Does anyone have information on the origin of the traditional Hollywood suppressed gunshot that sounds roughly like a punchy whistle, or "pteew!"?
Nobody who shoots modern suppressors has ever heard anything like it, with one notable and inexplicable exception that was caught by luck during a long amateur recording of silencer shots at a distance, and which sparked this thread on a silencer industry forum.
I have theorized that the traditional sound may have originated with older-style wipe-and-grease suppressors, but those aren't readily available for testing in the U.S.
(I have also theorized that some guns modified to shoot blanks may produce a sound like the classic whistle. I'm checking with some armorers on this conjecture to see if any have heard of that.)
Core question: Was the sound just made up out of thin air, or did it have a basis in something that would have been heard on set or with old-style suppressors?
Updated background: Modern suppressors are durable and employ metal baffles that can be run "dry." Earlier designs required "ablative media" like lithium grease to effectively absorb sound pressure. (A suppressor using a liquid medium is termed "wet.") A few generations ago the NFA tax made suppressors prohibitively expensive for civilians, and so they were only used by government agencies and outlaws. Durability was not a concern to entities who didn't have to pay $200 to make or transfer each silencer, and so instead of metal baffles formal suppressors used a generally more compact design consisting of a series of "wipes," which are elastomeric curtains through which the bullet passes, along with substantial amounts of grease. A wipe suppressor may only last for as few as a dozen shots before the wipes are too shreaded to effectively contain the grease and sound pressure, but they are very effective for those few shots. Because of the way the ATF regulates suppressors these days only a licensed manufacturer could afford to even toy with such designs, and because baffle technology has come so far I don't know of any that do.
My theory being: when Hollywood first featured suppressors they were almost certainly wipe-based. Few people today know what those sound like, but they do know that modern suppressors don't sound like the traditional Hollywood sound. But maybe somebody knows whether recordings of old suppressors were the source of that sound?