Shock and awe.
As a regular reader of your magazine, I don't believe I've ever seen an article addressing the problem of the physical effects of firing a powerful pistol in a small room. Most of us have never fired a handgun without ear protection. What's likely to happen in a self-defense situation? Will the muzzle blast shock and disorient us? Will we suffer any permanent damage to our hearing? Should I replace the 110 gr. .357 Magnum I favor with a .38 Special or a 9mm?
I asked around to make sure I was on the right track. It seems the event can affect people in different ways. Some cops don't recall hearing any noise and had no ear-ringing afterward. Others, especially with big bores and .357 Magnums, have experienced ringing later and even some hearing loss. Bright muzzle blast can affect night vision at times, but the sheer sound and volume of muzzle blast doesn't seem to disorient as long as it's not right near your ear or face. I once sorta' accidently fired a .44 Magnum from a 7.5" Super Blackhawk in an enclosed building (a long story) and I absolutely do not remember hearing it go off. I even clearly remember watching the hammer Jail in slow motion thinking "Damn, this is gonna' leave a mark." My ears didn't ring right after, and I was not blinded by any muzzle flash, even though it was a stout load. However, my left ear did start to ring after a few weeks, and did for years afterward. It was the one turned, facing the majority of the blast. I'd say go to a more modest 9mm or .38 load that still does the job, and toss the .357 out in a home defense gun. Editor