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How loud are firearms in D&D 5e, and can Artificers modify or build firearms to reduces the noise they make?

How far can you hear a gunshot, and what would be the standard DC for Wisdom (Perception) checks to detect it?

I understand you can cast Silence on the firearm, but I'd want to know if it is possible to reduce the noise or induce disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks to detect it by mechanical means.

Example:

  1. You can hear gunshot noise up to X feet away at a DC of Y.
  2. The Artificer modifies it or builds a new firearm with noise reduction.
  3. You can hear the modded gunshot now up to X-Z feet away at a DC of Y-Z.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you need to ask these as two separate questions. They are not really tied together and you should focus on a single question here. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Aug 9, 2021 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ are you asking as the player or as the DM? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 9, 2021 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does my answer solve your problem well enough for a green check? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 30, 2021 at 12:53

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There are no rules for firearm noise levels.

There are simply no rules for this. Firearms are an afterthought in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, as there is a general expectation that most campaigns won’t feature them. Since there are no rules for firearm noise, there are no rules for reducing that noise. All of this is up to the DM.

It is worth mentioning that there really aren't any concrete rules for hearing anything, which nitsua60 explores in this answer, but apparently an official DM screen suggests a very loud noise is audible from 2d6 × 50 feet away.

Firearms are really loud.

I have experience using firearms, and have implemented them in a campaign once, DMing for a player using Matt Mercer’s Gunslinger fighter subclass. Our rule was basically “anything and everything can hear your gun”. They are just too loud to worry about making perception checks for anything. This means the suggestion from the DM screen mentioned above is unfortunately quite low. The distance from which a gun shot remains audible is typically measured in miles.

Movie silencers are fake.

We’re all familiar with sound of James Bond’s suppressed PPK, or at least, the sound movie producer’s like to use for suppressed firearms - somewhere between a whisper and a fart. It isn’t real. Suppressed firearms are still really loud. So even if your artificer could make a silencer as efficient as modern day suppressor technology, chances are you could still hear it from hundreds, even a thousand, yards away (small calibers such as .22lr can be remarkably quiet, however).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your last point is only sort of true. If you get a commercial handgun and screw on a commercial suppressor, yes, it'll be loud. But a specially modified weapon that prevents the breach from opening and releasing gas (i.e. it's now a single-shot weapon that you reload manually) with a high-grade suppressor that has multiple wipes (self-healing rubber that seals behind the bullet to trap gas inside) can be very quiet indeed, to the point that the sound of the bullet hitting the target is louder than the gunshot. The wipes wear out very fast, so you only get 5 to 10 shots, but it's possible. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 9, 2021 at 17:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym Maybe, but we've left D&D at this point. Also I've never seen such a weapon in a movie. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 9, 2021 at 17:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ The sound of a silenced Walther is about as loud as a slammed door (can 120 db) \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Aug 9, 2021 at 17:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @screamline No, a discussion of real-world silencers would be entirely off-topic. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 9, 2021 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym I have personally fired a .22 pistol that had been built out into a thoroughly suppressed carbine. The guy who brought it to the range had no subsonic .22, and, by happy accident, we did and could share. It didn’t go “bang,” it went “click”. Literally the only sound was the action cycling. It still plunked fine though. Point being, you can get very quiet indeed if you’re willing to sacrifice everything else. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Aug 9, 2021 at 22:49

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