Quietest Effective Self-Defense Pistol?
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:36 AM   #1
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Default Quietest Effective Self-Defense Pistol?

I've been looking off and on about handguns, as I plan to buy something which I can EDC - but I'm that ridiculous person who researches everything I buy intensely before I buy it (I don't really know what it's like to impulse buy anything ). So I've done quite a bit of looking and I've at least narrowed it down to some likely ideas for the quietest pistols which are still effective:

.38 Special
.45 ACP
9 mm

This seems a subject that has been brought up by others from time to time, but they end so inconclusively - with the inevitable "Life vs. Hearing, I pick life" point being made but I'm saying as a precaution which can be thought of in advance, why not pick the round that will save my life and do the least amount of damage to my hearing? I want to rule out suppressors though, not a reasonable option.

So for the .38 Special the bigger but lower velocity bullets seem as though they should be a bit quieter, but they're a revolver round and by that virtue are going to be louder - especially since it seems like a 2" barrel will be the choice (Can a person of average size easily conceal a 4" barrel?). Some claimed a .45 ACP with subsonic rounds are the quietest, because it was argued the crack of the round hitting supersonic is what causes a great deal of the loudness. Others of course argued the .45 ACP was a rather loud round, even with subsonic rounds. Finally some said the 9mm is the quietest, but others argued otherwise due to most rounds being the supersonic.

I still have plans to go to a range and compare these calibers - but I'm simply not convinced which is going to offer the best compromise of effective round while not being as damaging to the ears. I was originally between just the .38 special and 9mm but some suggested the .45 ACP with subsonics as quieter so I merely offer that up as well. I'd like the valued opinions of others here who know guns far more intimately than myself - and please lets avoid the "Who cares how loud it is, your life is worth more than your hearing" area. I actually know someone who has tinnitus so bad sometimes they wish they were dead it drives them so mad. I don't want to end up like them, so everything I can do to protect my hearing I want to take.

People suggest the ear plugs or electronic muffs but I somehow see these as being things that I wouldn't have time to use in a dangerous situation/increase the danger by being unable to hear surroundings. So barring any ear protection at all, which setup do you all think would offer the quietest shooting setup?

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Old 10-07-2012, 04:51 AM   #2
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any pistol round can cause hearing damage is shot enough. if in a situation where you had to use your firearm, noise will be the last concern in your mind. and yes, i do choose my life over hearing if it came down to making that choice.

my concern with choosing a firearm would be reliabilty and size over any other factors.

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Old 10-07-2012, 05:10 AM   #3
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So........ exactly how many times in your life do you plan on getting into a self defense shooting?

You might note that the law enforcement officers in your area did not have that as a controlling factor when their dept selected THEIR firearms. And they are much more likely to use them.

1, Reliability 2. Effectiveness 3. Affordable 4, 5, and 6 don't really matter

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Old 10-07-2012, 05:23 AM   #4
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i have to agree with C3. personally i don't go around carrying hearing protection with me either. you're talking about a situation that might occur, might. personally i would be more concerned with choosing a psitol that will work every time you pull the trigger in a caliber you can shoot accurately and not be worried about the noise that might occur in a once in a million situation in your life.

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Old 10-07-2012, 05:27 AM   #5
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Shooting a gun during a (hopefully) once in a lifetime self defense situation is not going to cause you any noticeable hearing damage or loss, unless your using something completely ridiculous like a 45-70 revolver (and even then, I don't think so).

What will cause damage would be range practice with no ear pro.

Also, FWIW, we have a member who refuses to use ear pro. He had issues with his 1911's. The .45's didn't bother him any, but the 9mm's left his ears ringing pretty badly. He added a comp to the 9, and the problem went away. Acoustics. Weird stuff sometimes.

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Old 10-07-2012, 05:30 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by trip286 View Post
Shooting a gun during a (hopefully) once in a lifetime self defense situation is not going to cause you any noticeable hearing damage or loss, unless your using something completely ridiculous like a 45-70 revolver (and even then, I don't think so).

What will cause damage would be range practice with no ear pro.

Also, FWIW, we have a member who refuses to use ear pro. He had issues with his 1911's. The .45's didn't bother him any, but the 9mm's left his ears ringing pretty badly. He added a comp to the 9, and the problem went away. Acoustics. Weird stuff sometimes.
ported pistols are very loud! i shot a cottonmouth in the driveway last summer on my way to work with my 44 mag that has a ported barrel, and my ears rang for several hours afterwards!
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:38 AM   #7
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ported pistols are very loud! i shot a cottonmouth in the driveway last summer on my way to work with my 44 mag that has a ported barrel, and my ears rang for several hours afterwards!
at least the ringing went away. back cotton was considered ear protection lots of people are still hearing ringing.
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:21 AM   #8
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I understand the general attitude on loudness of the gun and regularity with which it would even be necessary. The other points about reliability and accuracy are a given - I'm simply trying to compile a bit of a list to understand which calibers I should be looking at. If .45 calibers are the quietest and I can't shoot any reliably, and say 9mm are second I'd move on to 9mm pistols. At this point I don't even have a caliber selected, I'm hoping I can select a caliber based on the average amount of noise and then start looking for one that fits me appropriately. My research steered me clear of the .357 magnum which was my first consideration (Would've been like giving a 16 year old who just got their license a Corvette!), but asides from knowing .45 and 9mm are both highly respected SD sizes for their own respective reasons volume is never usually given. .38 Special rounds don't seem to get much talk for being SD rounds, but I'm certain plenty of people use them.

To offer a bit more insight into my consideration, I'm looking at the new Springfield XD-S in .45 if I go with a .45 - even with my limited knowledge of specific gun models I've heard quite a bit of praise on that one and it's within my price range. For 9mm I was considering a Ruger LC9 with laser, or possibly a Glock. Again, purely preliminaries at this stage. I shot a .40 S&W through a CZ pistol and found it a tad jarring the way it handled - but my inexperience with the particular pistol may have been a factor here, I feel I was probably not gripping it correctly. Years ago I shot a 1911 .45 and found it pleasant and easy to use, but those will be too bulky for EDC I imagine.

I was reviewing the guides that are stickied about gun sizes and noted the PSI of the 9mm's standard round is 35,000 and the 45's is 21,000 - I feel this is helpful in someway to this consideration but I don't fully understand what this is measuring or if it's meaningful in any way to the loudness of the gun. With this in mind can anyone share with me what in your personal opinion would rank as loudest to quietest between the .45, 9mm and .38 Special calibers?

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Old 10-07-2012, 08:38 AM   #9
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I went to the range last weekend with a couple guys that i work with. We usually go a couple times a month and Kevin is roughly 45 years old. When we go we always wear earplugs but last weekend he forgot his at his house. He was shooting his .22 rifle and his 1911 .45 and he didnt have any problems with his ears hurting him. I let him shoot my Gp100 with only .38's and he said that made his ears hurt for a couple hours. Its all about the person and what they can handle at the range. I always wear earplugs when i shoot. Even if im only shooting my .22's. If the time comes when i have to use my firearm to protect my life or someone elses the noise is gonna be the last thing on my mind.

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Old 10-07-2012, 08:59 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Shintsu View Post
I understand the general attitude on loudness of the gun and regularity with which it would even be necessary. The other points about reliability and accuracy are a given - I'm simply trying to compile a bit of a list to understand which calibers I should be looking at. If .45 calibers are the quietest and I can't shoot any reliably, and say 9mm are second I'd move on to 9mm pistols. At this point I don't even have a caliber selected, I'm hoping I can select a caliber based on the average amount of noise and then start looking for one that fits me appropriately. My research steered me clear of the .357 magnum which was my first consideration (Would've been like giving a 16 year old who just got their license a Corvette!), but asides from knowing .45 and 9mm are both highly respected SD sizes for their own respective reasons volume is never usually given. .38 Special rounds don't seem to get much talk for being SD rounds, but I'm certain plenty of people use them.

To offer a bit more insight into my consideration, I'm looking at the new Springfield XD-S in .45 if I go with a .45 - even with my limited knowledge of specific gun models I've heard quite a bit of praise on that one and it's within my price range. For 9mm I was considering a Ruger LC9 with laser, or possibly a Glock. Again, purely preliminaries at this stage. I shot a .40 S&W through a CZ pistol and found it a tad jarring the way it handled - but my inexperience with the particular pistol may have been a factor here, I feel I was probably not gripping it correctly. Years ago I shot a 1911 .45 and found it pleasant and easy to use, but those will be too bulky for EDC I imagine.

I was reviewing the guides that are stickied about gun sizes and noted the PSI of the 9mm's standard round is 35,000 and the 45's is 21,000 - I feel this is helpful in someway to this consideration but I don't fully understand what this is measuring or if it's meaningful in any way to the loudness of the gun. With this in mind can anyone share with me what in your personal opinion would rank as loudest to quietest between the .45, 9mm and .38 Special calibers?
personally IMO, you are overthinking this. dwelling on factors that don't even need to considered. go to a gun store or range and shoot some pistols in different calibers and types, and find one that suits you. buy it and practice with it on a regular basis and become profficient with it and forget about the loud noise it might make if in the remotest of chances you might have to use it to defend yourself with it.

without some specialized meters and fancy tests, you probably wouldn't know the difference in the decibel level of one caliber to the next. now throw in different ammo types, different brands, ect., ect.,,,,, when i practice i wear hearing protection, so peronally i reallly don't care if one is louder than another. different pistols, different barrel lengths can have an effect on the level of sound produced also.

hypothectically, if the 45 is quieter than the 9mm but you can't hit the broad side of a barn with the 45, where does that leave you in that possible situation that could require you to have to use that 45? hmmm.... possibly dead because someone worried about something that should never have been a concern in the first place. just something to consider.
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