My ears are ringing... which hard ears should I buy?


The Undertoad
March 17, 2005, 03:34 PM
Damn! Went to the range today and the only hearing protection I had was a pair of foamies. They were the nice kind, on the plastic string, but I guess they were due retirement (I usually only wear foamies for one or two range sessions) because they just plain weren't working well. I probably should have just gone and waited in the car but it's been a month or so since I got to shoot so I went ahead anyways. :banghead:

Thankfully there was no one there besides myself and my roommate and one other shooter who left after about 10 minutes.

It was an outdoor range, thankfully, and my roomie and I probably shot a total of 400 rounds, half .38 and half .45. I just got home and my right ear (I was on the left) is pretty much a wash of white noise right now, and I can barely hear out of it. Hopefully this will go away.

I always just figured ear plugs were enough when shooting outdoors (I always double up indoors) but from now on I'm going to always wear hard ears. I hope my hearing returns to normal soon... how long should this last, I hope no more than a day or so? :confused:

Also, should I drop the cash for some Peltors or active ears, or just get the basic $20-or-so earmuff style?

Thanks guys.

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March 17, 2005, 03:45 PM
Man that wasn't a good thing to do to yourself.
It'll last anywhere from a few hours to forever.
Usually its gone in a day though.
You've got to understand that whenever you subject yourself to loud noises it takes a little of your hearing away that will never come back. I've worked 4 years in a woodworking shop and I believe I have lost a little hearing even though I wear plugs when people use the big machines. Add to that a few rounds of 22s, shotguns, and pistols without protection.

I think basic peltor/AO Safety muffs are fine for most shooting, but double up for centerfire rifle or indoors. They cost $15-20 at home depot or lowe's.
For myself (poor) I can't justify spending more than than $20 for a little more comfort.

What I like to do now is double up but use baffling type earplugs. They let sound through but will limit a large pulse (like gunfire). That way I can still hear people talk (though not well) when I have the muffs on but when shooting it's almost as good as doubling up.

As for the nicer muffs, only you can answer that question. I don't like muffs, I usually wear just foam plugs. Some of them are really good, as much as 28dB reduction, more than most muffs. If you're a person who likes muffs then buy a nicer set, the more you spend the more comfortable and durable they are. Keep in mind the majority of them don't reduce sound as much as most plugs.

I've never had experience with the electronic ones, so I can give any input with those.

The Undertoad
March 17, 2005, 03:51 PM
Yeah, I know it wasn't very smart. I thought the earplugs were working, I had noticed the shots sounded louder than I was used to but assumed it was just because it'd been a while since my last range visit. :(

I'm sure as heck never going to do it again.

I normally dislike muffs because I wear eyeglasses and they get uncomfortable after a while. Screw uncomfortable, it's better than tinnitus or going deaf. Are baffled plugs the christmas-tree looking plasticky ones?

March 17, 2005, 03:54 PM
Maybe you just didn't have them in right, normally they are enough and often work better than muffs.

If you like plugs, look for a set of the jelly-like ones, they work well for some people and won't break down like the foam ones.

What brand foam ones do you use?

The Undertoad
March 17, 2005, 03:55 PM
You know, I'm not sure of the brand; I got them as a gift. I used to wear foamies when I rode my motorcycle so I got pretty good at putting them in properly. Maybe you're right though, I could have just had the right one in wrong.

March 17, 2005, 04:06 PM
I wish you luck but you may already be screwed? I did similarly stupid thing years ago. I went sporting clays shooting with a friend and forgot my hearing protection back in my truck. I didn’t even realize it until I took my first shot. At that point my left ear was ringing bad but being lazy (it would have taken 15-20 minutes to go get my plugs and return) and stupid (they are already ringing now so what’s the point?) I continued the whole course (100 targets) without them.

Well, that was around 8 years and my left ear still rings just as much today as it did the day after that incident. The only positive (if you want to call it that) is I’ve gotten so use to the ringing that I usually do not even notice it anymore unless I think about it (like now) but I know I have lost some percentage of hearing on that side.

Get good hearing protection and use it. I would recommend the electronic type that so that you can easily communicate between shots without being temped to take them off. I bought a set of the Peltor Tactical 6S but I’m not real happy with them. Probably another one of those, “you get what you pay for” deals. So shop around and buy the best that you can afford.

Good Luck

PS – It would be a good idea to see an Ear specialist ASAP in case something can be done to help “heel” the damage you’ve already done.

March 17, 2005, 04:39 PM
I always double up, indoors or out.
The Peltors and other active muffs are great if you need to hear range commands. If that's not really an issue for you, then don't spend the extra cash. Buy more ammo instead.

March 17, 2005, 08:42 PM
There are some good threads on ear protection in the firearms accessories section. Chipperman has some good purchasing advice for you. If you don't need to hear range commands or carry on a conversation, then a pair of non-electronic ear muffs will actually have a higher dB noise reduction rating (Leightnings have a 31 or 33dB rating - larger numbers are better). The other pair I have are Peltors 7s and ProEars Dimension 1. Both these are very good and I would recommend both (proears cost about $50 more than the Peltors) but I'm always looking for something better (ruggedness, fit, size).

The Undertoad
March 17, 2005, 09:10 PM
Thanks folks. My hearing is slowly returning, I can now have a conversation on the phone... white noise still there but quieter. I've definitely learned my lesson.

Tman, thanks for the info, I'll have to search for those threads. That would have been the logical place to look, I suppose, but I didn't think of it. Oh well, it IS St. Patrick's Day... ;) :evil:

March 17, 2005, 09:18 PM
The roaring in your ear should clear up, but you did do some damage, unfortunately. As was said, double up. I wear Silenzio Magnums over plugs, especially indoors, but usually all the time. Not even sure if they're still made as I bought them over 20 years ago, but they're quite good. Save your hearing, please. Don't lose it little by little as I have. I've taken steps only in the last 10 years or so to keep what I have left. Never wore hearing protection outdoors as a kid firing my .22 rifle. Heard plenty of shotgun blasts from a scant few feet away. When I started using handguns, I used ear protection always, but just started doubling up in the last 10 or 12 years. It works. Nerve deafness runs in my family, so that is also working against me. Do yourself a favor and hear what I've been missing.

chris in va
March 17, 2005, 11:17 PM
I prefer using at least 30 NRR muffs at the range. Even then sometimes those hand cannons hit me with one hell of a shock wave.

March 17, 2005, 11:45 PM

Electronic ear muffs on sale for $19.99 right now! I've had these for a while and used them at the range 3-4 times. Only have a microphone in one ear so sound it's not stereo but it sure works as it's supposed to - you can hear the sounds when you load the mag and sometimes the empty casing bounce but the microphone gets shut off when you rack the slide or shoot.

Even if they break, you still have a regular pair of ear muffs for a great price!


March 18, 2005, 12:58 AM
It gets shut off when you rack the slide?
It shouldn't, the slide doesn't make 85dB...that would be one heck of a gun if it did.

March 18, 2005, 08:51 AM
Double up. Use neoprene plugs of NRR 31. Polyethylene foam plugs are cheaper but have lower NRR figures. Also, use 'em twice and trash 'em. The work because they are pliable. Also, make sure they are IN THE EAR CANAL. They do no good unless they are IN THE EAR CANAL. A construction supply house is a good source for plugs and muffs.

Muffs? NRR 28 or higher. Hard shells are a noise rejection feature. Make sure they are comfortable. I've found construction grade muffs are more comfortable than shooters muffs.

Electronic muffs? Don't know how they work. Don't know how effective they are at cutting off impulses. Don't know where they cut off impulses. I'll refrain from using them until I'm certain my hearing is protected.

Some plugs use a little valve that closes due to a buildup of pressure then open up to facilitate conversation. I'm skeptical.

Kramer Krazy
March 18, 2005, 09:15 AM
My wife used to wear some type of el cheapo ear muffs I've had for years WITH foamy ear plugs. I surfed through Grainger's website and found these...

I picked up a set (with my employee discount through my employer), and she used them all by themselves and swears that she gets as much protection as being doubled up. Since then, I bought one for me for home and another set for work. They are really comfortable with the addition of being good at reducing the noise.

March 18, 2005, 11:50 AM
I wish that the 747 thats been buzzing my right ear for about 20 years now would land already...Sheeeeeeeeeshhh. :fire:

I ALWAYS double-up...foamies under muffs.

March 18, 2005, 07:07 PM
Too late for me, ears ring constantly, I now use ear plugs and muffs, to save whats left...

March 18, 2005, 07:45 PM
Went to a concert with a girl a couple years ago. We ended up standing next to a speaker. Stupid me, I SHOULD have moved, used hearing protection, something, but I was too busy dancing. I did eventually wad up some paper and stick it in one ear, which helped.

I still have ringing on that side today, and the girl is long gone.

Ears should always be on when you're shooting. And always double-up when firing centerfire rifles. Someday I'll have sound suppressors for the rifles...stupid NFA.

March 18, 2005, 07:53 PM
I bought a pair of these from Midway a while back:

My dad and brother liked them so much that they have a pair each now. Those Harbor Freight ones look to be the same shape and everything, just with a different colored shell on them. I wouldn't be surprised if the same company manufactured them. They're only rated at 29, but they're fine for outdoor use which is all I do. I don't have any ringing problems and I'm careful about my hearing. Two of my friends are music engineers that do studio and live work, so I know the value of good hearing protection.

The Undertoad
March 18, 2005, 08:34 PM
Beren - Yep... went to many concerts as a teenager, never wore plugs... :banghead: I do occasionally get a ringing/oceany type sound in my ears, often when I am trying to go to sleep and it's really quiet...

The right ear was really loud last night as I was trying to fall asleep. Still ringing now, but not as badly.

Thanks for all the advice and recommendations guys... I always joke that between the rock concerts, motorcycles, and guns I am gonna be deaf at a young age... I slipped up this time, sure as hell ain't gonna happen again. :uhoh:

March 18, 2005, 08:47 PM
Saw another use this or read it on a forum somewhere,thought I was the only one left that did it.
Spit on your ear plugs before you put them in,they work real good like that and it is as good as a lot of stuff ive bought over the years.
Any exp old timers on here care to help out on this old ancient Technique?
My Dad would do this to cotton rolled up many many years past,say in the 20son thru the 50s.
Hope it works out for you. :scrutiny:

March 18, 2005, 08:54 PM
In 1963 we started out without hearing protection. Around 1965 we had the option of using cotton from the corpsman or cigarette filters.

Retired in "89 still not manditory. Say what??

March 18, 2005, 09:21 PM
My last hearing test seid i was deaf in the 7 range. :confused:

I guess after 30 some rock concerts and years of shooting have caught up with me. :banghead:

March 18, 2005, 09:53 PM
I was careless one day, and touched off a 16 inch bushy XM15E2S without any hearing protection at all. I wondered why that particular shot sounded much quieter than it usually did for a moment before I realized what I HADN'T done.

The near-total deafness went away about an hour later, but a year down the road I still have an annoying ring in the background. Luckily low ambient noise drowns it out.

On the upside i'm more carefull nowadays, though I have been looking over my SHTF rifle choice now that I know what kind of ear punishment I could expect from it. *Shudders at the thought of ever having to fire a round indoors.*

Molon Labe
March 18, 2005, 10:02 PM
I always double up, indoors or out.Me too.

March 19, 2005, 12:02 AM
Spit on your ear plugs before you put them in,they work real good like that and it is as good as a lot of stuff ive bought over the years.
Moistening foam plugs does breath new life into them. I re-use mine many times over by just washing them with soap and water. Squeeze with a towel or TP to dry them out. They instantly become softer and more effective again (and smell better!). Store them in an empty Rx bottle to prevent drying out.

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