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Thanks to three shots from a “hearing safe” suppressed Remington 700, I suffer from mild tinnitus. I now sleep with active ear pro by the bedside and use Amazon’s Echo to generate white noise. Plenty of TTAG readers have it much worse, from combat or old age — being old enough to shoot when ear pro wasn’t a thing. Well it is now. There are plenty of excellent muff and in-ear devices to protect your hearing. And yet . . . I still double-up with non-active ear pro at Red’s, an old-fashioned cement range originally designed by the hearing aid industry (not really, but might as well be). How’s your hearing and what ear pro do you use/recommend?

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  1. i wear the cheapo disposable ear plugs from home depot under a pair of equally cheapo earmuffs (maybe $12?). maybe overkill but i don’t like to mess around with my hearing.

    i had an issue with a fancy schmancy ear plug that wasn’t seated properly some years ago and thought i permanently damaged the hearing in my right ear, hence my abundant caution nowadays.

    • Same here only plugs from Lowes and I think I paid $20 for my Browning (name brand) muffs. If you don’t stuff them in as far as they’ll go you can pop off your muffs and still hear well enough to talk with the plugs and if some yahoo starts shooting before your ready the plugs will take the edge off.

      I figure if I’m involved in a self defense shooting the ringing in my ears will give me an excuse to wait a bit to answer the PD’s pesky questions. I’m only going to go so far to prepare for something that in my circumstances is only slightly more likely than getting struck by lightning.

    • How come the guys on tv don’t wear ear pro? The amount they shoot indoors and in cars, ya’d think they’d be deaf by now. And they all got great ears cuz they can still hear each other even when I turn down the sound on the tv.

  2. Cheap-ass bulky Walmart earmuffs. I hate earplugs, but keep a bunch around if I’m bringing non-gun-owning friends shooting, which I do fairly frequently. I’ve fired an 18″ barrel shotgun with no ear protection once or twice, and it’s not something I’d do again without imminent threat to life.

  3. Custom moulded plugs for small caliber outdoor shooting.
    I’ll put the big Peltors on over those for any indoor shooting/training or big boomers.
    Electronic peltors for hunting.

  4. Ugh. I hate the slang “ear pro.” Sounds like a cheesy brand name. “No, I don’t use EarPro, I have a pair of Peltors….”

    I finally found ear plugs that work for me, so I wear them and (usually) earmuffs of some kind. I can carry the ear muffs in a jacket pocket and if I find myself walking in somewhere and renting a gun, I have adequate protection for occasional occasions.

  5. Little pair of black surefire ear plugs. They have worked great for me in both ear protection and overall wear. Couldn’t tell you the actual name of them. They were a gift and I don’t exactly know what model they are (surefire sells a few that look identical to me.)

    • They’ve got so many now it is hard to keep track. Started off with a thirty pack of patriotic foamies, because what’s better for a Fourth of July boomsticks, bbq and beer party? Started using Surefire EP6’s back when I began going to motor racing events. Done EP4s/EP5s/EP7s since, and Peltor Shotgunners over when I’m shooting rifle or indoors, especially when some jackwad is running a braked .223 one lane over. (The last asshat was mag emptying just slow enough to not get the RO involved.) EP7’s are the best of the SF plugs, but I got one of the foam tips stuck in my right ear when I pulled the rest out. Glad tweezers got the remainder, went back to EP4s, EP5s when I can find them. Don’t leave home without hearing protection anymore, my damage is from loud music and airshows. Periodic tinnitus with low frequency loss is great in your thirties. Would love to have some MSA Sordins one of these days to round things out.

  6. I suffered hearing some hearing loss and tinnitus due to sinus problems, it sucks.

    I double up when shooting anything. Currently foam plugs and Leightning L3 muffs.

    I want to do some sort of active muffs so I don’t have to constantly take off the muffs to hear, then do a set of plugs with the mechanical valves, but I don’t know what to get for electronic muffs.

    And I pretty much avoid indoor ranges when I can.

    • I also used the mechanical Sonic Ear Valves for years and really liked them, but I have misplaced them somewhere along the line.

      After two foolish sessions emptying six rounds from my .357 with no ear protection (I was much younger and thus invincible) and one incident at Grafenwhoehr, Germany when an M1 tank let loose its main gun when I wasn’t expecting it I have mid-level annoying tinnitus. Now I use 125 decible protection muffs and as the summer approaches and my finances improve I will be looking for a good pair of electronic muffs.

    • Ditto on much of this. I’ve got several good sets of muffs. I use a set of EAR molded earplugs under the higher-end muffs.

      Tinnitus is really a drag, and it proves to the sufferers how much bone conduction of outside sound there is through your skull. Just putting on muffs and plugs isn’t enough on indoor ranges – I’ll also wear a knit cap to try to cut down on the conduction through my forehead and skull.

      The worst situation for me is a covered range outdoors, with someone lighting off a high-pressure magnum rifle that has a *&*&^ % %%%^%! muzzle brake on it. I hate muzzle brakes – with a flaming passion of a thousand suns.

  7. I use cheap ear plugs + cheap Champion electronic ear muffs when indoor shooting. Outdoor I just use the electronic. Works pretty good. In both situations I can hear commands and have conversations while keeping my ears safe.

  8. Caldwell electronic muffs. If shooting loud, .44 mag, or such I add foam plugs underneath.

  9. I have annoying tinnitus, but I don’t sleep with noise. I just deal with it as I have become accustomed to it. How I protect my hearing now is surefire earplugs with electronic muffs over that. I can still hear people talk to me and I don’t yell back at them. It also makes gunshots sounds like nothing. Sometimes when running around shooting you can have a plug shift or headset shift exposing your ear to noise. With the double layer, if that happens, you still have 26+ decibel reduction of sound.

  10. Foam disposables or generic muffs, coupled with a suppressor.

    If we’re talking hearing safety, let’s talk suppressors, right?

    • Exactly what I was thinking.

      Suppressors and electronic hearing protection (Peltor). The suppressors are for me and consideration for everyone else around me. The Peltors are for everyone around me that isn’t as considerate as me.

      “Can it!”

      • A can is great, except that pesky unconstitutional law and the $200 tax, and the extremely long waiting period. I will buy a can for every threaded gun I own as soon as I can buy them over the counter at any lgs.

        • Agreed, there are some drawbacks. Hopefully the HPA will pass and get signed into law. Until then, don’t be daunted by those pesky and unconstitutional laws. Can up!

  11. I got tinnitus like a mofo. Combination of shooting without ear pro (before it was a thing), fireworks, the army, and hair metal concerts. I just learned to deal with it and don’t notice it most of the time. I use regular orange ear plugs now and they work fine.

    • Same here.

      My tinnitus came about primarily from blasting a first-generation Sony Walkman clone from Panasonic.

      Hard rock concerts in civic centers with the sound shattering off the concrete walls got me wearing Cabot E.A.R. foam plugs, the yellow ones.

      Nowadays the constant sound of steam hissing stays with me all day and night…

  12. Impact Pro Ear muffs. Sometimes I use ear plugs if I am shooting 9mm or some other small caliber pistol. I have a couple of rifles with muzzle brakes, so when I shoot them I double up. I lost most of my hearing in my right ear in combat. Not being able to hear is not cute and is really agravating. Some of the younger guys I shoot with think you don’t need ear protection and that is very foolish.

    I sleep with a pair of impact pro ear muffs because they are low profile. My tinitus drives me crazy all the time but at night it is maddening. The ear muffs tend to create a bit of a “seashell” kind of sound that drowns out the ringing. Those of you who don’t take hearing loss serious are really being stupid. The research is out there that proves what is at risk and how to prevent hearing damage. You have one set of ears to make it through life please protect them. When you are older, wiser, and no longer invincible you will thank yourself.

  13. I have the same pair you do, Robert. They’re fantastic. I also have mild tinnitus, but from years of concerts.

  14. Most times, SureFire EP7 Sonic Defenders. If only I could get replacement foam pads. Those silcone ones (EP3) feel weird.

    Sometimes Howard Leight L3 muffs instead.

    • “Most times, SureFire EP7 Sonic Defenders. If only I could get replacement foam pads. Those silcone ones (EP3) feel weird.

      Sometimes Howard Leight L3 muffs instead.”

      SureFire EP7 — always.
      Howard Leight L3 — always.

      I have tinnitus anyway. Could it be delayed reaction to 155mm howitzer not far up range in the late sixties?

  15. I have some 3M industrial phones I like- they’re designed to wrap behind the head, for hardhats, so they are a lot more comfortable.
    Tinnitus is a regular companion for me too. I leave a fan on at night. But I think a set of ear pro for bedside might be a really good idea, honestly hadn’t thought about that.

  16. Decibullz, or Peltor Tactical Pro when shooting suppressed. Both when others are around. Got in the habit of “double plugging” when I was flying for the Army. Retired, 58, and hearing is still fairly good. Getting the wife and adult children into the same habit.

  17. What’s that? Johnny Unitas? Helluva football player.

    I’ve had tinnitus for a while, I can’t really trace it to one single event, just a lot of “little” stuff over the years.

    Nowadays I don’t even hop on a lawn mower without plugs and muffs.

  18. Gotta love Red’s, I go with plugs and earmuffs when I shoot there and I still have issues flinching, I can always count on groups opening up 1.5-2x when shooting there.

    I have some electronic ear muffs sitting on top of a shelf in the closet in the unlikely event that I need to go for the rifle.

  19. MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X with custom silicon ear plugs underneath.

    Really muffles the blast of even large caliber rifles w/ muzzle brakes, and USPSA Major PF Open Guns. And yet I can still hear stuff like ROs, and people around me. They also allow me to hook up my iPod so I have music when I am shooting.

    They are also low profile enough that I have no issues shooting rifles, or from unusual positions sometimes required for match shooting.

    • I used to have music when i shoot, until one day i noticed how *loud* the music was…

    • Agree with the Sordins. I’ve broken so much cheap active ear pros that I finally shelled out for the Sordins and holy crap are they awesome. Get the gel ear inserts with them and they are 1000X better than any of the Peltors, Howard Leights, etc out there.

    • +1 on Sordins. Yes, expensive (and you probably don’t need this particular model if you don’t expect to shoot in rain… but I did). But well worth it. If you get one that doesn’t come with gel caps, get them – also well worth it.

      Also, seriously consider the neckband version. I find it more comfortable than the traditional one in and of itself, but it also helps with eyeglasses, and can be worn with a helmet.

  20. For practice: Surefire EP4 with giant ProEar muffs (dunno the name, not electronic).

    Training school, HD, SHTF: Peltors. I believe there are better ones but they’re good enough and never failed me when the same conditions turned an HK45 into boat anchor.

    EDC: always have Surefire EP4 handy but they are for movies too loud. Just pray i dont have to get off more than 3 shots in a shoot… Hope i could just use the knife

  21. My rifle is .a 338 Spectre AR with a Sig .338TiQD suppressor. I fire subsonics 75% of the time and have them loaded 100% of the time for home defense they are very quiet. My hand gun though a 5-7, at home and in the woods has a Gemtec 57 suppressor. Part of my everyday carry is SureFire EP5s. At the range, I use a Howard Leight Impact Pro.

    • I too have a notable case of tinnitus, some from the Army some from foolishness. I may have also shot Janet Reno on my garage TV with a .38 and no hearing protection once.

  22. Huh? What did he say? I spent 23 yrs in the military shooting and blowing stuff up. Tinnitus and I are constant companions. I have some big ear muffs. Also, I’ve been known to double up with some regular foam ear plugs. I run a fan at night for my white noise projector.

  23. “Quiet Time” 33db NRR memory foam earplugs. I sleep in them too, as even a slight sound wakes me up otherwise. I buy them in a box of 80. They’re the best I’ve found in 25 years for blocking general noise, though I would like a good pair of active ear mutts that let you here people talking on the range while gunfire is going on in the background.

    • even a slight sound wakes me up

      I consider that a valuable asset that i never possess

      I fall asleep like a friggin pig. Unless somebody shoots me in the face i almost never wake up to anything but the loudest alarm

  24. I use Howard Leight electronic muffs and add generic soft ear plugs under those. I have mild tinnitus that I can generally ignore, but I do use a white noise generator and environmental sounds out of Pandora set to shut off after an half an hour so I can sleep. If they ever remove suppressors from NFA several of my guns will get that upgrade and others will be traded out so I can have that option.

    Only the ignorant, an idiot, or an anti-gunner would believe that a can is the tool of a criminal.

  25. Muffs over plugs from the local habor freight.
    I did forget once last year with my AR, one shot, still hear the ringing.
    But grew up pheasant hunting without anything for hearing protection.

  26. Outdoors, usually just Howard Leights.

    Indoors, pink foam plus the muffs.

    My hearing is very good for someone my age. I used to play in bands and I always used Sonic IIs when I went to concerts or clubs. People made fun of me but I have the last laugh. They’re all deaf now, or close to in.

  27. WHAT? HUH? My ear is ringing right now-unrelated to shooting. I did work in some very loud factories years ago. I protect my hearing NOW but I need to see a doctor about this…

  28. I Just use simple 3m corded E-A-R push in earplugs, they’re 25nrr and seem to work just fine for me.

  29. I’ve had tinnitus since multiple ear infections 20+ years ago. Depending on where I am and what I’m shooting, I use Cabela’s ear plugs (on the string), and more often now a pair of Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs. My tinnitus has been with me so long, sleeps not an issue, but I didn’t help it this last deer season when I forgot to put the muffs on and lit off a 270 from the inside a blind.

  30. Plugs and muffs too. Wanted to add that I think it helps you to shoot better as there isn’t that big bang to make you flinch.

  31. I continuously repeat….
    ” I can’t hear you..I’m not listening ” out loud.

    Seems to block most all noise…if that doesn’t work, I pretend the blasts are my wife talking to me.

  32. Ear plugs and David Clark 10A’s.

    And I really don’t like talking to people at the firing line.

  33. I didn’t know what tinnitus was until you mentioned it – and apparently I don’t have it.

    I don’t double up on hearing stuff. Got some muffs and some cheap disposables – I wear one or the other.

  34. Outdoor I use HL Impact Sport. With big bore stuff or indoor I double up with some ear buds. Never had a reason to try anything different.

  35. Depends on the range. Outdoors, or in a good indoor range, Remington Mickey Mouse muffs, At a bad range, I add foam plugs.

    My left ear canal is a bit strangely shaped, and I can never completely seat a plug in it. Hence muffs being my go to.

  36. AAC Element 2, and Cyclone. Silencerco Octane 9HD 2, Specwar 5.56, Harvester, and Spectre 2. YHM Phantom 5.56 SS.

    All the ear-pro I need….

  37. I always wear EAR soft foam plugs under the big blue ear muffs, but I’ve got a pair of MSA Sordins on the way. I also have silencers on some of my rifles and handguns and if I’m alone I’ll drop down to one set of hearing protection shooting them.

    I do already have tinnitus in both ears, from firecrackers, firearms, concerts, etc. Not too bad most days, but enough on others to really bother me.

  38. Fellow tinnitus sufferer here. Loud rock concerts in my teens and loud hockey games in my 40’s left me with tinnitus in my 50’s. I use the low profile shotgun muffs when shooting rifles and shotties and the big Caldwell muffs when doing everything else gun related. The old Howard Leight THunder 29’s were great and the Silencio Flight Deck muffs were too. I hate IE’s but use top quality plugs some times.

  39. My hearing is pretty unscathed. I’m only 31 and hearing protection has always been important, and since I was kind of musical growing up, I highly value my hearing. So I protect it like the precious possession it is. I’m nearly always doubled up. Shooting a mosin with only earplugs sure learned me to never not double up. Oy.

  40. Author also keeps a blindfold next to bed. You know… because when you can’t see your hearing is enhanced, right? (just kidding). Peltor Sport Tactical 100s. I’ve been through a lot of electronic muffs. These are far and above my favorite.

  41. Plugs and muffs, Surefire plugs and nonelectro muffs by some small company whose product I found on Amazon with a 34db rating.

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