Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • SpudGun

    If I had to pull duty at a Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber concert, I’d definitely put a bullet in my ear – most likely as it exited the barrel at high speed. 😉

  • Pete

    Too loud or too horrible?

  • Nick Pacific

    That’s one of the reasons my grandfather is deaf today.
    The casing as ear protection, not the Beatles.


    Hah! I called my friend all kinds of crazy when he used a pair of 9mm rounds as earplugs during a range trip where he forgot his own. Aside from the fact that I wouldn’t want something made out of lead in my ear, it apparently worked well for him.

    Still though … he just needs to learn to buy a cheap pack of those foam plugs. And keepp them in his car rather than use live ammo for a purpose it wasn’t intended for. A good situation to “lol” at.

  • Patrik

    Don’t try this at home kids…. My dad has pretty severe hearing loss from hanging out with my police officer grandfather at the department’s shooting range and using bullets for earplugs!

  • Pete

    I’ll often use a couple of .45 ACP rounds as improvised ear plugs if I wander over to the ranger before or after packing my gear. They work pretty well.

  • Chase

    I pity those cops. I like music as much as the next fellow, but I don’t like to blow out my ears. I never went to dances in high school because of this.

  • fw226

    …wow. I’m going to have to try that.

  • That was a common technique at firing ranges back in day. Some hard cases thought that was being whimpy, and the later issue of ear muffs was considered the height of unmanliness. Of course, these individuals were already half deaf or worse.

  • howlingcoyote

    Yup, nothing like having your ears ringing 24/7 or being deaf!

  • asianMike

    Didn’t R. Lee Ermy use casings as ear plugs during the shooting scenes in Mail Call? or was it Lock N’ Load?


      Lol that’s how I stumbled upon this page, just watched an episode of Lock ‘N’ Load where he uses casings as ear plugs, but he is the sort of guy that would do that.

  • M.G. Halvorsen

    When I first entered boot camp in the US Navy in 1971, we had an old Chief Gunners Mate as an inspector, who told us to “sound off like you got a pair”…and, later, explained that unprotected ears had made him half-deaf…that was my first lesson in protecting my ears…there would many more. I use muffs regolarly, and keep foam plugs in my range kit (an old .50 cal. ammo can) just in case somebody isn’t as well-informed as the folks here. Bullets don’t make good earplugs!

  • bob

    yeah im sure thats the reason you never went to dances lol

  • Ben

    R lee ermey does this a lot.

  • Don

    Why would you put something explosive in your ear?

    I would cut off a piece of my sock or undershirt and roll it up to make an earplug.


  • 0311 USMC

    I shoot 9mm quite a bit, and I never want for ear pro. I just pop off two rounds at the target and voila! Two ear plugs appear. I have yet to forget my “ear pro” for a shoot.

    • lolinski

      Not to be rude but that is pretty stupid its way easier to just buy a pack of those foam plugs and keep them in your range bag or car. Since even those 2 shots will eventually give you tinnitus and make you half deaf, with enough time.

  • Don Mackler

    The man in this photograph is my late father, Billy Jack Mackler. He had been a police officer, previously, in Washington, D.C. But at the time of this event, he was employed by the National Detective Agency, which regularly had security work at the National Coliseum.
    He didn’t have regular ear plugs handy, or he would have used them. I remember as a child, practicing shooting indoors at the NRA facility (I think) in Washington DC, Dad would always bring ear plugs. I agree the lead isn’t a good thing to stick in ones ears (or anywhere else). In this case, the girls in the audience were screaming non-stop. And, yes, the music was loud. He had to use something for the time being.

    • BillCa

      Don, my condolences that your father is no longer with us. Bless his soul for being a cop during some difficult times.

      Looks to me like a .38 Special wadcutter round, inserted base-first into his ear.

  • Mark

    In college, I was invited to spend a weekend with the an artillery batallion of the Arizona National Guard to do some photography of the NG in action.

    Standing off at a safe distance to catch the M109s firing was easy enough. But getting the almost required photo of a 155mm round leaving the barrel required, in those film days, a lot of shots. That meant getting close and standing right behind the firing unit. My camera bag was loaded with a Nikon F2AS with a variety of lenses. I had plenty of film. I had the right clothing. What I didn’t have was hearing protection.

    I soon learned that just before the order to fire (which I couldn’t hear because they pulled the lanyard as soon as the letter “f” left the gun commander’s mouth, that I would hear the words “Stand by!” and I would begin shooting, the motor drive on the camera cranking out several frames a second.

    I also learned that the I would start to flinch when I heard “Stand by!.” I smoked at the time and decided to sacrifice two Marlboros – tearing the filters off and stuffing them in my ears. That worked.

    Artillery brass wouldn’t fit in my ears of course and while there was plenty of 5.56mm brass about, that would look silly.

  • atm

    A pair of guys from South Africa that I used to shoot with did this. They always did it with empty brass.

  • I’ve been known to use empty brass on occasion if I didnt have plugs

  • Zermoid

    I’ve used scrounged up cigarette butts as ear plugs, empty 22s, and rolled up napkins when I was stupid and forgot my earplugs.
    Done enough damage to my ears at concerts, bars and while hunting!
    I try to cut down the damage as much as I can when just punching paper.

  • Nathaniel

    What’s most interesting about that image is that the cartridge appears to be an autoloading round, maybe a 9mm or .45, in a time when revolvers would have been most common.

  • Deryk Walker

    I had a friend in the USMC at Camp Pendleton. He was a WO5 and wore two hearing aids. Never having seen a Marine with hearing aids, I asked him about it. “I used to be a Cannon Cocker” was his reply!!!

  • HEP-T

    I’ve seen chewing gum chewed up and stuck inside ears for ear plugs.
    Hearing protection, Use them, it truly sucks to be hearing impaired due to nerve damage.
    The funniest ear plugs was the guy who used C- ration toilet paper for ear protection, Yup with large tufts of white paper sticking out.
    For some rifles there just is not any way to improvise ear plugs though, The M-40 RR is one example.