How Loud Is A .22 Rifle: An Complete Analysis For Beginners

The .22 Long Rifle (also known as .22 LR) is considered by many to be among the quietest cartridge in use nowadays.  Compared to other centerfire ammunition, the sound that a .22 LR round make once it’s fired seem to be manageable. As a result, a lot of novices assume that it’s fine to shoot any weapon that uses this rimfire caliber without wearing protective devices. In reality, the noise produced by .22 LR tends to exceed the limit of human hearing and could cause irreversible damages. That means if you often neglect hearing protection while shooting .22 LR-chambered weapons, you must change your habit at once.

“So how loud is a .22 rifle anyway?”, some people wonder. In the case you are also searching around for an answer to that question, you come to the right place. Down below, you would be shown the usual sound level of.22 LR firing and a couple of issues regarding the acoustics effects of the round. In addition to that, this article also analyzes the problem of hearing loss experienced by numerous shooters around the globe. Take a good look at the provided information in order to have an enjoyable and safe experience at the range.

The Ear Sound Protection Mechanism

Before we learn about how loud a .22 rifle could get, it’s a good idea to check out the self-preservation method of your ears. Generally speaking, human ears are capable of reducing their sensitivity to noise through the middle ear reflex in order to protect the vital hearing ability. The majority of natural sounds you encounter every day prove no trouble for this mechanism. Nonetheless, when it comes man-made sounds such as gunfire, there is a chance that the middle ear reflex would fail to initiate in time. The inevitable result is that the ears are left open to harmful noises for a fraction of second which is already enough to cause damage.

.22 Long Rifle: What Kind Of Noise Does It Bring Forth

  • The Noise Level Of .22 LR

Needless to say, most firearms in circulation are quite loud and the use of accessories could make them even louder. While .22 LR is a light-recoil, short effective range round, the sound it makes is much noisier than what you hear in your daily life. For most of the time, the firing of a .22 rifle produced noise around 140 decibels which is comparable to certain firecrackers. Depending on the place you shoot the rifle, the sound would rebound and cause the discharge to be even louder. Aside from you, fellow shooters and bystanders might be exposed to the noise as well.

  • Damages Due To .22 LR Firing

In case you don’t know, the hearing limit of ordinary human is capped at 140 decibels, anything that is louder could cause pain/hearing loss. As the firing of .22 Long Rifle tends to generate impulse noise, acoustic trauma would occur if some conditions are met. The extent of hearing impairment caused by acoustic trauma varies greatly from people to people. In conjunction with hearing loss, shooters may hear ringing sounds in their ears when there is no external sound around. This phenomenon is called Tinnitus and just like hearing loss, it could be permanent too.

It worth noting that the damage is not always consistent, the hearing loss could differ between the left and right ear of an average shooter. For example, it’s highly likely that the left ear of a right-handed shooter would suffer more hearing damage than his/her right one. The reason is simple: while the right ear is partially protected by the head shadow, the left is completely exposed. In most of the case, after an extended period of time, hearing loss would make it difficult for shooters to detect high pitched speech sounds. These people often fail to see that their own hearing ability is damaged and might even accuse other of mumbling.   

Protecting Your Ears From Firearms Discharges: Top 5 Tips And Tricks

  • 1/ Always Wear Hearing Protective Devices

No matter what kind of gun you have, remember to wear a proper protective device while visiting a shooting range. Overall, there are a wide variety of options for you to choose from basic earmuffs to advanced custom design plugs. Choose one that suits your needs and requirement, keep in mind that you must not take it off until the end of the shooting session.  

  • 2/ Take Your Surroundings Into Account

If possible, you should refrain from shooting in a group since the discharge noise would mingle and become terrifically loud. Moreover, don’t open fire in reverberant environments in order to minimize potential rebound noises. At sufficient intensity, the rebound noises could disorient the shooters and cause serious hearing damages so you need to pay special attention to your surroundings.   

  • 3/ Beware Of Using Hearing Enhancement

Numerous hunters want to enhance their hearing to detect games in the vicinity so they resort to using enhancement devices. That being said, the use of hearing enhancement would increase the chance that hearing damaged as the sounds got amplified. If you absolutely need to use sound enhancers while hunting with your .22 rifle, consider using products that block harmful noises.        

  • 4/ Refrain From Using Automatic Weapons

Nowadays, you could acquire modern fully-automatic .22 LR rifles which prove useful in multiple applications.   However, shooting at automatic mode tends to cause considerable damage to the hearing ability of shooters as times goes by. The hearing loss might not be noticeable at first but the damage would accumulate until the situation becomes too severe. As a result, you have to think about getting single-shot or semi-automatic rifles instead of fully automatic ones.     

  • 5/ Schedule Periodic Visit With Audiologists

In the case you are an avid shooter that shoots regularly, it’s recommended that you make appointments with audiologists every once in a while. That would allow you to detect hearing problems at the earliest opportunity, receive timely treatments and prevent any lasting damages.  You could also receive a lot of important advice at the audiology clinic as well.