heavy than the Glock.
  • Averted in the first-person shooter series Call of Duty; the guns sounding pretty realistic as long as you turn the volume loud enough. Sometimes the devs fudge with things for the purpose of dramatics, however; for example, a character executing another with an M1911 halfway through Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is accompanied by the sound of the Desert Eagle.
  • The Rifle and Dual Pistol power sets for blasters in City of Heroes are all about classic movie gun sounds — with a different one for each "power" your weapon(s) gains.
  • Counter-Strike also plays this with the H&K USP45 and the Glock 18: since the Glock eats 9mm Parabellum rounds and the USP45 uses the more powerful .45 ACP rounds, they basically made the USP's bang more low-pitched to make it feel more powerful. This may be an Acceptable Break From Reality though: remember video games must also give some feedback to the player, and in this case, the user knows the difference between the Glock and the USP's power by the detonation.
  • Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City have pistols that make a loud "BANG!" when fired. San Andreas then downplays this by giving the pistol a more muffled, high-pitched, "weaker" sound.
  • An accidental example in Halo: For Halo: Combat Evolved, Bungie mastered the weapon sound effects with an LFE component (the .1 in 5.1 surround sound). For most parts of a recording, this sound-effect-to-LFE transition ("bass management") is actually meant to be performed by the home user's sound system, so in this instance the bass on the guns was doubled-up. This was corrected for Halo 2, leading to a more accurate sound that initially seemed weaker. Strangely enough, the silenced SMG in Halo 3: ODST is louder than the original version.
  • Ace Attorney:
  • Most of the guns in GoldenEye (1997) follow this trope but special mention has to go to the Cougar Magnum. Even though it's a handgun and therefore one of the smaller weapons in the game, it sounds like a cannon going off (and can shoot through up to five enemies at once, unlike the other guns).
    • The same goes for the DY357 Magnum in Perfect Dark, which uses a stock sound often used for shotguns. In fact, the shotguns in this game use the same sound.
    • Soldier of Fortune's Hand Cannon, the Silver Talon, also sounds somewhat cannon-like, and decapitates enemies at absurdly long range.
  • Actually becomes a minor plot point in MadWorld, in with the Deathwatch forbids guns except for the overseers and a handful of contestants, where Jack hears a small-arm fire and realises it's too small to be one of their weapons.
  • Medal of Honor employs recordings of authentic World War II weapons firing live ammunition just to get the sound right. Oddly, the MG-42's in Allied Assault fire slower than in other games, and sound more like assault rifles or SMGs than heavy machine guns. The Springfield sniper rifle sounds like a cannon in the first game (similar to the Hand Cannon in GoldenEye and Perfect Dark, actually), but more realistic in later games.
  • An odd aversion is present in Unreal II: The Awakening where the main assault rifle has people divided over the sound with reactions including, 'good', 'more like a staple gun' and even a 'weak hissing' noise according to one reviewer.
  • StarCraft: The Marines are outfitted with "Gauss Rifles" that, based on the name, should accelerate bullets using electromagnetic coils yet, for some reason, make generic rat-a-tat sounds as if they're propelled by gunpowder.
  • In The Godfather: The Game the magnum series does make loud sounds, which the description in-game clearly notes, but the other guns are more subdued.
  • As a general note, Video Games dealing with real models (weapon types that are actually in existence) tend to have this better than most Live Action franchises by a noticeable (though not overwhelming) amount, in large part because since you can usually tailor everything in the game to proportion (as opposed to live action, where you can chop up the recordings and modify them by increasing or decreasing the volume to varying extents but have very concrete technical limits). This is not to say that they are perfect (far from it, many if not most do have this trope) and very, VERY few people try to get the sound of fictional weapons somewhat right, but on the whole it's something.
  • The pistol sound used in the 3D Grand Theft Auto games shows up a lot not only in other video games, but TV and film as well.
  • Somewhat averted in Fallout: New Vegas. Many of the guns are quieter than your average gamer would expect, especially the good ole 9mm, and when heard from a distance, it sounds more like a PAFF PAFF PAFF when people are going at it some distance away. They did a very nice job with most sound effects in the game, especially those heard from a distance.
  • Averted with the 9mm pistols in most of the Resident Evil series, but played straight with the magnums, which use typical Hand Cannon sounds.
  • Averted in the ARMA series, which realistically simulates sound effects separately for both supersonic and subsonic ammunition. Supersonic bullets will let off a large cracking sound when fired, while subsonic rounds only have the sound of the initial gunpowder explosion.
  • Averted by the 9mm pistol in Max Payne. Played straight by every other weapon, however.
  • Alan Wake surprisingly plays this straight even on a diegetic level; an audible ringing can be heard after firing a pistol for the first time, and Alan will mention he is used to wearing ear protection in a firing range. Subverted from then on to undoubtedly avoid annoying players.
  • The first Gears of War game averts this with a number of guns that sound fairly realistic, with the sniper rifle and default pistol sounding the most like actual guns. The newer sound effects for pretty much every gun in the sequels plays this straight though.
  • The developers of Gun made recordings of real life versions of each gun in the game, specifically to avert this.
  • Partially averted in Mafia II; during a scene from the mission "The Buzzsaw", the player fires an MG-42 light machine gun. The protagonist's best friend then shouts "Stop shooting that fucking gun, I'm going deaf over here!". Though minutes later he shows no signs of hearing loss, as would befit someone less then ten feet from the business end of such a weapon.
  • It is customary for the sound volume of individual shots to be inversely proportional to rate of fire (much as the amount of damage per bullet varies as well). A minigun tends to sound like "prrrrrrrrrr" (see the one in Unreal Tournament) while a pistol goes "BANG BANG".
  • In the second Turok game, all of the guns that both the player and enemies use have unique sounds, though none resemble anything that would be realistic. The two biggest offenders have to be the Firestorm (a plasma gatling gun), which essentially winds up from the aforementioned "minigun purr" to something that sounds like screams as it fires, and the Cerebral Bore, which makes sounds unpleasantly like a dental drill. Which is arguably fitting, since it fires homing needle-pods that drill out the victim's brains.
  • Mii Koryuji's gun firing in the opening to Project × Zone sounds a lot like the sound used in Dirty Harry, Death Wish 3, Miami Vice, and Lethal Enforcers.
  • Guns in Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 sound quite loud, but since the games are based on B-horror movie cliches, it was likely intentional. Thanks to mods, you can avert the trope by having guns with more realistic sounds or exaggerate the trope further by making the guns sound even louder.
  • The guns used by Crow, Fie, Sara, Machias, and Musse in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel are very quiet compared to the sounds of a gun in real life. Even Randy's BFG from The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero has a very low pitch sound coming from a machine gun.
  • In the first two Tomb Raider games, Lara's dual pistols had a cannon-like boom sound, but the third game changed their sound to be more realistic.
  • Ashes Afterglow: The baseline Junker Musket sounds powerful on its own, but when you upgrade it to the Junker Driver and fully charge up a shot, it sounds almost like a truck exploding. The damage increases accordingly.

    Web Original 
  • Averted in Diamond's Cut. Guns fire pretty quietly — assuming, of course, that they fire at all.

    Western Animation 
  • They originally tried using the workaround of recording actual firearm noise for Æon Flux, but it ultimately wasn't used due to Executive Meddling. The funny thing is that the foley effects they went with actually made less of a racket. In this case it kinda works, though, since the guns are all futuristic models.
  • Averted in Archer, in which several characters suffer some degree of hearing loss, temporary and/or permanent, due to explosions or gunfire. Sterling Archer in particular suffers from ongoing tinnitus.
  • The Cleveland Show: The trope is averted in the episode Til Deaf, where Lester accidentally fires his shotgun near Cleveland while trying to shoot a deer. This resulted in Cleveland losing his hearing for one week, hearing only ringing in the ears and having to shout.
  • Tom and Jerry: Averted in Sorry Safari, when Tom's master punishes him by wrapping his shotgun around his head and firing it, causing him to go deaf (and render the cartoon itself silent) for a moment.

    Real Life 
  • The German MP40 (also called the Schmeisser) has been described as sounding like "the scariest sewing machine you'll ever hear". Listen for yourself; you need to take the volume down a bit to eliminate the high range that would not carry over any significant distance. The quote probably dates to a time when most people would be more familiar with the sound of a sewing machine than automatic gunfire, and refers only to the regular nature of the sound rather than the precise sound of the shots.
  • Truth in Television — only with high-powered guns, though, especially rifles that can still hurt one's hearing far away.
    • You know how sometimes games and films have a weird metallic ringing noise along with the BOOM? It's obvious that no weapon could possibly make a noise like that. Oh, wait...
      • The Yugoslavian M76 is an even better example.
    • The Russian SVD has a loud booming noise. This is due to the construction of the 7.62x54R standard Russian ammo, which sounds stronger even compared to similar .30-caliber ammo. However, the Chinese SVD (Type 79/85) ejects the shell extra hard. Their QBU-88 also makes the same noise.
    • As a large number of people can tell, the .223 / 5.56 NATO round will make a sharp crack note  when fired in a long-barreled rifle in single shots. Larger rifle calibers in .30 caliber and up will have a deeper and more booming sound. On the other side, 9x19mm handgun ammo, despite what Hollywood may claim, is louder and deeper than a .223 if fired from a modern automatic pistol, and almost as loud as a full-powered rifle if the 9x19 cartridge is fired from a long-barrel carbine.
  • Black powder guns actually do tend to have a bit of the bass "booooom" effect that's added to most gunshot sound effects. Also, some of the smallest guns make the biggest noise. NAA minirevolvers in .22 magnum are known for sounding a lot like movie SFX. Shorter barrels translate directly to a bigger bang, since much of the gunpowder hasn't yet been consumed by the time the bullet clears the muzzle (it also explains another reason short barrels reduce projectile velocity; bigger bang means more powder going to waste).
  • In Vietnam, some US soldiers took to stealing AK's from dead NVA/VC soldiers. Aside from souvenirs, they did this because the AK has a rather distinct sound among assault rifles, so they could use them against the Viet Cong to sow confusion amongst them in battle. Unfortunately that tactic was more harmful than beneficial in some cases since, upon hearing the distinctive report of AK-47s, other US soldiers would often assume the fire was of enemy origin. This led to some friendly fire incidents.
  • This also sometimes—depending on the construction of the range—add to the pleasures of a trip to a firing range, and increase your appreciation of ear protection.note 
  • In this video, an AR-15 is firing off-screen with slightly-quieter "crack-crack-crack", and then the shooter fires his old Mosin-Nagant rifle, which makes a much louder "BOOM!", enough to scare the man with the AR-15.
  • Some video game studios have actually used live-fire recordings, among other things to create their gunsounds. However, in some making-of videos on special-editions DVD's of the games, the gunfire in game is nothing like the live-fire recording.
  • Hunting rifles being fired in the distance in a forest, will sound very similar to movies where guns are fired in the distance in some abandoned forest; a muffled, medium-high pitch crack, followed by a bassy echo. However, they will be quadratically louder in volume the closer you get to the source; a gun fired a mile away will be as loud as thunder rumbling a couple miles away. A quarter mile? A head on car collision. Within a few feet? As loud as a thunderclap hitting a tree a couple houses down from your house.
  • Microphones in your run-of-the-mill camcorders and mobile phones are notoriously bad at picking up a gun shot correctly. Therefore the only way to truly find out what a gun sounds like when it's fired is to actually shoot one yourself. Or buy specialized recording equipment. note 
  • Most electric-driven Gatling guns have a very unique sound unlike just about any other firearm. The sound has been compared to a loud buzz, hum or a really long, loud fart. Often times, this sound will be replaced (for live action works) or substituted with a sound more akin to a traditional machine gun, because of the belief that an audience will not recognize it as a machine gun with any other sound.
    • The same cannot be said for the GAU-8 Avenger Gatling autocannon found on the A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack aircraft. The distinctive "BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRT!" of the GAU-8 is instantly recognisable and can be heard from miles away. It's also been speculated that the sound of the A-10's GAU-8 firing is both a morale booster and a psychological weapon in and of itself - If you're in battle, it's either come to save you, or - if you're on the other side of the fight - it wasn't aimed at you.
  • The MG 42 was infamous for its distinct sound, due in large part to its high firing rate — the human ear is almost entirely incapable of distinguishing the individual gunshots when there's upwards of 20 of them going on in one second. Almost every nickname it earned was due to the sound it made. American troops called it "Hitler's Zipper", while the Germans themselves were known to call it the "Buzzsaw".
  • An example of how gunshots aren't always recognizable is the assassination of Reynaldo Dagsa, a Filipino politician who became famous for inadvertently capturing his killer in a family photo. The assassin was standing right behind the victim's family when he fired the fatal shot, but they just saw Dagsa fall down and didn't immediately realize he had been shot. Namely, the assassination took place during New Years' celebrations, and they mistook the sound of the assassin's .45 caliber handgun for a firecracker.
  • A similar example happened with the mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport in early January 2017. Many people away from the site of the shooting heard the sounds of gunfire from the shooter, but some mistook them for the sounds of firecrackers and only knew of what happened after people started panicking and running.



Video Example(s):


Bond Theme Made by Ricochets

Sanchez fires some bullets at Bond and misses. The sound of the bullets ricocheting off the tanker is set to the Bond theme.

How well does it match the trope?

4.6 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / DiegeticSoundtrackUsage

Media sources: