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View Full Version : Hearing Loss from HD Discharge: 9mm vs. .40


lumwilliam
02-07-2010, 10:33 PM
I bought an XD40 for HD, thinking the .40 S&W round is among the best choices for a single shot stopper. I was recently told by a friend who's also an LEO that if I were ever required to discharge my XD indoors, I would probably have permanent and significant hearing loss from that 1st shot. He said that an XD9 would have been significantly quieter, with only a minimal loss in stopping ability. He also said that there is a significant difference in decibel level between 9mm handguns and the .40, which might make the difference between being able to hear after fending off an intruder.

Now I would always opt for my life and the lives of my family over my hearing, but in planning my personal safety, it would be nice to keep my life and my hearing. Has this factored into anyone's HD buying decision? At the range, it sounds like some of the subcompacts might be quieter than their service sized versions. Does barrel length also contribute to the loudness of the "bang"?

HCz
02-07-2010, 10:53 PM
Doesn't really matter since they are over 140db to begin with. You will have some sort of hearing damage. I was exposed to a .45acp discharging a foot and a half away from me and it rang for the whole day.

Here is something I saved from another forum a long time ago. Basically the difference doesn't matter
Originally posted by pinnedandrecessed:
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.

From healthsystem.virginia.edu

“When someone goes to a concert, cuts grass or runs a power saw, they can suffer from NIHL,” said Dr. George Hashisaki, assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Virginia Health System. “Afterwards, if their hearing is muffled or their ears are ringing, they have suffered NIHL. Even if their hearing comes back to what they perceive as normal, a small part of that hearing loss is permanent."

"People who are most in jeopardy of losing their hearing are those who use firearms regularly without ear protection or who are in the military and unable to wear hearing protection, such as those on the frontlines, Hashisaki said. The noise level of gunshots can reach 170 dB and is capable of immediate damage. Hashisaki recommends wearing both earplugs and earmuffs to protect hearing while target shooting."

Comparative noise levels and corresponding damage

12 gauge shotgun 165 dB Instant damage
Jet engine taking off 140 dB Instant damage
Thunder/Ambulance siren 119 dB 3 minutes
Hammer drill 113 dB 15 minutes
Chain saw/Earphones/Concert 110 dB 30 minutes
Bull Dozer 105 dB 1 hour
Tractor/Power tools 96 dB 4 hour
Hairdryer/lawnmower 90 dB 8 hours



Here are some examples of noise levels:

Video arcades - (110 dB).

Firecrackers - (125-155 dB at a distance of 10 feet).

Live music concerts - (120 dB and above).

Movie theatres - (118 dB).

Health clubs and aerobic studios (120 dB).

Sporting events (127 dB).

Motorboats - (85-115 dB).

Motorcycles - (95-120 dB).

Snowmobiles - (99 dB).

"Boom cars" - (140 dB and above).

Here are noise levels of firearms:

.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.

Factoid

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.

All of us should be trying to get the greatest Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that can be put together. NRR 30 plugs with NRR 20 muffs will give you an effective NRR 45 (add plugs and muffs, then subtract 5). If noise levels are 160 dB this gives you an exposure with plugs and muffs of 115 dB. The acceptable exposure time for this is 15 minutes total for the day. If the noise levels are 150 dB the resultant acceptable exposure time with the given plugs and muffs is 1 hour and 4 hours if the noise level is 140 dB. You're not going to find unsuppressed noise levels below 140dB with gunfire.

(Note: some question the credibility of the above formula. They say instead you take the higher of the two and add 5 dB to that. 30 plug with 20 muff gives an effective NRR of 35 not 45.)

If you are shooting by yourself, roughly 100 rounds of 140 dB instantaneous noise in a day should not produce hearing damage. Put your plugs and muffs on and you get to shoot up to a thousand rounds without damage (louder ammo/gun and the allowable drops by a factor of 5). Shoot with other people and you have to add all the rounds shot cumulatively (10 people shoot 100 rounds and everybody's done for the day; toss a handcannon or 30 cal rifle in and you're back down to 200 rounds cumulative). If you shoot on an indoor range then all the rounds fired while you are on the range go into your total. So you can see that it doesn't take very long on a range to have a thousand rounds popped off around you.

If you want to know what the noise level you are exposed to is you can rent noise dosimeters that you can wear. They will record the total noise exposure and present the information to you as dB. You can then subtract the adjusted combined NRR of your hearing protection to determine if you're getting too much exposure.

Old4eyes
02-07-2010, 10:56 PM
I'll apologize on two fronts. First, the following data is something I copied from somewhere on the web, but did not think to copy the source. Second, it does not have the data for a .40.

Table 3. CENTERFIRE PISTOL DATA
.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

The data was collected by Dr. Krammer, Ph.D., Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.
The data I saw did not give any reference to barrel length.
From my limited experience I believe a ported barrel will be louder.
I would extrapolate that the higher velocity bullets appear to be louder. So the .40 would be equal to or greater than the 9mm.

I guess I better get more rounds through my XD45 to gain it's reliability so it can replace my 9mm at bedside. And I'll tell my wife she made the right choice in loading up 38 specials rather than 357 magnums.

I guess if one were thinking and had the presence of mind to do so you could put on a pair of the amplified hearing protectors. Turn up the amp to hear for the bad guys and when you fire, the amplifier cuts out and you protect your hearing. Like that's going to happen in real life.

Scratch705
02-07-2010, 11:03 PM
according to the last part of that.....

is that why my hearing is just slightly off by the end of a shooting day?

mydogsmonkey
02-07-2010, 11:07 PM
wow good posts

for one thing, i can say i do have at least some mild hearing loss at the age of 19, trust me

now ive fired a 9mm indoors, in about a room space without ear plugs or anything. ended up with "acoustic trama" didn't hear anything for a little bit then loud ringing for about 2 days, and slight ringing for another day, and sensitive ears for about 4-5 days. i figure either way, 9mm or 40SW, they'll both be pretty bad seeing as how its a gunshot going off. even 22lr hurts without ear plugs, just try it

Ernest

RT13
02-07-2010, 11:30 PM
Table 3. CENTERFIRE PISTOL DATA

9mm 159.8 dB
.38 Spl 156.3 dB
.357 Magnum 164.3 dB
.45 ACP 157.0 dB


So a .45 is quieter than a 9mm?

bigcalidave
02-07-2010, 11:33 PM
They don't really specify what the hearing damage could be. I've been to plenty of concerts where I had temporary loss of hearing, and had a stereo in my old suburban that routinely hit 155db. I can hear ok. I guess. I like the volume a little louder than most on the TV, but I hear most things. I doubt that you would suffer any significant permanent hearing loss from one event unprotected. Our bodies are incredible machines, and repair themselves well.

corrupt
02-07-2010, 11:43 PM
I fear tinnitus. I am lucky that I don't have it after many dozens of loud young-people concerts ;) Not to mention military service, motorcycles, etc.

Funny thing about discharging a firearm indoors... when you have a lot of adrenaline going, sounds get more distant, gunshots sound like distant cracks, even though they're right next to you... and then afterwards there is no ringing or hearing loss. Very strange. Anyone else experience this?

Z ME FLY
02-08-2010, 3:32 AM
When it comes to hearing lost, I doubt if you have to fire a couple of shots indoors, you will mess up your hearing that bad. Reason why I know? I shot my mosin m44 without hearing protection 3 different times at some BLM land. Totally my fault since my ex had my electronic ear muffs and I had to use the foam plugs. Got confused and thought I was using my ear muffs, fire a round and just heard a ringing sound. Repeated it a couple of times like I said above but by the end of the day, my hearing was fine. It does feel like Saving Private Ryan when Tom Hanks gets dazed or stunned.

Rover
02-08-2010, 3:48 AM
So a .45 is quieter than a 9mm?

9mm is a significantly faster round than .45. .45 gets it's kinetic energy from it's mass, where as 9mm with it's relatively low mass, gets it's kinetic energy from the speed as which it's pushed, I imagine that plays a large role in it's sound, larger than the powder charge. I don't however have any sort of scientific qualification to back up my theory, but I did get an A- in 12th grade science.

I would imagine barrel length plays a large part in it as well, and who knows what other factors mite be involved. For instance, I can comfortably shoot bird loads with a 12g without ear protection (though I try not to) but shooting my 6"bbl Ruger 22/45 kills my ears.

Vee3
02-08-2010, 4:09 AM
I've had fairly severe tinnitus for ~35 years caused by gunfire.

Most memorable event was when I fired my 4" 357 in a canyon with sheer walls about 10' high x 20' wide. I was right up close to one wall. All I remember hearing is what sounded like a high-pitched church bell, and it's still ringing.

.223 out of a short barrel with a break on it is pretty bad too.

gearhead15
02-08-2010, 5:52 AM
I guess I’ve been lucky.

I grew up in the Southeast, my dad started taking me to auto races (completely unmuffled engines and with no hearing protection) when I was two years old. I estimate that I attended auto races over 30 times a year (and many years, over 50 times) where I was anywhere between 30 feet and 75 feet from unmuffled racing engines and this took place over a 25 year period. For about 8 of those years I built and raced my own cars, which involved being in close proximity (less than four feet from exhaust to ear) to unmuffled exhaust for frequent and long durations. I also plinked with .22LR rifles in the woods regularly from the age of approximately 10-14 with no hearing protection and fired a few small-caliber pistol rounds (.32ACP, if I recall) during that same time span.

I’m 51 years old now and I have never experienced hearing loss or tinnitus, I’ve had my hearing checked on several jobs I’ve had over the years and I show no signs of hearing loss. My current job requires me to occasionally test firearms (pistols, long guns, and full-auto military weapons) but I certainly wear hearing protection when firing those. Still, if I were forced to fire a weapon in self-defense in my home I wouldn’t think about the sound. One thing I’ve noticed from all the firearms testing I’ve done is that right behind the weapon seems to be the location of least noise or blast concussion, maybe that factors into it?

paul0660
02-08-2010, 6:04 AM
I figure a few shots indoors will be ok.



http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w162/paul0660/ratpatrol.jpg

Palmaris
02-08-2010, 6:08 AM
I like the data posted here, but I have doubt about it. What about soldier in even modern armies which do not provide hearing protection? Russian army still don't use any muffs. I shoot a lot of rounds in single shot and burst while in traning in Soviet Army from AK 47, RPG, Makarov ect and don't have any long terms hearing problems. Yes it was some "shok" during firing (in fact it is always 10 people on firing line, not just one), but while later everything disapear.
The same all 3rd world armies do not use hearing protection at all and all fine.

rabagley
02-08-2010, 6:17 AM
I like the data posted here, but I have doubt about it. What about soldier in even modern armies which do not provide hearing protection? Russian army still don't use any muffs. I shoot a lot of rounds in single shot and burst while in traning in Soviet Army from AK 47, RPG, Makarov ect and don't have any long terms hearing problems. Yes it was some "shok" during firing (in fact it is always 10 people on firing line, not just one), but while later everything disapear.
The same all 3rd world armies do not use hearing protection at all and all fine.

Those soldiers have hearing loss. Simple fact. You almost certainly have some hearing loss as well. Hearing loss doesn't mean "deaf". Hearing loss means damage to the cilia in your inner ear. Get it tested and you'll find out what frequencies you're no longer as sensitive to.

As for 9mm being louder than 45 acp, the volume of the report depends mostly on the remaining pressure when the bullet exits the muzzle, and 9mm is much higher pressure than 45 acp.

luckystrike
02-08-2010, 6:22 AM
better to have my ears ringing than for a day then silence for eternity

gorenut
02-08-2010, 7:33 AM
Those soldiers have hearing loss. Simple fact. You almost certainly have some hearing loss as well. Hearing loss doesn't mean "deaf". Hearing loss means damage to the cilia in your inner ear. Get it tested and you'll find out what frequencies you're no longer as sensitive to.

As for 9mm being louder than 45 acp, the volume of the report depends mostly on the remaining pressure when the bullet exits the muzzle, and 9mm is much higher pressure than 45 acp.

Yup. You can even look up some online hearing tests that have frequencies most adults can no longer pick up. Just as this quote says, big difference between hearing loss vs deafness.

sqroot3
02-08-2010, 9:01 AM
“When someone goes to a concert, cuts grass or runs a power saw, they can suffer from NIHL,” said Dr. George Hashisaki, assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Virginia Health System.

woohoo otolaryngology :)

Funny thing about discharging a firearm indoors... when you have a lot of adrenaline going, sounds get more distant, gunshots sound like distant cracks, even though they're right next to you... and then afterwards there is no ringing or hearing loss. Very strange. Anyone else experience this?

this is likely because two small muscles near your ear that dampen sound when they contract (stapedius and, to a lesser extent, tensor tympani) are squeezing off like nuts when your adrenaline levels go up or, barring that, certainly after the first shot goes off. your hearing apparatus ends up taking a much softer beating because of these fine muscles.

clickbang
02-08-2010, 10:00 AM
I fired a 38 special snubnose outdoors and the first shot caused my left ear to be ringing for over a week.

Once A Marine
02-08-2010, 5:11 PM
I like the data posted here, but I have doubt about it. What about soldier in even modern armies which do not provide hearing protection? Russian army still don't use any muffs. I shoot a lot of rounds in single shot and burst while in traning in Soviet Army from AK 47, RPG, Makarov ect and don't have any long terms hearing problems. Yes it was some "shok" during firing (in fact it is always 10 people on firing line, not just one), but while later everything disapear.
The same all 3rd world armies do not use hearing protection at all and all fine.

I've fired the M16, and M1911 and M9 pistols with partial or no protection at times. After 8 years, I had recordable differences in my hearing from my original hearing tests.

I can hear ok most of the time, but certain background noises can easily blank out a conversation for me.

B Strong
02-08-2010, 5:20 PM
I bought an XD40 for HD, thinking the .40 S&W round is among the best choices for a single shot stopper. I was recently told by a friend who's also an LEO that if I were ever required to discharge my XD indoors, I would probably have permanent and significant hearing loss from that 1st shot. He said that an XD9 would have been significantly quieter, with only a minimal loss in stopping ability. He also said that there is a significant difference in decibel level between 9mm handguns and the .40, which might make the difference between being able to hear after fending off an intruder.

Now I would always opt for my life and the lives of my family over my hearing, but in planning my personal safety, it would be nice to keep my life and my hearing. Has this factored into anyone's HD buying decision? At the range, it sounds like some of the subcompacts might be quieter than their service sized versions. Does barrel length also contribute to the loudness of the "bang"?


Anything you fire indoors is going to ring your bell, and if it's an adrenaline event, you probably won't realize it until after the fact.

Barrel length and caliber play a part, but any firearm worth using for SD work is going to have the same approximate sound pressure, outside of magnum wheelgun calibers, which would be higher.

You have to first live through it to worry about hearing damage, and having a significant amount of hearing damage myself, I'd still rather be alive and asking people "say again?"

lumwilliam
02-08-2010, 7:54 PM
You have to first live through it to worry about hearing damage, and having a significant amount of hearing damage myself, I'd still rather be alive and asking people "say again?"

So true, but do women have to be the only ones who want to have it all?

lumwilliam
02-08-2010, 7:55 PM
So what about subsonic ammo? Make enough difference to keep as my HD load?

Telperion
02-08-2010, 8:07 PM
Subsonic ammo isn't going to help, and may have reliability issues for calibers that operate on the fast & light principle. 45 ACP is usually subsonic with 230gr bullets and the report is still LOUD.

Of course you can try and keep a pair of muffs close by. If SHTF, you may have time to put them on, or you may not. See an audiologist immediately if you discharge a firearm without hearing protection.

paco ramirez
02-08-2010, 8:43 PM
It's gonna be bad for your ears either one you go with. All my HD handguns/rifles will have silencers, but that's not for another 6 months :)

natomasboy
02-08-2010, 9:13 PM
Aren't silencers/suppressors illegal in CA?

IrishPirate
02-08-2010, 9:15 PM
http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j260/cookie5_12/gun%20stuff/damage9130.jpg

HCz
02-08-2010, 9:16 PM
Maybe he is moving to another state.

paco ramirez
02-08-2010, 9:18 PM
Yeah, I'm moving to GA to go to college and have an internship with Advanced Armament Corp. waiting for me there.

HCz
02-08-2010, 9:20 PM
Lucky bastard! Good luck!

paco ramirez
02-08-2010, 9:22 PM
Lol thanks :)

BNuge
02-08-2010, 9:53 PM
I'm finding all of this information very disturbing since I work 8 hour shifts at a shooting range. I usually wear plugs or muffs while sometimes doubling up but from now on I think I'll wear both for sure.

pw24
02-09-2010, 10:16 AM
What do LEO's do? Aren't they finding themselves in situations where a situation unexpectedly presents itself and they may be firing in say, a warehouse, back alley, or possibly inside a building? Do they just live with the hearing loss?

clickbang
02-09-2010, 10:21 AM
What do LEO's do? Aren't they finding themselves in situations where a situation unexpectedly presents itself and they may be firing in say, a warehouse, back alley, or possibly inside a building? Do they just live with the hearing loss?
That is all I can think about when I watch movies or think about military or LE...how it affects their hearing.

B Strong
02-09-2010, 4:49 PM
What do LEO's do? Aren't they finding themselves in situations where a situation unexpectedly presents itself and they may be firing in say, a warehouse, back alley, or possibly inside a building? Do they just live with the hearing loss?

It's an occupational hazard, and hearing loss that has a potential effect on the job performance can be a qualifier for permanent disability status.

mif_slim
02-09-2010, 5:08 PM
Second, it does not have the data for a .40.
.

Its because the .40 is so loud that the blast will make yours the BG and your entire blocks neighbors nose bleed and the BG will die from internal bleeding. You dont have to hit em with the .40....they WILL die no matter what. The noise is just too much for our body to handle inside a home. lol

Have you thought about the guys shooting artillery all day long? my father was in Vietnam war and hearing aid was not provided. He helped man artillery station and operated them....today, he has the best ears and can hear a deer creeping in before he even sees them.

j1133s
02-09-2010, 5:12 PM
I fear tinnitus. I am lucky that I don't have it after many dozens of loud young-people concerts ;) Not to mention military service, motorcycles, etc.

Funny thing about discharging a firearm indoors... when you have a lot of adrenaline going, sounds get more distant, gunshots sound like distant cracks, even though they're right next to you... and then afterwards there is no ringing or hearing loss. Very strange. Anyone else experience this?

Not only indoors, but also outside. During combat you don't notice that the gunfire is loud at all. Just like the above poster, no ringing or anything. Anyone else notice this?