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Old June 30, 2014, 09:04 PM   #1
Joshua 2415
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357 Mag: Is 158 grain easier on the ears?

I've been reading various threads about the potential damage that 357 magnum can put on the ears. Seems there's a common theme that the high velocity of the 125 grain bullet is of particular concern. Since the 158 grain is heavier and therefore slower, does it follow that the 158 grain will not be as hard on the ears? Will there be enough difference to matter, as it relates to hearing damage?

Also, how much does the barrel length play into this issue. I have both a 2 1/2" and a 4" 357 magnum. Will that 1.5" difference have any meaningful impact on hearing damage?
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Old June 30, 2014, 09:10 PM   #2
Bob Wright
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A few years back some students from the University of Memphis came out to the range with their professor doing some audio study concerning gunblast and hearing loss. They had a device that looked like a GI canteen that took readings of decibels of different gun blasts. They picked me as their subject and tested right at my ear protection and took readings from my .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .45 Colt. Much to my surprise, there was not a great deal of difference in the readings. I don't remember any of the readings except that all appeared very close numerically.

What I had perceived to be sharp muzzle blasts was actually concussion. That does vary considerably.

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Old June 30, 2014, 10:05 PM   #3
357 Terms
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It won't matter much, you SHOULD be wearing ear protection!..

If your talking about a SD scenario, it won't make a noticable difference.
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Old June 30, 2014, 10:36 PM   #4
Joshua 2415
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Yes, I'm referring to self-defense situations.

I always wear hearing protection at the range.

But, I've read horror stories about guys losing their hearing from shooting 357mag indoors, etc. Just wondering if carrying 158 grain instead of 125 will make any difference.
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Old June 30, 2014, 10:49 PM   #5
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just get some of the reduced flash/muzzle blast rounds.
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Old June 30, 2014, 11:03 PM   #6
Joshua 2415
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Yeah, I'm currently carrying Buffalo Bore Tactical 158 grain in my 2.5". Tim Sundles claims there is reduced blast and effect on the ears with these "tacticals", but I still wonder about it.

And I recently purchased a 4" S&W Model 627, and carry Gold Dot 125 grain in it. The hearing discussion is making me have second thoughts on that, although I really like the performance I've seen in gel tests.

I know I can use 38+P or mild 357, but for me, one of the main reasons to carry the 357 is for the high-end velocity/effectiveness. But now I'm
wondering if I should worry about the ears if I ever had to use it.

Was hoping maybe I could go with 158 grain, if that would help save the ears. I just don't know how to judge that. If the higher weight and lower velocity really won't make that much difference, probably will just stay with the 125 grain Gold Dots in the 4".
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Old June 30, 2014, 11:10 PM   #7
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I don't think it will make enough difference to matter. .357 is enough to damage hearing, permanently. I don't know if it is worse inside a room, but I can tell you from personal experience that it SEEMS worse.

And, if the only time you shoot without hearing protection is in gravest extreme, you will recover most of your hearing, eventually.
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Old June 30, 2014, 11:57 PM   #8
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I was shooting .357mags back in the days when hardly anyone wore hearing protection. Indoor and outdoor.

There is little discernable difference between 125gr. and 158gr.. Not enough to matter anyway.

Good idea to wear protection if you want to keep your hearing intact.
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Old July 1, 2014, 01:32 AM   #9
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I don't know how they compare in decibels, but my own subjective impression is that the 158gr .357's seem to have a very different pitch to them than the lighter, faster 125's. The 158's seem to have more of a deep "boom" not unlike a larger-bore such as .41 or .44 Magnum. The 125's, on the other hand, have a sharper "crack" more like a centerfire rifle. While both undoubtedly are loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage (just about any handgun from .22 Long Rifle up will cause hearing damage), the 158's are much more pleasant for me to shoot even with hearing protection.
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Old July 1, 2014, 11:54 AM   #10
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Different poweders also sound different in the same gun. As an example Unique goes off with a pow and 2400 gives more of a boom.
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Old July 1, 2014, 01:11 PM   #11
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I'm not sure that it really matters that much, 125G vs 158g is still going to hurt like hell in a confined space with no ear protection. But if its between my ears and my life, I guess I'll choose life.
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Old July 1, 2014, 02:05 PM   #12
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Longer barrels seem to help in the .357. To help further I've gone to a 173 grain cast in the .357 for my top-end loads, but I have to admit that the slight reduction in velocity didn't seem to help as much as I had hoped. The really fast .357 loads with 110 and 125 grain bullets make me want to check after I've shot one of them to see if blood is not running out of my ears.
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Old July 4, 2014, 12:12 AM   #13
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I have shot a few 230 grain bowling pin bullets from my 357 magnum and they are pretty quiet but they are subsonic in everything (even the carbines).

I doubt the human ear can tell the difference in a 125 grain and a 158 grain bullet when both are loaded even moderately warm or better. I have loaded some 100 grain lead bullets over small amounts of trail boss and I would guess those are all most hearing safe but I would not want to use one to stop any thing bigger than a raging chipmunk.

My Marlin is much quieter than my revolvers or my Coonan. I think the long barrel helps.
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all 25 of my guns are 45/70 govt, 357 mag, 22 or 12 ga... I believe in keeping it simple
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Old July 7, 2014, 12:21 AM   #14
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Quote:
if the only time you shoot without hearing protection is in gravest extreme, you will recover most of your hearing, eventually.
That would be impossible to predict. And whether or not it's in the "gravest extreme" is irrelevant.

The cartridge generates noise well above the level to have the capacity to permanently damage one's hearing, regardless the circumstances.

One might recover from such acoustic trauma. Then again, one might not.

You cannot make the assertion "you will recover most of your hearing." There's absolutely no way to know that.

I've read of people who keep their electronic muffs by their HD weapon. If they have time, etc, they put the muffs on. Doesn't sound like bad advice.
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Old July 7, 2014, 08:10 AM   #15
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Quote:
I've read of people who keep their electronic muffs by their HD weapon. If they have time, etc, they put the muffs on. Doesn't sound like bad advice.
I agree. I have actually been thinking about getting a can for my HD handgun.
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Shot placement is everything! I would rather take a round of 50BMG to the foot than a 22short to the base of the skull.

all 25 of my guns are 45/70 govt, 357 mag, 22 or 12 ga... I believe in keeping it simple
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Old July 7, 2014, 08:18 AM   #16
buck460XVR
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Quote:
357 Mag: Is 158 grain easier on the ears?

In this case, easier is a relative term. Kinda like asking, is crashing into a wall with you car at 80 mph easier on you than hitting it it @ 100?


Any powder fired handgun is hard on your ears and will produce damage. Even the lowly .22, shooting subsonic rounds, especially in an enclosed area. For SD, one needs to pick the ammo that has proven most accurate, most reliable and that one has the most confidence with, outta the intended firearm. Hearing aids are still cheaper than funerals.
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Old July 7, 2014, 10:37 AM   #17
Billy Shears
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Nothing can make the .357 quiet, but you can make it somewhat less offensive when shooting at the range. Try this. When reloading use heavy bullets (like 158s) loaded to subsonic speeds (roughly under 1100 fps) using fast burning powders (like Unique).

A longer barrel will help as well.

Still loud, but not like the blast of a screaming self-defense 125 pushed by slow burning powder.
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Old July 7, 2014, 07:18 PM   #18
Joshua 2415
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357 158 grain vs 9mm 124 grain?

I'm the original OP.

So, a number of opinions on this hearing-damage issue seem to be saying that it's the high velocity of 357 magnum that is damaging to the ears.

Well, 9mm 124 +P might typically be around 1250 fps.

357 magnum 158 grain might be around 1200 or so.

Shouldn't this mean that 9mm 125 +P is harder on the ears, or roughly the same, as 158 grain 357 magnum? I don't hear (no pun intended) much fussing about the horrible hearing damage from the 9mm, so why the concern about the 357, at least for the 158 grain?

What am I missing here?

Last edited by Joshua 2415; July 7, 2014 at 07:36 PM.
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Old July 7, 2014, 09:06 PM   #19
Billy Shears
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Joshua,

I'm no expert on these things, but I "think" there are two main "ingredients" in muzzle blast:

1. When the bullet breaks the sound barrier...roughly 1150 fps at sea level; and

2. When unburned/still burning powder is still rapidly expanding as it leaves the muzzle.

This is why in my previous post I suggested slower bullets and faster powder.

I believe it is mainly this second reason that gives the .357 its notorious ear-splitting blast and is easily replicated when handloading. A load of H-110 is FAR louder than a load of Unique.

9mm cartridges are typically loaded with faster burning powders than factory .357s. Therefore, even though the bullets are theoretically moving at the same velocity, and should have similar levels of sonic boom, the revolver round is still "exploding" as it leaves the muzzle. That's the source of your sinus clearing blast.

I'm sure this explanation is both incomplete and partially incorrect, so hopefully others with far more knowledge will be along shortly.

Last edited by Billy Shears; July 7, 2014 at 09:13 PM.
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Old July 7, 2014, 09:39 PM   #20
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In a SD situation, the adrenaline will be flowing and it does tend to cancel out noise.

Some don't even recall pulling the trigger, let alone remembering the noise.
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Old July 7, 2014, 09:39 PM   #21
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Quote:
If your talking about a SD scenario, it won't make a noticable difference
Yep, you'll be just as deaf and blinded by the flash as the bad guy
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Old July 8, 2014, 06:12 AM   #22
Cyo
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Cylinder gap also plays a big role. Revolvers usually seem louder than autos for this reason.
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Old July 8, 2014, 09:11 PM   #23
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About supersonic bullet speeds...I don't think they play a huge part in increased sound level.

The "crack" you hear from supersonic rounds is relatively subtle compared to the powder blast. Sonic "booms" are from objects creating sound as they break the sonic barrier; due to the speed, sound is multiplied as sound created over a longer period arrives at the ear at the same time. The original sonic boom was from aircraft, making a lot of noise.

But a bullet traveling through the air doesn't create nearly the sound volume of the powder blast (or a jet aircraft)...so while supersonic shots (from a distance) are unique and heard as a crack in addition to the boom of the powder blast, up close it is basically drowned out by the powder blast.

JMHO.

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Old July 8, 2014, 09:52 PM   #24
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^^^^ This.

What Blue said is kinda what I was trying to say but wasn't smart or eloquent enough.
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Old July 8, 2014, 10:09 PM   #25
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Wear hearing protection when shooting especially handguns. As far as SD situations, you do the best you can but I would not be fumbling around looking for my muffs if I had a home intruder. I keep my Ruger GP-100 loaded with 38spl +P's at home.
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