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Why shoot 50 bmg with mouth open?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by cpileri, Aug 17, 2007.

  1. cpileri

    cpileri Well-Known Member

    OK, I searched and found only conjecture and unreferenced statements that you must (or should) fire the 50bmg with your mouth open to equalize pressure in your inner ears.

    First, is it true?

    Next, is it necessary when wearing earplugs or earmuffs? When wearing a combination of both?

  2. Mot45acp

    Mot45acp Well-Known Member

    Ive shot a fifty once. So my experience is very limited. Under a tin covered bench with muffs. No ear problems. What did worry me was my left eye hurt for a week after. I was wearing eye protection. Recoil was not bad, but the pressure wave felt like someone lightly slapping you in the face.
  3. Creature

    Creature Well-Known Member

    Having shot a BMG quite a bit, I can tell you that it not at all nessassry. I have also been behind and off to the side of a BMG when it was shot...and while I could feel the concussion, it was not bad at all. Funny enough, when in the shooting position, I feel nothing but the kick in the shoulder as the blast is not directed toward me as the shooter.

    When shooting the Browning M2, which I have shot a LOT, there is no reason to open you mouth. Unless its because of a big ol toothy grin...

    Now, a standing close behind and just off to the side of a 25mm chain gun is a different story. That beast sucks the air right out of your lungs...strangest feeling that I could never get used too.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2007
  4. Bainx

    Bainx member

    The person who told you that this is a problem is utterly stupid
  5. Thumbsmasher

    Thumbsmasher Member

    Ya, I have been in the drivers hatch of a 113 with a M2 going off above me and while it thumps your head, I never purposly kept my mouth open.
  6. pdowg881

    pdowg881 Well-Known Member

    yea I've done some m2 firing (with muffs) and from my experience whoever told you that needs some help.
  7. kingpin008

    kingpin008 Well-Known Member

    I dunno why this myth even still exists. I mean, go on youtube and search for stock news footage of troops shooting .50 cal guns, or look for home videos of folks putting their rifles through their paces. How many of 'em do you see hanging their mouths open the whole time? None, I'll bet.

    Even better - find a manual for a Barrett or other brand of .50 cal rifle - does it instruct the shooter to yawn like a fool while firing? Probably not. How would a shooter ever get a proper sight picture, doing things like that?
  8. Dr. Peter Venkman

    Dr. Peter Venkman Well-Known Member

    Unless you excessively enjoy carbon fouling, don't do it.
  9. Omnivore

    Omnivore Well-Known Member

    The shooter gets far less blast than a bystander off to the side but I digress:

    I have a friend who is over 70 years old. He was in the National Guard here in Idaho many years ago, in an artillery group. He tells me they used to open their mouths when standing next to the big guns, for the reason stated.

    Having heard this, I tried it when standing to the side of a 50 cal with ear muffs on. Didn't seem to matter-- it was very unpleasant either way-- it had a muzzle break you see...

    Technically, I don't see how it could "equalize the pressure" unless your eustachian tubes were open. I can open mine at will, but I can't say I've ever tried it at the gun range to test the myth. Certainly, this would closely resemble the technique used by microphone designers to cancel out certain frequencies coming from the sides or from the back of the microphone, by way of adding ports. These mics are called "directional" or "cardioid" microphones. Therefore, there would seem to be some real plausability to this myth. You'd probably need to carefully tune the mouth opening and turn your head in just the right direction, etc.. The effect is limited to sounds coming from certain directions, and the wavelengths affected are limited. Rifle muzzle blasts cover a very wide spectrum at ear-damaging levels.

    Stand behind the rifle, wear ear protection, and you'll not have to think about it.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2007
  10. Bwana John

    Bwana John Well-Known Member

    We were first trained on Ski Patrol that when firing the recoilless rifles for avalanche control that you should keep your mouth open to equalize pressure.(1978)

    Then they said no, keep your mouth closed.(1984)
  11. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    I'm usually grinning, but I don't know if that counts.
  12. SDC

    SDC Well-Known Member

    I'll echo the above; unless you ENJOY the taste of the dust raised, there's no reason to.
  13. RNB65

    RNB65 Well-Known Member

    Why? Because the .50BMG is such an all powerful, Fear of God kind of round? Compared to a 16" naval gun, .50BMG is an itty, bitty, teeny, tiny little round.
  14. timmyb21

    timmyb21 Well-Known Member

    If you keep your mouth closed, your head will explode!!! And anyone standing around you will be blown back 50 feet from the massive recoil!!! No need. It's just a rifle.
  15. cpileri

    cpileri Well-Known Member

    from the horse's mouth

    Not to imply my friend is a horse, mind you.

    But i emailed my pal who works for the Fifty Caliber Institute (FCI) and asked him this question. Here is the pertinent part of the email i got:

    "...Ummm....no. Otherwise I'd have been deaf since 1994.


    Double ear pro is recommended though. AND, to make sure that's crystal clear to the students at last week's class on .50 caliber, the Instructor pointed out that "double ear pro" doesn't mean TWO sets of foam pluggies in the ears. You'd have to drive them into your head with an ice pick. Best use a set of foamies AND a set of ear muffs.


    (being near exploding ordnance [paraphrase mine]), then opening your mouth & plugging your ears would be called for.

    Have also heard rumors that the .50 will break your shoulder (might bruise you a bit without a muzzle brake, but otherwise, no dice). And that the .50 will detach a retina. (If you're a diabetic, maybe. But if you're a diabetic, there's a list of strenuous activities you should avoid,..."

    Well, OK. I am satisfied.

  16. CDignition

    CDignition Well-Known Member

    When guys show up with Barrett 50's I go home. I hate those sucky Brakes they come with...They are NOT Bystander friendly. IF you got a 50, get a can for it.
  17. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

    Equalizing pressure is fine if there is such an over pressure as to cause ruptured ear drums. This is not the case with the .50, not unless your head is leaning against the muzzle brake when the gun is fired. Since ruptured ear drums are not a concern, opening your mouth does not save you from hearing damage.

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