In a nutshell, yes and no. Silencers aid in protecting your hearing but are not the end all of the task.
When silencers began to become more mainstream some 20 years ago there was all this hype about “hearing safe” silencers and how they had to be under this level or that level to “protect” your hearing. What this is based on is the OSHA threshold of 140dB and to be honest about it, this is still too high…
This seems to be some arbitrary number to use but you see this is not the whole story. The level also has a time factor also. So if you have 140dB for say some short time like 5 milliseconds then after that it is too much…straight guessing here, I am not a OSHA regulation specialist. Continuing on, that level combined with some sort of time limit are what equal the maximum permissible exposure level, not just the dB number alone.
So for guns like the 22LR this means the exposure can be much longer with a high quality rimfire suppressor than say a 300 win mag with a suppressor installed. Simply because the rimfire silencer is suppressed to 113dB and the 30 WinMag in sitting at 138dB… So here is the rub, 113dB is still high. The difference is that is can be exposed for longer periods of time since it is a lower level.
Armed with this information, I always recommend additional hearing protection for anyone shooting a firearm, whether it has a silencer or not. The additional protection of the ear pro added to that of the silencers lowers the level even more and thereby lengthening the exposure time longer. This reduces the risk of permemant hearing loss, but again, I am no audiologist so take it for what you paid for it. This is just what I have learned over the years.
So when you see you tubers like MrGunsNGear wearing ear pro while shooting suppressed, that isnt because the silencer is bad, it is because the suppressor alone is not enough…especially on a rifle. What a silencer does that ear pro doesnt do is that it protects the hearing of literally everyone in the area instead of the one person wearing ear pro. This simply makes everyone’s ear pro that much more effective. I hope this helps someone protect their hearing and makes life better for everyone.
Until next time, keep your powder dry!