Which is worse for ear damage 9mm or .45 cal?


November 11, 2008, 06:26 PM
I am wondering which round does more hearing damage. Here is what I think –
The 9mm (sonic round) creates 2 booms, one from the sonic crack and one from the expanding gases.
The .45 creates 1 louder boom, from the expanding gases.

What if you have ear muffs how affective are they at stopping the noise from the expanding gases? How about the sonic boom?

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November 11, 2008, 06:45 PM
Neither is worse. Both will damage your hearing if you shoot without protection.

November 11, 2008, 06:50 PM
Which ever one is louder/closer to your ear/indoors will be worse. A 9mm out of a 2" barrel would be worse then a .45 out of a carbine and vice versa.

Ear muffs are very effective depending on their rating. Every type is rated with dBs. A combo of ear muffs and ear plugs are the best. A suppressor would help even more, they are illegal in Illinois so I can't tell you how much more effective they are.

Kind of Blued
November 11, 2008, 07:11 PM
147 gr. 9mm tends to remain sub-sonic out of just about any pistol. That's something to think about if, for example, you're looking for a home defense load.

Ear protection stops a certain number of decibels at certain frequencies. They don't consistently keep out X number of decibels at every frequency.

You'll notice that, excluding volume, gunfire sounds different with plugs than it does with muffs. That's because each is more effective at stopping certain frequencies. That's why pluga AND muffs are best.

I'd guess that 9mm and .45 (I'm assuming ACP) are similar in volume when both are subsonic. 45 ACP could be lower because it is a lower pressure cartridge, but I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it, and if so, how much. That's something to look in to. I'm sure a science-oriented mind will be by soon to answer that. We have some smart people here. :)

November 11, 2008, 11:10 PM
I believe the 9x19 is generally worse for hearing - but only on an academic level. In reality they are both pretty bad for one's ears.

The 9x19 has a higher pitch and is therefore more damaging to the inner workings of the human ear mechanism. But as I said, in practice, it isn't enough different to matter.

November 11, 2008, 11:25 PM
Wear ear protection, because hearing is precious. 9mm is a woman's purse pistol, as it was designed to be. Men are bigger, stronger, more powerful, so should only consider .45 ACP pistols. Supermen could consider .454 Casull loadings, but they bite hard recoilwise. A Ruger Redhawk Alaskan .454 Casull is not meant for the meek. I am among the meek, but DAMN, I want one! cliffy

November 11, 2008, 11:38 PM
.45 is worse. I should not know but do. The .45 did not really seem louder per se, but it was more defening. In my defense, I only did the .45 once without ear protection.

November 11, 2008, 11:47 PM
9mm without muffs is annoying.

.45ACP without mufft will leave you with enough of a headache as to engrave in your memory to never, ever do that again unless you reeeeeeally need to shoot something right then and there.

I assume it's because the .45 has a much larger powder charge. More powder being burnt and converted into heat & noise.

November 11, 2008, 11:47 PM
They're both bad. Levels beyond a given threshold will damage hearing. The question of "how much damage" at a time is hard to judge, everyone's body is different.
It is something that should be avoided at all costs. In a self defense situation, the last think you're thinking about is putting in plugs - and that's fine. One or two shots isn't likely to pose any long-term issues. Same with a hunting situation.
Prolonged or repeated exposure will start to cause some problems though.

November 11, 2008, 11:50 PM
Facts on noise levels:

Decibels measure sound pressure and are logarithmic. That means that only a 3db increase almost doubles sound pressure, a 6db increase quadruples sound pressure, etc.

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.

At 140 dBA noise causes immediate injury to almost any unprotected ear.

There is also the more extreme ‘acoustic trauma’, which is an immediate loss of hearing after a sudden, exceptionally loud noise such as an explosion.

Noise levels of firearms:
.22 caliber rifle 130dB
.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.

Using muffs and plugs together: Take the higher of the two and add 5 dB. 30 plug with 20 muff gives an effective NRR of 35.

November 11, 2008, 11:58 PM
I though I'd add: If you are married or intend to be, a little hearing damage can be a big asset.

November 12, 2008, 12:08 AM
I believe the tone of the sound has an effect as well. Given any two sounds with the same SPL (Sound Pressure Level; loudness) the one with the higher pitch (frequency, measured in hZ) would do more hearing damage.

Also, higher pitched noises require much less power to make, as whatever is vibrating (loudspeaker, tuning fork, drum skin) requires faster movement, but much less overall excursion. (That's why tweeters are so small; they don't have to move the air that big subwoofers do.)

That said, high tones, while technically being worse for your ears, don't have the same immediate discomfort deeper tones provide, simply because more air is moving in your ear canal with deeper tones.

A buddy and myself were foolishly shooting a small handful of rounds in his backyard with no ear protection one day. (First, last, and only time) He shot his 9mm with no discomfort, several mags.

I handed him my 1911. He shot three rounds, and handed it back, saying "You can have this loud ear-ringing mother ****er back!"

So point: Although higher tones (read: 9mm) can have a worse and longer-lasting effect (tinnitus), deeper sounds moving more air physically provide more discomfort.

Which would you rather shoot without protection? A 9mm, with a puny powder charge, or a full-house .45LC? Math says the 9mm is almost quadrupally (izzat a word?) louder thant the .45LC, but we all know better.

November 12, 2008, 12:53 AM
Neither is worse. Both will damage your hearing if you shoot without protection.
Nothing more really needs to be said.

Thanks for posting the Db chart. It confirms the statement made by Sunray.

I though I'd add: If you are married or intend to be, a little hearing damage can be a big asset.
So True...:)

Just One Shot
November 12, 2008, 09:59 AM
cliffy, I can't believe what you are saying about the 9mm being a womans purse gun. :eek:

While no one is doubting the popularity of the 45 there are many of us MEN that own 9mm and are very confident in thier performance.

The fact is, it doesn't matter which caliber you prefer, if the other guy shoots first and hits his mark then you are just as dead as if you were shot with a bazooka! :cool: :D

November 12, 2008, 12:11 PM
As one who has lost a significant range of hearing and has tinnitus (job related), one word of caution. These afflictions sneak up on you and are not reversible. Once you have lost some hearing or have that ringing in your ears, the game is over, you are permanently damaged. The tinnitus is especially annoying, maddening even. Please use ear protection.

Monster Zero
November 12, 2008, 12:49 PM
Are you an audiologist? :)

My wife is, and I can tell you everything you need to know on this subject.

"Any shooting without hearing protection is bad for your hearing. Never go to shooting practice without hearing protection. Even with a .22 rifle."

The occasional shooting you do when hunting, etc, isn't usually a problem for people because there's not enough of it for a cumulative effect.

My wife is an avid shooter, btw. She insists on using contour-fitted earplus and muff-type hearing protectors at the same time. She lets me get away with regular muff-type because the insides of my ears aren't made the right way to use earplugs.

November 12, 2008, 02:01 PM
cliffy uses the 9mm in his purse guns exclusively :D

texas bulldog
November 12, 2008, 02:30 PM
methinks cliffy is employing a strategy known as "sarcasm".

but then again, maybe not...

November 12, 2008, 02:38 PM
methinks cliffy is employing a strategy known as "sarcasm".

technically it would be referred to as being facetious

November 12, 2008, 05:18 PM
"Which hurts more to have dropped on your head, an anvil or a safe?"

November 12, 2008, 05:49 PM
After 22 years of law enforcement I have investigated enough shootings to conclude that either the 9mm or 45 will go in one ear and out the other.

November 12, 2008, 10:52 PM
45 is worse than a 9 indoors, same as outdoors,but a 38/357snub, is also worse

November 13, 2008, 01:49 PM
I always thought 9mm hurt my ears just a bit more than .45, seems like more of "CRACK!", a sharper sound. That being said, my 2" .357 with hot loads is absolutely DEAFENING, not to mention the muzzle-blast is enough to singe the eyebrows off the guy in the next stall.

November 13, 2008, 02:46 PM
Which will be a longer lasting death---playing in rush hour freeway traffic or trying to swim in molten steel?:banghead::banghead:

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