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?