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Old August 13, 2019, 05:00 PM   #1
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Hearing safe suppressed 223 ?

I've heard it said, yes you CAN suppress / silence a 223.

But can you suppress it to a level that is hearing safe? As in: can supersonic 223 be suppressed to a level that will not cause noise induced hearing loss indoors for a short duration like... 5 rounds or so? How about on an open range?

Why do I ask? Because I thought it was impossible so that's why I figured an Octane 9 would be everything I need. Subsonic 147 grain 9mm's, and subsonic 300 blackout which would be super quiet for both.

But then I got to thinking..... If 300 blackout is only going subsonic, it's performance compared to 9mm isn't going to be that great is it? The subsonic projectiles aren't that much heavier than 9mm.. Might as well skip the 300 blackout and go with a AR9 or see if 223 can be hearing safe.
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Old August 13, 2019, 07:01 PM   #2
Bartholomew Roberts
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Well, if you are just going to shoot subsonics at under 200yds, 9mm is cheaper and has better bullet selection.

You can get .223 to less than 140db, which is below the pain threshold, but will still cause hearing damage with enough exposure.
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Old August 13, 2019, 11:20 PM   #3
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You can get it right to the 140 threshold, but really repeated exposure will do damage.
Also, .300blk at 220gn is a bit heavier than 9x19 at 147gn, as well as having a better BC. Not sure if that is important to you or not. For punching paper at 100yds and in, probably not a big difference.
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Old August 13, 2019, 11:56 PM   #4
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Well it sounds like 300 blackout really does offer something above 223 for use with suppressors then.
Also, .300blk at 220gn is a bit heavier than 9x19 at 147gn,
I must have been comparing subsonic 9mm to supersonic 300 blackout. I was considering these options as a home defense long gun.
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Old August 14, 2019, 10:31 AM   #5
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A suppressed 300blk is my go to HD long gun.

After all my time with this caliber, ive settled on supersonic loads for most of my shooting, HD included.

Although, subs give the quietest option i dont like the terminal ballistics. With my can supers are not stupid loud in indoor usage. Are they “hearing safe”... no. I cant think of any suppressed rifle (absent rimfires) that is.

Having shot a lot of suppressed 223 and 300blk in shoot houses, my choice is a 300blk with 110gn expanding bullets (Blacktips or something similar).

The other issue is barrel length. A 223 really needs more barrel length/velocity to be effective. I try to keep my 223 guns with at least a 14” barrel and then pick good loads (Hornady TAP). No FMJ for defensive use. They require TOO much barrel length/ velocity to perform well. A 300blk does not.
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Old August 14, 2019, 10:42 AM   #6
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They do make subsonic 223 ammo, but it's hard to find and expensive. And it could affect the function of the rifle unless it's a bolt gun or has a adjustable gas system. I tried using my suppressor on my 223 rifles and I don't really do it anymore. The supersonic "crack" is just too loud and defeats the purpose.

Now 300 Blackout is way different. I have one of those too and it works AWESOME using subsonic ammo with the suppressor. It sounds like a pellet gun. What's nice about 300 Blackout is with just a simple magazine swap, you can go from the slow subsonic ammo to supersonic ammo such as 110 gr, 135gr or 147gr that has plenty more zip for hunting. Pistol ammo is good for suppressors too, but you can't change the capabilities of a pistol or PCC with a simple magazine swap to the same degree as 300 Blackout. Pistol ammo is cheaper no doubt, so if you just want this for paper punching and plinking at 100yds or less, I would go with a PCC. But if you want something that can actually take down a deer OR have as a suppressed home defense rifle, I would go with a 300 Blackout.

Last edited by TrueBlue711; August 14, 2019 at 10:52 AM.
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Old August 15, 2019, 02:25 PM   #7
T. O'Heir
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"...noise induced hearing loss indoors..." A single .22 LR will do that. A standard .223 puts out ~ 162 or 163 DB depending on the barrel length.
The difference between a suppressed and non-suppressed M855 round is .4 DB, 55 yards from the muzzle. So, no, you cannot reduce a .223 to safe levels.
"...140db, which is below the pain threshold..." Not according to 'American Rifleman'. They say 95 Db hurts. A one time exposure to levels of 140 Db(about what comes out of a regular .22 rifle.) or higher, can cause permanent damage to hearing.
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Old August 15, 2019, 04:27 PM   #8
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I know that when I shot my moose, multiple times, 30-06, I had ringing for couple days. Actually I probably still; have some and that was 40 yrs ago.
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Old August 18, 2019, 06:58 PM   #9
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I jealously protect my hearing. The new, better measurement for suppressor sound is off the shooters right ear, as this is by the ejection port. The new OSS 5.56 cans get this down to a mid-130's rating per their testing.

There's lots of information available on hearing protection, from the National Shooting Sports Foundation to OSHA and NIH.

As for .300 Blackout subsonic, it will be much more quiet. On paper, it's a great round for 100 yards & in. It's also gaining popularity so I doubt it will be going away. I personally don't own the caliber yet, but I have an extra lower, and it will likely be used for this.

Last edited by TheGunGeek; August 18, 2019 at 07:07 PM.
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Old August 19, 2019, 03:16 AM   #10
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I went down the 300BO road for much the same reason. But.... Terminal ballistics on the 300 subs leave a bit to be desired vs. .223 and the cost for something that works is going to be high. After it is all said and done you will have a lot of money in a gun that still might not be hearing safe and be less effective than .223.

For HD, I think your best bet is to stick with the .223 full power rounds and get some good electronic muffs. You will be able to hear better with the muffs than without and can stage them with the rifle. Might take 2 seconds to put them on but they will increase your situational awareness.
Thus a man should endeavor to reach this high place of courage with all his heart, and, so trying, never be backward in war.
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Old August 21, 2019, 12:58 PM   #11
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Apples to apples comparisons of .300blk subs vs 5.56 subs would favor the .300blk, as it has a larger, heavier bullet at the same velocity.

As far as supers, it depends on range and if you favor large, heavy bullets or faster bullets.
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