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Home Defense Series - Comfort

Defending your home from armed or otherwise dangerous intruders is a situation no one wants to find themselves in - but just like any other emergency situation, you prepare the best you can for it now, regardless of its likelihood or potential outcome. Read on as we delve into the ins and outs of ensuring you’re ready for whatever - or whoever - may attempt to invade your home.


Alright! We’ve talked about making a plan, as well as weapon selection for carrying out that plan. However, these points are only the beginning - and often, this is where most people stop. Don’t be like most people, and read on for some awesome ways to further improve your home-defense preparedness.


Body armor and AK 47

Step 3: Making home defense a… comfortable experience?


Okay okay, “comfortable” may seem like a strange word to use when talking about a potential gunfight in your home. And no, we’re not talking about being bundled up in your favorite robe, sipping on a cold beer and listening to your favorite podcast while holding some home intruder at gunpoint until the police arrive - as fun as that sounds after typing it out. We are talking about things that may not necessarily be the difference between life and death, but will leave you in a much more… whole condition, per se, after a home invasion. Hell, a fair few of these points might very well be the difference between life and death. Today, we are talking about preserving your senses during and after a firearm-involved home-defense shooting.


Have you ever gone hunting without ear protection? For many of you (myself included), you probably have. You may say to yourself, “My .308 doesn't bother me to shoot without ear pro once or twice a year while deer hunting. I’m outside, it doesn’t have a muzzle device, and I’m usually too distracted by adrenaline while shooting an animal to care about noise.” To be frank, I’ve told myself these same thoughts many times - and I’ve been relatively fine. However, I know many other people that suffer from tinnitus each and every day because of the exact same thing. I now try to use electronic ear pro any chance I’m out hunting, because I don’t want to risk paying for it when I’m older. Which I probably will regardless.


Back to the point - If a rifle without a muzzle brake can cause permanent hearing damage from even one shot outside, imagine how much damage can be done from a 10.5” AR15 with a muzzle brake fired repeatedly in your bedroom. Imagine the very real damage it could do to your child huddled next to you as you protect them. Ask anyone who has lost their hearing: you do not want that to be you, and you certainly do not want to be responsible for someone else losing theirs, especially a young child. Thankfully, there are ways to minimize hearing loss in a home defense situation, without losing potentially precious time preparing. Let’s touch on a few:


Suppressors


Rifle with a suppressor

See that thing on the end? Yeah, it makes guns much more pleasant to shoot, inside or outside.


My absolute favorite. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you do not own a suppressor, go buy one. The horrendously long wait times so graciously provided by our friends at the ATF (note the sarcasm) are not getting shorter, and the cans themselves are not getting any cheaper. Suppressors are an indisputably worthwhile investment for a plethora of reasons. They reduce recoil, concussion, sound, and even increase velocity. Ironic as it may be, suppression of sound is actually one of the last reasons I use suppressors. They make shooting a joyfully pleasant experience (yes, even more so than it already is). 


If you still need convincing, go shoot a suppressed 22 LR. Trust me, you’ll see what I mean.

Gun suppressors

The options these day are nearly limitless


Suppressors are one of the most convenient and practical choices for preventing permanent hearing loss in a home defense situation. The added benefits of less concussion and lower recoil will greatly benefit follow-up shots. The only potential downside to a suppressor is that it will not reduce the sound of a shot as much as actual hearing protection - for obvious reasons. In fact, most suppressed AR15’s firing supersonic rounds will still technically fall into the “unsafe” category of volume, though they will be significantly safer than an unsuppressed counterpart. That is another plus for considering a 300 Blackout AR, as you can utilize suppressed subsonic rounds for maximum sound reduction - it’s pretty freaking cool, just how quiet they can get.


This is another reason PCC’s are my favorite home defense weapon, as mentioned in our previous article. A suppressed 9mm will generally be leaps and bounds quieter than a suppressed AR15, and even more comfortable to shoot than they already are.


And no, just like we mentioned with longer-barreled AR15s, a suppressor on the end of your gun is most likely not going to make it “too long” for home defense. If your weapon of choice is an M16, maybe so, but even then, you probably shouldn’t be sweeping your house anyway. More on that point later.


If the price of a suppressor is an issue… start saving, even gradually. Trust me, I know how spendy they can be, and it sucks. I’m not one of those guys with 50 suppressors who can just casually add another to my collection on a whim - each of mine has been a relatively significant financial decision, and I don’t regret any of them one bit. If you are on a budget, there are some great “do all” options. A .30 Caliber suppressor will cover your AR15’s, AR10’s, and likely most hunting rifles. A 9mm can will cover any 9mm handguns or PCC’s - a .45 can will cover both calibers - and a .22 can will obviously cover your rimfire selections. Realistically, 3 suppressors can cover 99% of your arsenal. Even just one of those (.30 cal) will more than likely cover a vast majority of them, and some cans today will cover literally everything mentioned.


It is worth noting, however, that “do all” cans are typically slightly less effective than dedicated-caliber suppressor. In other words, a .30 Caliber suppressor will work fine on a 5.56, but a 5.56 suppressor will sound better on the same gun.


“Conventional” Hearing Protection - Over-the-Ear and In-the-Ear

Man at the gun range

As far as the most “comprehensive” hearing protection goes, this is definitely the way. Conventional hearing protection is obviously much more accessible and affordable to the everyday person than a suppressor from a financial perspective - again, not that you shouldn't still get one - but whereas it would take anywhere from 6 months to a year for you to legally obtain a suppressor, you can go to a sporting goods store today and purchase some extremely high-quality electronic ear protection that not only reduces a gunshot to safe volumes, but enhances the sound of everything else - and everyone else - around you. And as we’ve said before, if you find yourself in a home defense situation, target identification matters. You want EVERY single advantage you can get. That includes superhuman hearing.

Over the ear hearing protection

Passive ear protection


Now, this presents some obvious - and conditional - upsides and downsides with hearing protection. Passive (that is, non-electronic, “old school” if you will) hearing protection will protect your hearing in the event of a home invasion better than almost anything else, but it cuts out everything else as well - a monumental disadvantage when trying to identify a threat. I would almost never recommend passive hearing protection unless you know exactly where the intruder is, who they are, and are not able to talk them down. More on that later as well.


If ear protection is a part of your plan, invest in some electronic hearing protection. The future is now, old man.

Hearing protection

Electronic ear protection


Not only will electronic hearing protection provide identical levels of protection from the blast of a firearm being shot indoors, but most will actually amplify any and all other noises - as we said, literally granting you superhuman hearing capabilities. Most electronic headsets offer omnidirectional hearing, long battery lifes, and multiple levels of “hearing” volume abilities. Plus, they are generally slimmer than their passive counterparts. Quality electronic ear pro can be found for less than $100 (these are what I tend to use), or as expensive as $500 - and the difference generally lies in the overall quality of the sound you’re hearing, as well as the efficiency of the omnidirectional microphones. Most sets offer walkie-talkie functionality (sometimes sold as an add-on) for communication with other people in your home. Many companies offer baby, toddler, or children sizes as well.


Perhaps most importantly, some even offer bluetooth, in case you need to jam out to some Pantera while protecting the homestead.


Of course, there is one caveat of conventional hearing protection over a suppressor - the suppressor can already be attached to your weapon, so no additional actions are needed when it’s time to gear up in a hurry - and you probably aren’t sleeping with hearing protection on. When that bump in the night comes, putting on ear pro can waste valuable seconds. Granted, there are many ways you can (and should) buy yourself enough time to adequately prepare for a home intruder once you’re aware of their presence, including the time needed to put on electronic ear protection. We’ll talk more about ways to make that happen in a future article within this series.


Eye Protection

Plate carrier, rifle, ear pro, and glasses

Your eyes are… decently important. Consider protecting them.


I’ll be honest, I don’t personally make this one as big of a priority as I should. But as a body armor company that offers steel armor, we understand better than anyone that when you shoot a gun, that bullet doesn’t just disappear, even after making contact with a surface; ricochet and fragmentation are real, and must be taken into consideration. When you are making shots within your home, take care to understand where those bullets may be going. If there is a metal fireplace behind the intruder, for example, hitting that fireplace point-blank with an AR15 has the potential to cause some cuts.


And of course, the concussion caused by a firearm within the walls of a home will generally be much greater than if the same weapon is fired outside. If you’re shooting suppressed, you also may have to worry about blowback, which isn’t fun if your eyes aren’t protected. Again, this list is considered “comforts” because while eye protection may not be a life-or-death thing, it can most certainly help you retain your senses to their fullest in a moment where you absolutely need it.


Ammunition Selection

subsonic ammo

We touched on this briefly, as well as in a separate article, but don’t forget that different bullets will generate different levels of noise. Certain firearms will offer ammunition selections that are supersonic when fired from most barrel lengths - in other words, those which travel at a velocity greater than the speed of sound - while others offer selections that are generally subsonic - again, potentially depending on the barrel length. Longer barrels mean higher velocity, meaning a higher chance the round will go supersonic and be louder. Many firearms offer a mixture of both, while some will generally cycle a specific type or weight of ammo more reliably than another.


Remember, just because you’re shooting suppressed, doesn’t mean it is completely safe. A supersonic round fired out of a suppressed weapon is still going to be uncomfortably loud, while a subsonic round will be much more bearable. 


Wrapping Things Up


So you see: comfort. Not what you may have thought it meant, but still important enough to write an article about it. While protecting your hearing should not be prioritized above protecting your life, it should be as close to second-place as possible. If at all reasonable, suppress your firearms so you don’t have to even think about it in the moment. Suppressor or not, keep electronic hearing protection near your bed as well. There are virtually no downsides to having it there day-to-day, even if you cannot utilize it in time.


Again, these points may not seem as “life or death” as previous articles, but we urge you to read on - because our next article is all about life or death, and you don’t want to miss it.

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