Guns and ear protection

I had some fun with a shotgun lately, and my right ear was “ringing” for hours afterwards. What kind of ear protection is required when firing guns?

Also, do I have to use ear protection for both ears, or just the one closer to the gun?

Go to a gun shop and check out the various headphones and plugs they have to protect your hearing. You need protection for both ears, especially if you’re going to be shooting with any kind of regularity. Even if your other ear didn’t hurt that kind of noise can slowly affect your hearing.


muffs or plugs…even a piece of cotton is better than nothing any gun shop will have 'em.

I’ve seen guys use the filters off a cigarette, don’t smoke 'em myself.

Too many folks have bad hearing due to a variety of reasons, but guns are one of the biggest reasons I know of for hearing damage (in the circle of folks that I know). The report (bang) of a gun is VERY loud, but more damaging, is that it’s a sudden, low frequency sound, which is most damaging to your hearing.

I use standard shooting earmuffs, though many don’t like them due to them hitting the stock of the gun. They make disposable plugs, which are about $.50 / pair, but I find they don’t fit me very well, so they aren’t comfortable, nor do they do nearly as good a job with the noise reduction.

Though most clubs don’t require them, they are ABSOLUTLEY a good idea, I don’t shoot without them, with the exception of hunting. I need to hear the animals, and the single shot isn’t that much of a concern for me.

Walmart sells them by the way, if you don’t want to find a “proper” gun store.


My father has been a gun dealer for many years, shot thousands of guns guns, and is now 56 and has pretty severe hearing loss. Please use protection.

As a side note, I think it is strange that American movies are so filled with gun scenes yet so few people have no idea just how loud guns larger are. When I used to shoot my .357 magnum without protection, I would feel myself cringe when I loaded it because I knew that my ears would ring for two or three days. You fire something in your hands that can be heard for several miles.

You weren’t wearing ear protection? Yipes!

I do a fair amount of shooting, especially with high-powered rifles. Here are my “rules” for ear protection:

  1. When you are not shooting, but are in close proximity to other people who are (e.g. standing near a shooter at the firing range), you should wear ear protection. Both ears should be protected. Foam earplugs or earmuffs will suffice.

  2. When you are shooting a fairly “loud” gun (high-powered rifle, shotgun, etc.), you should wear foam earplugs and earmuffs. I don’t care what anyone else tells you… wearing only one layer of protection when shooting a high-powered rifle or shotgun is not enough.

  3. When you are shooting a handgun or low-powered rifle (e.g. .22), you should wear foam earplugs or earmuffs. (Or you can wear both for even more protection. But it’s usually not necessary.)

  4. The only time it’s acceptable to shoot a gun and not wear ear protection is when you’re hunting. Even then, I always carry ear protection with me when I’m deer hunting. If I think I have enough time, and if I think I can do it undetected, I will put my earmuffs on before shooting at a deer.

As stated previously, ear protection is essential!

I use two kinds myself, muffs for handguns and rifles, and custom fitted plugs for shotguns.

Why two kinds? When shooting shotguns you usually start with the gun at a “ready” position, not at your shoulder. When mounting the shotgun to the shoulder it’s easy to have the stock hit the shell of the muff. This is disconcerting and quite annoying as well. So I use custom made plugs.

When shooting handguns or rifles this is not an issue, so I use muffs.

The muffs I have are electronic. They have a microphone and volume control. So you can hear folks talking just fine. But sound above a certain level is cutoff before it can get to your ear.

Please use ear protection.

The electronic muffs area a great way to go, more money though but worth it. :slight_smile:

oh yeah I the one I ues is Wolf Years. here is a link I dont know if this is a good price.

I agree with what everyone has said so far (maybe a first in a firearms related thread!), and just wanted to mention the importance of eye protection as well as hearing protection. I can only imagine one who went without plugs or muffs would possibly neglect the eyes as well. Riccochet, hot gasses, “scope bump”, unburnt powder, and high velocity shell ejection can all easily contribute to accidental injury while firing a gun. All gun shops and many many web sites all have a stunning array of shatter proof shooting glasses to choose from.

I always use double-protection with rifles and shotguns. Plugs and muffs. Otherwise, I wear Sonic Valve II ear plugs. :smiley:

Forget plugs. Ear Muffs don’t look cool, but you won’t look cool saying “Eh? What?” for the rest of your life either. Even firing a .22 can be bad enough to cause tininitus with just ear plugs. I’d get muffs post-haste.

Peace Out.

Forget plugs. Ear Muffs don’t look cool, but you won’t look cool saying “Eh? What?” for the rest of your life either. Even firing a .22 can be bad enough to cause tininitus with just ear plugs. I’d got muffs post-haste.

Peace Out.

As a gun owner, I agree with everyone here, use ear protection. It sounds cheezy, but the best ear protection is the one that you will wear. Just use common sense. I always use ear protection with a larger gun, or any time at the range. The only time I do not is if I am hunting, or if I am out plinking with my .22 rifle. Some .22’s are loud, mine is very quiet. I always wear hearing protection with my .22 pistol. It is quite loud.

My favorite ear protection is the foam plugs. They are cheap (I get them for free from my work), small, and effective. I also have a pair that I keep on the lawn mower, as it makes lawn mowing more fun. Also have a pair in the garage for those loud power tools (Sawzall, grinder, table saw, etc.).

Foam plugs probably have the best protection because they expand to fit the ear canal. The drawback is that they can be uncomfortable so I’ve had custom molded plugs made for myself and TheLadyLion. For cowboy shooting which is all done with subsonic ammunition (quieter since there is no sonic boom) I use just the plugs but for most other shooting I’ll wear plugs plus electronic muffs.

I have a custom set from, IIRC, a place in Arizona. Went to the ear Dr. and he made molds of the ear canals. These were sent off to the manufacturer for production of the plugs.

The plugs are a somewhat soft plastic with small lead shot encapsulated. Is this what you have? I’m very happy with mine in spite of the cost ($110).

If you have something different, how about a link?

Ditto on the need for hearing protection.

Also want to mention the need to have good eye protection, which is not guaranteed by reguylar eye glasses. Ideally you should have certified safety glasses, or at least eyewear with a polycarbonate lense that covers a good area around the eye, with a solidly supporting frame.

I use both foam plugs and hard shell ear-muffs to shoot larger caliber handguns (45 ACP) indoors. I had a friend fire a .357 in the lane next to me once. He was in the last lane next to the wall, and the reflected shock wave was so strong that it actually stung the skin along the outer edge of my near arm and my chest. Haven’t tried .44 mag yet…

I was very satisfied with the following web store where I purchased both a passive muff as well as an electronic “tactical” set, which picks up ambient sound but blocks out loud sounds. It’s a hoot to carry out a normal conversation with these on, and clap your hands hard. Your hands sting but you can’t hear the clap!. That kind of model is great if you will be taking classes, or bringing friends to the range and need them to hear and understand your guidance.


I bought the Peltor H10 which are both cheap and very, very quiet, as well as the Peltor Tac 7 If you want a good deal, the tac 7 classic has the same electronics and performance as the tac 7 pro, but features a twist knob for volume control instead of up & down buttons.

The nice thing about the H10s is that they’re cheap enough to use around the house as well without worrying too much. They were great when I had to resurface our deck and was using a skill saw very close to my ears.

The electronic muffs are not quite as quiet as the double-shell H10s, but since I also use foam plugs, it’s no big deal. It was rather “disquieting” to be able to hear the little sounds on the range so well, though, because your brain expects to hear the gunfire at the same time, so you tend to cringe a bit at first…

I got mine from a maker at a gun show. Polyurethane (AFAIK) foam molded directly in the ear. I think I paid $35 or so. No website but I’m going to look for them at the next gun show and get their email address.

FWIW the only gun show worth going to is in Phoenix in December, the Crossroads of the West/Small Arms Review show.