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

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by user3214, Nov 11, 2008.

  1. user3214

    user3214 Well-Known Member

    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?
  2. Sunray

    Sunray Well-Known Member

    Neither is worse. Both will damage your hearing if you shoot without protection.
  3. spyder1911

    spyder1911 Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. Kind of Blued

    Kind of Blued Well-Known Member

    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. :)
  5. Archie

    Archie Well-Known Member

    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.
  6. cliffy

    cliffy member

    Since the .45 ACP is the only MAN's pistol . . .

    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
  7. Kindrox

    Kindrox Well-Known Member

    .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.
  8. hankdatank1362

    hankdatank1362 Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. Sinixstar

    Sinixstar member

    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.
  10. harmonic

    harmonic member

    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.
  11. Kindrox

    Kindrox Well-Known Member

    I though I'd add: If you are married or intend to be, a little hearing damage can be a big asset.
  12. hankdatank1362

    hankdatank1362 Well-Known Member

    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.
  13. glockman19

    glockman19 Well-Known Member

    Nothing more really needs to be said.

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

    So True...:)
  14. Just One Shot

    Just One Shot Well-Known Member

    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
  15. Furncliff

    Furncliff Well-Known Member

    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.
  16. Monster Zero

    Monster Zero Well-Known Member

    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.
  17. againstthagrane

    againstthagrane Well-Known Member

    cliffy uses the 9mm in his purse guns exclusively :D
  18. texas bulldog

    texas bulldog Well-Known Member

    methinks cliffy is employing a strategy known as "sarcasm".

    but then again, maybe not...
  19. againstthagrane

    againstthagrane Well-Known Member

    technically it would be referred to as being facetious
  20. absolute0

    absolute0 Well-Known Member

    "Which hurts more to have dropped on your head, an anvil or a safe?"

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