Besides earmuffs (courtesy thetruthaboutguns.com)

“Members of the 101st Airborne Division agreed to wear special helmets rigged with hearing loss simulators,” WaPo science maven Mary Roach writes in her new book Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. “Among the top-performing teams, even mild hearing loss caused a 50% decrease in ‘kill ratio’ (the number of enemies eliminated divided by the number of surviving teammates) . . .

“Not so much because their difficulty hearing was causing them to shoot or run in the wrong direction, but because they were unsure of what was going on. With their ability to communicate compromised, their actions were more tentative.”

Chances are you’re not a Screaming Eagle. In the advent of a violent attack, you’re not going to have to move, communicate and/or coordinate initial or return fire with a team of friendlies. Then again, you probably will. “Call 911!” “Stay in your room!” Maybe even “Cover me!”

As the 101st learned, if you’re even partially deaf, your ability to coordinate with friends and/or family will be limited. Not to mention your ability to communicate with responding police officers. And make no mistake gunfire inside a house is deafening. One blast from a shotgun can permanently degrade your hearing and will reduce your ability to hear, well, anything.

Unless you wear ear protection. Then the initial gun blast won’t deafen you. Nor will any subsequent ballistic insults. Bonus! You’ll get “supernatural” (i.e., enhanced) hearing that will help you ID the position and movement of both friendlies and bad guys.

Ain’t nobody got time for that? Make time. Keep a pair of active noise cancellation earmuffs by the bedside. Bump-in-the-night or alarm goes off? Put on your headphones then grab your gun and start coordinating the troops. If you or your loved ones are being attacked in your own home, you want a 100 percent threat-stopping ratio. You hear me?

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80 Responses to Guns for Beginners: Keep a Pair of Active Noise Cancellation Ear Muffs By the Bed

  1. Nah. The probability is extremely slim I would need them. It’s not like I’m going to go deaf after using my firearm once without hearing protection. Gun only for me.

    • Ever fired a gun indoors without hearing protection?

      It’s like taking a ballpeen hammer to the temple. I would not recommend it. And that was just 9mm. If you keep a rifle for home defense, it’s gonna be a must.

      • thats why you SHOULD do it so you will have some exposure to it rather than adding something else to your arming procedure during a fight for your life. adding more steps is never a good idea. your OODA loop takes long enough as it is.

        • I have shot a 9 mm in a hallway (brick not drywall), I never want to do that again. No preferment hearing loss, I would highly recommend the hearing protection. It is damn hard to hear anything for a while afterwords.

      • Yep. Fired a 12GA 12 inch pump shotgun inside of a metal building about 10′ x 15′. No hearing protection. It was a bad move. It was pretty deafening. Snake was eating some chicken eggs. Would I do it again for the chickens? Nah. Would I do it in my house if there was a home intruder? Sure. But I wouldn’t be using the 12GA, more than likely my 9mm.

    • I have electronic ear muffs, LED flash light and pistol (loaded w/one in the chamber). Shooting indoors w/o ears on effin sucks.

      Howard Leight by Honeywell on Amazon are $41, ya gotta do it

      • Those are the ones I keep by my bed. They’re great. If you practice a little you can get them on your head and turned on in about three seconds.

        Fingers crossed, God willing, maybe the Hearing Protection Act will pass and I can just get a suppressor without a tax stamp.

    • You really, really, really do not want tinnitus. Trust me on this.

      This is one thing Sterling Archer is absolutely correct about. Once your hearing is damaged, it’s damaged. Don’t screw around about it because you have no idea how annoying it is later.

      Also, unless you live in a one room shack you have the time to put those things on and against multiple criminals electronic earpro gives you a decided advantage.

      • I have great hearing in my right and almost zero hearing in my left, due to an ear infection from my youth. Hearing loss is no joke. Just one example is losing your sense of direction: when people yell my name from far away, I have no idea which direction to look to respond.

  2. Good in theory but when seconds count you won’t be waisting time by fumbling around with earmuffs.

      • When are you not at that point? It’s not as if the bad guy is going to call you up and give you fair warning.

        • My house is built like a fortress. Security doors, deadbolts, 3M window film. I should have at least a few seconds to put some hearing protection on. Also, I used to be artillery, so I have a 26db loss in both my ears… The active hearing protection amplifies my hearing, so I have that advantage too. If the dude is in my room, and the doors, windows, and pitbull haven’t woken me yet? I’ll take the hearing loss. But why not have them available?

        • With all of the adrenalin you be pumping, you probably won’t hear the report of the gun anyway.
          A cop buddy of mine is on a news video mag-dumping on an armed, hostage taking robber. He swears he couldn’t hear the gun going off and was concerned that it was malfunctioning.

        • Not noticing a sound does not equal no sound.

          Adrenaline reaction might make your mind not notice the noise, but it does absolutely nothing to stop the pressure wave entering your ear and doing damage.

  3. I’ve done this for several years. When I took the NRA Defense in the Home instructor course, I added this to my shpiel and asked if anyone else did this. The other students as well as the coach looked at me with puzzle expressions. Whatever. I hope that I never need them. OTOH, I want to keep my remaining hearing that Toby Keith didn’t take.

  4. i know this sounds good on paper but this makes you guys look extremely inconsistent in your advice. first you say that number pads on guns is a bad idea because under duress fingers are flippers. but now all of a sudden im expected to have the forethought AND TIME to put on hearing muffs while engaging an intruder? what is the point in having one in the chamber, remember how you say ” you won’t have time to load it”, if i have to put on ear muffs first? again, this very inconsistent advice.

    • No, if they are braking into you bedroom, you DON’T grab them. If they are trying to smash down the front door, you put them on. It not one or the other.

    • First, what Binder said.

      Second, there’s a massive difference in putting on earmuffs vs. punching tiny buttons when it comes to coordination. Adrenaline doesn’t take away the gross motor skills required to put on earpro. It does screw with your ability to correctly enter a code on a set of 3mmx3mm buttons.

      No inconsistency at all.

  5. And that’s why I have a suppressor.

    Why is there a 200 tax and 8 month registration on something that reduces hearing loss if it goes on my gun instead of my head?

      • I take on faith reports that gunfire in confined spaces can be a couple of kinds of problems. I follow the reasonings in the commentary (pro and con). What it curious is the number of replies who claim and/or recommend sound suppressors. Sound suppressors? NFA-controlled items? POTG willingly putting themselves on a federal register (database), while simultaneously decrying background checks and federal forms for gun sales? Decrying an alleged government move to create a federal gun owner database? While willingly submitting to one?

        That, I don’t get.

    • It also reduces the flash that will kill your night vision if your house is dark.

      In a small hallway letting off a round from an unsuppressed pistol in the dark… you might as well drop a flashbang at your feet. OK, it’s not that bad, but it’s a serious problem if there’s more than one guy, you miss or the guy doesn’t go down/run away/surrender after the first shot.

  6. If you have time, sure, don your earmuffs. But if you don’t have time, fumbling around to put them on can cost you your life. And how do you know whether or not you have time?

    You don’t.

    You pays your money and you takes your chances.

    • I HEAR ya’ Ralph(I hope). And I have nothing like RF’s faux wood nightstand. Home hearing protection is on a short list-and I’m way behind. Whut?

  7. Wake up to door being broken down in apartment. Intruder is now only one wall one doorway and 10 feet away. I will retrieve my gun and repel boarders. Hopefully, auditory exclusion will preserve my hearing. If I hear pounding on the door and no breach yet then I’ll get gun, armor, and hearing and eye pro.

    • ^^^This.

      I was thinking the same thing. When I’m at the range, shooting is damaging as hell… even 1 shot(semi enclosed area at the range too). Shooting at a deer or under an extreme stress situation…. hardly a factor I’m sure. Will it still damage my hearing? Maybe…. but this is not the first consideration in the home intruder situation… at least not on my list.

    • One word: dogs.

      I don’t care what other security system you have on your abode. Dogs are the ultimate early warning system and they can deploy countermeasures of their own (teeth) that give you added time to deal with things.

      Just ask the unlucky asshole who broke into my apartment years back. He saw the dog, he saw the gun, he heard me say “Don’t run” and he still ran. Cost him getting arrested, convicted and imprisoned… oh, yeah, and a good chunk of his calf muscle too.

      To be fair, the first three things would have happened either way but he didn’t need to lose that piece of his leg.

      These days I’ve got three dogs, the smallest is a German Shepard at ~70lbs. That door isn’t locked for my protection. It’s locked for yours. Kick it in and hell is coming to breakfast in the form of ~220 pounds of pissed off teeth and fur. Good luck trying to get back to your car before they catch you.

      To borrow from Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels “Dogs, big fuckoff scary ones”.

      • “Dogs, big fuckoff scary ones”.

        Years ago, when still had our male Golden and German Shepherd, front door didn’t fully latch. I was upstairs when heard next door neighbor calling my name. Found the neighbor far up on walk way from open front door. Our GSD was in drive way sniffing tires on my car, Golden was growling at neighbor, as if to say “do not make me mess you up by taking one more step” Nerver under estimate how protective a Golden Retriever can be and what a wuss a GSD can be. Called both dogs, they both came to me immediately to be put up in the house. Called out to neighbor “Thanks, George”! He saved my dogs from running riot in the neighborhood. Sam got a treat, big red dog, Bob, got a better treat for “protecting me’

      • GunGal:

        Generally the dogs don’t have to do much. Yes, my oldest dog attacked that guy and wrecked his leg but that wasn’t necessary.

        The guy busted in my back door and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw a big Plott Hound standing there bearing it’s teeth. How the dog acts in a situation like that is breed, individual and training dependent.

        Personally, I like Plotts because they’re big weird looking dogs that most people have never seen and therefore don’t know what to do about. They’re well built and extremely strong. They have great temperament for family and friends but they’re also bread specifically to hunt bears and boar so they tend to be fearless when they get into that “mode” which someone booting down your door will certainly put them in. They’re usually meant to work in a pack, but against a human, one dog will easily suffice. They’re not going to dick around grabbing arms like a GSD or a Belgian Malinois either, they go straight at someone for the take down and if you don’t get them off the person the dog will take the guy’s throat out. The only way the dog loses is if the person has a gun or gets really lucky with a knife. These dogs are very fast and very, very agile, which they need to be to avoid a boar’s rippers or a bear’s teeth and claws.

        They’re also some of the loudest dogs you can find. No way you’ll sleep through their “alarm” and if the person/people outside can’t see the dogs they’ll assume based on the noise that they make that you’ve got dogs in the 150 pound plus range.

        Either way, I have two Plotts and a GSD. If you kick down my door 1000:1 says you’re dog food within two minutes. You can run but they’ll catch you. They will not be dissuaded by offerings of food either. When they go into hunt/attack mode they finish the job before they do anything else. They’ll ruin your day and then go back for the snacks.

  8. Easier and more practical solution: Put a suppressor on your primary HD weapon.

    Putting on ear muffs AHEAD of a violent event is not a realistic solution. Think about it – do you wear ear muffs at all times while you’re concealed carrying?

  9. Why, when in my home, my handgun usually has a suppressor on it. My SBR too. Don’t want to hurt my my wife’s or my dog’s ears either.

  10. Let me try to understand this,so it’s being suggested that hearing protection which by it’s nature reduces your hearing be worn so that you can hear? I’ll pass on that.

    • Reading comprehension. You should try it some time. Active hearing protection has a microphone and speaker built into them. It cancels out high decibel noises but allows you to hear things like conversation just fine. Most pairs run $40 – $100. I use mine at the range every time I go.

  11. @Next Pres picks the Supreme Court wrote:
    “Think about it – do you wear ear muffs at all times while you’re concealed carrying?”

    The answer is a resounding NO ! I know there are concealed carriers in my local area. If any were wearing earmuffs, I should have seen at least one in the last 20 years. Maybe some always have those little foam thingies inserted, but I do notice people with hearing aide; never someone with the foam noise deflectors.

    As a test, I just walked the distance from my front and back doors, timing the route. At the very most, I have 6 seconds before the BG could reach my bed at an accelerated pace. Maybe 11 seconds to creep. Figure I lose two seconds resolving “What was that?”. Then another two seconds to grab and attach muffs. Then another1-2 sec to open drawer and remove gun (while dropping to the floor). So I have 2 seconds to catch-up to myself and prepare for BG entry. Maybe less because my wife is also scrambling for ear muffs, a gun and moving to concealment. There is no margin for error, fumble or confusion. There is no time to open a security device of any kind. Could I do better by not tugging on ear muffs? Don’t know, but bailing out the window looks really tempting (which is really my only option; no gun available).

    Guess I would go with the guys who oppose adding another step to the response proposition.

  12. already done. when I stalk the house at 2am because of a noise, I turn up the volume and use them to listen for intruders as well. 12ga would be the last thing these concert damaged ears would hear.

    • Not saying you are wrong to do as you, but I suspect that I would prefer to wait in my bedroom behind at least the concealment of the bed. I don’t have anything outside the bedroom I’d risk my life for. Then again, my dog might run out of the bedroom to investigate and I would feel obliged to support her. Oops, there’s a hole in my plan:-)

  13. Not saying it’s a bad idea but taking time to don ear pro before dealing with an intruder or similar situation may not look good if the shooting is further examined legally.

      • Pretty insightful answer. Thinking if you have ear defenders, cops and DA would decide if you had time for ear protection, you were not under imminent threat.

        Arrest and Trial

  14. I have gun and armor and active hearing protection in the bedroom. Twice in the last few years I have woken up and gotten as far as yanking on the muffs. One time it was one of the wife’s cats knocking over something in the living room and one time it was someone banging on the front door.

    The second time, I came out of the garage door and asked the woman why she was banging on my door at 2AM, she looked at me and said “What is a white guy doing in my sisters house?” Drunk as she was, she never seemed to notice the headgear, and I kept the Glock behind me. I pointed her next door and she went staggering away.

    My situation may be different from yours since I have cumulative minor hearing loss dating back to a Grand Funk Railroad concert long years ago. It is my thought that the little time spent putting on the head gear and getting myself oriented toward dealing with potential threat is worthwhile, and the enhanced hearing helps to sharpen my ability to react quickly, YMMV. Oh, and I guess Joe Biden would have taken his shotgun instead and killed that woman without opening the front door and then just gone back to bed, what an idiot!

    • Hes not entirely wrong, conditionally.

      A 10/22 with 16″ barrel and a BX25 magazine will ruin anyone’s day in a hurry.

      My only real reservation about this sort of thing is the general lower reliability of rimfire ammunition.

  15. “The defendant had the time and presence of mind to put on hearing protection before he shot and murdered poor Javon. It’s clear if he had the time to do this, his life wasn’t in any kind of danger. The defendant was just looking to murder another poor, misguided urban youth.”

    How many of you could imagine your local prosecutor saying that in court?

  16. Great. The coroner can make a comment in the autopsy report that my eardrums survived the gun fight. Seriously?

  17. I already keep a pair next to my home defense 12ga pump. Grab the gun, then the hearing protection if there’s time. My plan is to hold up in the bedroom, not clear the house.

  18. Headphones (even fancy microphone havin ones) will ruin your ability to audio-locate, which is a pity as evolution took a long time developing that to help keep you alive. Suppressor is better.

    • Suppressors are banned outright in California, because Hollywood “pew pew” silencers are only ever used by assassins and have zero use to hunters, which is obviously the only legitimate reason to own a gun. Also, you definitely shouldn’t own a gun for self protection, just call 911. At least, this is how the California legislature thinks.

    • Wrong, even the cheap Howard Light ones that anyone can afford easily allow directional sound detection. I have used them for years and they work great.

  19. When seconds count, choose them wisley. Ah crap time out dont shoot yet let me put in my ear pro, sais no combat soldier ever. Whats why were all partly or mostly deaf. I sleep with soft ear pro, also have the front door wired to a red light in my bed room. Wakes me up well enough.

  20. Here’s another thing: When I took an SD law class at the NRA HQ we discussed accessories like this. As illogical as it sounds, the former prosecutor teaching the class said you want to be careful of anything that could make it look like you were looking for a chance to shoot someone, as opposed to shooting because you had to. Most juries will accept that you can use a gun to defend yourself in your home. But if it looks like you were preparing for a gun battle, that could be used against you. Again, I admit it sounds illogical, but that’s how the legal system is sometimes.

    Active hearing protection is most commonly used in places where guns ARE going to be fired. A home defense situation is where a gun MIGHT POSSIBLY be fired. It’s like the fire extinguisher analogy. You have a fire extinguisher in case there’s a fire. But if you also have a flame-proof suit and an emergency breathing device, what you preparing for then? Arson maybe?

    Also, I have had a gun go off close by when I was not wearing hearing protection, twice. Someone didn’t hear the range was safe. 9mm’s both times, within three feet. Yes, it hurts, but I hear fine now.

  21. I’d be more concerned about how this looks to the prosecutor. If you had time to grab your ear muffs and put them on, were you’re really in imminent danger? Putting on your muffs smells awfully close to “I was looking to shoot someone”

    Seriously, someone is breaking into your house and pointing a gun in your face. There just is no safe way to enter that situation. If your biggest worry is your ears, you’re probably doing it all wrong. Maybe you should skip the muffs and put on some level 4 body armor.

  22. I’m a believer. Contrary to the concerns of some, the stereo microphones allow very accurate sound-source location, and so wearing them is now legal when hunting in PA, though suppressors are not. If I never need the things bedside, so be it. I consider them a sensible item to don in order to better hear any successor to the initial “bump in the night.”

  23. Totally agree! I also found ear muffs to be a great way to mount a light if you need more illumination or your gun doesn’t have rails.

  24. For you guys who like them, who think they’re so good and necessary, I think you should be true to your convictions and wear them every day, all day. You could pretend your listening to music! Of course you would look like total dorks, but who cares what people think?

  25. Well, first things first.

    Home Defense is about how the perp can’t even kick in your door or smash your window to get in. If you have only 6-8 seconds to respond by grabbing your $1100 combat masterpiece 1911 you spent your money down the wrong rat hole. You chose to ignore physical security for a gun? How is that NOT courting an opportunity to shoot someone by appearing defenseless?

    You can turn anything into a court argument, how about you worry about that after the fact – alive and well.

    Again, put money into actual decent doors, locks, break resistant glass etc to protect the public from whatever lethal threat is contained inside – your dogs, you, the kids Lego scattered on the floor – put your priorities in order and stop setting yourself up for a last ditch answer about how your shotgun being racked will scare them away. Do you due diligence and you don’t wake up with a knife at your throat, duh.

    So, you DO have time to put on some muffs – if you do this RIGHT. What does that give you? Better hearing. For a $100 bill it AMPLIFIES what you can hear. A $1000 into a silencer will not. And if you can’t have one, or can’t afford one, the muffs silence the other guys gun, too. If he does break in and starts shooting your silencer is 100% useless at suppressing the noise his gun makes.

    It’s about YOU being able to hear and it’s a serious tactical advantage. Tests done with the 101 Airborne showed the loss of hearing most of us suffer in gunfire caused them to be “killed” at twice the rate as the normal hearing soldier.

    There is a reason why you see teams with muffs on. It doesn’t hurt they also pipe their commz in to talk to each other. If the pros do that why is it good, but stupid for the homeowner? Don’t we go out of the way to adopt professional grade gear and tactics? Or not?

    There’s another reason to put on the amped muffs – you still have to determine if that noise you heard actually was a threat. Hearing a teen’s keys hit the table by the front door might be a clue. As often as we think there is a threat out there – there isn’t. It’s family, a neighbors pet, or random animals like the raccoons who like to feast out of my wifes bird feeder.

    I read a lot of bravado and chest thumping in threads like this, the one thing I rarely hear is logical analysis, distilled training, or experience. Most just thump their chest about how it’s going to be – and some wind up shooting thru the door. Like muffs, it can be a valid tactic when you locked the door against a determined intruder and know who’s out there. If he’s standing in the open door, nope, too late. At best you don’t go deaf from your wife screaming when you shoot over her to hit the BG.

    Try thinking things thru and you’ll see where there is a place for amplified muffs at home. But if the decision is $40 for them vs a roll of shatter resistant glass reinforcement – buy the plastic film first. It’s about HOME Defense, not about what cool gear you leave on the nightstand.

  26. No, wait til I get my muffs on. Which is going to be more important in a life or death situation? Your life or your ears? I do believe in choices, make your own.

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