A gunshot is the discharge of a firearm, producing a mechanical sound effect and a chemical gunshot residue. The term can also refer to a gunshot wound caused by such a discharge. Multiple discharges of a firearm or firearms are referred to as gunfire. The word can connote either the sound of a gun firing, the projectiles that were fired, or both. For example, the statement "gunfire came from the next street" could either mean the sound of discharge, or it could mean the bullets themselves. It is better to be a bit more specific while writing however. "The sound of gunfire" or "we came under gunfire" would be more descriptive and prevent confusion. In the latter phrase, in particular, "fire" is more commonly used (i.e. "under fire"), as both words hold the same general meaning within the proper context.
There are three primary attributes that characterize gunfire and hence enable the detection and location of gunfire and similar weapon discharges:
- An optical flash that occurs when an explosive charge is ignited to propel a projectile from the chamber of the weapon
- A muzzle blast that occurs when an explosive charge is ignited to propel a projectile from the chamber of the weapon. A typical muzzle blast generates an impulse sound wave with a sound pressure level (SPL) that ranges from 160 dB to 180 dB
- A “snap” or “crack” caused by the sonic boom that occurs as a projectile moves through the air at supersonic speeds
Urban areas typically exhibit diurnal noise patterns where background noise is higher during the daytime and lower at night, where the noise floor directly correlated to urban activity (e.g., automobile traffic, airplane traffic, construction, and so on). During the day, when the noise floor is higher, a typical handgun muzzle blast may propagate as much as a mile. During the night, when the noise floor is lower, a typical handgun muzzle blast may propagate as much as 2 miles.
An attachment commonly misnamed a silencer can be attached to the muzzle of a firearm to decrease the audio signature of firing the weapon. The sound of firing is only decreased and is still considerable. The FBI estimates that 1% or fewer of crimes that involve gunfire are committed with silenced gunfire.
- Gunshot residue
- Gun crime
- Warning shot
- Ballistic trauma
- Stopping power
- Hydrostatic shock
- Wound ballistics
- Terminal ballistics
- List of celebrities who were shot and lived
- Introduction to Firearm Suppressor Technology
- Detailed measurements of the sound of a .308 rifle firing
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