Last updated on December 18th, 2013
The sound from a gunshot will deafen you without hearing protection. Hearing damage is cumulative, permanent, and could even be instant.
One question is, 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?
How many of you keep a firearm 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 condition is self preservation of you and your family, have you considered the repercussions of the gunshot blast while indoors?
Not that it’s much safer for the ears outdoors, but an indoor boom could conceivably cause permanent hearing loss. Are there precautions that you might consider ahead of time? Yes…
First though, lets look at the noise level of a gunshot. But before that, lets get some reference…
The decibel (dB) is a logarithmic unit (not linear) and can be a complicated subject.
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 2 – double)
20 dB (Volume Loudness 4)
30 dB (Volume Loudness 8)
40 dB (Volume Loudness 16)
50 dB (Volume Loudness 32)
60 dB (Volume Loudness 64)
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
LOUDNESS OF A GUNSHOT
Dr. Krammer, Ph.D., Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana has documented the following sound pressure levels.
SHOTGUN NOISE DATA (DECIBEL AVERAGES)
.410 Bore 28″ barrel, 150 dB
.410 Bore 26″ barrel, 150 dB
.410 Bore 18″ barrel, 156 dB
20 Gauge 28″ barrel, 152 dB
20 Gauge 22″ barrel, 155 dB
12 Gauge 28″ barrel, 152 dB
12 Gauge 26″ barrel, 156 dB
12 Gauge 18″ barrel, 162 dB
CENTERFIRE RIFLE DATA
.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
CENTERFIRE PISTOL DATA
.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 damagingly LOUD !
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.
Here’s a suggestion… In addition to the firearm that is kept near your bedside (in a proper quick-access safe?), you might also keep nearby a set of electronic ear-muffs – perhaps hanging on the bed-post.
The way that electronic ear-muffs work is they let through conversation level sounds (and can even amplify them if you need), while muting loud sounds. Basically, your ears are protected by the sound-deadening of the ear-muff itself, while there is a small speaker in each ear-muff attached to an electronic circuit with a microphone which amplifies low level sounds. The circuit automatically shuts off at a certain threshold of louder sounds (a gun shot). It happens instantly… within 1 or 2 milliseconds.
Consider electronic ear-muffs that are stereo. This means that each ear is independent and will enable you to ascertain direction from sounds, whereas mono ear-muffs will not enable a sense of direction. This is very important when identifying the location of a threat.
Here is one example of electronic ear-muffs made by Peltor. Do your research and discover your options as there are a number of manufacturers and suppliers of these. As usual, you get what you pay for… meaning a cheap set is just that – cheap.
While only you can judge at the time of intrusion whether or not you feel you have time to put on your electronic hearing protection – and to turn it on… but it’s something to consider for that “just in case” scenario.
What are your thoughts on this?