How Strong Are Silverback Gorillas? [Full Info + Strength Facts]

Silverback gorilla
Julia Filirovska / Pexels

Dubbed the gentle giants, gorillas are the largest of the great apes. There are several gorilla subspecies, but silverback gorillas are not one of them. The silverback term is often used when referring to adult gorilla males. In fact, sexually mature gorilla males are generally recognized by the silver-gray fur on their backs – hence, the term. With this in mind, how strong are silverback gorillas?

Silverback gorillas can lift and throw about 1,800 pounds. That’s up to 13 times more than the average man. In addition to lifting strength, silverback gorillas also have a powerful bite of about 1,300 PSI. This is twice the bite force of a lion and about eight times that of a human. 

Here are some quick silverback gorilla strength facts:

  • Silverback gorilla bite force: 1,300 PSI
  • Gorilla arm strength (lifting): 1,800 pounds
  • Silverback gorilla arm span: 7 to 8 feet
  • Male gorilla weight: 310 to 500 pounds
  • Silverback gorilla standing height: 5 to 6 feet

How Strong Are Silverback Gorillas?

As adult gorilla males, silverback gorillas are the largest and strongest of all great apes. The actual size and weight of a silverback depend on its species.

There are two species of gorillas, each with its own subspecies. Western gorillas are the largest, with adult males reaching weights up to 500 pounds. Eastern gorillas are smaller, but adult silverbacks still exceed 400-450 pounds of weight.

The table below compares the height and weight of different silverback gorillas:

How Strong Is A Silverback’s Punch?

Silverback gorillas have a punch force up to 2,700 pounds – strong enough to shatter bones with one slam. Compared to the average man, silverback gorillas have a punch force about 30 times stronger.  

However, this doesn’t mean that gorillas go around throwing powerful punches. Similar to boxing, a gorilla’s punch force depends on its weight and velocity at the moment of the impact. Based on their body weight and maximum speed, a gorilla’s punch can have an impact force of 12,500 lb.-ft./s. This force is similar to that of a Sumatran tiger.

In addition to a strong punch, gorillas also have a strong grip. There are no scientific studies, but considering that orangutans have a grip strength of about 600 pounds, it is safe to assume that gorillas are stronger than this.

Not only are silverback gorillas the largest primates, but they also have very big hands. In fact, a silverback gorilla has a hand size of about 12×6 inches. Comparatively, the average man has a hand size of 7.6×3.5 inches.


Aside from strong forelimbs, gorillas also have strong hind limbs. For locomotion, gorillas use all four limbs as legs (knuckle-walking). Bipedal movements are limited and generally only employed for eating or socialization purposes.

This type of movement explains the presence of strong muscles in both front and hind limbs. In fact, gorillas have about 36.6% of their total muscle mass concentrated in their front limbs and about 42.5% in their hind limbs.

Despite their strong limbs, gorillas can’t reach high speeds, though. Most of their limb strength is used to support their own body weights. An average gorilla can reach a speed up to 20 miles per hour. Larger silverback gorillas are slightly faster, with speeds that can reach 25 miles per hour.

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Bite Force

Silverback gorillas have powerful jaws and a bite force that can reach 1,300 PSI. Their bite force is the strongest among all great apes and definitely stronger than the bite force of a human, which is only about 162 PSI. 

The jaw force is not the only thing that makes a silverback gorilla’s bite dangerous. The apes also have large teeth and sharp canines that can grow up to two inches long.

Apparently, gorillas mostly use their fangs for display as a defense mechanism against external threats. However, the sharp teeth, together with the strong jaw force, enable gorillas to puncture through skin and tear the flesh off bones easily.

Male vs. Female Silverback Strength

Gorillas are sexually dimorphic, meaning that there are distinct differences in size between silverback gorillas (adult males) and females. 

Gorilla females are about half the size of the full-grown male. On average, adult female gorillas weigh between 150 and 250 pounds. They are also shorter than males, with average heights varying from 4 to 4.11 feet, depending on the species.

Due to these differences, silverback gorillas are about two times stronger than female gorillas.

How Strong Are Silverback Gorillas Compared To Humans?

Silverback gorillas are the strongest among all great apes, and they are much stronger than humans. On average, a silverback gorilla is about nine times stronger than the average man. However, some of the largest silverbacks are even stronger.

For instance, a silverback gorilla has a lift force of about 1,800 pounds. An untrained man can lift between 135 and 175 pounds. Thus, a silverback gorilla is about 10 to 13 times stronger.

The bite force of a silverback gorilla is about eight times stronger than the bite force of a human. Moreover, gorillas also have a stronger punch force – about 11 times more than a trained man and up to 30 times stronger than the average human.

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How Are Silverback Gorillas So Strong?

Gorillas are mainly vegetarians, so their strength is more the result of their body size rather than adaptation to the environment. They don’t need to hunt for survival, but their strength comes in handy when defending themselves from predators.

As herbivores, gorillas have few natural predators compared to other species, including leopards and crocodiles. Their massive size and power keep them safe from smaller carnivores.

Are you wondering what is stronger than a silverback gorilla? Stronger mammals include elephants and grizzly bears.

Silverback Gorilla vs. Grizzly Bear Strength Comparison

Silverback gorillas are the strongest of all great apes, but their strength doesn’t match that of a grizzly bear. Not only are grizzly bears larger and stronger than gorillas, but they also have an aggressive behavior that would help them win a fight.

The table below compares the strength of a silverback gorilla vs. grizzly bear:

CharacteristicSilverback gorillaGrizzly bear
Bite force1,300 PSI975 PSI
Strike force12,500 lb.-ft./s47,600 lb.-ft./s
Lift force1,800 lbs.1,400 lbs.
Speed20 mph28 mph
Weight500 lbs.1,700 lbs.

When scaled to size, silverback gorillas are stronger than grizzly bears. Not only do they have a stronger bite, but they can lift more than their own body weight. Grizzly bears can only lift about 0.8 times their own body weight and have weaker jaws.

However, grizzly bears are a lot heavier than silverback gorillas. They are also faster and have a more powerful strike. In a one-on-one fight, a grizzly bear would win against a silverback gorilla ten times out of ten.

James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

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