How loud is a shot?

Sound level is measured in decibels (dB). The decibel scale is not linear, i.e. 100 dB is not twice as loud as 50 dB. An increase of 3 dB means a doubling of the loudness. As a result, 100 dB is around 17 times as loud as 50 dB.

Different measuring methods produce different results. The figures below are based on measurements carried out in the USA.

  • .22 LR from a handgun 158 dB
  • .22 LR from a rifle 139 dB
  • 9 mm from a handgun 160 dB
  • .223 Rem from a rifle 166 dB

The level causing permanent damage to the human ear is about 120 dB, which is why you should always wear hearing protection.

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