GUN Hearing protection guide

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by Soybomb, May 9, 2006.

  1. Soybomb

    Soybomb New Member

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    I know when I first started out I had to look around a bit to decide what was important in hearing protection and what to look for so I thought I'd compile some information here in hopes that it might help others.

    Measuring Sound: Loudness is measured in decibels (dB). This is logarithmic measurement, every increase of 3dB doubles the sounds intensity. Generally however it will take a 10dB increase for us to perceive the volume as twice as loud.

    Lets look at some common sound levels:
    breathing at 3m - 10dB
    whispering - 30dB
    office or restaurant - 60dB
    expose past this point can cause hearing damage - 85dB
    lawn mower - 90dB
    15 minutes of exposure can cause hearing loss - 100dB
    1 minute of exposure can cause hearing loss - 110dB
    accelerating motorcycle at 5m - 110dB
    rock concert - 120dB
    threshold of pain - 130dB
    jet engine at 30m - 150dB

    Gunshots and hearing:
    1000 sound impulses max a day at this level per OSHA - 130dB
    .22lr rifle 134dB
    100 sound impulses max a day at this level per OSHA - 140dB
    .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.

    The first thing anyone has to notice is that firing any gun, even a .22lr in a rifle without hearing protection is loud enough to cause hearing damage.

    Protection: In general ear plugs are better at blocking low frequency noise, ear muffs are more effective against high frequency. Ear protection in the US will have a NRR number assigned to it, this is the dB drop it should give you. For example if you're around 60dB of noise and wearing NRR 30 plugs, your ear should be getting 30dB of noise.

    Doubling Up: Some shooters chose to double up on their hearing protection. Personally I shoot indoors and find this to be especially wise. Sadly however you can't just add the NRR values of your hearing protection to get the total reduction value. The OSHA guideline is that you get to add 5dB of NRR to the highest rated protection device with the addition of a second one. For example wearing plugs rated 33nrr and muffs rated 30nrr give a total nrr of 38dB. Some speculate the gains are greater and that estimate is conservative. On the surface this doesn't seem like much, but when you consider that 3dB is a doubling of sound level, it is indeed worth quite a bit.

    For example lets say you're indoors shooting a 9mm with 25dB muffs on. Your 160dB sound has been attentuated to 135dB in your ear. You're at a maximum of 500 impulses at at that volume before hearing damage according to OSHA. If there are others shooting at the range that day and you intended to go through a hundred or more rounds yourself, its quite easy to see how you could exceed the allowed exposure levels that day. Things get even worse if someone on the range with you is shooting magnum rounds. However if you had the 38dB of protection discussed earlier from doubling up you would be exposed to 122dB of sound from each of your shots and would be safe well over a thousand shots.

    If you have comfort problems with ear plugs an audiologist should be able to mold a custom fit set of ear plugs for your ears. It may well be worth it for the frequent shooter.

    Protests: Now some of you will say you've been shooting for years with little to no protection and haven't noticed a problem. To that I would point out that hearing loss is gradual and often starts with higher frequencies first. You could very well have hearing loss that you just don't realize yet. Some people will get tinnitus (rining in the ears) and it will be quite noticeable. An exam might be recommended if you question it. The final thing to keep in mind is when you get to the truly damaging sound levels, is that the damage done to your hearing is permanent and cumulative. It will get worse every time you get to those damaging levels again.

    Reference material:
    http://www.answers.com/decibel&r=67
    http://www.mckinley.uiuc.edu/handouts/noise_ears_hearing/noise_ears_hearing.html
    http://www.american-hearing.org/name/noise_induced.html
    http://www.pro-am.com/Catalog/Product_Advice/Hearing_Protection/willson1.asp
    http://www.freehearingtest.com/hia_gunfirenoise.shtml
    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=183414

    I hope this can be a decent reference to those who are getting started or wanting to see if their hearing protection is effective enough.

    I just got in some replacement protection today that I'd like to point as being quite effective for me:
    [​IMG]
    First is a package of Leightning L3 muffs with a NRR of 30dB ($18.46) and second is 100 pairs of Howard Leight plugs with a nrr of 33dB ($24.01). Both seem comfortable and have some of the highest nrr values you can find. I ordered them from http://www.tradingpostsupply.com and the shipping was fast. I previously ordered some leightning muffs from a different seller and had nothing but problems from the other seller (consider that fair warning if you use froogle or ebay to try to find a cheaper price). Their item number for the plugs is HLR33133 and HLR03318 for the muffs if anyone wants to try them. My only complaint is you can forget about using the muffs with a long gun.
     
  2. michael

    michael FLORIDA > *

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    You're telling us what we already know.

    but interesting anyway
     
  3. jonny427

    jonny427 Scooby Doo OT Supporter

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    I think its a good EDU for people new to this stuff.
     
  4. Keesh

    Keesh New Member

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    :cool: nice info.
     
  5. Aviator

    Aviator Banned

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    So 9mm rounds are louder than 44 and 45? :eek3:
     
  6. reman

    reman New Member

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    get a suppressor and subtract 30db - 40db off of those rounds:)
     
  7. PanzerAce

    PanzerAce Active Member

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    Good info. Just last summer I had to have my right eardrum rebuilt (was missing 80% of it, long story), and have finally gotten that ear back to the 99% level for hearing, so I use earprotection no matter what.

    Believe me guys, destroying your ears gets expensive...
     
  8. Gimik

    Gimik New Member

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    You're supposed to stop the Q-Tip when there's resistance!

    (Sorry, 'Friends' quote. Couldn't be helped)
     
  9. PanzerAce

    PanzerAce Active Member

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    :squint:

    Actually, it was side affect of an ear infection.
     
  10. Gimik

    Gimik New Member

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    Sorry. I was only foolin :love:
     
  11. striker754

    striker754 Chillin

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    Not really. Supressors dont work too well unless the ammo is subsonic.
     
  12. Bigsnake

    Bigsnake OT Supporter

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    Isn't 9mm higher pressure than .44 and .45?
     
  13. striker754

    striker754 Chillin

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    yea. shoot a 9mm and a .45 back to back and you can DEFINATELY tell the sound level difference.
     
  14. Soybomb

    Soybomb New Member

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    Generally yes if you go to concerts without hearing protection you'll get hearing loss. The more you go to unprotected, the more deaf you'll become. If you've ever left a concert with ringing ears thats a sign you've done actual permanent damage to your hearing most likely. There are speciality earplugs you can buy that are meant to provide protection while not degrading the sound. Obviously these would be wise. Many musicians also wear these plugs because the monitors around them are quite hard on their ears.
     
  15. Keesh

    Keesh New Member

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    :werd: ringing ears is never a good sign.

    My ears were ringing for about 5 days after shooting my 30-06 without hearing protection :hs:
     
  16. krott5333

    krott5333 Guest

    cliffs: the $8 silencio muffs at walmart are the best bang for the buck, with an NPR rating of 29
     
  17. Bdog

    Bdog ...but do I really care?

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    I always use my Peltor Tactical 6-S's whenever I shoot. Definitly worth the money!
     
  18. TL1000RSquid

    TL1000RSquid ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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    :werd: I use them with regular plugs at the indoor range, and just one or the other usually at the outdoor.
     
  19. PanzerAce

    PanzerAce Active Member

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    .

    Thats what I use, hell, they are sitting on the desk next to the monitor, in case I really need to ignore people while working on a paper.
     
  20. Soybomb

    Soybomb New Member

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    Perhaps, but there are many cases where they might not provide enough protection, especially indoors. In those cases doubling up and getting a nrr of 38 might be much more beneficial to protecting your hearing....well worth a extra dollars to me.
     
  21. krott5333

    krott5333 Guest

    extra dollars?

    disposable plugs are like 5 cents :hsughno:

    and I never shoot indoors.. well, sometimes, but rarely
     
  22. Bigsnake

    Bigsnake OT Supporter

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    It causes hear loss. It doesn't make you deaf right away.
     
  23. emad

    emad Lost

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    i see no 40 cal mentioned in there :hs:
     

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