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avoiding ear damage with powerful rifles

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by mainecoon, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. mainecoon

    mainecoon Well-Known Member

    I would love to shoot a .50 cal, a 338 or similar muzzle-braked rifle. But I don't know if my ears could take it. Obviously I would use ear protection. But is that enough for these guns? Is there a limit to how many times you can fire a .50 or similar really loud rifle before it's time to call it quits for the day?
  2. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    i always double up with plugs and muffs when i shoot 50s.

    the noise doesn't bother me that way, but the concussion still gives me a headache after more than 20 rounds or so
  3. SilentStalker

    SilentStalker Well-Known Member

    Yep, I double up as well. In all honesty, my ears are shot after the second round of 5.56 with regular ear plugs as I cannot ever get them to seat in my ear correctly. So, I definitely double up for the larger stuff.
  4. jnoble87

    jnoble87 Well-Known Member

    Yep. I double up my ears with plugs and noise canceling muffs. It doesn't really hurt me, but my .30-06 is LOUD! It's enough to wake the neighbors.....
  5. CnRnut

    CnRnut Well-Known Member

    Yup, double up.
  6. jem375

    jem375 Well-Known Member

    Too late for me...:)
  7. TITAN308

    TITAN308 Well-Known Member

    This is because half the people I see them with fail to use them properly. People seem to think you just push them in halfway and thats that.

    You are suppose to twist them up, then reach your opposite arm over your head and lift your ear (grab the top of it) while inserting the squished up ear plug. Once all the way in you give it a few seconds and it will unsquish and create a proper barrier with no gaps.

    Hold on Ill get you some pictures to illustrate.
  8. TITAN308

    TITAN308 Well-Known Member

    Here you go...

    What I see commonly... (wrong wrong wrong)

    The proper way (thumbs up)

    How to insert properly... (twist it up)

    And yes, I just took the time to do all that... laugh it up lol
  9. praharin

    praharin Well-Known Member

    If you have to quit shooting anything because your ears hurt, you're doing it wrong. Hearing damage is permanent and cumulative. Shoot 5 rounds of unprotected .50BMG today and you'll do a certain amount of damage. That doesn't mean the next 5 rounds won't do damage, but a 6th would.

    Every round, every time the damage is done, and once it's been done it doesn't repair.

    If you're going to be shooting anything big with a muzzle break, get GOOD plugs and GOOD muffs and wear them with every shot.
  10. Float Pilot

    Float Pilot Well-Known Member

    WHAT? Type louder !
  11. Buckyt

    Buckyt Active Member

    I was weapons qualification Officer for our unit 1964-66 and was not given earplugs by the Army. I was told to use cotton. I can attest to how it feels to have a noise induced hearing loss (60+ decibel loss in the 4000-6000 frequencies.) I also have tinnitus that rings so loud that sometimes I can't sleep. or hear my grandkids.
    Do yourself a favor and wear your earplugs. If you are shooting the big stuff, it is wise to double up. Titan has given a good example of how to properly insert the earplugs.
    Do it!
  12. Sheepdog1968

    Sheepdog1968 Well-Known Member

    I got lucky in my teens. I went to the Springstein Born in the USA tour. It was loud. My ears were ringing the next day. I thought that can't be good so ever since I've worn ear plugs for loud events including vacuuming, lawn mowers, and shooting.
  13. beefyz

    beefyz Well-Known Member

    I wonder how our GIs had to feel who had to shoot one of those Garands all day ????? Never saw one of them with a plug or muffs on the ears. Wonder how they felt about that ?
  14. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Well-Known Member

    Kudos to Titan for the demonstration.

    Double up. And foam earplugs have a much higher NRR than most other styles (rubber in particular). You can get NRR33 earplugs, which are exactly twice as effective as NRR30, four times better than NRR27, and 10 times better than NRR23... you can see the benefit. But only if you insert them properly, as Titan showed.

    With a little shopping you can also get muffs that are over 30db. I use Howard Leights and they only cost me $20 or so, but you have to look around for them.

    Doubling up only gets you so far - NRR33 plugs and NRR30 muffs might get you somewhere in the range of NRR36-38 maybe - but that's as good as you can do. There's an absolute limit because all of your skull can conduct sound, so some hypothetical NRR100 plugs would not protect your ears much better. But doubling up you should be fine even around a braked .50.
  15. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    This is coming from a guy that didn't use hearing protection for years. My ears ring all the time....so

    Do you have any pix or examples? How do I check the rating?? I'm around industrial machines every day, so this hits home.

  16. B!ngo

    B!ngo Well-Known Member

    I'll add to Titan's demo.
    I let the plugs stay cool before inserting. If they are warm, you cannot use the procedure (below) effectively (they will expand too quickly). So try not to carry them in your pants pocket where they will stay warm.
    Roll them in your fingers as quickly as you can so as not to warm them but to compress them in to thin plugs (about 2MM in diam) about the width of a pipe cleaner.
    In one deft move, holding the plug near the leading end (the end going in to the ear first) so as not to let it decompress, insert it in and up the ear canal. Yes, I was surprised at how relatively vertical my ear canals are, as are most people's. This directional requirement often prevents people from inserting them correctly.
    Here's the extra secret which will sounds a bit gross but is just fine. Insert them quickly, while twisting slightly until they just touch your eardrum. Yep, that deep. Then back them out however little to remove that pressure.
    'Repeat on the other side; wait for them to expand properly. If the world doesn't disappear evenly, re-do the leaky one. Then put on a pair of muffs.
    I've used this technique flying aero and long-distance, long-distance motorcycle runs, karts and race cars, and shooting. It works and is the only technique I trust.
  17. peterotte

    peterotte Well-Known Member

    There's a good reason for that. Not all ears are equal. It's simply not possible for some folks to wear ear plugs 'correctly'. I know this! There are designs that can be worn by most but those are hard to find and are expensive.

    The solution for loud boomer's is a mini-suppressor, shrouded muzzle brake or full suppressor. Shrouded muzzle brakes might be legal in your country, depending on the wording of suppressor control laws.
  18. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    Plugs and muffs are the best we have, but at some noise levels, and I don't know off the top of my head, sound transmission through your jaw bone is enough to damage your hearing.
  19. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Well-Known Member


    I use plugs and muffs when shooting my AR-50, but like Taliv, my head starts to throb from the concussion after 20 or 30 rounds. It's amazing how much there is when shooting a braked .50 cal., and the muzzle blast will blow things off the bench.
  20. CharlieDeltaJuliet

    CharlieDeltaJuliet Well-Known Member

    I shoot my BA50 with plugs and electronic earmuffs, without either is mildly painful. It rings my ears without either.

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