Toning Your Airgun

Toning Your Airgun

Toning Your Airgun. Yes... I said TONING - not TUNING.
If you want to get into some heated debates in the airgun world, start a conversation in your favorite forum or Facebook Group about airgun suppressors and decibel (dB) ratings. If you have ever met an audiophile or if you are one yourself, you know they (you) can be a real anal smarty pants when topics pop up about the physics of sound when it comes to the report of an airgun.

Defintion: au·di·o·phile
noun: audiophile; plural noun: audiophiles: a hi-fi audio enthusiast.
Two years ago, I published a video: DonnyFL Emperor Air Gun Suppressor for the AirForce Texan Big Bore: Quieter Than Raindrops? This video just went over 100,000 views and thought this would be a good time to revisit this topic.



One of the most requested tests I get on the UpNorthAirgunner YouTube channel is to do formal dB tests, both suppressed and unsuppressed. Furthermore, I am asked to do so with a calibrated measuring device (that is acceptable and approved by said doubting audiophile troll). I have tinkered with a few consumer grade measuring tools and various iOS apps, but after doing all my own personal testing I have come to the conclusion that it is pointless to show the results of these tests on video.

Why? You ask. I must be hiding something and these cans don't do a damn thing - right? That couldn't be further from the truth and if you don't believe me, I invite you to ask around within any online airgunner group about DonnyFL suppressors. You will get set straight real quick. The reason why I won't do these kinds of tests is because any suppressor decibel result I would publish would be irrelevant, out of context, and decibel ratings by themselves don't mean SQUAT.

Now that is a bold statement and let me explain. When I first started getting into airgun suppression, it was with AirForce Texan Big Bore Airguns. That is like trying to get a .20 gauge shotgun to shut the hell up and that is not an easy task. When I first ventured into this space, I found (like most of us have) that DonnyFL Suppressors had found some secret sauce in the materials used, sizes of cans, and engineering of monocore internals to offer airgun suppressors that are second to none.

One of the biggest reasons I don't do dB sound tests on my channel is because so many airgunners just getting into this sport don't understand the context of decibel rating vs.auditory perception. I have seen people get into down right keyboard banging fits of rage arguing decibel ratings, but did you know you probably can't even detect a 1-5 dB difference from your airgun suppressor?
You might barely notice a difference of 5-10 dB and when you can achieve a 10 dB or even 20 dB difference you are now doubling and quadrupling the dB suppression of your airgun. The biggest issue though in these measurements is that we don't shoot in sound proofed lab rooms, we shoot in the woods or at the range.

Go watch that Quieter Than Raindrops? video and notice where I was shooting and the weather conditions that day. I was shooting on a jeep trail basically in a hallway of pine trees and it was foggy. All of those conditions change the shot report you perceive. So before you go scrambling online to buy a decibel meter, allow me to save you some money. It doesn't matter.

The sound of your airgun's report has a lot more to do with the intersection of DECIBELS AND FREQUENCY of your shot report. The frequency or amount of air pressure change vibration is measured in Hertz. The resulting change in air pressure created through the vibrating sound of your shot report is measured in decibels. Decibels measure the loudness of a sound and Hertz measures the frequency of the sound.

But what you are "hearing" is the combination of those two factors and any attempt to show that on a video won't even come close to what you experience in real life. The relationship between those two measurements is what you actually experience as a shooter through the use of an airgun suppressor.

The frequency or perceived TONE is different depending on the combination of the velocity tune of your gun (the amount of air being expelled), and the size of the suppressor used. You will "hear" different frequency changes that are more like a tone change not just a volume change. Working in concert with the actual reduction of decibels, this is the sweet - sweet sound of a DonnyFL suppressed airgun that so many of us airheads have come to love. Thus the title of this post: Toning Your Airgun.


In my testing, I have found that when I use various sizes of DonyFL Suppressors, I can achieve differing levels of AUDITORY PERCEPTION of suppressed shot reports. What has shocked me the most is being able to run even the smallest DonnyFL cans like the KOI or the TANTO and get amazing suppression results with my more powerful airguns .30 cal and smaller.

When I first started testing all the different sizes, I thought I would only get good suppression with a larger Sumo or Ronin suppressors. After a few years of testing I will go out on a limb to say that regardless of size and volume, one DonnyFL can isn't necessarily "better" than another, but they just sound "different".

RUBBISH you say?! Bigger MUST be better! Well, think about this.... One of the most popular and effective suppressors in the powder burner world for .22LR is the SilencerCo Sparrow. I have shot TONS of rounds with that suppressor (thank you Dan Lowe - we are still finding brass all over the backyard) and it literally sounds like a desktop office stapler when you squeeze the trigger shooting subsonic .22LR ammo. The SilencerCo Sparrow is just over an inch in diameter and only 5 inches long. For comparison, the DonnyFL TANTO (the smallest of all DonnyFL cans) is 1.22 inches in diameter and 5 inches long.

Through my testing I can tell you there is a TONE difference between the TANTO and the SUMO and the RONIN, but they are all insanely quiet to my ear and you just need to see for yourself. The good news is just like Lay's Potato Chips where "...you can't just eat one". Trust me - you will end up owning multiple DonnyFL suppressors during your airgunner journey.

For the sake of this post I won't get into the harmonic tuning effects and accuracy through the use of DonnyFL suppressors, as that is a discussion for another day. But I will tell you when silence is a priority for airgunners - DonnyFL has figured out the science of Shhhhhhhh.....
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