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Reloading for Less Noise

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by schmeky, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. schmeky

    schmeky Well-Known Member

    I have been on a mission lately to better preserve my hearing. I have been wearing double hearing protection for over 30 years, i.e. foam plugs and muffs (I'm 52 years old). I only shoot at an indoor range now and I have noticed an increase in tinnitus (ringing in the ears), which I believe is a primary result of shooting indoors.

    There are many varibles I cannot control such as who is shooting next to me and what they are shooting, but frequently I have a shooting booth to myself, so there may be some aspects I can influence.

    My quesiton is does anyone know for certain if a very light loads have noticeably less sound energy than a full house load, say for a .40 S&W? My experience tells me this is the case. My goal is to try to find a reduced decibel load and use the highest rated NRR plugs and muffs available to preserve my hearing.
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Anything under supersonic will have way less of the high decibel Crack that really hurts the worst.

    That's why I like the big boomer's like the .45 ACP & .45 Colt so much.

    The .40 always seemed to me to be awful blasty when loaded like it is designed to be loaded.

    It runs the same pressure levels as the Magnum revolvers, and has the high-frequency blast to match.
    It's only saving grace is it isn't buring nearly as much powder as the Magnums, and that helps a little.


    BADUNAME37 Well-Known Member

    If you are wearing foam earplugs along with high quality earmuffs, I don't see how you could be getting damaging noise, no matter what the person next to you is shooting (at a typical indoor range).

    Perhaps I'm wrong on this, but I thought good foam earplugs, properly inserted and a top-quality pair of earmuffs would protect the shooter against most anything they would shoot and others around them would shoot.

    Are you sure the tinnitus is from shooting and not from some other equipment (like a riding mower, weedeater and/or other motorized equipment)? Are there EVER times when you shoot (hunting for example) when you are not wearing hearing protection?
  4. jjohnson

    jjohnson Well-Known Member

    Light Loads

    I'm not a doctor so I'll just answer the way I understand the question.

    If you load your .40 to below supersonic (I load to about 1050 FPS, since you do have shot-to-shot deviation) it'll generate no supersonic 'crack' which is a portion of the noise made when you shoot.

    If you're shooting in an indoor range, load 'em down a little and give it a try. You may need to go a little heavy on the bullet and light on the powder so it'll still cycle your action. If you go too light, you can order "reduced strength" springs from Wolff (www.gunsprings.com) and go from there. If you do THAT, however, just remember that your .40 now has a "weak spring" so swap it back out if you're going to shoot full power loads again.

    I hope this helps. Good luck.
  5. Mike Kerr

    Mike Kerr Well-Known Member

    I have found that sub sonic loads accomplish what you are after, reduced noise levels. My scientific methodology is what my ears tell me.

    If you load a "light" bullet weight to its max loading in virtually any caliber and then compare the noise level to the heaviest bullet for that caliber loaded to the max level - I believe you will see what I mean. I can load a 147 gr 9mm to a comfortable auditory level and still make power factor with ease- its a cream puff. On the other hand a 115 gr bullet in 9 mm has to have a pretty full charge of most powders to make power factor but it sounds really "fearsome and bad".

    44 and 45 caliber loadings which are sub sonic don't have near the sound levels and bothersome crack with auditory belching vim and vinegar of a 115 gr 9mm load with most powders.

    I believe if you will shoot 165 to 180 gr in your 40 and tailor the load to your liking you will be happier than with 135's loaded to the MAX.


  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Agree 100%, especially in my youth when we did not know to wear ear protection. The big boom was much better. EH, what did you say. :eek:

    Knock on wood, very little tinnitus so far. A little hard of hearing, well, if you believe everyone around me anyway. :scrutiny:

    52 in a month, by the way.
  7. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    Get a suppressor - that will help.....;)

    I'm your age and have always done the same, except I always shot outdoors and the constant "humming" noise is what I have to live with - so much so that if there are several conversations and a TV on, I don't understand any of them...

    Even subsonic loads indoors will be magnified just because of the walls, floor and ceiling
  8. rockhound758

    rockhound758 Well-Known Member

    I'm with Inspector...if you're wearing plugs AND muffs I don't see how you can get much more protection...when I do that I can't hear much except my stomach growling.

    Have you seen a doctor about the ringing? My brother and father both have tinnitus and neither of them shoot (brother is 44 and dad is early 70s) and it's been increasing for both of them. I'm no doctor nor do I stay at Holiday Inn, but I'm guessing it might be to other environmental influences and/or heredity. In any case, I'd suggest seeing an ENT specialist and see what he/she says. Good luck, and I sympathize...my brother and dad say it's really annoying.
  9. D. Manley

    D. Manley Well-Known Member

    I find that low charges of faster powders have much lower decibel impact indoors. As example, my favorite load for my Glock 35 is 3.5 grains Titegroup under a 180 grain Rainier FP or 180 Zero JHP @ 1.130 OAL. Even 3.2 grains will cycle the gun with a stock recoil spring but 3.5 groups better and still shoots quiet & flat. I find Clays is even quieter from 3.0 to 3.3 grains under the same bullets but for me, doesn't group nearly as well. The light to moderate charges of faster powder are normally not only subsonic, there is relatively a complete burn prior to the bullet exiting the barrel reducing muzzle blast substantially.
  10. burningsquirrels

    burningsquirrels Well-Known Member

    schmeky, out of your 40b? :)

    YMMV below this line
    clays powder is dangerous, pressure will spike and has been known to be spikey and very COL and temp sensitive. with that out of the way, several of us 40 shooters here use it no problem with a chrono. our GM uses a 1.135" COL with zero 180 grain flat point over 4.35 grains of clays and CCI primers. it's quieter and has less muzzle flip than 4.4 of titegroup. it's also definitely subsonic and even quieter if you put less, like 4.0 according to my note cards. if it's your 40b, i'm using 4.4 of clays with a cut down wolff 22 lb recoil spring. if i were you, i'd start at 3.8 in your 40b and see how your accuracy is. in a couple different stock barreled glock 35s, it makes about 930-950 fps, or just over 165 ipsc power factor. i haven't been able to chrono it yet through my 40b, but i've clocked maybe 4k+ rounds of it fine. i'm worried it's not making major power factor actually, since i have a 1/2" shorter barrel than the 5" guys.
    YMMV above this line
  11. schmeky

    schmeky Well-Known Member

    As far as environmental and secondary causes such as leaf blowers, lawn mowers, etc., this is not a factor for me. I have a spinal cord injury and use a manual wheelchair. My daily activities are confined to home-work-home-family. I work in an office 5 days a week with very low noise levels.

    I agree with D.Manley on using a low charge of fast burning powder to obtain as complete a burn as possible in the bore. The indoor range I frequent uses cinder block construction so the sound reverberates.

    I am experimenting with very heavy bullet weights in a respective caliber, lighter recoil springs, and the fastest burning powder in lower charge weights. There is definitely a reduction in sound energy using this approach based on my unscientific method. Protecting my hearing is not an option for me.
  12. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    3.3 Grs Clays under a 158 Gr plated bullet in .357 mag cases is less noisy than 4.0 Grs Clays under a 125 Gr plated bullet in .357 Mag cases. Both are very nice loads.

    These loads are safe in my guns using my load procedure. There is no data per say to support this in .357 cases. Reduce 10% and work up.
  13. schmeky

    schmeky Well-Known Member

    Soooo, you admit that you're "shorter" than other folks:neener: Must be embarrassing:D

    Thanx for the info BS. I am shooting my 75/40 with a 4.72" barrel, but I plan on putting more rounds down the tube of my 40B in the coming months.
  14. burningsquirrels

    burningsquirrels Well-Known Member

    just be really careful with clays and make sure you're spot-on with the powder weights and COL. it's a spikey load, and a smidgen of tolerance could send pressure through the roof. the Lee load book i have capped out at 3.5 grains i think, so i had to ask everyone a second time when they said to use 4.4 of clays. of course they said, "this is what we use and YMMV", but so far i'm still alive and the round is pretty accurate. Alpha zone on an IPSC classic target at 40 yards works. what's that, about 10cm by 10 cm in a teardrop shape?

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