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Old November 6, 2012, 02:17 PM   #1
chrisintexas
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chances of hearing damage from different calibers?

what caliber size will minimize the chances of damage to hearing for home defense And that caliber size will still be adequate for stopping an attacker? Thanks
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Old November 6, 2012, 02:24 PM   #2
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Without a silencer (aka noise suppressor), none. Some may be worse than others, but all will cause hearing damage from .380 on up.

Worrying about hearing damage is the least of your worries. However, if you go that route, get a suppressor or get electronic hearing protection.
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Old November 6, 2012, 02:26 PM   #3
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Your hearing most likely will be damaged in any self defense action.

Better hearing than all of your bodies-you and family etc.
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Old November 6, 2012, 02:28 PM   #4
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All calibers can and will cause hearing damage without the use of a suppressor, although many shoot .22 out of rifles without ear protection which I am guilty of every now and then.

I will share an experience of mine. I had the indoor range to myself and slipped off my hearing protection. I reloaded my 3" S&W model 60 with hot 125gr .357 magnums and pulled a shot off. My immediate reaction was to cover my ears the blast was so great. For a good 6 months after my left ear rang non stop at an unbearing level which was driving me crazy. Its been about 2 years since the incident and my left ear still slightly rings and has high frequency hearing loss. The condition is called Tinnitus, it is a non stop ringing usually resulting from hearing loss/damage. Since then I have no interest in the .357 as a self defense round where I may have to fire it again with unprotected ears. The .357 is considerably louder than most handgun rounds out there, even louder than the .44 magnum believe it or not. I was naive then thinking I needed a big boomer as a carry gun but have since then switched to .380, .38 special, and 9mm for my carry guns.
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Old November 6, 2012, 02:28 PM   #5
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Improper advise deleted
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Old November 6, 2012, 02:28 PM   #6
Brian Pfleuger
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All guns are far too loud for your hearing. Yes, some are louder than others but NONE are quiet enough to NOT do damage.

The sound is creating by the pressure in the barrel, strongly affected by muzzle pressure, so longer barrels and lower pressures are quieter. The bullet noise itself is really not a factor.

I would not choose a SD cartridge based on noise level. I would make an effort (in the home) to have electronic hearing protection available should the situation and timing allow for its use.

Electronic protection will enhance your hearing and help you in a defensive situation. However, it's obviously not life critical and I'd rather be alive and deaf than dead.

Permanent damage can be and has been done by one single shot. I've done it myself. I have tinnitus in my right ear from one single shot of a very loud gun. I had plugs in but it hadn't sealed yet. Trouble is, it's unpredictable. You might shoot for years outside and never have a problem and then one shot and your ear never stops ringing. Shooting indoors is MUCH, much worse.

In any case, never, ever practice without protection and make electronic protection available along with your defensive gun. Don't get yourself or your family shot while you try to don electronic muffs but if possible, use them.
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Old November 6, 2012, 02:30 PM   #7
Dragline45
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You will not suffer permanent hearing damage from a one-time unprotected exposure to home defense gunfire. In fact, many people in true life or death situations experience auditory exclusion syndrome and don't conciously hear the gunfire at all.
Don't listen to this foolish advice. It took a SINGLE shot for me to suffer permanent hearing damage. See my previous post.

As far as auditory exclusion, your brain may not register the sound of the shot but your ears still take the full force of it regardless of if you remember hearing it or not.

Before you give advice, know what your talking about.

As Brian can attest, Tinnitus is no fun.

Just in case people don't know how this works, there are little tiny microscopic hairs in your ear that pick up sound and send signals to your brain. When your ears are exposed to loud noises these hairs are knocked over and damaged. Picture stepping on grass, it gets pushed down but will eventually spring back up. Repeatedly step on that same spot of grass or put something heavy enough and it will stay flat. Well when these hairs are permanently damaged or die, they are no longer sending signals or the correct signals. These false signals from the dead hairs result in hearing a constant ringing. There is currently no cure for tinnitus, and probably wont be one untill stem cell research becomes more common.

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Old November 6, 2012, 02:53 PM   #8
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I'm going to fire my ear specialist. I just cruised the net and found several sources that indeed say that a single exposure can cause tinnitus.

I stand corrected. My apologies.
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Old November 6, 2012, 03:01 PM   #9
Dragline45
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I'm going to fire my ear specialist. I just cruised the net and found several sources that indeed say that a single exposure can cause tinnitus.

I stand corrected. My apologies.
Sorry for my rant. It's just that tinnitus is no fun to deal with and I would hate for others to have to go through it so I take it pretty seriously.
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Old November 6, 2012, 03:03 PM   #10
Glenn E. Meyer
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The medical literature contradicts the statement that one loud exposure won't cause permanent damage. Please refer to the peer reviewed literature as compared to the opinion of one person.

Second, if someone said:

Quote:
In fact, many people in true life or death situations experience auditory exclusion syndrome and don't conciously hear the gunfire at all.
and claim to be an expert, they are incompetent. Auditory exclusion, perceptual narrowing or selective attention are psychological effects and NOT a measure of physiological protection against pressure. They need to go back to basic Sensation and Perception class.

Last, attend me - posters should cease and desist stating that gun shot level noises cannot cause damage with one shot or that you need repeated shots. We have banned folks for such as it promotes dangerous actions. We take similar actions for those who promote illegality.

There are no excuses for such postings.
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Old November 6, 2012, 03:14 PM   #11
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Old November 6, 2012, 03:23 PM   #12
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Can we agree that the potential for hearing loss is significant, and that the differences between calibers is negligible that (a) it should not be a factor in caliber selection, and (b) we should wear hearing protection when practicing?

I would also agree with the "better deaf than dead" argument, but I am more than halfway towards each already.
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Old November 6, 2012, 03:30 PM   #13
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The data suggests, as Brian mentioned, that pressure is a key factor in hearing damage. For that reason I favor a lower pressure cartridges shooting heavy, slower bullets for home defense, such as .38 special, .44 special and .45 ACP. .45 Colt would also be a good choice. A .357 mag snubbie is just about the worst choice you can make hearing-wise.
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Old November 6, 2012, 06:45 PM   #14
Dragline45
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Quote:
the differences between calibers is negligible that (a) it should not be a factor in caliber selection
To a degree. I strayed away from the .357 because it is such a punishing round to your ears, much more so than say a 9mm or .45acp. I now EDC a 9mm, which is still capable of causing hearing damage, but not on the level as the .357 magnum.
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Old November 6, 2012, 06:49 PM   #15
chrisintexas
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Another question I have:

As I came indoors from outdoors, I thought isn't the noise/sound amplified inside?

How much amplified will the sound of a fired handgun be in that case since home defense is basically "indoors'

should this affect the choice of caliber?

thanks
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Old November 6, 2012, 07:09 PM   #16
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The "amplified" effect you refer to is just the same level of sound but it bounces back and forth from walls, floors and ceilings so rapidly that you perceive more sound. And yes, it does do more damage than outdoors.
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Old November 6, 2012, 09:13 PM   #17
Dragline45
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The "amplified" effect you refer to is just the same level of sound but it bounces back and forth from walls, floors and ceilings so rapidly that you perceive more sound. And yes, it does do more damage than outdoors.
+1 to this. When my incident happened the wall to my left was much closer than the wall to my right. As a result I have absolutely no damage to my right ear according to my hearing tests, but in my left ear I have minimal high frequency hearing loss and a moderate case of tinnitus. Considering I was using a revolver too i'm betting the blast from the cylinder gap shoots sound waves straight out left and right from those gaps, just a theory but it makes sense.

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Old November 6, 2012, 09:17 PM   #18
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Many years ago a class form then Memphis State University (Now University of Memphis) came out to the range. They were studying noise levels/hearing loss. The professor asked me if I minded taking readings at my firing. I assured him I did not. (Later learned the range office directed hime to me, as I had the loudest muzzle blasts of anyone there.)

They had a device of black plastic that looked about the size and shape of a GI canteen, with an aluminum fixture where the cap would be. He took readings at my right ear (I had my muffs on) as I fired my .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .45 Colt. To my surprise, there was very little difference in the decibel readings.

I have that constant ringing from my Army days when ear protection was unheard of.

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Old November 6, 2012, 11:07 PM   #19
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Bob - like you, in my Army days no mention was made of hearing protection. At the time I thought nothing of shotgun or 1911 blast. We shot M-14s and I shot in competition, but no muffs, no plugs, not even .45 brass in our ears. It is easy to see this by looking at photos of old Army training photos, even ones from Camp Perry.

I have paid the price for that ever since, but thankfully do not have tinnitus. My good buddy got tinnitus about ten years ago from a single shot at an elk, using a .300 Weatherby Magnum with a KDF reducer and no "ears" on. Sucks that his two guides had their own plugs in and did not warn him, but that is 20-20 hindsight.

Is there a thread on Firing Line in which posters bat around their favorite electronic ear muffs and reasons why? I'm not looking to spend $200, but would like to be able to wear muffs and also hear what people near me are saying without having to read their lips (which I'm pretty good at, by unfortunate necessity).
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Old November 7, 2012, 12:00 AM   #20
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I'd say they will all hurt, but some are likely to hurt more.

Last time I checked, a .357 actually was one or two dB higher than a 12ga (assuming service barrel lengths).

The .357 was just slightly louder than the .44 magnum.

Both of those were louder than the 9mm.

The .45acp, .44 special, and .38 special were quieter than the magnums by 4 or 5 dB. Considering that a change of 3dB is a doubling (or halving) of noise, that difference could be significant.

In other words, they are all likely to do damage. Magnums, and most rifle rounds, are likelier to do more damage.

This is one reason, I admit, for my preference for the .45. (Or, in other calibers, slightly heavy bullets loaded just subsonic.)

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Old November 7, 2012, 12:12 AM   #21
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In a home defense situation I would not worry about my hearing. If you have some electronic muffs and time then that might be a good idea to use. Otherwise I want to hear as well as possible.
I understand that you are afraid of hearing damage because I've fired many rounds of .22 when I was young without protection. These days I have significant damage and do not wish to have the least bit more damage but my wife and daughter are more important than my hearing. Use the gun that you shoot the best.
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Old November 7, 2012, 12:41 AM   #22
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Well if your a right handed shooter with a pistol in one hand it would probably be smart to put you left finger in your left ear and press your head into your right shoulder so both ears would be protected.
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Old November 7, 2012, 04:07 AM   #23
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Firing any gun in an enclosed space is going to be loud... But when it comes between your life and exposing your ears to a few loud blast of gunfire... Your ears take a distant decond to your life.

I do not use ear protection when I shoot .22 or .17 HMR out of a rifle. I do use ear plugs when I shoot my .17 HMR revolver. Its a good policy for whatever you are shooting.

I wear ear plugs when shooting handguns. Once you damage your hearing dont expect it to get better.

If you feel like dealing with the paperwork and expenses, a suppressor knocks down the noise a lot.
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Old November 7, 2012, 06:06 AM   #24
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Quote:
Well if your a right handed shooter with a pistol in one hand it would probably be smart to put you left finger in your left ear and press your head into your right shoulder so both ears would be protected.
Tried it, that's not going to do much for your aim.
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Old November 7, 2012, 06:56 AM   #25
thedudeabides
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I had a 12 gage magnum go off next to my right ear, permanent hearing damage from one shot.

At least no tinnitus.
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