Ear Protection During Indoor Home Defense

Home Defense Ear Protection

Home defense ear protection. It’s important. Or more accurately stated, it could be important!

Although statistically highly unlikely, if you ever had to use a gun indoors for self defense, consider ear protection – if there’s time – more about that in a minute… Also, this is simply food-for-thought and comment.

The noise from the shot WILL cause some amount of permanent hearing damage. Ear damage is a cumulative thing, over time. But the very high decibel level of a gun shot will be significant.

The sound from a gunshot will temporarily deafen you to an extent, without hearing protection. Hearing damage is cumulative, permanent, and could even be instant.

Have you ever thought about the boom of a gun INDOORS in the event that you ever had to fire a shot in self defense?

I have an idea. Keep reading…

How many of you keep a gun by your bedside? While the likelihood of ever having to use it for self defense at home is statistically extremely low, what if you were the unlucky statistic?

While priority #1 under this scenario is self preservation of you and your family, have you considered the repercussions of the gunshot blast while indoors?

Especially indoors, a gunshot could conceivably cause some permanent hearing loss. Are there precautions that you might consider ahead of time? Yes. Ear protection for home defense.

Measuring Loudness

Lets look at the noise / sound level of a gunshot. But before that, lets get some reference…

The decibel (dB) is logarithmic (not linear) and can be a complicated subject to grasp.
To keep it simple though, and in the context of perceived loudness,

A 10 dB increase will sound about twice as loud.
A 20 dB increase will sound four times as loud as the original reference.

0 dB (Volume Loudness 1)
10 dB (Volume Loudness 2x – double)
20 dB (Volume Loudness 4x louder than 0, 2x louder than 10)
30 dB (Volume Loudness 8x louder than 0, 4x louder than 10, 2x louder than 20)
40 dB (Volume Loudness 16x, etc..)
50 dB (Volume Loudness 32x, etc..)
60 dB (Volume Loudness 64x, etc..)

Sound (Sound Pressure Level) is measured in decibels (dB).

0 dB Complete silence
10 dB Barely audible – breathing
30 dB A quiet whisper at 6-feet
40 dB A quiet library
50 dB A typical home
60 dB Normal conversation at 3-feet
70 dB Vacuum cleaner at 6-feet
80 dB Curbside of busy road at 15-feet
90 dB Diesel truck at 30-feet
100 dB Outboard motor, Power lawn mower
110 dB Beginning threshold of pain, Car horn at 3-feet, Live rock music
120 dB Close thunderclap, Chainsaw at 3-feet
130 dB Painful, Military jet take-off from aircraft carrier with afterburner at 50-feet
140 dB Very painful, Aircraft carrier deck
150 dB Jet takeoff at 75-feet, Potential eardrum rupture


How loud is a gunshot?

Dr. Krammer, Ph.D., Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana has documented the following sound pressure levels of a gunshot.


.410 Bore

  • 28″ barrel, 150 dB
  • 26″ barrel, 150 dB
  • 18″ barrel, 156 dB

20 Gauge

  • 28″ barrel, 152 dB
  • 22″ barrel, 155 dB

12 Gauge

  • 28″ barrel, 152 dB
  • 26″ barrel, 156 dB
  • 18″ barrel, 162 dB


.223, 55GR. Commercial load 18″ barrel, 156 dB
.243 in 22″ barrel, 156 dB
.30-30 in 20″ barrel, 156 dB
7mm Magnum in 20″ barrel, 158 dB
.308 in 24″ barrel, 156 dB
.30-06 in 24″ barrel, 159 dB
.30-06 in 18″ barrel, 163 dB
.375 — 18″ barrel with muzzle brake, 170 dB


.25 ACP, 155 dB
.32 LONG, 152 dB
.32 ACP, 154 dB
.380, 158 dB
9mm, 160 dB
.38 S&W, 154 dB
.38 Spl, 156 dB
.357 Magnum, 164 dB
.41 Magnum, 163 dB
.44 Spl, 156 dB
.45 ACP, 157 dB
.45 COLT, 155 dB

As you can see, ALL gunshots are exceedingly LOUD !
“Duh”, right?

EVERY shot taken without hearing protection WILL cause permanent damage in varying degrees. All hearing damage accumulates over time. The damage is not reparable. The louder the sound pressure level, the less time that it takes to cause permanent damage.

So back to the original thought… What about the self defense scenario, inside your home, say… at night, where you are awakened by the sounds of an intruder in the home.

Electronic Ear Muffs – Ear Protection For Home Defense

Here’s a suggestion… In addition to the firearm that is kept near your bedside (e.g. in a quick-access safe), you might also keep (close by) ear protection for home defense. Electronic ear-muffs. Perhaps hanging on the bed-post.

[ Read: Biometric Gun Safe Review – Sentry Safe For Handguns ]

How do electronic ear muffs work? There’s a speaker inside each ear muff, and a built-in microphone to ‘hear’ external sounds. Lower level (normal level, conversation level) sound is electronically amplified into the ear muff speakers. Those lower levels can also be amplified (made louder) via their volume control. But when there’s a loud sound (e.g. gunshot), the electronic amplifier instantly shuts off, relying on the muffs themselves to mute the external sound.

Basically, your ears will be protected by the sound-deadening of the ear-muff itself. The electronic amplifier circuit automatically shuts off at a certain threshold of louder sounds (a gun shot). It happens instantly… within 1 or 2 milliseconds.

You might also consider electronic ear-muffs that are stereo. This means that each ear is independent and will enable you to ascertain direction from sounds (important!), whereas mono ear-muffs will not enable a sense of direction. This is very important when identifying the location of a threat.

Walker’s Razor Electronic Muffs

I own several different sets of electronic muffs. From a reasonable cost versus quality perspective, I will suggest the following, which I’ve owned for quite awhile…

Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Muff
(view on amzn)

Here’s my pair of Walker’s, along with their walkie talkie radio accessory add-on.

Walkie Talkie for Walker’s Razor

[ Read: Walker Razor Radio – Slim Electronic Muffs & Walkie Talkie Radio Distance ]

Ear Protection For Home Defense – Advantage…

A significant advantage of using this type of ear protection for home defense… The sound amplification (the volume control). It is amazing how much you can hear when you turn it up. This will provide some tactical advantage.

While only you can judge at the time of intrusion whether or not you feel you have time to put on ear protection for home defense, but it’s something to consider for that unlikely “just in case” scenario.

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  1. My only thought would be if you were hunkered down in your bedroom and you needed to use the phone to call 911 at the same time. Scenario: You are on the phone with 911. Bad guy is trying to come in the door. What about the time it takes to throw the phone down, put on your ears, and then take the shot if the intruder is coming in?

    That would be my only concern. Obviously, you may have enough time, but maybe the better option so you wouldn’t have to worry as much would be to invest in a silencer. Too bad it’s such a pain in the rear to get one.

    1. I must say that the 911 call when you have an intruder inside your home or very close could be a deadly mistake. The operator giving bad advise asking things making you talk instead of listening 1. You give away your position and make a reason for the criminal to take you out before cops are called or descriptions given or just because your getting them busted. 2. Cops are notorious for shooting people by mistake, missing their target and friendly fire particularly if your holding a weapon. They are scared too and do not suffer the wrath of the law when killing someone by mistake. Hell even on purpose these days. Your most important advantage is surprise and stealth knowing your home. A cop would take all that from you even put down your gun giving the advantage to the criminal.

  2. Great info here. There is no doubt shooting without ear protection, even for practice at an outdoor range, is foolish.

    I recently bought a home defense shotgun and have been making a plan for how I would get to, load, position, and react to a break-in. Until I started researching for my plan I didn’t realize I would be doing damage. Electronic earmuffs would be a great choice to have alongside my shotgun!

  3. I own both electronic muffs and plain muffs. At the range, I like the electronic pair because i can have a conversation with my daughter while folks are shooting and not have to yell. I hope I never have to find out if I have enough time to don them before shooting an intruder though.

    I have accidentally fired my .223 at the range after going from “cold range” to “hot range” and forgetting to pull the muffs back down, and I’ll tell you that my ears rang for two hours afterward. I cannot imagine the damage that could be done from shooting a weapon indoors without hearing protection, but if forced to choose between my hearing and my life, I will certainly choose my life and my family rather than elect not to shoot.

    The point however, is well taken, and since Mrs. Ancona snores quite loudly, I keep a pair on the nightstand anyhow, and sometimes I am even wearing them while I [try to] sleep.

    Mother Bear is a very light sleeper and will wake me up from time to time whenever she hears something. Half the time it’s my little buddy Rocky Raccoon stealing the cat food on the porch.

  4. Good information, Ken. I wish someone had told me about ear protection when I was young. We are a hunting family, and no one ever gave a second thought to hearing loss. So, now I’ve lost about 25% of my hearing. My husband’s hearing loss is even greater, he spent too long in the boiler of the Navy ships, and then too long in Vietnam when he was in the Army, those huge packs they had to carry didn’t include ear protection.

    1. Yes, Tammy, hearing loss is a very real thing. And permanent. Having an option to slip on ear muffs…will save your hearing. All the hearing damage throughout our lifetime is cumulative.

  5. Hearing protection is a good idea.
    I would rather lose some hearing than lose a loved one or lose myself
    Time is of the essence in a survival situation

    1. I agree that it is a unique decision based on the time that one feels they have… I too would trade loss of hearing for saving a loved one if that is the situation.

      If one feels that there is not an imminent deadly threat – within the time necessary to put on electronic ear-muffs, it may be prudent before proceeding with counter-measures.

      It’s food for thought.

  6. I have read similar accounts of people not having ‘heard’ the shot under those conditions given the adrenaline rush of the situation. There is apparently truth to that. I do suspect though that they have nevertheless suffered some permanent damage because of it – which all accumulates over time.

    Thanks for your comment.

  7. I too have ringing in ears from shooting too much without hear protection and high noise frequencies from work. I’m now looking into the electronic hearing muffs. Yes I still hunt without muffs, but I think that will change this fall. Someplace I’ve read that the L.A. police have went to the sound suppressor on their AR’s because of this same problem. The ar 223 creates a whole lot more noise and muzzle blast than their 9 mm did. Whether they are using electronic muffs now, I don’t know, not having read anything about that. I’m wearing hearing aids almost 24/7 now, or at lest 12/7 anyway.

  8. And I shot a 9mm without protection (accidentally) at an indoor range. It was like an explosion went off, was deaf for a minute or so. Then ears rang (worse than usual) for a couple of days. So, I am really concerned about discharging a firearm inside a house. Not just for me but for the loved ones that I may be trying to defend. Seriously, I don’t wish tinnitus on anyone.

  9. The hearing protection is fine as a workaround and because we have no other, legal options, but the ideal answer here for the home self-defense situation is to use a proper/tuned supressor. Eliminate the source of the problem vs. add time, complexity and an extra step for an already stressful situation.

    It’s a shame they’re illegal and that homemade solutions aren’t quite up to the task.

  10. I have had that thought many times about the defanging and disorienting blast of a weapon in a self defense situation. And that’s the main reason I went and filed for a suppressor. Get a suppressor and your self defense weapon for home with a threaded barrel.

  11. We had a lightning detector at work that would send an audible tone alert when lightning was nearby. The tone it emitted was the same frequency as the tone that is constant in my head from tinnitus so as a result I would never hear it when it went off. People would come into my work area and say to me ‘What’s that noise?’ Of course I’d reply ‘I don’t hear anything.’ but later on I would just say ‘must be the lightning detector.’

  12. As we approach WROL, acquiring or making a suppressor (legally YMMV) as has been suggested above, might also be an option depending on the platform. If you can knock the peak from 150-160 dB down to 120 dB you move from permanent damage to just a few hours/days of ringing ears. If the attachment lives on the firearm, then there is nothing else to handle in an ultra stressful situation.


  13. The last thing I worry about is hearing loss in a home combat situation… However, if I was the one doing the breaking in..I would be wearing electronic headsets with noise limiting capability turned WAY UP.

    I like the idea of paying the $200 dollar fee..and using a silencer, which has been perfectly matched to my .9mm auto…and another attached to my M4 carbine. Don’t bother trying to silence a revolver, you can’t…much of the sound made from a revolver is created at the gap between the cylinder head and the barrel. And, to completely silence an auto pistol…each round needs to be jacked by hand, as the slide is prevented from automatically blowing back when fired. The goal being to completely surround the fired round and sending all of its noise into the silencer. The .45 Colt 1911 was perfect for this, as it was a simple matter of using an extended barrel, which was threaded for the silencer…and the thumb safety was made to flip up to block the slide from moving when the pistol was fired.

    1. I can’t recommend altering a 1911 to be able to fire with the thumb safety engaged. Don’t trust the grip safety enough for that and don’t think I could find a lawyer competent to explain the rationale in court.

      1. This is what we did in the special forces to create a silenced .45. It worked…. The Chinese use a specially made silenced weapon, where its silencer is physically part of the weapon…and cannot be removed. I liked the converted .45, as the altered parts could be removed and replaced with standard.

        I do not care about explaining why I am still alive…and the enemy is not.

  14. More than noise, one should strive to suppress the muzzle flash from their home weapons, or weapons used in low light combat. Luckily, a good silencer, muzzle break, system handles both the noise and the bright flash of your weapon.

  15. I had both eardrums ruptured (1 twice) in ‘Nam, many years ago.
    They both healed over, but with gradual hearing loss.
    Nobody I knew there back then had any ear protection.
    Now, in my 80s, I am just about completely deaf.
    People tell me that I should get a hearing aid, but there’s really nothing I want to hear anymore.
    Closed Caption on TV is enough.

  16. Speaking from personal experience, the effect of firing a .45 ACP indoors is nearly debilitating. Not only did one shot cause intense ear pain and leave me temporarily deaf, the percussion was disorienting and flash nearly blinding in the dimly lit room. Granted, this was a high-velocity round, but the venerable .45 ACP convinced me, at least, of its capacity to nearly disable the shooter indoors. I can hardly imagine what a higher pressure round would be like in similar circumstances.

    Yet, I still haven’t staged hearing protection for the dreaded home defense scenario. Electronic muffs or anything that would reduce the blast 40 dB or better would be great – if it could be practically employed AND not interfere with the situational awareness that is absolutely critical.

    1. 406Redoubt said, “if it could be practically employed AND not interfere with the situational awareness that is absolutely critical.”

      You are exactly right. Situational Awareness is absolutely critical under this hypothetical situation. If one were to utilize hearing protection, stereo electronic muffs would be the only best choice in this regard. Food for thought…

  17. A few people have posted at the start of this article: Do I dial 911 on a cell phone kept near my bedside stand? Be aware that if you are connected with 911 during an event that you are being recorded and the incident taking place is on digitally recorded media. Think about this before picking up your cell phone or activating 911. Also a reminder that in Cali, the cellular 911 calls used to go to a different location than the landline 911 calls. This may be changing as technological upgrades make their way into police operations/communications systems.

    I have been in several shootings within enclosed spaces and I used to hunt upland birds and game with a shotgun starting age 13. My high frequency hearing is mostly gone these days. If I purchase anything, I may buy a set of earmuffs that have sound amplification qualities (as mentioned by Ision) When I go to the range these days, my head is on a swivel anyway due to many kids and new shooters at public ranges. (poor muzzle discipline, lack of good supervision, sometimes both). When I see things like that, I will leave the range and go get a taco. I’ll come back and shoot when the yahoos or unsafe individuals are gone.

    Here is to hoping you do not have to engage an offender within your own home.

  18. My opinion take it for what its worth is that in a high stress self defense situation it is always best to apply the KISS principle. My goal is always to reduce the number of moving parts in my self defense plan to the bare minimum.

    If you decide hearing protection is right for your self defense plan make sure you practice your plan with them included (I typically forget to turn my electronic hearing protection on until trying to talk to some one at the range).

    One thing to think about is that during a hi stress fight or flight scenario it is extremely common for the body to experience a physiological phenomenon called auditory exclusion which has the effect of protecting your hearing without external hearing protection.

    A great book that every one interested in self defense/prepping should read is “On Combat” by LT. Col. Dave Grossman which goes into great details on what happens to your body during life and death situations.

    1. Cato,
      That is Excellent advice regarding PRACTICE. Being sure to switch-on the muffs (for example)! (And, when it’s pitch dark). Also, the Keep It Simple Stupid approach is always a very good principle under stress. Which is why this electronic ear muff idea is food-for-thought and comment. Not necessarily advice.

  19. in some kind of home defense scenario, IE a home invasion, my first thought would be to make sure of where my DW was and to keep her out of harms way. my second thought would to be to deal with the problem as best i can. my last thoughts would be weather or not i could understand what the coroner or the sheriffs dept were asking me.
    right or wrong that’s just how i will play it.
    make sure of where everyone is in your home is before you pull a trigger. the consequences could be to great to even imagine. sheet rock will not stop a bullet.

  20. Seems like a great idea in theory but does anyone in a dead sleep suddenly awaken and immediately put on muffs after hearing breaking glass? Probably in some of our nanny states they’ll haul your ass in on planning premeditated murder for trying to save your hearing before you planned on blasting the intruder. Think that’s unlikely, I live in Wisconsin and recent events should have you better informed on a d.a.s behavior.

    1. Jeff,
      I hear what you’re saying… Unfortunately in today’s anti-2A environment, actions taken like this could potentially be used against you – likely depending on where the defense event took place (which State, etc..).

      I would love to hear the opinion of Attorney Andrew Branca on this (he wrote the book, “The Law Of Self Defense”, linked above). He commented on this site before…

      Thanks for pointing out the potential issue.

  21. Funny… I just found this thread started in 2013. Read through.. get my thoughts…find out some are replying right about now about silencers…After 290 days I just received my two tax stamps last month.

    Now I have MKII and 10/22 integrally suppressed barrels. While I usually have kept 9mm/.357mag and 12Ga readily available for home defense, now in light of this discussion I’m thinking my go too might be the MKII silenced by the bedside with an extra mag, and the 10/22 silenced with 30 rd mag + spare 30 rd on the strap in the living room strategically placed.

    .22lr is only at 120-130dB with supersonic rounds. silenced at -30dB they are at 90-100dB no hearing protection required area.

    Consider…… I got 20-60 40 gr rds to stop a target with no detriment to my hearing. Compared to one 9mm 115 gr shot that “maybe/might” kill him “if it hits him” and likely affect my hearing forever after. I am not going to think about taking time to put on hearing pro guys. If someone is breaking into my house and coming at me I want to be pulling triggers. Knowing that the choice is go deaf or die, I’m still pulling the trigger no matter what I got in my hands.

    But now reading this thread I my be hesitant about pulling the trigger on my 12Ga or even 9mm in the house. Not a position I want to be in having a hesitation like this. I want to know that pulling the trigger will not hurt me and have most potential to hurt the bad guy. Hearing Pro on a .22LR will fix both problems. .22LR is certainly not a one shot stop. But what about 10 or 30, or 20 or 60 rounds? And I can hear the whole thing happen and not go deaf. When seconds count you will not have time to put on a head set! In the time it takes me to put a head set on I can certainly get 10 rounds off from a MKII or if, god forbid, 30 rds from a 10/22 doesn’t put someone down.

    After years of keeping the 9/357 by the bed I think I’ll now be keeping my hearing protection on the .22LR barrel.

  22. If someone busts into my house at night I’ll already be accustomed to the dark and I know where every bump and nook is in my house in the dark. Plus I can guarantee nobody is going to bust my door without my dogs being right there and give me plenty of time to bring tactical fire power to bear.

    I’ve never been a “.22LR is the best round in survival situations”, but I’m starting to consider it for my in home strategy. The .380/9mm/.357/ .44/ 12ga/7.62×39/.300RUM all have valid outside applications. But I’ll tell you one thing… Do not fire a .300 RUM without hearing Pro. Talk about taking yourself out target shooting :-P

  23. … oh yeah, .357mag and .44mag in both revolver and lever action carbine :-)
    I think a silencer on the rifles with .38 spcl and .44 spcl would actually work really well :-)

  24. We, (my wife and I) keep a set of electronic muffs on each side of the bed…. on the two night stands. We have followed that habit for some time.

  25. CATO………your statement mirrors mine, in addition I opted many years ago to use A 22lr loaded with Cci stingers as the home defense go to caliber, several practical reasons first easy on the ears and I have a concern about stray bullets doing damage to neighbors and even my own house or even pets, from a legal standpoint also. I really do care about shot placement on a threat(s) versus a full house damage renovation due to a ok corral scenario. Remember a shootout In Colorado Springs back in the 80s where during a traffic stop a perp fired one shot at two officers they returned fire each shot around 30 rounds (they both reloaded at least twice) at two car lengths at the perp and did not hit him but their bullets dusted a couple of residential homes…..later the city had to repair the bullet damage and settle the resulting lawsuits, both officers were fired over the incident. Remember you are the person who is going to absorb the repair costs, and clean up any human goo at the residence, years ago I had to to do exactly that from a family member that committed suicide with a 12 gauge you never forget something like that.

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