Previous Post
Next Post

Not only is the logarithmic decibel scale difficult to understand, it only scratches the surface of explaining what is and is not “hearing safe” when it comes to firing suppressed firearms. PEW Science is looking to change all of this with some extremely high-tech testing and an entirely new way to present the information.

Their new Silencer Sound Standard and Suppression Rating will provide a clear picture of how much exposure to a given firearm with a given suppressor is safe for your hearing, and will also give the industry and consumers a much more meaningful method by which to compare suppressor models and host firearms.

PEW Science’s press release follows:

PEW Science Announces Industry Leading Silencer Sound Standard

26-MAR-2020 — As an industry leader in independent small arms sound signature testing, PEW Science is announcing the launch of a groundbreaking methodology- the Silencer Sound Standard™.

Over the past decade, consumers have demanded accurate and dependable information on how “hearing safe” a silencer will be on a certain host firearm. PEW Science answered the call by developing the Suppression Rating™. The new Standard and Suppression Rating finally arms consumers with a true “hearing safe” metric from a reliable, unbiased source.

“PEW Science has created an advanced, yet simplified, testing and analytical methodology to evaluate the sound signature of both suppressed and unsuppressed small arms. Silencer consumers now have access to truly independent test data that is state of the art, comprehensive, and meaningful,” states Jay Idriss, Owner and Technical Director of PEW Science LLC. “We have really gone where nobody in the firearm industry has gone before; we developed our own hardware and software tools to make this Standard a reality.” PEW Science has named this technology PEW-SOFT™.

Using one number to compare every silencer on every host firearm to each other, the rating provides the best real estimate of comfortable use with unprotected ears for a silencer paired with a specific host. By knowing how many shots in a given use period are actually hearing safe, consumers will be able to protect their hearing while enjoying hunting, practicing at the range, or casually plinking. The PEW Science Suppression Rating provides the most accurate and comprehensive sound signature rating available to consumers.

Visit for silencer Sound Signature Reviews™ and more information about PEW Science technology, their industry leading Silencer Sound Standard, and Suppression Rating.

PEW Science
Professionally Engineered Weaponeering

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. I’m glad to see this.

    Scientific and technological advancement marches on. Inspite of ignorant, self aggrandizing, power hungry politicians and tyrants.

      • Also really glad to see this, it gives way more information than just the previous standard “mil-std” test. Also, love how it’s conveniently called “PEW” soft haha

        • Ha, Thanks! I thought it was clever too 🙂

          My goal was to make this meaningful for the consumer and the industry. I hope I’m accomplishing that!

  2. Could be good to have a way to compare, does Pew science just do the testing, and manufacturers have to sign on with them or submit their silencers for testing? Or they just follow the method and do it themselves?

    Like anything it will be most useful if the majority of brands and models are tested and get a number. Having enough data and staying up to date has been an issue for other silencer comparison sites, as data on discontinued models from 5 years ago doesn’t help with a new purchase much.

    Anyway, props for trying to make the process more objective!

    • Thanks for your interest, and definitely thanks for the props!

      You bring up great points. Let me try to answer your questions:

      1. We do the testing. The testing is independent, much like how test labs in any industry are – the customer comes to a lab and says “hey, I need X tested with method Y” – the lab says, “ok” and then the customer pays, and then the customer gets their results. The customer then owns their results.

      PEW Science is a little different. We offer the service, as described above, but we ALSO do our own independent internally-funded testing. All testing we do is independent. All, to date, has been funded internally. If there is ever external funding for a test, it will be shown on the website. I updated the FAQ today to let people know this. Does that make sense?

      2. Yeah, getting the testing done for every silencer on every host – it’s a lot of work and a monumental undertaking. All I can tell you is that I’m testing a lot.

      Thanks again. It means the world to me that people are finding this useful, at least a little bit! Trying to change the way things are done, for the better!

  3. Is the rating based on total pressure as a function of peak pressure? It seems a company could ‘cheat’ the test by elongation of the wave without attenuation of peak pressures. I’ve always been skeptical of helical cans for this reason.

    • EXCELLENT question! The rating is based on peak pressure, peak positive phase impulse, hearing damage modeling, and some other factors as described on the website.

      Trying to cheat the test is not possible. At least, I don’t know how. I don’t understand what you are saying – you say they would “elongate the wave without attenuation of the peak pressures” – are you saying that you think you can make a pressure pulse longer duration, not reduce its peak magnitude, and somehow reduce peak positive phase impulse? Please elaborate – I might be missing your point.

      Maybe you meant to say “someone could reduce the peak amplitude of a waveform by delaying the exit of gasses for a long time, thus lengthening the overall wave and at the same time striking the correct balance of duration increase and pressure reduction to not increase overall positive phase impulse.” If THAT’s what you meant – then yes, I suppose someone could TRY that. That’s what those folks TRY to do – but if they are successful, that’s not cheating the test. That’s making a quieter silencer.

      • Savvy. I had a cup of brain grease and figured out I’m not good at waves.
        Reread the .3, using ARUs and peak energy as a function of time with defined integral being 0 and local minimum after local max.
        I’m interested in watching your results!!!

        • Thanks for your interest – I think you’re going to like this stuff!

          There should be something for everyone. For those that just want one, simplified number to tell them “loudness” – that’s the Suppression Rating.

          For those that want to do a deep dive and really look into the waveform phenomena – they can do that too!

          Thanks again 🙂

  4. Anything a disgruntled dirty diaper democRat can do to upset the freedom train they will. It all begins with voter stupidity. The thing anti gin zealots want to silence is your voice.

    • The anti gin zealots were lawfully disarmed by the following…

      AMENDMENT XXI – Passed by Congress February 20, 1933. Ratified December 5, 1933.

      * apologies DW, I had to go for the low-hanging fruit.

    • I am the owner of PEW Science. I’m not sure I understand your question. Are you asking if we sell silencers? We do not sell silencers.

      • Apologies –

        Are you associated with the silencer manufacturing industry in general?

        • No sir, we are not associated with the silencer manufacturing industry.

          However, I really like silencers, I own a lot of silencers, I like to shoot silencers, and I know some of the people in that industry personally. So, in that regard – yes, I guess you could say we have an association. In a corporate sense, no. No manufacturing industry association.

          However, we do provide services and the silencer manufacturing industry can procure those services from us (testing, evaluation, consulting, etc – as listed on our website).

          I hope this answers your question. The definition of “associated with” could have a lot of interpretations, so I’m trying to give you all the information here.

          Thanks again for your interest and let me know if you want to know anything else!

  5. Noisy still but more like Guns N Roses not jet airplane loud.

    I’m surprised so much noise comes from the pin hitting the primer.

    • I am really glad you noticed that!

      Keep in mind, the peak pressure is higher than you may have thought, but the duration of that event is incredibly short!

      That’s why PEW Science created the Silencer Sound Standard. We measure REAL peak pressure AND we look at WAY more than that peak pressure.

  6. As someone with hearing damage (most of it from industrial noise and not firearms), I’m happy to see any research and standards, measurement and objective evaluations on noise suppression and the net effects on hearing.

    • As I said yesterday. Glad to hear. I also gave my story of partial hearing loss(aka permanent damage) to the hearing in my left ear from one rifle shot. Just 1 shot without ear pro.

      • I got my tinnitus the 80s way, blasting rock-n-roll from first generation Walkmans, and mowing the grass with a mower with a rusted-out muffler, and I’m not interested in aggregating it any worse.

        It would have been nice back then if I knew that loud ringing after cutting the yard meant I was destroying my hearing…

        • Somewhere between loud gaming, shoot houses, and machine guns. I can still hear well enough without hearing aids but I have them just in case I work in an office. I remember putting them on and I could hear birds and my shoes squeaking on the floor again.

          Well, I’ve only lost what, 60 “points” on my hearing, tinnitus is always there but I usually need to be reminded of it to hear it.

        • Yep, I’m right there with ya. I’ve been dangerously close to loosing my hearing permanently. And that was before I started getting into guns. The hearing protect act would have been a major blessing for me.

  7. I don’t understand how it can be standardized for all weapons as a bolt gun is quite than a semi and a short semi is louder than a long one

    • If the system is quieter, it will get a higher Suppression Rating. If the system is louder, it will get a lower Suppression Rating. The rating is tied to the silencer, host weapon, and ammunition.

      • Jay,

        The rating is tied to the silencer, host weapon, and ammunition.

        … which is as it should be.

        We finally have a rating system that equips us to avoid a high likelihood of permanent hearing loss. As I said in my other comments, that is HUGE!

      • So it’s a system rating, not a suppressor rating. Do you or the manufacturer determine the weapon and ammunition that is to be used in the test?

        It seems that if the manufacturer chooses the host and ammo used that there could be large discrepancies in what the test results are and what real world users experience.

        To me, a standardized test should try to eliminate any variables other than the suppressor. That means all suppressors, of a given caliber, should be tested on the same gun with the same ammo with allowances given for atmospheric conditions.

        • Thanks for your interest in the Suppression Rating!

          You are correct! The Suppression Rating gives the user an objective measure of loudness on a suppressed weapon system.

          The rating is always tied to a specific silencer, silencer host, and ammunition.

          Your opinion regarding standardized testing and its elimination of all variables other than the subject test specimen is a valid opinion and shared by many. However, in practicality, silencers are used in so many different configurations on different host weapons and on different host ammunition, it would be disingenuous for PEW Science (or anyone) to suggest that a single rating could apply to a silencer regardless of host and ammo. The reality is that performance depends on those factors – and it always will. Silencer 1 may perform better than Silencer 2 on Host A than on Host B, and Silencer 2 may perform better on Host B than on Host A. That is the reality.

          Using the same host and ammunition for several silencers has been done already as part of the Standard and you will see reviews from test series such as those as they are released!

          I hope I addressed your concerns, and thank you for your interest!

  8. Friendly suggestion:

    I like to think that I have excellent reading comprehension skills. I also like to think that I have excellent technical reading skills. Coming to a basic understanding of what the PEW-SOFT rating means was painfully difficult and time consuming.

    Please share a simple explanation of the new method of rating suppressors.

    My take-away: PEW-SOFT objectively rates suppressors and provides a simple way to understand how often you could shoot a given suppressor on a given firearm (with “typical” ammunition) without significant risk of permanent hearing damage.

    Assuming that my explanation is accurate and I understand this rating system, I say FANTASTIC! Job well done and long overdue!

    • First of all – thank you for the kind words.

      Secondly – I appreciate the constructive criticism!!! You are right. It is long. But I didn’t want to leave anything out because I figured if people were going to trust this, they had to see nuts and bolts.

      I tried to strike a balance. Thanks again for the interest!

      • Jay,

        I think the long explanation is excellent and necessary as well. I am simply encouraging you to provide a super-simple (one or two sentence) explanation of your rating system.

        People who are not able to digest the long explanation want to immediately understand the utility and value of your rating system. And people who want more details or who want to critically evaluate the basis of your rating system can dive into the longer explanation.

        Providing a super-simple explanation before the long explanation also helps orient readers to absorb all of the information more readily. Unless I missed it (and that is certainly possible, I am a bit low on sleep today), I did not see any introduction which explained what the rating system meant and I could not divine what the rating system was going to measure/indicate until the very end of the long explanation.

        Saying it another way, my mindset as I began reading your long explanation was that your rating system was going to be another system that simply rates how well any given suppressor reduces sound levels relative to other suppressors. I had no idea that your rating system was going to provide an objective measure of how much you can shoot through a suppressor at minimal risk of permanent hearing loss. That is a completely different rating system — and an immensely more valuable rating system.

        I will simply close by saying that I am incredibly excited and pleased that you have come up with an object measure/rating that helps us know how we can use a given suppressor without hearing protection and without permanent hearing loss. That is HUGE!

      • Jay,

        First thank you, very cool. As others have stated in other ways a short summary or abstract is going to be of more utility to most people. By way of example Luckgunner Labs has done detailed comparisons of ammo and has varying levels of detail so that someone who is not a subject matter expert can grasp the big picture quickly and differentiate defectively.

        • All of these are valid points. I will give this some thought. I might provide some links for people to go straight to the Suppression Rating, for example.

          I could also create another page with only a simplified explanation. There are a lot of options.

          I’ll chew on this. Thanks for the feedback, guys!

  9. The deficiency I see is that it’s measuring at the muzzle and not the shooter’s ear. Admittedly, this makes it more difficult since a bolt gun will be different from a piston gun, which will be different from a direct impingement gun. Maybe different scales (.m, .b, .p, .d), like Rockwell hardness has. 1m from the muzzle has been the standard for testing, but since you’re trying to establish a standard, a new focus is apropos. I care about the reduction at my ears and the safe levels there. I’m typically not in a squad where a teammate is firing with his muzzle near my ear.

    • Yes, if you visit the website, all PEW Science testing contains data measured at the shooter’s ear. The Suppression Rating takes into account muzzle and ear measurements, and the physiological response of your ears!

        • Yeah – I gave those charts to Jeremy for this article before the site went live, so your confusion is totally understandable and justified – for sure!

          The charts showing the waveforms at the ear are available to members of PEW Science.

          But, again, if you don’t want to be a member – no problem. The Suppression Rating takes into account the ear data too. The detailed waveforms just aren’t published in the free version of the reviews, that’s all.

          Thanks again for asking questions – I appreciate the opportunity to help clarify unknowns and interact with you folks!

    • Ha! Thanks for your interest 🙂

      PEW-SOFT kind of “stuck” as the name of our test system… I will consider your feedback in future branding! hahaha

  10. In defense of the decibel logarithmic scale, it is used for characteristics whose values have tremendous ranges. Millions, billions, trillions, quadrillions, and quintillions would provoke even worse nosebleeds among the public.

    Even engineers go fetal at quadrillions, which would be used for some sound pressure levels were it not for the decibel scale.

    • You have an excellent point! The Silencer Sound Standard uses the decibel (referenced to 20 micropascals of sound pressure, as that is the typical logarithmic reference used with the “universal” logarithmic dB sound pressure scale).

      However, the Suppression Rating is not “decibels.” It is a rating, tied to a suppressed weapon system “shot dose” – that is, it rates loudness based upon physiological factors – your ears’ response to the sound signatures.

      So, don’t worry, decibels are still used in the Standard. You’ll have to check out the website to read more!

  11. Jay,

    What happens to the small manufacturer who can’t or won’t pay your company $100 a month to be rated? If your stated goal is to make this system the Standard what about them? No pay, no rating I take it.

    • Manufacturers don’t have to join PEW Science.

      Actually, nobody has to join!

      The Suppression Rating is available after a system has been tested. Every published review contains the Suppression Rating, for free. Tests occur in the following ways:

      1. PEW Science tests independently (this is most common)
      2. Manufacturers fund a test and get the rating for their chosen system, but choose to keep their results to themselves, because they own the data, having paid for it (then those results and that rating are private)
      3. Manufacturers fund a test and get the rating for their chosen system, and decide to let PEW Science publish it, because they own the data, having paid for it, so that is their decision (then those results and that rating are public)
      4. There are many other ways tests can occur

      If a manufacturer wants to use the Rating in their own advertising to sell their products – that is a different story. That is an example of licensing, as mentioned on the website, and questions about that can be sent to [email protected]

      I hope this answers your questions! Thanks for your interest.

  12. Am I correct that you still need hearing protection above 85 db. And are there any suppressors that can do this?

    • Hi Scott – good question!

      Short answer – you might still need hearing protection above 85 dB (it depends!). But that isn’t relevant for gunshots, because in the context of gunshot noise, even the quietest suppressed weapon is significantly louder.

      Long answer-

      When you (or anyone) uses the term “85 dB” – you are talking about a level of sound pressure.

      However, “85 dB” can refer to different things, depending on the source of the sound! For example, you might be talking about 85 dB constant sound – like the sound of a generator running. That is called “steady state” sound.

      But, if you are talking about gunshot sound – that sounds happens very quickly. That sound happens so quickly that even if the maximum sound were 85 dB – it would be MUCH less harmful to your ears than the generator running in the previous example.

      The need for hearing protection depends upon:

      Peak sound pressure

      Duration of sound pressure

      Wave frequency of sound pressure

      And finally… the physical response of your ears to sound pressure.

      Check out the website for more, and thanks for your interest!

  13. While this is not related to suppressors, it would be interesting to know what the difference actually is between the same model handgun being ported vs. non-ported. I like the reduced muzzle flip from a ported model and have noticed no difference in loudness. Most gun guys are emphatic that porting makes a firearm “WAY louder” and I just don’t find that to be the case. The same amount of energy is coming out of the barrel, and the location it’s coming from differs by only a 1/2 inch or so when ported. I also suffered hearing loss WHILE WEARING PRO from someone shooting a high powered rifle at a local indoor range. They were the digital type and I’ve never worn them since. I only wear the traditional ear muffs since then, and double plug. I also don’t go to the indoor range anymore as a result…..I appreciate the work you’re doing!

    • Thanks for your interest, sir. And, copy that! PEW Science can definitely perform that testing. In fact, we will. We don’t have any ported handguns in our inventory but can definitely obtain some. I’m thinking Glock, for instance, since there are probably models with barrel lengths similar that are non-ported, but I am open to suggestions.

      The fit of common digital hearing protection muffs on my head and ears is such that I usually double-up with plugs underneath if I’m shooting at a public indoor range. I’m with you on that.

      Sorry to hear about your hearing damage. I have a story for you –

      I was hunting coyotes one night with red-light (before my obsessive thermal sight days) and a hunting partner didn’t properly communicate – I was standing beside an ATV and he was in the back, taking aim from his roof-mounted position. He was using an unsuppressed .243WIN bolt gun, and I had removed my hearing protection muffs from the ear facing him, to facilitate communication when spotting the coyotes.

      We saw one, he didn’t indicate he was going to engage, and then he did. Not fun.

      Thanks again for the interest and I hope you enjoy our content!

  14. Prob most easily available is:
    1-Smith and Wesson Shield, performance center version which is ported, vs. the standard (non-ported) Shield. Available in 9 or 45.
    2-Glock has two models in 9mm: 19 vs 19C and the 22 vs 22C.

Comments are closed.