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Old December 17, 2006, 11:21 PM   #1
Bubsy
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9mm and Hearing Protection question

I apologize that this question is carried over from another post but that post's "title" was related to pistol ranges and not to hearing loss.

I've had hearing loss in my right ear for quite some time (the result of meniure's syndrome and totally unrelated to the firing of guns) and my right ear is very sensitive to certain low pitched sounds. I was planning on taking up pistol target shooting as a hobby, and I visited a pistol range last week to test fire a couple of berettas. All seemed fine until the next day when I began having additional hearing problems with my right ear. At the range, I used the provided ear protectors, but considering the next day affect shooting 100 rounds over two hours had on my ear; I'm concerned that the loud almost cannonlike sound that the 9mm Beretta makes would destroy my hearing over time if I visited a pistol range each week for recreational shooting. I'm going to consult with my ear MD (who I expect will tell me to forget the whole idea of target shooting as a hobby). But I really enjoy target shooting and I'd like to find a way to do it despite my hearing problems. I would think my choices are 1. To wear ear plugs AND a hearing protector as was suggested in another thread here. 2. Shoot only in an outdoor range where I would think there would be less reverberation. 3. Purchase a gun that has a lower decibel noise level ( the S&W 38 revolver, I believe is around 153 db. vs 160db for the Beretta and that is a substantial difference). 4. Purchase and use a premium quality hearing protector. (do they exist?)

I'm puzzled as to why my hearing was affected so much. Last summer I shot a rifle at an outdoor range w/o hearing protection and it didn't affect my hearing. Your thoughts and comments are appreciated.
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Old December 17, 2006, 11:53 PM   #2
skeeter1
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The "sponge-type" ear plugs and some ear muffs should be a good combination.

I've got some "sonic ear valves" that work, but for me they're just too uncomfortable.

There are a number of newer electronic ear muffs, but I can't say that I've ever tried them.

I've also got somewhat of a hearing loss in one ear, but that was due to my rock'n'roll days. A 240watt amp will do that to you.

As for the bang out of a 9mm vs. a .38Spl, it's pretty much the same, IMHO.
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Old December 18, 2006, 12:47 AM   #3
JohnKSa
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Quote:
Last summer I shot a rifle at an outdoor range w/o hearing protection and it didn't affect my hearing.
That's probably part of it--hearing damage tends to be cumulative. You may not have NOTICED the hearing damage at the time, but adding a little to it with your latest session using the 9mm may have been just enough to bring it to the level that you can now detect it.

I'd double up with plugs and muffs, shoot primarily at outdoor ranges and limit the length of time you're exposed to gunfire. You may want to also consider using hearing protection during any other activities which expose you to high levels of noise, or even relatively low levels of noise over very long periods.
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Old December 18, 2006, 08:45 AM   #4
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Doubling up with foam plugs and muffs is a good idea. Also pay attention to the fit of the muffs and their ratings. Muffs that cover the whole ear are better than muffs that just sit on the ear. I like muffs that enclose the entire ear and sit on the skull.

IMHO I found the best muffs are ones made by Peltor, they fit over even my "Alfred E Neumann" ears. My Peltor H7's afford 27db protection. Peltor makes an H10 muff that gives 29db. I always use my H7's indoors.
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Old December 18, 2006, 09:25 AM   #5
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My ear Doctor was adament that I must wear both foam plugs and muffs. Either one by itself just does not provide enough protection. He also said that the foam plugs are better than the expensive molded plug. The ear's shape changes and then the mold is not correct anymore whereas the foams form to the exact contour of the ear. There is also a technique for inserting the foams properly. Roll the plug up tightly, reach over your head and pull your ear up and then insert the plug.
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Old December 18, 2006, 09:36 AM   #6
PinnedAndRecessed
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Facts on noise levels:

Decibels measure sound pressure and are logarithmic, a 3db increase almost doubles sound pressure, a 6db increase quadruples sound pressure.

Gradual hearing loss may occur after prolonged exposure to 90 decibels or above.

Exposure to 100 decibels for more than 15 minutes can cause hearing loss.

Exposure to 110 decibels for more than a minute can cause permanent hearing loss.

Here are some examples of noise levels:

Video arcades - (110 dB).

Firecrackers - (125-155 dB at a distance of 10 feet).

Live music concerts - (120 dB and above).

Movie theatres - (118 dB).

Health clubs and aerobic studios (120 dB).

Sporting events (127 dB).

Motorboats - (85-115 dB).

Motorcycles - (95-120 dB).

Snowmobiles - (99 dB).

"Boom cars" - (140 dB and above).

Here are noise levels of firearms:

.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. In 18" barrel 163.2dB.

.375 18" barrel with muzzle brake 170 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.

.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.

Properly fitted earplugs or muffs reduce noise 15 to 30 dB. The better earplugs and muffs are approximately equal in sound reductions, although earplugs are better for low frequency noise and earmuffs for high frequency noise.

All of us should be trying to get the greatest Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that can be put together. NRR 30 plugs with NRR 20 muffs will give you an effective NRR 45 (add plugs and muffs, then subtract 5). If noise levels are 160 dB this gives you an exposure with plugs and muffs of 115 dB. The acceptable exposure time for this is 15 minutes total for the day. If the noise levels are 150 dB the resultant acceptable exposure time with the given plugs and muffs is 1 hour and 4 hours if the noise level is 140 dB. You're not going to find unsuppressed noise levels below 140dB with gunfire.

If you are shooting by yourself, roughly 100 rounds of 140 dB instantaneous noise in a day should not produce hearing damage. Put your plugs and muffs on and you get to shoot up to a thousand rounds without damage (louder ammo/gun and the allowable drops by a factor of 5). Shoot with other people and you have to add all the rounds shot cumulatively (10 people shoot 100 rounds and everybody's done for the day; toss a handcannon or 30 cal rifle in and you're back down to 200 rounds cumulative). If you shoot on an indoor range then all the rounds fired while you are on the range go into your total. So you can see that it doesn't take very long on a range to have a thousand rounds popped off around you.
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Old December 18, 2006, 01:08 PM   #7
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Besides doubling up with the best they make in hearing protection

I'd look at the gun range. A covered / enclosed range will have a lot more noise and compression coming back at you than if you are outside with nothing over your head.

Are silencers legal in your state with the right permit?
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Old December 24, 2006, 01:06 AM   #8
Bubsy
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re: 9mm and Hearing Protection

I visited my ear MD. The hearing test did show a significant deteriorated across all frequencies in my right ear vs. 3 years ago with no change in the left ear. He's not sure if the loss in the right ear is temporary or permanent. He put me on some anti inflamatory steroids and Red Grapes (something about an anti-oxidant in the skin of the grapes..?) He's repeating the hearing test in a couple of weeks. Like people have posted here, he recommended that I use ear plugs and hearing protector muffs which he said brings the 9 mm down to about 115 db. He STRONGLY recommended that I only shoot at outdoor gun ranges. He also told me to check out some ear plugs that musicians use that screens out the loud dangerous sounds while amplifying voices. I think I saw them discussed in another thread in another area of the forum but I'm not sure exactly what they are called.

I'd still like to try a S&W 22 revolver and a 38 special revolver just to see if the sound might be a little easier on my ears. The loud "pow" noise from a rifle didn't bother my hearing when I wore ear protectors and, I might be wrong, but I would expect the revolver to sound more like a rifle than like a 9mm. Then again, it might be the reverberations in the indoor range that make the difference (I shot the rifle outdoors).

As one poster suggested, I'm also going to check if any type of silencers are legal in NY. I live in NYC, and I'm sure they aren't legal here; but if I'm going to fire at outdoor ranges, they are going to be on Long Island, (Nassau or Suffolk Counties) which have different gun laws than the City itself. But the NYC laws are so strict, that I wouldn't be surprised it it is illegal even to possess one in NYC even if it isn't used in the City.

Of course I could just give up the whole idea. But I've already spent $439.00 on the pistol permit application and I really think pistol shooting is a hobby that I'll enjoy. NYC has a law that says if you have a pistol permit, you MUST own a pistol or you are required to forfeit the permit.
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Old December 24, 2006, 06:42 PM   #9
JohnKSa
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Quote:
The loud "pow" noise from a rifle didn't bother my hearing when I wore ear protectors and, I might be wrong, but I would expect the revolver to sound more like a rifle than like a 9mm. Then again, it might be the reverberations in the indoor range that make the difference (I shot the rifle outdoors).
Indoor vs outdoor is a TREMENDOUS difference. If you look at the table provided by PinnedAndRecessed, you will see that most rifles are very close in sound level to the 9mm.
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Old December 25, 2006, 09:32 PM   #10
Bubsy
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Outdoor Shooting Ranges

Thanks. Like I mentioned in a new topic thread, I've been searching for some outdoor ranges on Long Island or in the greater NYC area but haven't been able to find them. I know they exist. I think that shooting at an outdoor range WILL, as you indicate, make a TREMENDOUS difference.
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Old December 26, 2006, 01:09 AM   #11
Tokamak
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You have the same reply I do.

Quote:
The "sponge-type" ear plugs and some ear muffs should be a good combination.
Either one seriously reduces the Dbs getting to your ears. The two togeather should be enough damping to quiet any 9mm.

I did see a guy who did not know to "twirl" his ear plugs to skinny them up before inserting into his ear - you then just let them expand - and they came loose. He had a ringing in his ears for 3 days from shooting .357s.

I should describe what I am talking about. I take a foam earplug and roll it between my thumb and index finger untill it gets as small as I can get it. I quickly insert it into my ear and hold it there with my index finger until it expands filling the ear canal. I know of no other way to get a seal that keeps out noise with these plugs.
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Old December 26, 2006, 02:07 PM   #12
Waitone
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Not only shoot outdoors shoot where you have no structure above your head. Considerable sound is reflected by the metal roof on typical shooting sheds.

Find the highest NRR rated plugs your can find and use them correctly.

Find the highest NRR rated muffs you can find with a hard shell and use them with the aforementioned highest NNR rated correctly used plugs.

Limit your exposure as previously mentioned.

Begin the quixotic quest for a silencer. You may or may not be successful but at a minimum you will strike a blow against the empire. One of my pet bugaboos is shooting is the one sport where federal law mandates hazardous conditions for participants. Oh BTW, silencers don't. They merely reduce the noise and pressure. Only in the movies and with specially designed firearms are they truly silent.

One other point. A considerable amount of sound is transmitted to the ears through the head's bony structures. Sooner or later we will see shooters wearing something like motorcycle helmets. But that is well into the future.
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Old February 19, 2007, 10:42 PM   #13
Bubsy
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9mm and hearing Protection

I went out to the Bristol pistol range (Ready-Aim-Fire) this weekend. This time I used both earplugs and the muffs as was suggested on this forum. The guys there suggested I try the S&W Model 10 38 special revolver. Compared to the Beretta PX4 Storm, it felt like a tank. But... the ammo was easy to load, the gun was perfectly balanced in my hand, my shot accuracy was excellent given that I've not had any formal training, and the recoil was direclty back rather than upwards. More importantly, the sound that the Model 10 made was similar to what I had experienced when shooting a rifle and it didn't affect my ears. I tried the PX4Storm again. My accuracy was far, far worse than with the Model 10 since the recoil tended to jerk the pistol upwards. But once again, the noise sounded more like a cannon and my ears began to be affected. I quickly swapped the PX4 Storm for the Model 10 and fired another 50 rounds, accurately and w/o any affect on my sensitive ears. Looks like I'll be going with the 1889 patented revolver if NYPD ever gets around to contacting me for the pistol permit interview.

BTW.. Thanks again to the great guys at Ready-Aim-Fire out in Bristol, Pa. You're the best! And thanks again to all who have offered helpful suggestions here.

Bob
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Old February 19, 2007, 10:51 PM   #14
waynedm
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Get 147 grain 9mm, they are subsonic and should be quieter. More like the pop you get off .45acp.
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Old February 20, 2007, 01:08 AM   #15
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Well, I have tried them now

Quote:
There are a number of newer electronic ear muffs, but I can't say that I've ever tried them.
Well, now I have tried them, a set from Cabela's, around $30 I think, and they really do work. Supposed to work for ~100Hrs on 2-AA batteries. I know my hearing isn't what it used to be, but to take care of what's left of it, I think $30 is cheap insurance.
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