Hearing Protection


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rageofangels
March 8, 2006, 03:23 AM
I am getting very concerned about protecting my hearing because, well, I like to shoot guns. After going to several gun related places of business and seeing what kind of hearing damage occurs when people don't give a rip about hearing protection, I'm beginning to rethink those 200 dollar electronic ear muffs and actually considering them. Right now I basically use 25 db ear muffs that sometimes do not give proper protection when I shift just the right way (believe it or not, when I grin a big ole grin) and I can hear a much louder report than when they are situated firmly on my noggin.

Anyone use ear plugs AND a head set?

I am basically asking what kind of protection is the best to use when shooting firearms.

And please, no prophylactic jokes. :neener:

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SJP0tato
March 8, 2006, 12:34 PM
I asked that same question a few months back. After several trips to the range now I use both plugs and earmuffs. Generally the earplugs (I use the squishable foam type) seem to do more noise dampening, as long as they're working properly, but they seem very easy to shift or not quite be inserted properly and not block the noise fully.

The earmuffs do a decent job (cheapie 25 db model), but they seem to not do as good a job wearing plastic glasses (eye protection) because of the frame sitting between my head & the earmuffs. Also shifting position/hair/anything minute seems to cause them to leak sound as well.

I figure the best chance is using both, hoping neither will fail at the same time.

VWTim
March 8, 2006, 02:15 PM
The electric muffs are nice when training and listening to range commands, or if you're instructing new shooters. But for max hearing protection either some GOOD muffs or muffs and foamies. I have a set of Leightning 31's 31 db reduction and very comfortable. I bought them for my hearing sensitive ex gf and she doubled them up with plugs. I've used them on occation and they're excellent. best deal I found was on Ebay from an Industrial Safety Company.

BTW, I did buy a pair of Pro Ears Dimension 1's last weekend, but those are mainly for training classes.

PinnedAndRecessed
March 9, 2006, 12:35 AM
Facts on noise levels:

Decibels measure sound pressure and are logarithmic, a 3db increase almost doubles sound pressure, a 6db increase quadruples sound pressure.

Gradual hearing loss may occur after prolonged exposure to 90 decibels or above.

Exposure to 100 decibels for more than 15 minutes can cause hearing loss.

Exposure to 110 decibels for more than a minute can cause permanent hearing loss.

Here are some examples of noise levels:

Video arcades - (110 dB).

Firecrackers - (125-155 dB at a distance of 10 feet).

Live music concerts - (120 dB and above).

Movie theatres - (118 dB).

Health clubs and aerobic studios (120 dB).

Sporting events (127 dB).

Motorboats - (85-115 dB).

Motorcycles - (95-120 dB).

Snowmobiles - (99 dB).

"Boom cars" - (140 dB and above).

Here are noise levels of firearms:

.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.

Properly fitted earplugs or muffs reduce noise 15 to 30 dB. The better earplugs and muffs are approximately equal in sound reductions, although earplugs are better for low frequency noise and earmuffs for high frequency noise.

All of us should be trying to get the greatest Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that can be put together. NRR 30 plugs with NRR 20 muffs will give you an effective NRR 45 (add plugs and muffs, then subtract 5). If noise levels are 160 dB this gives you an exposure with plugs and muffs of 115 dB. The acceptable exposure time for this is 15 minutes total for the day. If the noise levels are 150 dB the resultant acceptable exposure time with the given plugs and muffs is 1 hour and 4 hours if the noise level is 140 dB. You're not going to find unsuppressed noise levels below 140dB with gunfire.

If you are shooting by yourself, roughly 100 rounds of 140 dB instantaneous noise in a day should not produce hearing damage. Put your plugs and muffs on and you get to shoot up to a thousand rounds without damage (louder ammo/gun and the allowable drops by a factor of 5). Shoot with other people and you have to add all the rounds shot cumulatively (10 people shoot 100 rounds and everybody's done for the day; toss a handcannon or 30 cal rifle in and you're back down to 200 rounds cumulative). If you shoot on an indoor range then all the rounds fired while you are on the range go into your total. So you can see that it doesn't take very long on a range to have a thousand rounds popped off around you.

If you want to know what the noise level you are exposed to is you can rent noise dosimeters that you can wear. They will record the total noise exposure and present the information to you as dB. You can then subtract the adjusted combined NRR of your hearing protection to determine if you're getting too much exposure.

jashobeam
March 9, 2006, 01:02 AM
I looked on line recently for dosimeters and could not find one that maxed out above 140 db. Nearly all had a range of only 130 db. Where can I find one suitable for measuring the db associated with gunfire?

Nematocyst
March 9, 2006, 03:05 AM
Could you folks write just a bit louder?

I'm having trouble hearing this thread.

:p

Nem

nomadboi
March 9, 2006, 05:08 PM
They may get a little uncomfortable after an hour or two of wear, they don't have the nice low profile (an issue for long guns probably) of the Peltors, Radians, etc, and they cut off for a couple seconds just at the sound of hands clapping... but sportsmansguide has some cheap electronic muffs for about $30 that are a good way to try it out.

I use 'em on film sets when we're firing off lots of blanks, often indoors where it gets reeeaaally loud otherwise. That way I can still hear when people are saying 'action', or 'hold', or 'oh crap!' before the shooting begins.
:D

If I had money to burn, I'd probably pick up some Peltors or Radians for $70 or so, but then if I had money to burn, I'd own some long guns too (been wanting an SKS as a good first rifle), and plenty of other toys:D

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