What’s The Best Electronic Hearing Protection?

electronic hearing protection

Chuck Kardous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Electronic hearing protection has significant advantages over standard passive, non-electronic hearing protection. You can hear a whole lot more of what’s going on around you and the sound is still dampened enough to protect your hearing from the sound of gunfire.

Typical ear pro uses baffling to reduce ALL sound. Electronic ear muffs (or whatever version you use) uses microphones to transmit ambient sound into your ears, but, using an on-board amplifier, attenuates louder noises.

The way it works – in the broadest strokes; please feel free to elaborate in the comments section on the details – is through an algorithm in the amplifier. It detects sounds louder than a pre-set maximum (for instance, anything over 80 decibels) and uses electronic interference to reduce the sound piped into the ear via the speakers in your ear muffs. Essentially, it’s like noise-canceling headphones just wired backwards.

As a gun owner, what you want to look for in hearing protection of ANY sort – electronic or otherwise – is the highest NRR, or noise-reduction rating. The higher the rating, the more it attenuates noise.

What you’ll generally see is an NRR of 20 or more. An NRR of 30 or higher is preferable, and 34 or higher is best. Granted, electronic hearing protection will muffle any noise above whatever the threshold is (80 to 82 dB is common), but erring on the side of more protection is better than less. Once your hearing is lost, you don’t get it back.

The old gun writers that some of us like to wax philosophical about — Elmer Keith, Jack O’Connor, Warren Page and so on — were deaf by the end of their lives, to a man. Writer David Petzal from Field and Stream has written more than one article about his hearing loss. As he points out, spending money on good hearing protection is cost-effective. It turns out that decent hearing aids cost about $1,000; really good ones go for more than $5,000.

Eyes and ears, everyone. Spend a little now, avoid spending a lot more later.

That said, what is the best electronic hearing protection to get? That mostly depends on features. For the shooting range, electronic ear muffs do the best job. For extended sessions, some models even let you sync up your MP3 player and enjoy some tunes. (Gimme back my bullets…never mind.) If you’re going into the field for hunting, ear buds can be better and more comfortable…though wickedly expensive, particularly the custom-molded models.

Regardless of overall features, you need a set with a comfortable fit. Water-resistant models are always a good idea in case you do your shooting outdoors. For in-ear models that put a bud in your ear canal, having swappable ear plugs are a good feature to look for. Just as with foam earplugs, they need to fill the ear canal to effectively block out sound. You’ll also be out a lot of cash if you lose them!

What are some good models to start with? Here are a few to look at.

Peltor Sport Tactical. Credit: 3m

For a good basic set, 3M Peltor makes several excellent models. The Peltor Sport Tactical 100 is a good starting point. Adjustable headband, low-profile ear cups and they run on two AAA batteries. The base model, the Sport Tactical, reduces all noise with an NRR 22, though the active digital sound attenuation dials out background noise more. That’s ideal for the controlled range environment if you have to listen for range commands. It even has an audio input jack for an MP3 player or what have you. Additional models, such as the Tactical 200 and 300, add even more features. That said, the 100 model is a good basic pair and can be found for less than $60.

Peltor Tactical Ear Plugs. Credit: 3m

3M Peltor also makes electronic ear plugs for those who don’t want to carry ear muffs in the field. The hunting set as well as those in military and law enforcement can all benefit…if they don’t mind laying out $400 for the TEP-200 Tactical Ear Plug set. It features micro directional microphones for environmental noise management, and Li-ion batteries so they can be recharged. They have an NRR of 23, making them decent ear protection for the shooting range, doing run-and-gun events, the duck blind or on a deployment. They’re marketed to law enforcement and military, but the benefits for any shooter are obvious.

Walkers Silencer. Credit: walkersgamegear.com

However, you can also shell out less and spring for Walker Silencer in-ear electronic hearing protection. These ear buds feature many of the same features of 3M’s TEP model, but at a lower price. Directional microphones, an NRR of 25, sound-activated compression to reduce noise, as well as being lightweight and insanely portable. The standard model runs on #10 batteries, but a rechargeable set can be had if you spend a bit more. The base version has an MSRP of $229.95, and the rechargeable set will add another $20. You can find them at Amazon or elsewhere for much less, however.

Howard Leight Impact Sport. Credit: howardleight.com

Howard Leight products (made by Honeywell) also make a number of quality electronic hearing protection sets. One of the most popular models is the Impact Sport models, which start at a very reasonable $45 on Amazon. The base model has an NRR of 22 and automatically damps any noise over 82 dB. There are directional microphones for range commands, and low profile ear cups to allow easier use with long guns. (When you’re pivoting the stock, the ear cups can really get in the way.) The headband adjusts, and the ear muffs fold for storage. It takes 2 AAA batteries, with a 350-hour life. There’s even an aux input for audio.

Howard Leight Impact Pro. Credit: howardleight.com

If you want something a little hardier, Howard Leight Impact Pro series hearing protection has a more durable and thicker housing, so it’s not great for use with long guns. It has broadly the same features as the Impact Sport, but the NRR rating is up to 30. The larger over-ear cup housing has additional baffling for greater protection against hearing loss. The price only climbs to $55 on Amazon, so they offer some of the best bang-for-the-bucks, so to speak.

Hearing loss is irreversible, but it’s also wholly preventable. Electronic hearing protection can help a great deal in this regard. Chicks dig scars, but nobody appreciates having to say “huh?” after anyone says anything.

What do you think, though? Any sets of electronic hearing protection that you’ve found? Don’t bother with it? Sound off in the comments!

comments

  1. avatar pwrserge says:

    I have a pair of MSA Sordins riding around in my glove compartment and an Ops-Core AMP bolted to my helmet. The AMP is awesome because it has a spring loaded rotating bracket that allows you to fold the headset out of the way when storing the helmet or you don’t need ear pro. The latest version also has a near-field ear plug that allows you to double up on plugs and muffs without loosing any hearing acuity.

  2. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    I damaged my hearing a bit a few years ago, 1 shot without ear pro from a deer rifle and ended up with ringing for weeks, lucky it went away, but definitely hard to ear from my left ear. Since I’ve used electronic muffs in the field and on the range. 2 weeks ago I went to the indoor range and an elderly couple pulled out a 10″ 5.56 pistol with the longest comp I’ve ever seen on a 5.56(about 4″ long) after 2 shots from their booth I packed up and left. Since then I’ve done foamies and electronic muffs. I can’t afford to lose what hearing I have left.

    1. avatar Devin D says:

      Totally agree, I don’t see any reason to risk my hearing under any circumstances. I use plugs and muffs whenever I shoot. Deafness is no joke and I have no desire to experience it but I once dealt with bad tinnitus after a concert for a few days and the thought of dealing with that ringing for the rest of my life almost terrifies me as much as deafness. Plus are cheap, muffs are cheap. No reason not to use both when ya can.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Devin D.,

        I triple the advice to double-up with foam earplugs as well earmuffs, whether shooting indoors or outdoors.

        If you are hunting and plan to only take one shot, then something like the Howard Leight Sport Impact muffs are probably fine all by themselves (without doubling up on foam earplugs), assuming that you are outdoors. If you are shooting from inside a hunting blind, make sure your rifle or shotgun’s barrel is sticking way outside the blind.

    2. avatar Retrocon says:

      Good comment.

      Indoor ranges have some responsibility here, too.

      Wife and i went to an indoor, with only pistols. Not very crowded, two lanes away, another group with pistols. A couple of range staffers came in with a couple of 5.56 ARs for whatever reason, landed right between us, and started shooting. None of were paying much attention to the lanes next to us. Hearing protection didn’t cut it, we usually don’t shoot our rifles at indoor ranges.

      Never went back, had a headache for a couple of hours.

      Note, we both had the Howard Leights… great muffs, but indoor high power or outdoor shooting my .50bmg, gotta supplement them. With the fifty, we warn the next few lanes, too.

      Ranges should segregate pistols from high-power rifles.

  3. avatar ZKahr says:

    The Howard Leight Impact Sports seem to be a rare situation where industry standard is also very affordable. I have some and bought some for my shooting buddies for Christmas one year. One of my buddies had another brand already that were more expensive. He actually prefers the Howard Leights now. He says that they are less bulky and have only one on/off volume knob (apparently some have one for each ear which he finds annoying.) As far as the decibel rating, I always use cheap foam plugs under the muffs and crank up the volume on the head set.

    1. avatar Pax says:

      This is exactly what I do. It works great.

  4. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

    The HL impact sport didn’t fit my head. I couldn’t shorten up the headband enough. The Peltor and Walker fit better and worked as well. All are electronic. None are great for shotgunning. The little foam ones are, but I prefer the electronic since my hearing isn’t so good anymore.

  5. avatar TexTed says:

    Electronic protection may be suitable for outdoor ranges, but is probably not sufficient by itself for an indoor range. Indoors, you’re best served by doubling up; use foam plugs and put the electronic on top. I do that for outdoor ranges as well, as there’s simply no reason not to.

    When shooting rifles, you’d be wise to double up. If the kick of the rifle causes your electronic muffs to break their seal, you’ll probably be very glad you had that foamie in there as a backup.

    I find that with electronic protection on, foam earplugs in, and with the volume maxxed on the electronic, I can hear everyone around me and am well protected from hearing damage.

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      I ran electronic only or electronic with plugs until I tried electronic with NFMI plugs. NFMI plugs basically have a little speaker build into them that is powered by your electronic muffs. The difference is amazing. Pricy, but amazing.

      1. avatar Ed P. says:

        Is there a particular NFMI model used for electronic ear pro? Seems like there is a whole bunch of, confusing, choices. How do earbuds and ear pro work together?

        1. avatar pwrserge says:

          I can only speak to what I use. I have an OPS Core AMP headset that works well. I doubt that the various brands would be cross compatible. The basic function is similar to inductive charging. The headset produces a electromagnetic field that causes the speaker in the plug to vibrate and generate the sound. Cool part is that the plug does not have its own power, the magnetic field from the headset takes care of that. Like I said, pricy, but well worth the cost if you’re looking for top of the line protection and without significant loss in hearing. Honestly, it’s well worth the cost of a mid-shelf AR.

        2. avatar pwrserge says:

          Here’s a link to what I use. I especially LOVE the helmet mounting system as it’s clean and easily folds out of the way when not needed. Also makes the helmet incredibly easy to put on and properly tighten down. On a side note, pretty sure these are made in the USA.

          https://gentexcorp.com/new-ops-core-amp-communication-headset/

      2. avatar Ed P. says:

        Let me try again. If you have electronic muffs xyz, does there have to be a particular brand/model of earbud that matches.
        Plz give some examples🤔

        1. avatar pwrserge says:

          Sorry, should have been clearer. Yes. In 99.9% of cases you want muffs and plugs designed to work with each other manufactured by the same company. I wouldn’t bet money on plugs made by one company working with muffs from another unless I get in in writing from both companies.

        2. avatar pwrserge says:

          As for examples… see above for the ones I use. Don’t know about others. Haven’t used them, can’t comment.

    2. avatar No one of consequence says:

      Same approach here.

    3. avatar BASHer says:

      That is what I have done with a pair of cheap Caldwells but I find myself wishing the volume from the speakers could be increased.

      A side to side comparison of muffs to determine which is loudest would be useful for those of us who use them in conjunction with foam plugs.

      1. avatar Mark H says:

        The Caldwells are cheap, and work just fine, until all of a sudden they don’t. Crappy electronics that seem to die for no reason. I normally buy a couple sets whenever Midway has them on sale.

  6. avatar possum with an attitude says:

    Fcking probably Made in China.

    1. avatar No one of consequence says:

      So, suggest a good US made equivalent. I’d happily spring for it.

      But I’m not going to sacrifice my hearing if there isn’t one.

      1. avatar GH says:

        Peltor COMTACs are US made if I recall correctly.
        They’re pricy, but the best earpro I’ve ever worn.

        1. avatar No one of consequence says:

          Only NRR 23 though. I know bigger isn’t always better for NRRs, but that’s a big drop from the Howard Leight Impact Pro set I wear now.

  7. avatar Chris Dumm says:

    I did most of my gun testing for TTAG wearing the Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs, and I still use them. For their price they’re amazing, and they change the experience of shooting by increasing instead of diminishing your situational awareness. (Battery life was excellent, even with rechargeable batteries, BTW.)

    But there are a couple of caveats:

    First, they don’t provide enough attenuation for indoor ranges, so you should double up if your range is indoor or covered. Wear your Impact Sports over foam earplugs and crank up the microphone volume; you’ll still hear the rangemaster perfectly.

    Next, and equally important, the ear cushions are fairly thin and they don’t last forever. The foam and vinyl hardened after 2-3 years and they didn’t conform to my head very well. When this happened they became pretty much ineffective as hearing protection, until I ordered replacement ear pads for $10 or $15.

    1. avatar Rick3 says:

      Totally agree about the limitations on indoor ranges with the HLs. I thought it was just me until I happened to mention that to some other shooters, and they both agreed: at indoor ranges, they are not enough. I now wear some offbrand ear pro phones over some foam plugs…much better for the indoor range.

  8. avatar RidgeRunner says:

    Recently bought the Walker digitals on CamoFire for heavy discount. Also, “Gimme Back My Bullets” is referring to “bullets” on the Billboard chart, as in “No. 1 with a bullet.” Means it’s going up the chart, not down.

  9. avatar Brandon von Kriegelstein says:

    If you have the $$$$ for it, the ESP Stealth.

    1. avatar Steve B says:

      I have the ESP Stealths and like them, especially better than over the ear muffs at outdoor ranges in the heat of summer for weekend training classes, but I will say that even though they are custom molded, they don’t keep a tight seal and continually work themselves a bit loose. I find that sweat, moving my jaw, etc. compromises the seal.

  10. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I have the Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs. They work very well. I only have two complaints about the Impact Sport muffs:
    (1) There is no “balance” control so one ear seems a little louder than the other.
    (2) The overall vinyl jacket over the wires cracked at the headset after 5 years or so, exposing the individual colored wires inside. They still function (for now).

    I also have Walker’s Razor earmuffs. The seem to work very well. Their amplification might have slightly less hum and noise than the Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs. My only two complaints with the Walker Razor earmuffs:
    (1) There is no “balance” control so one ear seems a little louder than the other.
    (2) They appear to be “mono” rather than stereo even though they have microphones on both ears.

    I previously had a different set of Walker electronic earmuffs which were excellent until the plastic headband snapped for no apparent reason. I only purchase earmuffs with steel headbands now as a result of that misfortune.

  11. avatar Wedge259 says:

    I have the Howard Leight Impacts. They’ve been alright for the most part, but thinking of moving on to something else. I have hearing damage in one ear, so I always double up these days with foam plugs, particularly since I do most of my shooting indoors. Talking and such is easy to hear with the volume all the way up, but I think I’m starting to lose an ear (I think I’ve had them 2-3 years). Also, I wear glasses, and I feel like the cups aren’t deep enough to get a good deal around the ear pieces. Have always heard good things about the Peltors, so may give them a look.

  12. avatar bontai Joe says:

    I wear old school muffs and plugs when shooting. My Dad was of the generation that believed that cigarette filters in his ears was all that was needed when he was trap shooting, he is deaf now. His dad had a gallon jug filled to the top with button batteries from his hearing aides. I’m pretty diligent about wearing hearing protection not just shooting, but with power tools, and lawn equipment. And even with that, I have permanent ringing in my ears and some hearing loss. I’ll soon be 63 years old and have kept much more of my hearing than my dad or grandfather when they were my age. Another BIG mistake my dad did was use his hearing aides as “plugs” by turning them off. TRUST ME on this, that does not protect your ears, hearing aides are not designed to be used that way. Dear ol’ Dad shot trap 2-3 times a week using cig filters at first and his hearing aides later and over the years exposed himself to tens of thousands of 12 ga shells going bang.

  13. avatar bn says:

    I’m an RSO on a covered public outdoor range and I’ve tried many brands of electronic earpro over the years, the Impact Pro is the most comfortable and can withstand thousands of rounds in a day without feeling like you’re damaging your hearing. If I’m by myself the Impact Sport will do as I can get a better cheekweld. The new Walkers Silencer rechargeable are good too but you can’t hear nearly as well as the Impact series.

  14. avatar UncleK says:

    Family history of bad hearing.
    I was diagnosed before 10 years old.
    Big holes in the spectrum plus tinnitus.
    Nobody used protection hunting back in the 60’s.
    Moved east at 13 and only did trap and sporting clays.
    Used protection.
    Move ahead 30 years…
    One day I forgot.
    Was having trouble with new 556 ammo blowing primers at the range.
    One shot without protection and 2 years later my right ear is 10x as bad as it was.
    It fkn screams!
    I would use elec for bedside but, now I always double up and use plugs AND standard ear muffs/phones at the range.
    Ya, I know, doubling doesn’t double, it just subtracts another 5-6db.

  15. avatar Dr. Michael S. Brown says:

    My hearing has declined over the years and I sometimes use hearing aids. At both indoor and outdoor ranges I used foam plugs and electronic muffs. This used to work well for me, but now I can’t hear the voices of female shooters I’m coaching, even when I have the volume turned all the way up.

    I’d love it if people testing electronic muffs would measure the maximum amplification they provide for those of us who need a boost in order to hear through our foam plugs.

    If anyone happens to know which brand gives the most amplification, please click reply and share your knowledge here. Thanks!

      1. avatar Dr. Michael S. Brown says:

        Thanks WI Patriot! I ordered a pair and will give them a try. My Howard Leight pair only gives enough amplification to offset the noise reduction of the muffs. Nothing left over to compensate for the foam plugs.

        1. avatar WI Patriot says:

          You’re most welcome, I hope you find them as nice as I have…I wear them hunting as well, and with 4 mic’s, they’re a great aid for hearing sound from all around you…there isn’t a twig that gets snapped without me hearing it…

  16. avatar WI Patriot says:

    I like my Walker’s Alpha 360…they work great as they should…

  17. avatar LibertyToad says:

    I have a pair of the Howard Leight’s for a number of years now. They work well, but they are no longer very comfortable–I think the foam in the ear pads have hardened. They have held up well otherwise.

  18. avatar Ev says:

    Author doesnt have any info on where this stuff is made. BUY AMERICAN!

  19. avatar VF1777 says:

    Walker Razors for me. Work good. I just leave em turned ‘off’ indoors honestly, i dont need to hear what the schmuck next to me is saying.

  20. avatar Greg says:

    Man up and don’t wear ear pro. Being deaf has it’s advantages.😉

  21. avatar BobS says:

    Howard Leight Impact Sport (NRR 22) are the only electronic muffs I’ve found with a low enough profile to let me get a proper cheek weld on a stock. They’re fine outdoors for ordinary handguns or indoors for rimfire, but for anything bigger I’ll double them up with HEAROS Xtreme Protection foamies (NRR 32). But over-ear muffs are still hot in the summer, and their band is heavy over the top of the melon.

    My favorite setup is Axil (was SportEAR) Ghost Stryke Essential electronic earbuds with a lanyard behind my neck. They claim NRR 30 with their foam tips, but I don’t feel like it gives me that much isolation – maybe my ear canals are oddly shaped. So I replaced the provided tips with with Canal Tips Comply® Tips, a much denser memory foam that goes deeper into my canals and does a much better job. I often wear them comfortably all day long at a range without any need for a break, from check-in time at the front gate until I drive away at sundown.

    They say “AXIL owns its own US-based manufacturing… AXIL has always been located in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. We also have strategic operations in Florida, Hong Kong & Netherlands.”

  22. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    it would be/ should be so much easier to suppress the source.

  23. avatar Ralph says:

    After decades of shooting with no ear pro except some cotton or expended cartridges stuffed into my ears, I have no hearing loss (my hearing is normal for a man of my age) and very mild tinnitus is one ear, which causes me no difficulty whatsoever.

    Still, I insist that anyone who shoots with me must wear the best hearing protection they can afford, just as I now do. I’ve been lucky. They may not be so fortunate.

    Unfortunately, gun mufflers (silencers or suppressors) will never be readily available as long as a single Democrat wastes our oxygen.

  24. avatar JB says:

    MSA Sordin ear pro with the gel earcups are incredibly comfortable and are worlds better than the $40 3M’s I had been using until they broke. They’re expensive, but they have great sound and ergonomics- specifically they’re tapered on the bottom which makes shooting prone while wearing them easier. For indoor ranges, I add “NoNoise Shoot” earplugs ($25 from Amazon) under the MSA’s- I’ve tried several kinds of in-ear plugs under the MSA’s and these are the only ones that didn’t block talking and still blocked gunshots.

  25. avatar Erik Weisz says:

    I wear Decibullz (-31 db rating) formable in-ears plugs – you boil them and then shove them in your ear canal and they form to shape. They provide an excellent seal, yet I can still hear most everything. It sounds kinda like being underwater, but nothing is ever loud at all. They have a little tube built into them with a sealing cover, I suppose so you can plug in ear buds or electronic ear pro and use the surrounding part as a best replacement for the foam your buds etc came with. I have no idea which buds etc would fit, however, but those Walker silencers seem like a good candidate.
    I just bought my wife the Walker’s razor muffs because they seem to have a better seal for glasses than the HL Impact Sport and she won’t stick anything in her ears (she had been using my shop muffs, which block out nearly everything, but are bulky and uncomfortable to her). The razors are definitely mono from the two mics, though, vs stereo from the HL’s, if that matters to you – I think it would for hunting, not so much for range work.
    Like some others here, I grew up hunting and going to concerts and never wore ear pro at all until I went to an indoor range for the first time where they were required. Now 50, I luckily have no hearing loss, and intend to keep it that way. I shot my 9mm pistol one time outside w/out ear pro and it was painful, which never seemed to be the case growing up (maybe it was and I just ignored it or didn’t notice due to excitement or something) – we shot .44 mags a lot, 30-06, 30-30, .22s, but mostly shotguns, hundreds of times a day several days a year. I feel lucky indeed.

  26. avatar James69 says:

    +1 Howard Leight Impact. Best $$$ ever spent. 400 hours from a set of battery’s and they auto off after 4 hours. My wife and I use them for hunting as well. I sometimes hear the deer before I see them.

  27. avatar TX223 says:

    Foam earplugs plus electronic earmuffs are the best combo. This allows you to turn up the volume on your electronic earpro, but still have a much greater maximum decibel reduction. Also protects your ears more when the stock of your firearm unseats your earpro.

  28. avatar TommyJay says:

    I go the non electronic route like Erik Weisz. My earplugs are silicon rubber Surefires. They have a big outer structure designed to rest in the outer ear, and I just stripped that off. The plugs by themselves are easier to get in and out.

    After every use I wipe them down and lightly lube the seals with Vaseline before putting them back in the case. Then insertion is even easier.

    Like Eric’s, they have a tiny hole which they claim let’s medium sounds through a bit, while blocking more of the bangs. I think it works. Plus there is a flip-top cap option for the really loud stuff.

  29. avatar RingoMD says:

    I use Pro Ears Pro Tac mags over Jabra 65t earbuds when shooting pistol, Pro Ears Pro Tac SC over foam plugs for rifle, and Silencerco for hunting.

  30. avatar PeterC says:

    I went through Basic Training with the M1 Garand and no ear protection, and my hearing has been compromised since then. At the range I use an old pair of Dillon electronic muffs, and those seem quite adequate. However, several years ago, I finally decided to get hearing aids. They were a major expenditure, but they really help. Problem is, I carry a handgun, every day, everywhere. Should I ever have to use it, there might be a problem with the hearing aids amplifying the shooting noise and destroying what’s left of my hearing. Removing the hearing aids before responding to the situation would slow down my reaction time and could be fatal. My question is, why can’t someone come up with a hearing aid that shuts off sounds above a certain decibel level, just like protective earmuffs?

    1. avatar BobS says:

      “why can’t someone come up with a hearing aid that shuts off sounds above a certain decibel level, just like protective earmuffs?”
      I haven’t tried them myself, but have you looked at https://www.goaxil.com/edge-series/
      Their budget line https://www.goaxil.com/ghost-stryke-essential/ do exactly what I need, at a price I can manage.

  31. avatar GPC says:

    Ex-13B never wore protection firing 155mm.
    Bunch of wimps on here.

  32. avatar Rich says:

    Wait the ear protection has baffles. So is it a surpressor and atf regulated? Lol

    But seriously anyone know of a brand that makes a strap for the rear of your head as well as the top. For a more secure set??

    1. avatar Steve B says:

      MSA Sordins makes them

  33. avatar BobS says:

    If you use foam earplugs, by themselves or doubled-up under muffs, be sure you install them correctly.

    I see many, many people at shooting ranges with foam earplugs resting lightly against the opening of their ear canal. It looks like a tiny banana lying in their ear. They probably just grabbed the plug by the fat end, and shoved the narrow rounded end straight in, as deep as it would go, which isn’t very deep. They’re getting almost no benefit, almost no protection for their hearing.

    Instead, first clean your hands and then roll the foam between your fingers as tight as you can. It will change from a tapered cylinder into a fat rope. The rest must be done quickly, before it expands back to its original size: With your left hand, reach over your head to tug upward and rearward on the top of your right ear (this opens and straightens the ear canal). Insert the fat foam rope into your ear canal until you can just barely get enough grip to extract it again – just your fingernails. Release your left hand grip and listen as the foam expands to fill your ear canal.

    Similar principles and methods apply with foam tips on in-ear electronic hearing protection.

    I keep a pair of tweezers in my range bag and in my motorcycle’s glove box and in my flying chart case, in case I accidentally install a foamie just a bit deeper than my fingernails can extract.

  34. avatar Alex in Oregon says:

    I have a set of Pro Ears Stealth 28 that I like a lot. Stereo and good control over volume and good at cutting the gun fire. Only beef is the band is a bit funky to get around my head and I don’t have an overly large noggin. I also like the customer service that Pro Ears provided even though my first set had to have been out of warranty. They traded the broken set for a brand new pair. Can’t say the same for Walkers. Won’t repair their product (Razor VX power switch went bad after a little over a year) nor exchange after warranty.
    I really want to check out the Axil Ghost Stryke Essential earpro but will have to wait until I can fit them in the budget.

  35. avatar Chris in SC says:

    “Electronic ear muffs (or whatever version you use) uses microphones to transmit ambient sound into your ears, but, using an on-board amplifier, attenuates louder noises.”

    While not technically impossible, this isn’t probable. The attenuation is provided by the earmuffs and the amplifier simply doesn’t transmit noise above the programmed threshold. An amplifier capable of amplification (gain greater than 1) and attenuation (gain less than 1) is a rare bird indeed. Amplifiers and attenuators are fundamentally different at the hardware level. Then again, I’ve been out of college longer than I care to write down and I’m not interested enough to look it up….

  36. avatar Dwight says:

    I was happy with my cheap passive earmuffs but I couldn’t hear the range master speaking to me or read lips so I bought Howard Leight Impact Pro electric earmuffs. Twice the cost & twice as loud. Going back to passive earmuffs. I didn’t last 2 minutes at my indoor range yesterday. Shot one magazine & left. Ears rang for an hour +.

    1. avatar BobS says:

      Yup, that’s why when I wear electronic muffs I double up with foamies beneath. Then I turn up the muffs’ volume to overcome the foamies.

  37. avatar .45ACP+P says:

    Consider upgrades. I have the Howard Leight Pro for indoor ranges (30dB) but have enhanced them with gel pads. Took good to GREAT. I have upgraded several sets of other earpro to gels and all improved with the better seal it provides.

  38. avatar Conundrum says:

    I use the HL Impact PRO doubled with foam ear plugs. Have considered getting the replacement Gel ear cups which I have read were more comfortable. The existing cups are a bit bulky and I need them to also fit comfortably over my glasses/eye pro. I have some hearing loss and have been looking at other more expensive options but between the specs (especially NRR), and quite varying opinions posted I can’t figure out what to try since these arent in any stores. Have been looking at ProEars Gold, MSA Sordins and Peltor ComTac iii hearing defenders

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