I'm headed down to Pennsylvania to help on a shoot this weekend, and I'm really excited because I'll be recording gunfire courtesy of a local Civil War reenactment group. I've never tried recording gunshots before, so I'd like some tips. The max number of tracks that I can record are 4, as I'll be working on a 744T, so my current plan is to use a dynamic mic to grab the impact, and a m/s mic to grab the decay. What setups have you folks used? Placements? Thanks for your replies.



UPDATE -- Thanks for the advice! The shoot was postponed 'til last month, so I had some more time to prepare. I went down with a 744T, 702 and a Nagra. The gunshot samples came out really nice. The Nagra's recordings weren't very clean, but they have a nice "Western" quality, so I'll pocket those for later.

  • @Miles B. So the nagra was a tape machine? sounds like you had a great recording setup. What guns were you recording? I would be very interested to hear some samples. Haydn Commented Nov 8, 2010 at 21:48
  • @Haydn Payne. Yes, the Nagra's an old mono tape recorder. As for guns, we were using replica Springfield 1861 muskets. They have this amazing CRACK, and they really pound your chest. It took a while to get the levels right... well sort of right. I'm not sure if I managed the dynamics well, but messing around with the samples in ProTools leads to a faithful reproduction :-D I'll upload a few samples when things aren't as hectic.
    – Miles B.
    Commented Nov 9, 2010 at 9:00

7 Answers 7


Check: http://designingsound.org/2010/04/chuck-russom-special-gun-recording-guide/

  • There is the man himself.
    – Utopia
    Commented May 7, 2010 at 3:47

Not sure what mics you have access to, but if I had only 4 channels I would use a Sennheiser 416, Neumann RSM 191 stereo, depending on the situation, the 4th channel may be a dynamic or another condenser.


I know that on the average gun shoot I'll take around 12 to 18 channels: 3 x 744's and a few 702/722/FR2 placed around the site left recording all day. Since you only have 4 channels make sure to capture as many perspectives as you can:

Contact mics on the gun itself; SM57 on the firing mechanism/pin Muzzle Recording with a 416 and a SM57

Medium perspective with both mono and Stereo mics

Distant perspective; try to record in many directions if you can. Hills, flat lands, rocks, forests all make the crack/decay of the recording sound very different.

Don't forget to try and record some bullet bys. Maybe bring a mellon or two for splatters??? (A melon filled with water/juice/pudding/jello sounds great when hit by a bullet!)

The combination of all these recordings is what makes an awesome library to create your gun sounds from.


PS - Do not forget hearing protection! Earplugs or a set of these from BH Photo work great! http://tinyurl.com/2ce2gq8

  • Contact mic like a piezo element? That's intense. I have a home made contact... I'll try that out.
    – Miles B.
    Commented May 7, 2010 at 8:03

I'm just about finished working on a feature film that has major sections that take place during WWII and the Iraq War. Lots of gun fire, planes, tanks, helicopters, and explosions! I've been using a 744t and a 702 as the recorders with a couple 442's as the mixers. My mics have been a Sanken CS-3E mono shotgun, Sanken CSS-5 stereo, a couple SM57's, and a Sennheiser 416. I placed the 57 close up to the gun or explosion, the 416 about 50 feet back, the Sanken CSS-5 about 75 feet back, and the Sanken CS-3E about 100 feet back. Put variable pads on ALL your mics. I used a Shure -25db pad on every channel plus had the gain knobs way down. The brunt of the blast still registers about -20db on the meters with a peak about -5db. So, I was able to get great, clean, full sounding shots/explosions.

One of the guns we recorded was an MG42 using original WWII bullets. Evidently the only other movie out that has the authentic sound of an MG42 was Saving Private Ryan. The blanks used for that gun sound COMPLETELY different than an original bullet. So, my point being, fire real bullets if at all possibly because the blanks may or may not sound like what it should sound like. The Thompson Sub Machine gun and the 1919 are the same way...blanks sound different than real bullets.

So, go to a shooting range inside or outside and fire off some bullets! And yes, BRING EAR AND EYE PROTECTION.

Have fun!

  • did you run long mic cables & lock all the recorders together with C.Link? or leave all the recorders running wild?
    – user49
    Commented Nov 7, 2010 at 8:38
  • I split the recorders rather than run long cables. We still had some lengthy cable runs but the recorders were not locked via C.Link. I figured the sharp blasts make for pretty accurate sync points! When I pulled the files in to my computer I just lined up the first shot of each file and everything was perfectly in phase and time-aligned. Commented Nov 8, 2010 at 1:26

here's another article by Charles Maynes


  • Chuck and Charles are The Men with this knowledge. Can't go wrong with the advice of either! Commented May 8, 2010 at 2:26

Another great read on Guns, specially Bullets: http://www.firearmsid.com/Feature%20Articles/soundofbullets/soundofbullets2.htm



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