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newbie question on hearing protection

Discussion in 'Band of Glockers' started by juramentado, Jul 27, 2004.

  1. how do you determine what's adequate hearing protection for shooting? the range of choices are really wide. I've seen cheap (at hardware stores) and expensive ones at gun stores. Are the cheap headphones not enough protection?
  2. casmot

    casmot Re membered

    I use a cheap rubber ear plug. As long as I put it on properly the sound level is greatly reduced. Lately, I've been double plugging (ear plug and ear muffs) to check my twitching.

    The expensive ones are more easy and comfortable to use. Some even amplifies normal sounds and shuts off loud noises. I think it just a matter of preference.

  3. horge

    horge -=-=-=-=- Lifetime Member

    Jan 22, 2004
    almost home
    Hi, I just thought I'd share some info I've chanced upon.

    Normal speech pings about 60-65 dB
    Permanent hearing damage can obtain from prolonged exposure to noise levels as low as 95 dB, though the threshold of pain lies around 140 dB. According to the AAO-HNS (American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery) the highest permissible noise exposure for the unprotected ear is 115 dB for 15 minutes/day.

    Gunfire noise levels, from data compiled by Dr. Krammer of Indiana,
    using standard pressure cartridges in 'typical' firearm platforms, and presumably in an indoor situation, are as follows:

    .25 ACP --- 155.0 dB
    .32 LONG --- 152.4 dB
    .32 ACP --- 153.5 dB
    .380 --- 157.7 dB
    9mm --- 159.8 dB
    .38 S&W --- 153.5 dB
    .38 Spl --- 156.3 dB
    .357 Magnum --- 164.3 dB
    .41 Magnum --- 163.2 dB
    .44 Spl --- 155.9 dB
    .45 ACP --- 157.0 dB
    .45 COLT --- 154.7 dB

    .410 Bore 28" barrel --- 150dB
    26" barrel --- 150.25dB
    18" barrel --- 156.30dB
    20 Gauge 28" barrel --- 152.50dB
    22" barrel --- 154.75dB
    12 Gauge 28" barrel --- 151.50dB
    26" barrel --- 156.10dB
    18" barrel --- 161.50dB

    .223, 55GR. Commercial load 18" barrel --- 155.5dB
    .243 in 22" barrel --- 155.9dB
    .30-30 in 20" barrel --- 156.0dB
    7mm Magnum in 20" barrel --- 157.5dB
    .308 in 24" barrel --- 156.2dB
    .30-06 in 24" barrel --- 158.5dB
    .30-06 in 18" barrel --- 163.2dB
    .375 — 18" barrel with muzzle brake --- 170 dB

    Gunfire noise thus seems to ping around 160 dB.
    Firing range reloads IMO are loaded weaker and produce somewaht less noise.

    Keep in mind that dB (decibels) are measured along a logarithmic curve,
    so that a 160 dB gun blast carries 10,000,000,000 times the noise energy of a 60 dB conversation.
    Count the zeroes.. that's ten billion times.

    I use muffs 'rated' at NNR 32 dB, and my wife has been pestering me to use plugs as well --the noise ratings above show that she's right: The muffs offer 32 dB noise reduction, and the plugs another 20 or so, and using plugs and muffs in combo yields a bonus 15 for a total of 67 dB of noise reduction... just enough (if I accept the muff and plug manufacturers' claims, to yank gunfire noise down to the mildly-damaging 90's.

    I guess if your ears feel different after a shooting session --or if you experience even a mild ringing in 'em after a noise episode, then you've already sustained irreparable damage. Most hearing damage goes undetected.

    It's easy to dismiss cumulative hearing damage, until it's too late and you can't really hear your grandchildren singing you a Happy Birthday, or, at a loved one's deathbed, cannot understand their last affectionate words to you.

    Stay sharp, stay safe.

  4. mikey177

    mikey177 Remember

    Jan 28, 2003
    Great info, horge. This is also the reason I use both ear plugs and ear muffs when shooting, whether indoors or outdoors. Better safe than sorry.

    One important thing to do is check the noise reduction rating on the ear muffs/plugs, and get the one with the highest rating you can afford to buy.
  5. Valor1

    Valor1 Pro Paingiver

    Jul 6, 2003
    Urban areas
    Thumbs up on the info Horge. I concur with Mikey. I also use ear plugs and ear muffs. There are electronic ear protectors that are a bit expensive like the ones Dillon sells. I don't know how much they are in the local market.
  6. Alexii

    Alexii Janeway Forever

    Nov 14, 2001
    Delta Quadrant
    As usual, excellent post, horge!

    It's also important to note that even though earplugs do reduce the noise substantially, it does not protect the area of the mastoid bone of the ear and being a bone with high density, it transmits damaging sound as well much akin to a tuning fork; ear muffs do cover this area and that's why it's advisable to use muffs AND ear plugs. The area around the ear must also be protected.
  7. rhino465


    Sep 24, 2003
    Indiana, USA
    I've read that, but I remain unconvinced it's a genuine risk.

    How can the vibration be strong enough to do damage to your ear if it does not cause you significant discomfort or outright pain when it is transmitted through the bones in your head?

    How much energy is lost during that transmission?

    It seems to me that if you were at risk for sounds transmitted in that manner, you would know it right away.

    But I could be wrong.
  8. Alexii

    Alexii Janeway Forever

    Nov 14, 2001
    Delta Quadrant
    It may sound far-fetched as far as quantifying the long-term damage. But the precaution is something that I can easily live with-- just use the plugs and muffs in concert. Valid or not, it does increase comfort in shooting (especially indoors).

    It's probably like smoking; damage is being done without pain and significant discomfort during heydays, but 30 to 40 years from now...;)
  9. The decibel list above confirms what a gun guru once told me :

    9mm. is a bit louder than .45acp (9mm --- 159.8 dB,.45 ACP --- 157.0 dB).
    Because it's a higher-pressure round, I guess.

    I feel sorry for Mang Buboy and Jun and those other employees at indoor gun ranges who wear just ear plugs or frequently nothing.

    Do you guys shout out "Firing!" before you fire at a gunrange? Is that standard etiquette? I have been caught many times with my muffs temporarily off when somebody started firing in the next booth.
  10. Eye Cutter

    Eye Cutter Moderator

    Nov 21, 2002
    Dr. B. Eye
    yes, that is proper range etiquette. you should say announce that you're about to fire so other people inside will have time to put on their muffs
  11. attyjpl

    attyjpl Dark Justice

    Jul 3, 2004
    Order in the Court!!

    yes i agree, that's basic range etiquette. in addition to that, i think you should also shout "LOADING" before "FIRING" as a precautionary measure to the people around. tama ba? :)
  12. 9MX

    9MX Rei!

    Sep 29, 2003
    "firing" is enough, when loading the pistol, just make sure you're not in the safety area and muzzle is pointing downrange at all times.
  13. bass one

    bass one

    Oct 2, 2003
    Yes, I do.
  14. rhino465


    Sep 24, 2003
    Indiana, USA
    Around here we use some variant of "range going hot!" which is a combination warning that you should not go downrange as well as the signal to don your hearing and eye protection immediately. Some will also say, "Eyes and ears!" to reiterate the latter. I think it's a good practice.

    As far as muffs and plugs go ... I always wear both when I shoot indoors or when I can feel discomfort from the pressure/sound waves. The problem arises when I shoot my AR and most other long guns. I can't get a good cheek weld without dislodging the muff on the right side, so I am relegated to plugs only when I shoot long guns.

    I do use Howard Leight Maxx earplugs that have a sound reduction rating of 33dB, which is about as good as you can get. The downside is that I can't hear range commands. That's a big problem in a class, especially, so I sometimes wear a Walker's Target Ear in one side. It also has an excellent noise reduction rating (31 dB I think?), but I can hear conversation clearly. That also has a problem, in that when the unit gets wet (from sweat), it hisses and crackles so much I can't use it. That means I can't use it in the summer time for more than a couple of minutes.