Suppressing Hollywood Blanks — Does it Work?

While reviewing the YHM Turbo-K, I was grabbing some .223 and 5.56 from my stash and saw my box of blank ammo. I’ve had two types for years: grenade launching blanks and Hollywood blanks. The latter are designed to provide all of the flash and most of the bang of an actual gunshot, just without the projectile. Curious if they’d suppress like a normal round of ammo, I grabbed some and hit the range . . .

First, unsuppressed. 10/10 flash: highly recommended. It’s strange to have all of the flash of a full-on 5.56 NATO and maybe something like 50% to 75% of the noise, but with fully 0% of the recoil and almost none of the “whump.”

The bass or concussion of the gunshot was almost entirely missing, though the loud pop and bang was still there. Basically, it lacks the “uncorking” thump since there’s no projectile to cork up the barrel. Without those extremely high internal barrel pressures followed by the instantaneous pressure drop and gas expansion when the bullet leaves the muzzle, much of the whump and low-frequency boom was absent.

Even with hearing protection, though, it still sounded like a gunshot and was clearly much too loud to shoot without ear pro.

I threw the Turbo-K on and took a few shots. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t enough backpressure to cycle the action — not even close. You’d need a blank firing adapter and possibly a lighter recoil spring and buffer weight. But I’m not shooting a movie, so it didn’t matter.

In the YouTube video at top, even at just 24 frames per second, it’s apparent that the blanks still provide a nice little tongue of flame out the muzzle end of the Turbo-K. Just right for Hollywood.

On the other hand, it isn’t exactly “Hollywood quiet,” but is closer to what a suppressed gunshot should sound like. Something like subsonic .223 with more gas, but without any uncorking sound. No supersonic bullet crack, no thump, no action cycling noise.

Thanks to all of that extra gas it still sounds more like a suppressed, full-power gunshot than a suppressed, subsonic .223 or .22 LR round does. The sound lasts longer and there’s more hiss and pop and snap.

If a suppressed subsonic .223 is a “1” and a suppressed supersonic .223 is a “10,” I’d put these Hollywood blanks at about a “3.” Three times louder than a suppressed sub round, but a third as real sounding as a real round.

So . . . now we know. Finally.

comments

  1. avatar Carolus Rex says:

    What kind of optic is on that rifle?

    1. avatar MyName says:

      The kind that doesn’t matter because there is no projectile exiting the barrel.

      1. avatar Not Larry from Texas says:

        You win the internet douche award for today.

      2. avatar RD says:

        GOOD THING THAT GUN CAN NEVER FIRE REAL ROUNDS EVER AGA-oh wait.

        You’re a putz. Stop it.

    2. avatar Ohmygoodness says:

      Its a Trijicon TA44.

      1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

        It’s the Trijicon one that’s made just for Primary Arms, though, with their ACSS reticle: https://bit.ly/32Z5m6S

        1. avatar Jeremy B. says:

          Ummm… What makes those Hollywood blanks and not U.S./NATO military training blanks?

        2. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          Mostly extra muzzle flash, I believe. They’re somehow tweaked to look and sound better on camera. Similar to how the grenade launching blanks are tweaked for extra gas. Just choosing different powders and such. I think the training blanks for the military are focused on reliable function with a blank firing adapter on the muzzle.

    3. avatar Anymouse says:

      My guess is Trijicon ACOG 1.5×16.

    4. avatar MADDMAXX says:

      Looks a lot like my Trijicon ACOG….

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  2. avatar MyName says:

    This is gonna have a huge impact on my life.

    (No, I’m not above pointless “scientific” experimentation)

  3. avatar Sid says:

    So, based on this report we know it is hard to wear earmuffs with a cowboy hat.

    Seriously though, thank you for doing this. Something I have always wondered but never knew.

  4. avatar MtnDewey says:

    ok so this experiment was for??????

    1. avatar No one of consequence says:

      Fun … do you really need another reason?

    2. avatar William Brennan says:

      My guess would be for Messr. Gits and Messr. Shiggles

      1. avatar Ing says:

        Gits and Shiggles? Love those guys. They show up at every range trip I’ve ever made.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Every trip of any kind I make. Gitts and Shiggles. Once in a while Mr. Murphy shows up. He ain’t nice.

        2. avatar Not Larry from Texas says:

          Mine is Range buzz kill Fudd who rants about how my black rifle isn’t a legal length ( 10 Inch barrel NFA item) and the brass monkey who is literally on his hands and knees pick up brass as it leaves the weapons.

    3. avatar enuf says:

      SCIENCE!!!

      And it was a nice day and didn’t wanna’ lay about the house and …..

    4. avatar Southern Cross says:

      And to debunk the entertainment industry as a source of knowledge on firearms.

  5. avatar GS650G says:

    Does the barrel get dirty without a bullet sweeping it out? Dirtier than with live rounds?

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      I’ve heard Hollywood blanks are very dirty and the guns are rarely cleaned, so heavily corroded barrels are very common.

  6. avatar Sam I Am says:

    A follow on article after talking with Hollywood prop masters about how actors don’t lose their hearing firing blanks, and how Hollywood apparently makes suppressors work with blanks.

    Or do they?

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      I’ve heard prop guns are heavily modified to the point it is dangerous to both gun and shooter to fire a live round in them.

      Modifying guns to shoot blanks can involve plugging barrels and machining off locking surfaces to get them to cycle with blank ammunition.

      Also substitute “flash-paper” guns are used in certain circumstances.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “Also substitute “flash-paper” guns are used in certain circumstances.”

        Have noticed on some TV shows, and a coupla movies, that the flash pattern is just too uniform. Almost as if CGI used to make it appear the guns are actually firing.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Sam. Cheap, direct to video movies use the cgi effects a lot. It’s fairly easy to spot, that white, phony muzzle flash.

          I watched a couple of low budget sy fy movies. One had a break barrel air rifle that the hero was shooting on semi auto with sound, flash and recoil. A single shot .177 air rifle.

          Another one dude had a Lee Enfield bolt action. Again, shooting semi with those weird white muzzle flashes.

        2. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “A single shot .177 air rifle.”

          “Hooray for Hollywood!!
          That phoney, super coney Hollywood”

        3. avatar MADDMAXX says:

          A single shot .177 air rifle.

          sounds like a Liberals full auto assault rifle to me…

        4. avatar LKB says:

          WRT Hollywood and air rifles/pistols, the epitome of that was the James Bond snafu.

          When they were shooting the promo photos for “From Russia With Love,” nobody had arranged to bring a PPK (or any other real gun) to the shoot, and the only thing available was a Walther target air pistol. While it never actually appears in any James Bond movie, the image of Sean Connery posing with a long barreled air pistol became the iconic image for 007 for years.

          For more details: https://www.mi6-hq.com/sections/articles/collecting_auction_walther_air_pistol_from_russia_with_love.php3

        5. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “… the image of Sean Connery posing with a long barreled air pistol became the iconic image for 007 for years.”

          I remember waiting for years to see a Bond film with that gun.

          One of the things a prop armorer on a movie set does, is reload guns off screen so the actors can continue shooting a sequence. Always wondered how many guys were reloading guns in the old western movies where guy uninterruptedly fired about thirty rounds from Colt SAA revolvers.

        6. avatar jwm says:

          Sam. My understanding is that they have multiples of each type of gun on set. 3-5 identical SAA’s preloaded with blanks makes the action sequence easier to keep up with.

        7. avatar MDDMAXX says:

          My understanding is that they have multiples of each type of gun on set.

          Must have had boxes full for John Wick…
          Four is coming…

        8. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “My understanding is that they have multiples of each type of gun on set. 3-5 identical SAA’s preloaded with blanks makes the action sequence easier to keep up with.”

          Thinking at least four per person who will actually fire the weapon:
          1. primary firearm
          2. backup for first firearm
          3. backup in case of damage/malfunction during filming
          4.backup to swap for the primary when primary exhaust the magazine/cylinder capacity

  7. avatar Red in CO says:

    That’s actually kinda cool. Idle curiosity and a random whim of “I wonder…” can certainly be interesting!

  8. avatar former water walker says:

    Coincidentally enough The Firearm Blog has a YouTube video featuring Hollywood weapons & blanks. I never “recommend” TFB because of their chickensh#t attitude toward gun rights but it’s quite interesting stuff. It’s a “5 most reliable guns” thing from a prop gun perspective…

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      How did the Mini-14 rank?

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Didnt make the cut of top 5.

        Fun videos though……

        My favorite was the one with Mal’s blaster from Firefly.

        A skinned Taurus 85……hooda thunk?

  9. avatar Montana Actual says:

    Now do the rounds they make and the guns they use that make no audible sounds to be heard in a crowded public area, like in John Wick. Man that movie was so cool… I wish I could pay for… I mean, train with Taron…

  10. avatar Matt in Oklahoma says:

    Your still just a pretender until you’ve got a kill on something with a cleaning rod using a blank

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      It doesn’t even require a cleaning rod. I had a solider as a patient at JRTC who decided to break every single rule of firearm safety. Leaving a blank round in his chamber, he dropped the magazine, removed the Blank Firing Adapter on his M16A2, put the muzzle into his chest, and then attempted to push down the handguard retaining ring in order to remove them for cleaning. His hands slipped, hit the trigger, and launched debris into his chest cavity. How the debris got there is anybody’s guess, as the BFA should have sealed the bore. My guess is he wanted to look cool for pics and ended up with his bare muzzle in the Louisiana mud.
      The wound was ugly and messy. Damn near killed him, and I do not envy the regimen of antibiotics he must have gone through.

    2. avatar CarlosT says:

      The famous “killed with a blank” case is Jon-Erik Hexum. He got bored during a delay in filming, and decided to play Russian Roulette with a blank. The wadding driven at high pressure punched a piece of his skull into his brain, causing massive bleeding, and eventually, death.

      Guns are fun, but don’t be stupid.

      1. avatar MADDMAXX says:

        Don’t screw around with crap you don’t understand… Somebody probably told him blanks were harmless…

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