Full Auto Gun Recording

Sometimes You Just Roll With it…

Being a sound effects recordist has it’s special moments… moments when you just have to let go and qo with the day. It’s been a while since I have experienced this as running my online business, contract sound design work and all the other things that go along with living life as a self employed maniac take up all of my time and having a structured schedule is a priority. Every now and then something comes up where you just have to throw all this out the window and go with the moment.

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Crazy Sound of the Month: Sept, 2012

MuaserHere is the sound of a custom Mauser 6.5×300 Weatherby rifle I recorded during the cliff bullet ricochet sessions earlier in September 2012. This is a special rifle that shoots large custom bullets. The shell is squeezed down in size to fit the barrel. I’m not sure why, but someone does.
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Shotgun Ammo Slugfest

Shotgun Recording 2012

Recording the bullets for my new SFX library called BULLETS HD PRO has been quite an experience. So far I’ve recorded over a dozen guns from a .22 to a M-60 but nothing had sounded as cool or as strange as recording a Mossberg 590 shooting a special shell called the “Bolo”. A Bolo is two heavy duty slugs molded on to each end of a 5 inch piece of steel wire and when fire expands 240%.

I took a short ride up the back mountain and found a nice long shooting range. I wanted to get the microphones at least 300 feet away from the blast of the gun but had to settle for around 250 feet. I’m sure with more time I could get more range but since this was a test it worked fine. The range was not level and had a curved rock face along one side and the other side was open to the valley below.

I brought along a few Remington 2 3/4 buckshot shells to shoot along with the Bolo and in the audio demo and the difference is very noticeable. I also shot a .22 with 710 FPS ammo and fired off many of those and I will write a in-depth blog post about the slow .22 bullets that I’ve recorded over the last two months.

I set the Sennheiser MKH-8040ST down range 250 feet or so away and on the other side of the protruding rock face which was at the bend in the trail. I really did not know what to expect from this set up but I did know I did NOT want to hit the MKH-8040ST rig with a shotgun slug or a .22 bullet. Ouch!

Shotgun Recording 2012

So here is the drill: Get the gun ready to go, walk all the way down and place the microphones, hit record, walk all the way back to the gun, shoot a test shot for levels, walk all the way back to check the recording, make any adjustments, walk all the way back to the gun, shoot a few more shells, walk all the way back to the microphone and make any additional adjustments, start recording, walk all the way back and shoot some more… you get the idea. Yes, I’ve lost some weight and I am back in shape after a lazy winter.

I angled the XY-90 MKH-8040ST microphones so they were facing slightly away from the muzzle of the gun. This worked great because one microphone picks up more of the shot while the other one picks up more of the pass by. In stereo it sounds great but the channels can be used separately if need be. I did notice that because the microphones were slightly behind the rock face, the muzzle blast was really beefy with very little mountain echo.

This audio demo showcases 3 shots first played back at normal speed, then at 50% speed and then 25% speed. You will notice the pass by more with the slowed down sounds and the twirling of the Bolo is very nice. The Remington buckshot shell surprised me as you can hear the individual pellets zipping by the microphone. Some fall short and some keep a straight line path, interesting. The demo is only modified with a transient enhancer (Oxford) with 6dB of gain added and L2 to bring up the level a bit. No EQ was added which is nice because you can really hear how well the MKH-8040ST holds up under extreme pitching. Even at 25% playback speed there is still lots of information over 12kHz.

I’m still experimenting with many different types of guns and bullets. Next up for my 12 gauge shotgun is some more crazy ammo called “Terminator” and “Double Mule” and many types of standard slugs. Enjoy! -Frank

Shotgun Recording 2012

Shotgun Recording 2012

Shotgun Recording 2012

Date: July 9, 2012. All images and sounds copyright 2012 Frank Bry – Creative Sound Design, LLC


Suppressed Gun In The Mountains


The opportunity came up today to trek high in the mountains (3500 feet or more I think) and record a Barrett 98B sniper rifle into a massive canyon. The guys from Wrenco Arms were kind enough to let me tag along with my gear and do some recording. I brought my MKH-8040ST rig and that’s all I could bring as we were at a rock cliff and the long ride up in a 4×4 buggy was rough. Once there I was able to record many 98B shots and the mountain echo was simply amazing. One of the guns they brought along was a Rock River Arms LAR15 with a suppressor and after using up all the 98B ammo they shot off the semi automatic rifle into the forest below. The bullets ricocheted at times and this sound just blew me away. Because the gun is suppressed there is no loud trailing echo so the ricochets really stand out.
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Slow Motion Bullets

Post Date: February 22, 2012

There is a first time for everything and recording bullet pass bys and impacts was a first for me. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at bullet recording but never had the knowledge or association with anyone that had a permit to use a gun suppressor. During the recording sessions for the M60 machine gun with the very experienced and amazing marksman named Richard from the local gun shop I began to inquire about what it would take to record some bullet impacts and whizz bys. I then consulted with everyone’s favorite weapons maven – Charles Maynes (my sincere thanks man!), and he gave me some valuable advice for these kind of sessions. I then explained what I wanted to accomplish with Richard and gave him the specs from Charles and we were off and running. The bullet demo in this blog post has some of the sounds recorded and played back at 35% of normal so you can hear the shot and the impact in greater detail, and they sound much more interesting slowed down a bit.
I’ve recorded many guns with a portable recorder at or near where the bullets impact mainly for just another perspective but learned a lot from the sounds from these recordings. First, there is always the loud “bang” sound from the gun firing and second there is a supersonic shockwave “crack” That sometimes overshadows the initial “bang” As you can hear in the demo below of a Winchester Model 70 rifle with Weatherby .300 rounds, when I move the microphone near the bullet impact you can hear double and sometimes triple shockwaves from the very powerful ammo. I recorded this on a rock hillside up behind the ranch with a Sennheiser MKH-8040ST. The first 3 shots are with the 8040ST about 30 feet from the gun and the next 3 shots are 10 feet away from some huge boulders. I was going to use this demo for a future blog post but decided to use it here. Also, I know the ammo and the gun are MUCH larger than a Glock 22 but hey…


Recording The Bullets

Now, on to the bullet recording sessions. The goal was to have a bullet traveling less than 900 feet per second. It needs to be subsonic and slow (for a bullet) with enough force to make a decent noise when hitting it’s target. Richard researched what he thought we would need and built the ammo himself with soft metal slugs and just enough gunpowder to make it go the right speed. During one of the M60 sessions we tested some bullet impacts into a refrigerator with a Glock 22 and regular off the shelf 40 caliber ammo. As you can hear the bullet travels fast and the gun tail can be heard in the bullet impact even though he was shooting from 150 feet away. Even when the sound is played back at a speed of 35% of normal, the “bang” is still very loud.

The next week we traveled back to the gravel pit and tested the Glock 22 with a supressor and the 40 caliber ammo that Richard had made. I bought along a dead iMac, solid steel plate, oven pans and some windows to use as targets.
I was cautious about where to place the microphones as I did not know how much or how far any debris would fly. I placed a MKH-8040 and a MKH-416 on the left side of the target around 10 feet away with the MKH-8040 closer in. I placed the MKH-8040ST setup to the right of the target a little higher off the ground and the same distance away as the others. I wanted to get the stereo pass by of the bullet along with the impact. I also had a AT-835ST setup near Richard to get the suppressed shot sound just in case. I had the channels so why not. The suppressed gun shot sounds nothing like you hear in the movies or TV, it sounds like a muted firecracker. After a few takes I moved the microphones slightly closer.

Shooting this gun with the slower bullet and a suppressor was a challenge at times for Richard. He was aiming dead on the target (he is a very good shot I must say) but the bullet would veer off course because of it’s weight and slow speed. He really tried his best to hit with accuracy but sometimes the bullet went low or high. Actually, it was really OK because with the frozen ground I was able to get some great richochets.

I wish the glass impacts came out better but the glass was double paned and the bullet just punctured the glass and there was no shatter. I am going to bring some of the left over single pane glass windows from the recording of Ultimate Glass to the next session and hope for some epic breaking.
I was very happy with the steel plate and oven pan sounds. The steel plate was loud and piercing while the oven pan was a dull metal whack type of sound. I did place the oven pan in front of the steel plate to get a more complex combination of metal sounds and this worked quite well.
I was also pleased with the iMac sounds. As Richard slowly chipped away at the soon to be more dysfuntional iMac the sounds became more diverse and the parts started to fly off the computer and land everywhere. After recording we fished out the bullet remains from the inside of the iMac. They were so soft that the interior metal parts of the computer were stopping the bullets in their tracks.

I have many bullet recording sessions planned this coming summer including long range pass bys with a high powered suppressed sniper rifle. I hope to get the recording done sometime time before the Mayan calender ends later this year.

Disclaimer and advice:
Recording guns is very dangerous. Recording bullet impacts and pass bys should be taken very seriously and done with the help of a professional weapons handler. Please do not try this at home or without the proper instruction and training.