avoiding ear damage with powerful rifles

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

  1. Ranb

    Ranb Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2003
    Messages:
    962
    Location:
    WA, USA
    I suspect that people who do not think there power rifles are loud may actually have enough hearing loss to make them appear so. I'm in my 50's, but I can still hear as low as 0-15 decibels. I think rifles in 22lr with supersonic ammo are not comfortable to shoot.
     
    3850remhep likes this.
  2. Ole Joe Clark

    Ole Joe Clark Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2016
    Messages:
    509
    Location:
    Dixie
    I am almost deaf from shooting them at Fort Jackson, SC, in 1963, with no hearing protection at all.

    Have a blessed day,

    Leon
     
  3. Thomasss

    Thomasss Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2020
    Messages:
    1,014
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    If you can afford to shoot a .50 cal, then why not get the ear plugs that custom fit your ears. I use them for trapshooting. They so quiet I can't hear the scorer call a miss. $10 to $15 on ebay. Otherwise electronic molded noise cut-off plugs go around $80.
     
  4. femoralis

    femoralis Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    740
    If you want to avoid hearing damage with high powered rifles, there is only one thing to do:

    Use a suppressor plus muffs and plugs.

    Muffs and plugs alone will not prevent all the hearing damage.

    The 130 decibles or so that get through your muffs and plugs are still damaging your ears with every shot.

    Hair cells do not grow back.

    You won't notice the damage until it is too late.

    Get a suppressor.

    I have severe hearing problems as a result of shooting. I thought I was being safe enough. I wasn't.
     
  5. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    3,639
    Location:
    Nowhere
    Please justify that number with factual data. I don't think it's correct. Burden of proof ....
     
  6. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    63,245
    Location:
    0 hrs east of TN
  7. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    3,639
    Location:
    Nowhere
    Yes, nice graphics, but the fact I was questioning was the resultant db level post doubled-up hearing protection as posted and quoted above:
     
    3Crows and SwaneeSR like this.
  8. femoralis

    femoralis Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    740
    OK, there you go. 3M says that wearing ear plugs under muffs only gives you an addition 5 decibels of protection:

    https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1527800O/earmuff-misconceptions.pdf

    It doesn't give you and extra 30. Only five.

    So if you wear a 30 ear muff with a NRR of 30, plus plugs, you are only reducing the sound reaching your ear by 35 decibles. (In reality, 3M says that to be safe, you should assume you are only being protected 1/2 as much as the NRR, due to imperfect use.)

    View the chart below:

    ATG_Rifle-Suppressor-Inforgraphic-1024x946.jpg

    A .308 rifle produces 170 or so decibels.

    If you wear muffs plus plugs correctly, that brings down the sound to your ear to about 135 decibles.

    That is below the threshold of pain- but it is still WAY TOO LOUD. It will produce permeant hearing damage that you will not notice until it is too late. Don't believe me? Call up an audiologist and ask them!

    If you add a suppressor, the total produced by the gun is about 149 decibels. Add plugs and a muff with perfect use, and it brings down the sound to your ear to about 114 decibels. Heck, even that is too loud, but still not nearly as damaging at 135.
    (an increase in sound of 6 decibels roughly doubles the noise pressure).

    Buy suppressors so you don't end up with hyperacusis and tinnitus like me.
     
  9. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    3,639
    Location:
    Nowhere
    Hmmmm -- OK, thanks for that. Makes more sense when shown like that. Something to think about. At the minimum. Never was very good at log functions. I already have tinnitus but it's from flying noise not shooting noise. (20+ yrs of the former & only about 3 yrs of the latter.) :(

    Still one more question, if you don't mind: the above data about muffs is for passive muffs, correct?
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2020
  10. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    63,245
    Location:
    0 hrs east of TN
    Electronic shooting muffs are no better than passive muffs since they only function to turn off the speakers in the muffs and the protection is from the muff "insulating" the sound. Cheap electronic muffs are worse since they may not shut down quickly enough (this is why buying quality electronic muffs from a reliable manufacturer is important).

    People often mistake "noise canceling" muffs for electronic shooting muffs. They're completely different. Noise cancelling muffs can't respond to impact/gunshots while electronic shooting muffs are supposed to.

    As femoralis has shown, shooting muffs only add 5dB to the highest plugs you can wear (33dB for foamies). 38 is the effective NRR, but then you halve that for reliable exposure purposes giving you a reliable protection of 19dB. Subtract that 19dB from the sound produced by the firearm and you're exposure is remarkably higher than you'd have thought. If you can mute the noise level at the source with a suppressor you get to subtract that 19dB from the reduced report making it through the suppressor.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2020
    3850remhep and wiscoaster like this.
  11. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    3,639
    Location:
    Nowhere
    I'm depressed now. I thought electronic muffs gave me better protection. I was under the impression they were "noise cancelling" (Like David Clarks e.g.)

    What's to be done? Stop shooting? I don't think so.

    I'm not getting suppressors.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2020
  12. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    63,245
    Location:
    0 hrs east of TN
    They help with communication on the range and THAT is an improvement in safety, but, no, their hearing protection is only the passive rating of the muff. Wear the highest rated plugs you can get and wear them properly and use electronic muffs over them to the the extra protection while being able to hear range commands and warnings.

    If you're shooting on indoor ranges understand that unless the shots are occurring closely enough together to truly overlap the short duration of each isn't likely to add to the sound pressure level you're exposing your hearing to from your shooting. Going to the range when it isn't full will reduce that possibility further. If you can shoot outside it improves somewhat. Remember that SPL is an inverse square relationship and the further you are from the muzzle (or another) it quarters for every doubling of distance so spread out. You can also use subsonic ammunition (if your gun will cycle it) that is not as loud as 1,100 ft/sec reducing the exposure.

    Noise levels (and my tinnitus) is why I've invested in a suppressor, but not everyone wants to spend the money on a commercially built suppressor. I've heard some very good form 1 suppressors that people have built that help reduce the sound (not like the movies though). You still pay the government from the privilege of building and owning a hearing protection engineering control, but ;)
     
  13. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2019
    Messages:
    3,639
    Location:
    Nowhere
    ARE there any noise cancelling active muffs made for shooters? (The aviation headsets won't work -- the ambient noise sensing algorithms are way different). Seems like there might be a marketing opportunity there.

    I think the practical first step I can take is to stop shooting large caliber rifles at the indoor range. Yes, mostly I shoot those only outdoors, but sometimes for convenience or adverse weather when I want to test fire after some detail stripping or maintenance I have fired them indoors, and for sure, they're way too loud in that environment.
     
    JeffG likes this.
  14. Stevie-Ray

    Stevie-Ray Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2003
    Messages:
    4,788
    Location:
    Mitchi-gun, the Sunrise Side
    In fact most E-muffs are even worse than the better passive muffs. I have a set of passives that are rated at 37dB attenuation, and I haven't found even plugs to equal that. I also have a set of E-muffs that are rated at 30db att. This is higher than any other E-muff I've found. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007BGSI5U/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Installing 33dB plugs under them protects quite good, and the sound enhancement during cold range, lets you hear range commands over the plugs well enough.

    Oh, and here's the best passive I've yet found.
    https://www.amazon.com/Professional-Safety-Muffs-Decibel-Defense/dp/B01BEENYCQ/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=QNI6DN5EODYN&dchild=1&keywords=decibel+defense+37db+nrr+professional+safety+earmuff&qid=1608234838&sprefix=Decibel+Defense%2Caps%2C180&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyUE9XRFRDN05HTVRRJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwMDU0ODcwVjQ3TEdXNzJOQjlOJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTAwOTczODAyMFRXRUtKWDBXVkdIJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2020
    3850remhep and JeffG like this.
  15. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    63,245
    Location:
    0 hrs east of TN
    That's impressive. What's the brand? I'm not aware of any muffs from a major manufacturer that are 37dB. I saw something on ebay once, but I wouldn't trust my hearing to anything on ebay since I got a pair of counterfeit Howard Leights from a seller.

    The Howard Leight Pros are great electronic muffs. Well established company that stands out in the industrial hearing protection industry.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2020
  16. JeffG

    JeffG Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2017
    Messages:
    1,976
    Location:
    NE Wisconsin
    3850remhep and Stevie-Ray like this.
  17. Stevie-Ray

    Stevie-Ray Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2003
    Messages:
    4,788
    Location:
    Mitchi-gun, the Sunrise Side
    As Jeff posted, they are Decibel Defense, and are without a doubt the finest passive muff I've ever experienced. I bought them right from the company long ago, but I included an Amazon link.
     
    3850remhep and JeffG like this.
  18. JeffG

    JeffG Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2017
    Messages:
    1,976
    Location:
    NE Wisconsin
    I think this should be a huge consideration for shooters, good point.
     
  19. DanInNJ

    DanInNJ Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2021
    Messages:
    4
    For years I hunted with the old Sonic Ear Valves, which didn't block normal hearing. Also always had a blaze orange mask over most of my face so the ears were covered, not that it would affect gunfire. I always felt it was dangerous to hunt with my hearing impaired at all. For deer the truth is in the NJ and PA woods I always heard the deer before I saw them anyway. But I'm assuming you're talking about hunting where there is more constant gunfire than just a deer hunt?
     
    JeffG likes this.
  20. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Messages:
    2,709
    Location:
    NC
    The Government/VA direct deposits my banking account for Hearing loss and Agent Orange exposure each month. Hearing protection at MCRD Parris Island SC, puffs of cotton in 1964. Over the decades I've gotten good at reading lips.
     
    JeffG and 3850remhep like this.
  21. Bentonville

    Bentonville Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2006
    Messages:
    524
    Hangingrock,
    I am sorry about your hearing loss . I wasn’t in the military but I shot an awful lot in the sixties and seventies before I knew about hearing loss as well as played Hammond organ in a rock band. I used cotton balls too . Didn’t help one bit...duh. Tinnitus static and hiss is no joke . I double up now.
    Sir, thank you for your service to our country .
     
    Hangingrock, JeffG and 3850remhep like this.
  22. sugarmaker

    sugarmaker Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Messages:
    664
    Location:
    VT
    I use Howard Leigh’s impact pro amplified over 3m round squish foam plugs with the little handle. I cut the cord that ties the plugs together. There are many styles of plugs, my left ear is non-standard and roll up foam plugs don’t work for me but the 3m is good. I q tip my ears clean as the plugs will bulldoze wax and create problems. Too much information there... The worst part is the sound that never goes away so take care.
     
    JeffG and 3850remhep like this.
  23. Hunter 08

    Hunter 08 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2017
    Messages:
    206
    Location:
    Nebraska
    If I'm in an indoor range, I double up. Outdoors, I only use plugs in the 26db range, only because I hate using foam plugs. Too much of a hassle to put in and take out. The rubber type ones I get also have a string so I can leave one in and have the other dangle out. Would do ear muffs, like the 3M electronic ones, but I can't always get my rifle shouldered properly with muff style. Already have partial gearing loss from loud music and from years of using power tools and lawn mowers without ear pro on.
     
    JeffG likes this.
  24. gifbohane

    gifbohane Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2016
    Messages:
    1,034
    I went to the audiologist a few months ago and got custom made earplugs, cost about $ 200. I did not notice any better noise suppression that with common over the counter plugs of any sort.

    Anyone know what the decible level of the common AR 15 is? I use the plugs with expensive muffs and still get too much noise.

    Wish that there was a solution. I also fired the M14 in the military without ear and eye protection.....a lot.
     
    JeffG likes this.
  25. Bentonville

    Bentonville Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2006
    Messages:
    524
    I got special plugs customers molded for a bunch of money . Foam plugs with 33NRR and muffs at 32 or 33NRR are way better than the custom plugs.
     
    hso and 3850remhep like this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice