In the TV series Person of Interest (2011–2016), John Reese is a highly trained ex-CIA operative working with Harold, who is a billionaire. He can buy all kinds of weapons, as we can see in the series.

However, John never uses a silencer for any of his pistols - he usually shoots in places with a high number of people who can hear the shots. Wouldn't it make more sense to use a silencer?

All of his enemies (aka professional assassins) use them, so why doesn't he?

  • 4
    I do remember him using a silencer every now and again. - And he definitely did use one in the last aired episode (early April) where he and Shaw go to a High School reunion.
    – Oliver_C
    Apr 14, 2014 at 13:05
  • 1
    Just a thought, which I learned from other movies: a silencer slows down a bullet and makes it less powerful. I believe that it can also mess up the accuracy of a gun. (Just some food for thought.) Apr 14, 2014 at 17:10
  • 4
    It also doesn't silence the gun very much, but (almost?) all shows and movies seem to ignore that fact. Apr 14, 2014 at 17:51
  • John and Harold want to keep their "activities" secret, and John usually puts 3-4 bullets in each person so I dont think it would really cause harm if he used the silencer
    – Adeetya
    Apr 14, 2014 at 19:24
  • 2
    @VedranŠego Mythbusters did an episode on this and they found it to be actually plausible. See: youtube.com/watch?v=zhdXly6jT4E (mind you that decibel is a logarithmic scale) Aug 19, 2014 at 19:52

2 Answers 2


There are several reasons for this.

  • Silencers are dead giveaways that you have no good intentions. Reese often pretends to be law enforcement or working for the government. If that alleged-FBI-agent suddenly pulls out a silenced weapon, people will get suspicious immediately.
  • Silencers are not that quiet as movies would have you believe. There's still quite the bang to be heard, it simply doesn't carry as far (e.g. hearing the shots a block away)
  • A weapon with a silencer is longer, therefore putting its center of mass further from the shooter's hand. The weapon acts as a lever with a fulcrum (the wrist). This makes the weapon more unwieldy when moving your aim. Hold a broom by the brush end with one hand, aim it like a weapon, and then turn 180° and try to keep the weapon still as fast as you can. Now try the same thing with the brush one the other side (the barrel of the weapon). The added weight of the brush makes it much harder to keep the weapon still after moving your aim. Silencers add the same effect to pistols.
  • Silencers affect weapon performance. Most notably range, but also accuracy (which may be the same as my previous point, or may be an additional detrimental effect)
  • A weapon with a silencer is more annoying to carry around, and harder to hide from sight.
  • Carrying the silencer separately negates the difficulty in carrying the weapon, but Reese often simply does not have the time to attach the silencer.
  • What is the point of carrying a silencer, if someone else is shooting at you without a silencer? A passerby might not hear your shots, but they still hear the other guy's shots. Reese is a hero in the narrative, who does not use a gun unless someone is shooting at him (or he is expecting to be shot at)
  • (Out of universe) Silencers are archetypically used by assassins. They signal to the viewer that the shooter is intending to kill and get away with it. Reese is a good guy, who is able to kill when cornered but does not murder wantonly. A silencer thematically clashes with Reese's narrative role.
  • As was mentioned in the comments, Reese sometimes uses a silencer, but these are planned missions (ambushes). Most of Reese's "everyday" gunfire is not planned ahead of time. The viewer may expect a shootout (out of universe), but Reese is not planning to use his gun unless he is forced to.
  • 1
    Per Wikipedia, Silencers are illegal for civilians to own in New York, where most POI episodes are set (as well as in New Jersey and the District of Columbia, where several episodes not taking place in NY have been set). Being caught with a gun is likely to lead to questions, but being caught with a silencer would guarantee them.
    – RDFozz
    Aug 21, 2017 at 22:30

I'm not sure if there's any in world citation for this but a silencer is larger, bulkier, and harder to conceal. Since Reese is often investigating and infiltrating various social situations a small handgun is probably easier to conceal than a larger silenced one.

In scenarios where he expects to do shooting and combat infiltration he's been shown to bring a silencer, but for average investigation he might not consider it worth the additional bulk. He might also assume that if he needs the gun in those situations things have already gotten loud.

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