Most effective personal defense gun/caliber at lower decibel level


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Dr_2_B
October 27, 2011, 06:52 PM
We often discuss the perils to our hearing if we were to have to use handguns in home defense or in a car. It's often said that one shot of a 357 magnum or an AR 15 could do permanent damage to one's hearing.

So let's go the other direction. What's the most effective handgun for relatively enclosed spaces that would be less likely to do hearing damage?

Why?

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Skribs
October 27, 2011, 06:54 PM
Most calibers are actually going to have a similar decible level. What makes one louder is usually the length of the sound instead of the intensity of it. Any standard caliber is going to be roughly the same. Just stay away from the FiveseveN if you want a quiet round.

RalphS
October 27, 2011, 10:56 PM
My Marlin 38/357 lever gun, shooting 38 Spl is the quietest weapon I own.

Super Sneaky Steve
October 27, 2011, 11:35 PM
.357 magnum with this ammo.
http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=107

Low flash, low recoil, low noise.

SorenityNow
October 27, 2011, 11:46 PM
A 500 S&W with a silencer :what:

SorenityNow
October 28, 2011, 12:27 AM
How about a shot gun. I some time keep a remington 870 out and never thought about my hearing. Tonight and most nights i have a 357 gp 100 under my pillow

Mr.Blue
October 28, 2011, 03:02 AM
I was in the room when a negligent discharged .45acp went off. I was surprised how little noise it made. Perhaps my endorphins blocked the sound out, as it was not so load. My.223 with a muzzle break really rings ears 10 yards away.

zxcvbob
October 28, 2011, 03:14 AM
I like a good .38 Special. .44 Special or lightly-loaded .45 Colt is probably good too. My home defense gun is a .357 magnum revolver, but I keep it loaded with .38 Special 158 grain lead hollow-points, partially because I want to minimize the damage to what hearing I have left if I ever have to shoot w/o ear muffs or plugs.

I think revolvers might be louder than semiautos shooting the same ammo because of the cylinder gap. But all semiautos that I know of shoot high-pressure cartridges...

Maybe what you need is one of those .38 Special semiauto target guns. Wadcutter bullets are evil -- they make big deep holes without expanding at all.

ugaarguy
October 28, 2011, 04:37 AM
You're in Indiana. Sound suppressors are legal there. A suppressor is going to protect your hearing far more than any low pressure gun round.

9mmforMe
October 28, 2011, 06:25 AM
Even a .22 cal in an enclosed area will cause permanent hearing damage, though it would be less than a more robust round. I think that since the chances of having to discharge my handgun, without hearing protection, given a self defense scenario, are quite slim; I would shoot what I feel comfortable with...for me 9mm (124gr +p Golden Saber).

Maple_City_Woodsman
October 28, 2011, 06:34 AM
I once fired a CCI 'Sub Sonic' (40gr, 900fps) out through an open door, from inside my home, at a ground hog, from a Walther P-22.

I was standing just inside the doorway - even with a large opening in front of me, the muzzle blast was loud enough to make me to loose 100% hearing for several moments, and experience partial hearing loss for over an hour after that.

This was with a 'pipsqueak' 22LR - a 9mm, 40 or 45 will have at least 3 times as much gun powder burning in the same barrel length, and as such have a noticeably worse muzzle blast. A magnum pistol or a rifle would be miles and yards worse still.

Dr_2_B
October 28, 2011, 06:36 AM
Several people responded with long gun suggestions. While I had asked for handgun selections, it's still noteworthy that long guns are safer on the ears than handguns because of the distance between your ear & the origination of the boom. That's one valid argument for using a long gun for home defense - as long as it's not an AR or something. For the pistols, as anticipated, I note suggestions of 38 spl and 44 spl.

Dr_2_B
October 28, 2011, 06:41 AM
Maple City, that's scary.

ugaarguy
October 28, 2011, 08:45 AM
That's one valid argument for using a long gun for home defense - as long as it's not an AR or something.
It may shock you to find out, but .223 from an 18" bbl is actually six dB less than 12ga from an 18" bbl. Even the lowly 25 ACP is just as load. Point is, they're all way too loud without ear pro. http://www.freehearingtest.com/hia_gunfirenoise.shtml

Stealth01
October 28, 2011, 10:30 AM
SHOTGUN NOISE DATA (DECIBEL AVERAGES)

.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


CENTERFIRE RIFLE DATA

.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
.30-06 in 18 " barrel 163.2dB
.375 18" barrel with muzzle brake 170 dB


CENTERFIRE PISTOL DATA

.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 going to be loud...:what:

Remllez
October 28, 2011, 01:17 PM
They are all loud! The BG may be shooting at you with a .357 so your choice of caliber isn't the only possible source of potential hearing loss in the equation. Having said that it's hard to beat a 20 gauge low base load of 4 shot from a 18 inch open bored shotgun. Shotties just don't seem to have that crack in their report, which is what hurts my ears the most. yMMV

TonyT
October 28, 2011, 01:30 PM
To minimize the "crack" go for sub sonic rounds such as 147 gr. bullets in 9mm or ca 80o0fps rounds of 230 gr. in the 45 ACP.

The_Armed_Therapist
October 28, 2011, 01:30 PM
I was in the room when a negligent discharged .45acp went off. I was surprised how little noise it made. Perhaps my endorphins blocked the sound out, as it was not so load.

That's an important part to remember! If and when it comes time to use one in a situation like that, the noise probably won't bother you much. However, like the OP stated, it could still do damage.

Personally, I'm not worried about the noise. I shot for YEARS without ear protection, anything from .22LR to 7.62x54, .44 mag/spl, etc. I think my hearing is damaged a little. I think I need people to repeat things more than anyone else does, but it really isn't that terrible. I don't think I would consider this when choosing a self-defense round.

The Lone Haranguer
October 28, 2011, 01:39 PM
"Quiet gun" is an oxymoron, but there is some difference in the quality of sound between cartridges. The "boom" report of the subsonic .45 Auto is less painful than the "thunderclap" of the .357 Magnum, for example.

If you get into a gunfight, concentrate on surviving it first and worry about your hearing later. Any hearing loss you get from a few shots is unlikely to be serious or permanent.

2zulu1
October 28, 2011, 05:58 PM
A lot depends upon the type of powder loaded in ammunition rather than the caliber as Super Sneaky Steve wrote in post #4. A low flash/blast powder in .357mag/.44mag can have a lower muzzle flash/blast than many over the counter types of ammo in service calibers. That being said, a short 2.5" barrel in a magnum caliber is going to be very loud regardless. :D

I've fired weapons inside homes and it seems like a lot of the blast is soaked up in carpet/furniture. By contrast, firing the same ammunition inside a warehouse seems a LOT louder.

Drail
October 28, 2011, 09:05 PM
There is no "lesser decibel level". All firearms produce enough energy to permanently damage human ears.

suemarkp
October 28, 2011, 09:11 PM
You want:

Longest possible barrel
Lowest possible working pressure cartridge (e.g. rimfires, the specials, 45 colt or ACP, shotgun shells)
Lower velocity, heavy bullet
Fast powder

GCBurner
October 28, 2011, 09:20 PM
A Standard Velocity .22 Long Rifle cartridge fired from a 6" or longer barreled revolver or pistol is probably about as low decibeled as you can get, short of adding a sound supressor.

HDCamel
October 29, 2011, 12:49 AM
PSS or OtS-38
7.62x42mm "Silent" ammo


Too bad you can't get them.

Deus Machina
October 29, 2011, 11:04 AM
You want:

* Longest possible barrel
* Lowest possible working pressure cartridge (e.g. rimfires, the specials, 45 colt or ACP, shotgun shells)
* Lower velocity, heavy bullet
* Fast powder


That was exactly what I was going to say.

A longer barrel lets more powder burn inside the barrel, with the pleasant but lesser effect of moving the source of noise further away.
Lower pressure means less pressure leaving the barrel. Like opening a cold soda versus a hot one.
Lower velocity means less chance of going supersonic. A heavier bullet makes lower velocity easier, and retains its momentum at it.
Fast powder: see the reason for a longer barrel.

Survival first, hearing later. Expect to deal with deafness and ringing ears the next day no matter what you pick, unless you get something subsonic and suppressed.

481
October 29, 2011, 04:37 PM
There is no "lesser decibel level". All firearms produce enough energy to permanently damage human ears.
This.

Touch off a handgun round in enclosed quarters and you will suffer hearing loss; given the infrequency with which the average armed citizen is subjected to this set of conditions (in an unanticipated self-defense scenario) it probably matters very little in the long run.

If you're in regular attendance at rock concerts, work in a loud industrial environment, etc., you are probably gonna see more damage (it's cummulative, y'know) over the course of that exposure.

Like Deus Machina said, "Survival first, hearing later."

Drail
October 29, 2011, 09:17 PM
I spent 12 years on a flight line working within a foot of running jet engines and I managed to protect my hearing. They tested us every 30 days. But I saw many other guys lose their hearing because they wouldn't wear protection. You'd hear things like "it doesn't bother me that much" or "you get used to it dude".

WvHiker
October 29, 2011, 11:00 PM
I don't worry about the implications of noise if someone should happen to kick in my door. I would personally stay away from the .357 though. Even with plugs and muffs at the range you instantly know when someone opens up with the .357 Mag. They're super extra loud.

Carbonator
October 29, 2011, 11:26 PM
"I was standing just inside the doorway - even with a large opening in front of me, the muzzle blast was loud enough to make me to loose 100% hearing for several moments, and experience partial hearing loss for over an hour after that." -Maple_City_Woodsman


Good example of how sound can impair function. Even those who don't think the long term hearing loss is an issue should at least see this and the tactical disadvantage of instant hearing loss during a shootout. Ability to communicate with police or loved ones could make or break the situation. Could a person operate a cell phone right after shooting a .357 magnum indoors, or hear where the kids are?

Pressures can also give a rough idea of what hearing damage can occur. One of the reasons I carry a .44 Special and gave up on the .327 Federal Magnum. Interesting that the .45 ACP is by far the lowest pressure round of the major semiauto calibers:

Maximum SAAMI Pressures: (CUP)
.45 Long Colt..................14,000
.44 Special.....................15,500
.38 Special.....................17,000
.38 Special +P................18,500
.45 Auto........................21,000
.45 +P...........................23,000
.45 GAP.........................23,000
.22 LR...........................24,000
.22 Magnum...................24,000
.25 Auto........................25,000
.45 Super......................28,000
9mm.............................35,000
.357 Magnum.................35,000
.41 Magnum...................35,000
.40...............................35,000
.44 Magnum...................36,000
10mm............................37,500
9mm +P.........................38,500
.357 SIG........................40,000
9mm +P+.......................42,000
.327 Federal Magnum.......45,000
9mm PROOF LOAD............49,800

Of course those are maximum pressures, and pressures can vary widely within a specific caliber depending on how it is charged. Even the .357 magnum can be lightened up (but then some may say you might as well be shooting .38 Special/+P).

And from Stealth01's decibel list the .45 Auto also happens to have the lowest decibel level of the major semiauto calibers. The decibels scale is logarithmic, not linear. Every 3 decibel increase doubles the sound level so from Stealth01's decibel list a 9mm has roughly twice the sound level as a .45 ACP. Every 10 decibel increase is X10 the sound level so a .357 Magnum has roughly ten times the sound level of a .45 Long Colt. Why don't they sound that different to our ears? Human ears are not designed to differentiate at such high noise levels, just like we can not differentiate between high dog and low whale frequencies. At least that's how I understand it.

So I would guess a .45 ACP in an auto or a .45 Long Colt / .44 Special / .38 Special in a revolver as being effective choices when considering hearing preservation. Plus what others have said about a longer barrel and heavier bullet etc...

Carbonator
October 29, 2011, 11:56 PM
This is interesting:

From the Maximum SAAMI Pressures list:
9mm.............................35,000
.357 Magnum.................35,000

From Stealth01's Decibel list:
9mm.............................159.8 dB
.357 Magnum.................164.3 dB

Does a 9mm have a much faster burning powder and a .357 magnum a much slower burning powder? This could explain the equal pressure but very different sound levels, but I don't know much about powder. Anyone?

igousigloo
October 29, 2011, 11:57 PM
What ever you do, what ever you plan, a real life situation is not going to follow what you have planned, just have to deal with it. I'll stick with my 327 Mag.

Snowbandit
October 30, 2011, 12:10 AM
Hearing damage from loud noises is cumulative so choose the round you have to fire the least of to be effective. One big boom that resolves the situation is likely to do less damage to your hearing than a bunch of lesser ones.

F-111 John
October 30, 2011, 10:08 AM
From my very limited experience, the handgun matters more than the round being fired. I double up my hearing protection while plinking, both earplugs and muffs, and shooting the same WWB target .38 rounds from my 6" Dan Wesson, 4" S&W, and 1 7/8" S&W results in vastly different reports.

The S&W Model 60 in 1 7/8" is by far the loudest of the three.

BCRider
October 30, 2011, 02:09 PM
Carbonator, I would not take figures of that sort from various lists. I started to do a reply for you that showed how while the pressures are similar that .357Mag uses a lot more powder to achieve them. But when trying to find a powder which had data for both 9mm and .357 I found that pressures even with the same powders are all over the map. For example the max load of Unique from my Lyman manual for 9mm produces 30,700 CUP and for .357 it's up at 40,200. But by rough extrapolation I'm going to say that the .357 would use about 1.3'ish times more powder than the 9mm by the time you get down to the same peak pressure. At that point you'd have roughly the same muzzle velocity as well. But by that time I suspect that the noise would be the same too.

Having shot outdoors as well as indoors I've learned a few things about noise levels. Indoors ANY gun is going to leave your ears ringing for a while. Even a .22. One time when alone I tried ONE round of .22 at my usual indoor range where there's carpeted plywood baffles between stalls. That one round was enough to convince me that ear muffs or at least plugs is a must for ANY indoor shooting. For outdoors the ONLY guns I find tolerable to shoot without ear muffs or plugs are .22 rifles. Even .22 handguns have a crack to them that is uncomfortable right away.

When visiting my brother in law he and I like to set up a bunch of used shotgun cases on a log and some of the stumps and plink them off. If I could find a source for cheap .22Short I think I'd buy a bunch for this sort of shooting just because I could put more into my tube magazines and the loudness of the report would reduce to the sound of a serious spit.... :D

MachIVshooter
October 30, 2011, 02:25 PM
Does a 9mm have a much faster burning powder and a .357 magnum a much slower burning powder?

Typically, yes. It is also a much smaller charge, and usually not loaded as close to max pressure.

You also don't have a cylinder gap on a 9mm auto, from which gases (and noise) escape under much higher pressure than what we find at the muzzle.

But there's more to it than just powder charge and pressure levels, some of which I can't fully explain. Like how I found my Desert Eagle .50 to be less offensive to the ears than a 10mm auto. Same pressure levels, the .50 AE uses almost 3x the powder and had higher muzzle velocities. But the pitch was a much deeper "boom", as opposed to the sharp crack of the smaller round.

I never had access to a machine by which to measure decibles, and I'm sure the .50AE moving a 325 gr. bullet at 1,510 FPS had higher Db readings than the 10mm moving a 180 at 1,400. But my perception was that the .50 was less obnoxious.

Dr_2_B
October 30, 2011, 05:40 PM
Very interesting thread

Brianp556
November 20, 2011, 03:38 AM
Use the same weapon you train with and carry; possible hearing loss is a distant second worry to survival. You survive by stopping the threat before the threat stops you, and the best way of doing this by quickly putting EFFECTIVE rounds on target. IMHO

PO2Hammer
November 20, 2011, 05:33 PM
My tinnitus afflicted ears prefer the soft spoken .44 special over the 9mm or .357 magnum at personal defense powder levels.

Loosedhorse
November 20, 2011, 05:38 PM
.375 18" barrel with muzzle brakeWow. Someone's going to be popular at the gun range! :mad:;)

.380 157.7 dB
9mm 159.8 dB
.38 S&W 153.5 dB
.38 Spl 156.3 dB
.357 Magnum 164.3 dBPerhaps this is obvious: the deciBel scale is logarithmic. 160 dB is 10 times the energy of (and sounds "twice as loud as") 150 dB; 153 dB is twice the energy of 150 dB. The likelihood of permanent hearing damage is related to energy.

So the "small" differences in these tables are larger than they might first appear. And a suppressor, which can drop center-fire pistol noise to about 130 dB, is important.

The fact that suppressors are difficult to obtain (and illegal in some states) is a public health debacle.

FMF Doc
November 20, 2011, 10:40 PM
Two comment for the OP:
-1: From personal experience I can tell you that the sound is not nearly as much of a factor as the flash is. You are probably not even going to notice the sound in a defensive/combat shooting. That is why the military, though issued them, really never uses our ear plugs.
-2: There is not much difference inside the whole spectrum of handgun loads. What will make the most difference is the space where that shot occurs. Anything from 22lr to 44mag is going to all but deafening in the confines of a car. That being said, a 22 probably makes less noise than a 44mag, but like I have already discussed, it won't matter much in the end.
Lastly, take comfort in knowing that in all my years in the combat medical field in the military, I have never heard of a single or even a few shots from any gun (9mm-50BMG) cause permanent damage. The damage is almost exclusively cumulative.

PabloJ
November 20, 2011, 11:24 PM
We often discuss the perils to our hearing if we were to have to use handguns in home defense or in a car. It's often said that one shot of a 357 magnum or an AR 15 could do permanent damage to one's hearing.

So let's go the other direction. What's the most effective handgun for relatively enclosed spaces that would be less likely to do hearing damage?

Why?
Luv Smith & Wesson N-frame .44-40 with 6" barrel and ole' gringo "KO Corral" load at 750fps. Lots of the good, the bad, and the ugly of 19th century fell to that one. I concede .45 Colt, .44 special,....would be about as good.

Maple_City_Woodsman
November 21, 2011, 12:11 AM
45 colt with lead cowbooy loads. - would still do lots of damage, and the noise is as quiet as an unsuppressed handgun gets.

makarovnik
November 21, 2011, 06:02 AM
Wouldn't a subsonic round out of a longer barrel be better?

316SS
November 21, 2011, 03:20 PM
You could wear these around. Most people would assume you were listening to headphones.

http://www.amazon.com/Peltor-97044-Tactical-Hearing-Protector/dp/B00009363P

Or these, which are 20X more expensive, but much more discrete:

http://www.espamerica.com/p-24-elite-classic-shooters-hearing-protection-earplugs-earbuds-ear-plugs-ear-buds.aspx

Zoogster
November 21, 2011, 09:11 PM
.45 ACP is probably the best choice for sound consideration. It packs a punch and is certainly suitable for self-defense, yet has subsonic velocities that keeps the report to a lower less damaging frequency.
Total volume of gas matters, but to simplify things when considering handgun rounds generally velocity has the biggest effect on how loud and damaging and what pitch the report is at.
Higher velocity gas exiting the muzzle being more damaging.


In reality the real problem is that when Maxim invented the car muffler and firearm silencer the government mandated one and practically prohibited the other.
Everyone would be deaf if large semi-trucks were driving around without mufflers (called silencers in many English speaking nations.) Or they would have to wear hearing protection while driving or around public roads.



Now barrel length also has a large impact if you use a long-gun, with a pistol the couple inches of variation are not as significant.
This makes the best for hearing protection pistol caliber carbines as it lets the gas of a pistol round completely burn and drop in pressure a lot before it exits the muzzle as report.
A .45 ACP carbine would be good. A good modern design pistol caliber carbine also has so little muzzle flip and minimal recoil that rapid fire accurate shots are relatively easy for a wider range of people, especially those with less time shooting than with either a handgun or a rifle/shotgun.
However then you have the more difficult close quarters handling and less convenience of a long gun and only a little more firepower than a pistol (the round gains increased velocity from the additional barrel length, but they are still not similar to rifle or shotgun rounds when using low decibel suitable pistol calibers.)
Always trade-offs.

soonerboomer
November 23, 2011, 02:38 AM
I found this little video to be very helpful in understanding decibels and such:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhnHprtbH-k&feature=related

gatesbox
November 23, 2011, 02:48 AM
This very issue is why supressors should be encouraged not criminalized...here in CA they are absolutely no go, but they would really be a great benefit. I mean who really uses supressors for evil purposes outside of the movies....

Manny
November 23, 2011, 01:10 PM
.45 long colt cowboy loads have the softest report of any round I've ever fired, even out of my SRH Alasken (which I think would be an outstanding defensive weapon, great gun and a helluva club:p). IMO it's the high pressure rounds that make the really objectional reports which can litterally be painful to hear, even with ear protection. I frequently double up on ear protection when shooting, plugs and muffs.

AABEN
November 23, 2011, 01:26 PM
I like the 40 for home. I will defend My home then worry about my hearing.

briansmithwins
November 23, 2011, 02:33 PM
Wouldn't a subsonic round out of a longer barrel be better?

In theory you're right.

In practice the muzzle gas is still supersonic and makes a loud noise. Plus, in defensive shooting, you're likely to be shooting from behind or next to, some kind of cover.

Cover which is going to reflect sound back at your ears and make for a nosier weapon.

The only real way around this problem is to pony up for a suppressor, if they are legal for you. Of course, those have the drawbacks of being bulky and adding a lot of weight out at the muzzle.

TANSTAAFL applies, as always.

BSW

SharpsDressedMan
November 23, 2011, 09:01 PM
http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m247/matquig/DSC05245.jpg :D

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