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avoiding ear damage with powerful rifles

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

  1. dc.fireman

    dc.fireman Well-Known Member

    My father is/was a Korean, Viet-Nam and beyond era Marine. He has such severe hearing loss, that even his VA behind the ear hearing aids are of little use to him now. My son asked him once if he wore his 'ear plugs' in the Marines. He replied similarly to what Buckyt mentioned: "They gave us cotton balls to stuff in our ears. If mortars were inbound, we used the filters from our Marlboro Reds, until the last mortar hit, and then we would pull them out, and start shooting."

    When asked why, he said rather plainly - " Because you can't hear the other guy sneaking up on you with an earful of cotton balls or cigarette butts."

    After hearing that little gem, I double up...
  2. snake284

    snake284 Well-Known Member

    I'm the Poster Boy of the Deaf. I have hearing aides and am looking into possible implant surgery. But my hearing loss was multifaceted. First, yes I shot without hearing protection when I was young. You're indestructable when you're young, right?

    Then, I worked in the marine industry and spent many a shift in small loud engine rooms next to engines twice my heigth. Then I worked in a chemical plant for 28 years, much of which time without modern hearing protection and much of it without any hearing protection at all.

    Then, on Christmas Eve 1985, they put me in the hospital with double pneumonia and gave me an IV of Erithromicin, which can cause hearing loss. The fall of 86 I experienced pain in both ears from time to time. Then, in 1987, when I had my yearly phyisical at work, I had my first OSHA Shift in hearing. I had lost a lot of frequency. That was the first of three shifts through 2000.

    And last but surely not least, I inherited some of this. My Maternal Grandmother was deaf the last 10 years of her life. Of course, she was 104 when she died. But my mother is legally deaf now and she's only 89, HaHaHa!!! But she's been that way for over five years now.

    I am planning on trying to go back overseas to work soon. But nobody will hire me with hearing like I have. So I'm going to an E-N-T doc now to see about either new hearing aides or implant surgery.

    Now, when I shoot, I wear good soft foam ear plugs and good fitting ear muffs, double coverage.
  3. peterotte

    peterotte Well-Known Member

    snake284, wouldn't it worth investing in a good suppressor as well? That will remove the muzzle blast but only an open field type shooting scenario would remove the bullet crack which can be pretty sharp if reflected back at you. I don't know what the status of suppressors is on your side but here we can get them quite expensive and poor and not so expensive as well as expensive and good.

    I'm working on my own design which I will be patenting here in NZ. Then I'll make it publicly known with all its working parts so no one can claim originality in other parts of the world and lodge their own patents on it.
  4. M.Weier

    M.Weier Active Member

    My .338 Lapua isnt hard on the ears when I'm shooting it (just muffs are fine) but when someone else is shooting and i'm standing somewhat off to the side.........I definately double up. That huge muzzle brake is painfully loud!
  5. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 New Member

    QUOTE "I think I'm gonna invest in some suppressors."

    Yeah I wish I could too, but too many 'spy movies' & laws that make no sense. Everyone's hearing could be saved with suppressors, but then Illinois is the ONLY state that doesn't have CC!! (And don't allow suppressors.)
  6. Ryden

    Ryden Well-Known Member

    I've just been to the gunsmith's to have my barrel threaded for a Jaki suppressor. It'll be interesting to see what difference it'll make.
    I think we have a dB-meter at work so I intend to do some measurements.
  7. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

    Tinnitus.. is that the high pitched sound I hear when it's quiet in the house? (Continue hearing it even if I plug both my ears with my fingers?)

    Never thought about it but if so that means I've probably accumulated some hearing damage too. Too much 50 cal and 300 Win Mag shooting. That new SCAR17 is a loud sonofagun too and probably isn't helping matters.
  8. Ranb

    Ranb Well-Known Member

    Make sure it is a meter/microphone with no more than a 20 micro-second response time. Slower meters will give readings that are way too low.

  9. Ryden

    Ryden Well-Known Member

    Unfortunatly it didn't so I can't take any valid measurements.
    But this is what my latest hearing protection looks like.
    It's rated for 31-34 dB attenuation so the muzzle blast should get down to ~125 dB, well below the impulse sound threshold of 135 dB where an employer has to provide hearing protection. (ordinary ear muffs of the type commonly worn while shooting are about 26-28 dB)
    I'll go to the range on sunday and I'll get back to you with a report on the perceived noise reduction.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
  10. Ryden

    Ryden Well-Known Member

    Lacking scientific equipment, the only answer I can give you is "substantial".

    The heavy Ka-BOOM of my hot boar loads with magnum powder is reduced to the whip crack of a 222
    I risked a shot without the muffs and it was not painful in any way.
    While sighting in my scope I fired from a booth with a sound trap made out of old tires, the people shooting at the running moose nearby thought I was shooting a 22 long.

    One caveat regarding silencers though, the can unscrewed about 1/8 of a turn and the group went all over the place.


    I fired three shots from 90 yds at a 3 X 3' target and didn't hit it at all!:what:
    That sure ruined my morning :cuss::banghead:, I was ready to just throw the rifle in the trunk and take up knitting.:fire: This rifle is usually a tack driver with a bipod and a big old 8 X 56
    I checked everything, scope, rings, bipod, action screws and finally I grabbed the can and tightened it that tiny little bit.
    Then I put ten rounds into one big ragged hole, spot on, at 1½" high of POA, just where it was supposed to be.:confused:
    I've indexed the barrel and can with a magic marker and added twisting the can to my checklist.
  11. Ignition Override

    Ignition Override Well-Known Member

    It's bad enough quickly walking twenty feet from your car to a range bench.

    Just a single AR round (is he pulling the trigger?:eek:) from thirty feet laterally hurts. The damage began with live Grand Funk in the downtown KC MO concert hall in '73 and when age worsens it, it will be really bad.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2012
  12. Motega

    Motega Well-Known Member

    aaaaaaa you guys are pansies, my grandfather was a helmsman on the USS Guam (CB 2) and had 12 inch, 5 inch, 40mm, and 20mm cannons firing under him for 2 years - the helmsman couldn't wear ANY protection in those days and he can still hear a little bit.
  13. Ranb

    Ranb Well-Known Member

    Hearing only a little bit is almost as bad as only getting a little erect. Never surrender anything that makes life more enjoyable. I wonder if the ringing in his ears is what he is hearing now after all that noise?

    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  14. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    guys, in case it isn't obvious, as long as the "silencer" isn't attachable to the rifle, it's not regulated. you are free to do all of this sort of thing you want:

  15. Ranb

    Ranb Well-Known Member

    In 2011 the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club was sued in part over noise. There was a rumor going around that said if we did something about those "50 caliber sniper rifles" then the lawsuit would go away. I was asked to come up with something to reduce the noise. I built a box to help contain the noise and it worked well enough, but the local DA told me it would be illegal to use because the WA State dangerous weapons statute (9.41.250) banned the use of any device that suppressed the noise of a firearm.

    The feds define a silencer as a device to suppress the report of a portable firearm, the law says nothing about attachment or if the silencer is portable. I wrote to the ATF asking if a box that was not attached to a firearm was a silencer and they said no. I eventually got an opinion from the WA AG saying that a box was not a weapon and we were allowed to use noise abatement at a rifle range without worrying about being arrested.

  16. Ryden

    Ryden Well-Known Member

    That's exactly the setup at my shooting range, only we had an additional layer of rockwool outside the tires. Works like a charm!

  17. Ryden

    Ryden Well-Known Member

    Be sure to clean these things from unburned powder residue once in a while!

    We've had a couple of incidents here in Sweden where unburnt powder in the soundtraps have caught fire, both indoors and outdoors.

    That has turned out to be a bad idea :fire::D
    Link to article in swedish...
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
  18. mainecoon

    mainecoon Well-Known Member

    The closest rifle in the pic looks like a suppressed Sako. That would be awesome in .338.
  19. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

    You might consider trying some teflon tape on your barrel threads. It won't completely stop the can from backing off, but it does seem to help.
    Good thing you didn't get a baffle or endcap strike, launching your suppressor downrange would be a real downer, no matter how funny it looks when it happens to other people on YouTube!
  20. Ryden

    Ryden Well-Known Member

    Good idea, that helps with the risk of welding the can to the barrel as well

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