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    Thread: Hearing Loss from Shooting Guns?

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      08-24-2012 01:47 AM #1
      What's your story about hearing loss from shooting guns? Does a single shot from a 45 take out some of your unprotected hearing? I use an ear protector at a shooting range but when a home defense situation comes up there will not be time to put on ear protection. Should a smaller caliber pistol be considered to preserve your ears but also your life when encountering a home defense situation? Tell me what you know, thanks. How do cops and military people deal with this?

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      08-24-2012 08:27 AM #2
      I buy suppressors.

      Problem solved.

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      08-24-2012 09:29 AM #3
      Not sure about military but LEO and HD do not fire their weapons enough to matter.

      I will take hearing loss over life loss any day so not an issue really.

      For range and outdoor, I use the highest dB reduction ear protection I can find. Can also use in ear with over ear if you are worried.
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      08-24-2012 12:53 PM #4
      No hearing loss from hunting for 40+ years. I use hearing protection when target practicing with anything bigger than a .22 and I've used hearing protection at work, because I use my ears when I hunt. Hearing loss is a long term injury from sustained loud noises. Periodic shooting or only firing once or twice is not going to affect it much, if at all.
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      08-24-2012 01:00 PM #5
      A few years ago, I had the great opportunity to meet and talk to Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, author of On Killing and On Combat. Reading on Killing, he talks about the psychological and physiological effects of the body during combat. One of those effects is hearing loss.

      Now, I've never had to fire my weapon to save the life of myself or another, but from his book - On Killing - he tells a story of how an officer and his partner start taking fire and they return fire. He does not hear his partner fire his weapon, so he thinks his partner has taken a hit and is down. The Officer hits the gunman, the gunfight ends, and the bad guy is dead. The Officer runs to check on his partner and is amazed that he isn't wounded. Apparently, through his autonomic response (to protect his hearing, due to adrenaline, etc), his hearing shut out the gunfire.

      Like I said, I don't know how true it is because everytime I'm at the range, I definitely hear the pop (and sometimes will feel it if the guy next to me is running a comp on his AR)! I wouldn't worry too much about hearing loss unless you have a blatant disregard for your hearing. Besides, if the time ever comes (hopefully it never does!) hearing loss is the LAST thing you'll be thinking about.
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      08-24-2012 01:43 PM #6
      I've got a partial mid-range frequency loss tinnitus in my left ear (I'm right handed.) from early days with shotguns and being, frankly, really stupid about hearing protection.

      30 years on, the tinnitus never abated. For a long time now, it's been to the point that if I'm lying on the couch watching TV, and turn 180°, I sometimes feel the need to adjust the volume. I can still hear, mostly, but it's an injury that I wish I never allowed to happen. It didn't need to, we were just ignorant then.

      A friend and my manager here at work are in bands, and they've got problems, too, to varying degrees. It's my understanding from an audiologist that truckers often have a problem similar to mine due to their long stints on the road with the window down and road and wind noise buffeting them over the miles.

      I'm adamant about hearing protection now, working around the house with tools, here in the lab, where ever.

      I've also read accounts of high stress/adrenaline situations where people get tunnel vision and partial deafness in life-or-death situations. I think the body of work, if one wishes to research it, would prove out the sensory changes.

      I also agree that a bit of deafness (In my case, a bit more.) is a very worthwhile trade-off in the event that I would ever have to defend myself or another. I'd be okay with that.
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    7. 08-24-2012 02:22 PM #7
      I have bad hearing to start with, but no noticeable hearing loss - granted I pretty much always wearing hearing protection. My buddies who have been in on-duty shootings say that you don't even notice the noise, because by the time you pull that trigger, you're already zoned, and it's not as big of a shock as you'd think.

      Hearing damage? Like someone else said, if you're shooting someone to death...your hearing should be a significantly secondary consideration.

      Unless you're artillery, or a SAW gunner going to town constantly, I'd not worry about it.

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      08-25-2012 01:59 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by Power5 View Post
      Not sure about military but LEO and HD do not fire their weapons enough to matter.

      I will take hearing loss over life loss any day so not an issue really.

      For range and outdoor, I use the highest dB reduction ear protection I can find. Can also use in ear with over ear if you are worried.
      whut.

    9. 08-25-2012 02:54 PM #9
      I've fired M4s and M240Bs A LOT without hearing protection. No real measurable damage to my hearing. Shooting the M4 from cement towers and inside buildings really hurts though.

      So no, an occasional shot without hearing protection will not damage your hearing. Hearing loss is cumulative. That being said, it's just plain stupid not to wear ear-pro when you're at a range.

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      08-25-2012 04:46 PM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by BHB View Post
      whut.
      I meant that LEO do not fire their weapons on duty with enough regularity that they would get hearing loss. I would bet most LEO have not even fired their weapon on duty besides target practice where they have hearing protection. Same with HD. One time will not cause permanent hearing loss. I would expect the reason for your auditory system shutting out background noise like gun fire is the same as with tunnel vision. Your body automatically focuses on what it needs to and everything else is faded out.
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      08-25-2012 05:01 PM #11
      Oh, I see. The relation of range (protected) to ois (unprotected). Understood. I actually worry more about hearing loss from driving around for 12 hours a day with my widows down than hearing loss from unprotected gun shot noise.

      You're right to assume that most officers will endure an entire career without hearing an unprotected gunshot in the line of duty, let alone enough I cause serious damage. The exceptions are range officers and officers who require specialized training requiring an above average amount of range time.


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      08-25-2012 06:57 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by Pappy View Post
      I've fired M4s and M240Bs A LOT without hearing protection. No real measurable damage to my hearing. Shooting the M4 from cement towers and inside buildings really hurts though.

      So no, an occasional shot without hearing protection will not damage your hearing. Hearing loss is cumulative. That being said, it's just plain stupid not to wear ear-pro when you're at a range.
      Once, I shot a mini-14 from inside the cab of my truck. Once. my ears rang for quite a while afterwards
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    13. 08-25-2012 11:02 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by Egilbe View Post
      Once, I shot a mini-14 from inside the cab of my truck. Once. my ears rang for quite a while afterwards


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      08-26-2012 03:30 AM #14
      I'm 26, I have hereditary hearing loss, and tinnitus. I probably also have some hearing loss from loud music, the two years I spent driving with the windows down because I had no A/C in my car, and the 3 months I spent on an oil rig.

      I also did do some stupid things with guns growing up, that probably didn't help much. Multiple times at the range I forgot to put my earplugs in before I started. When I shot my first deer I was in an enclosed stand, I got too excited and shot without plugs. I had a 9mm accidentally discharged about 6 inches from my ear once and that ear rang for two days.

      I have a $350 pair of electronic ear plugs made by sensear, and they work really well for shooting. In a home defense situation, if I felt I had time, I would definitely put them in. They actually amplify quieter noises, while reducing gunshots to a safe level.

      It really sucks when you get to the point you can tell you're losing your hearing. Another 50-60 years of this ringing... I just hope medical science improves enough in the next couple decades that I won't be completely miserable in my old age.

    15. 08-26-2012 11:09 PM #15
      i always wear hearing protection. i've never left the range with my ears ringing..

      I can attribute my hearing loss to Metallica, Iron Maiden, and the loudest m'fers ever ZZ Top.

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      08-27-2012 12:11 AM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by Tinker Toy View Post
      Should a smaller caliber pistol be considered to preserve your ears but also your life when encountering a home defense situation? Tell me what you know, thanks. How do cops and military people deal with this?
      In close quarters, a smaller caliber out of a pistol will be almost every bit as loud.

      From a thread at XDtalk:

      .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
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      08-27-2012 01:16 AM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by 2.FOH!! View Post
      In close quarters, a smaller caliber out of a pistol will be almost every bit as loud.

      From a thread at XDtalk:

      .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
      It's important to remember that dB is a logarithmic unit, so small change in number can be a huge real-life difference. Here's your list again sorted by loudness:

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

      That's more than a 10dB difference, which (as far as I understand) will be perceived as more than twice as loud. Any sound engineers feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

    18. 08-27-2012 09:53 AM #18
      My father has some hearing loss that he attributes to Quad .50's and 155's. The VA agrees.

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      08-27-2012 10:15 AM #19
      I once shot my Barrett and didn't realize I had forgotten to put my left ear plug in. Lets just say it didn't end to well. It felt like I blew my eardrum out. I couldn't hear right for about 2-3 days and there was a constant humming/buzzing sound. It was terrible.

      Now when I shoot my Barrett, I put both plugs and muffs on.

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      08-27-2012 06:53 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by Tinker Toy View Post
      What's your story about hearing loss from shooting guns? Does a single shot from a 45 take out some of your unprotected hearing? I use an ear protector at a shooting range but when a home defense situation comes up there will not be time to put on ear protection. Should a smaller caliber pistol be considered to preserve your ears but also your life when encountering a home defense situation? Tell me what you know, thanks. How do cops and military people deal with this?
      With most hearing damage, it occurs after sustained exposure to the noise before it permanently affects your hearing. I'd assume having someone shoot a round off right next to your ear (within a foot) would probably be damaging, and maybe a possibility of long-term hearing loss.

      I've spent 15+ years around loud cars (120db+) on the weekends, and have no hearing issues. Someone who works at a plant with ambient noise of 90db+ will have more hearing damage than someone who goes to a rock concert.
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      08-27-2012 07:15 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by personman View Post
      It's important to remember that dB is a logarithmic unit, so small change in number can be a huge real-life difference. Here's your list again sorted by loudness:

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

      That's more than a 10dB difference, which (as far as I understand) will be perceived as more than twice as loud. Any sound engineers feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
      I do not buy that list for some reason. My 92fs is not as loud as my brothers 1911 45. Without seeing the thread, how did they perform these tests? What kind of barrel were they shot from?
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      08-28-2012 12:01 AM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by Power5 View Post
      I do not buy that list for some reason. My 92fs is not as loud as my brothers 1911 45. Without seeing the thread, how did they perform these tests? What kind of barrel were they shot from?
      It wasn't my source so I don't know, but I'm sure barrel length, ammunition type, and even action type have a lot to do with it. I would think the pitch of the noise could change your perception, too.

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      08-28-2012 02:50 PM #23
      The only hearing loss I have experienced is right after shooting a high powered rifle at a deer. Then it's just a nice ringing noise the rest of the day. I don't use hearing protection because I like to have it all natural when listening to what is happening around me when out in the woods.

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      08-28-2012 07:17 PM #24
      They make electronic headphones to allow you to hear around you without sacrificing your irreplaceable hearing.
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      08-28-2012 11:25 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by personman View Post
      It wasn't my source so I don't know, but I'm sure barrel length, ammunition type, and even action type have a lot to do with it. I would think the pitch of the noise could change your perception, too.
      Indeed.

      When I shoot with friends, there are usually in attendance, a couple of 9mm's,
      a 357 revolver, a j-frame & a Kimber 1911.

      The revolvers seem to be the loudest. The 1911 sounds deeper & actually
      a bit quieter. The 9mm's are fairly obnoxious.

      FWIW, the link on XD talk where the chart originated is broke.
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      08-29-2012 09:18 AM #26
      Range I go to 9mm are the quietest. Besides the .22. This is obviously not empirical data, but I jump a bit when .45 are shot without me anticipating it, and I do not do the same with 9mm shots.

      Did the forum that chart came from, have the test procedure or was it just someone posting unverifiable numbers?
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      08-29-2012 06:46 PM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by 2.FOH!! View Post
      Indeed.

      When I shoot with friends, there are usually in attendance, a couple of 9mm's,
      a 357 revolver, a j-frame & a Kimber 1911.

      The revolvers seem to be the loudest. The 1911 sounds deeper & actually
      a bit quieter. The 9mm's are fairly obnoxious.
      i just came from the range with the same set up and experience. 357 snub revolver is x2 louder than the 9mm 1911. granted its larger and has a shorter barrel but in comparison its alot louder.
      I always use ear plugs- but i feel muffs do alot better job- too bad i hate the way they feel.

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      08-29-2012 07:37 PM #28
      Just a little hard for me to believe that a 45 colt is so much quieter than a 45acp. Same bullet with more powder should be louder I would think.

      I have no problem believing a .357mag is louder than 9mm.
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      08-29-2012 09:03 PM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by Power5 View Post
      Just a little hard for me to believe that a 45 colt is so much quieter than a 45acp. Same bullet with more powder should be louder I would think.

      I have no problem believing a .357mag is louder than 9mm.
      "The SAAMI pressure limit of the .45 ACP is 21,000 psi while the .45 Colt is only 14,000 psi"

      Unless you're shooting hot .45 colt loads... in which case I have no idea why the 45acp would be louder.

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      08-30-2012 01:03 PM #30
      yes oops, forgot about that number. was just thinking of the case size allowing more powder in.
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      08-30-2012 11:18 PM #31
      Quote Originally Posted by Power5 View Post
      Range I go to 9mm are the quietest. Besides the .22. This is obviously not empirical data, but I jump a bit when .45 are shot without me anticipating it, and I do not do the same with 9mm shots.

      Did the forum that chart came from, have the test procedure or was it just someone posting unverifiable numbers?
      It was C&P'd from a Oklahoma shooters forum, IIRC.

      That link doesn't work for some reason.

      A quick google search does show this:

      http://www.freehearingtest.com/hia_gunfirenoise.shtml

      .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

      FWIW, I have a .45LC carbine & it is surprisingly quiet for what it is.
      Last edited by 2.FOH!!; 09-01-2012 at 10:31 PM.
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