The eternal ear protection battle of buds versus muffs rages on in the ears of shooters around the world. For the longest time, I’ve been a big fan of muffs. They’ve always been comfier to me. Electronic muffs have provided better audio quality and fit my bigger head a fair bit better.
The guys at AXIL were convinced they could change my mind with the updated version of their GS Extreme Bluetooth electronic earbuds with improved audio quality and increased battery life. They sent me a of the GS Extreme 2.0 buds to run and gun with, and they’ve been my go-to choice for about a month now.
GS Extreme 2.0 Specs and Features
AXIL’s GS Extreme 2.0 earbuds are wireless, Bluetooth-enabled earbuds that provide 29dB of noise reduction. That’s enough to provide most shooters with enough protection while shooting outdoors with handguns, shotguns, and most rifles. I might not take them to an indoor range to shoot a full-powered rifle, and I likely wouldn’t take just a set of muffs to do so, either.
The GS Extreme 2.0 earbuds sit deep inside the ear and come with a variety of tips for different levels of protection and comfort. The foam tips provide the most protection, with the silicone tips still providing enough protection for casual shooting outdoors. I’ve used both tips and for comfort, I prefer silicone, but I notice a huge difference in noise protection with the foam tips.
Like most modern electronic ear protection, the headphones can amplify ambient sound while instant reducing a noise above a certain threshold. For the GS Extreme 2.0 earbuds, that threshold is 85 dB.
The battery is an internal rechargeable type that charges via a mini USB cable that’s included. AXIL says they’ve more than doubled the battery life in the 2.0 version, reaching 25 hours when using hearing enhancement, 9 hours with Bluetooth audio on, and 8 hours when you’re using both modes. If the battery dies, your ears are still passively protected.
Comfort, Protection…and Rifle Stocks
The foam tips aren’t uncomfortable by any means, but you’re always aware of something plugged into your ear. With the silicone tips, I’d often forget I’m wearing them. Even after I was shooting and boxing up my gear, I’d still have the GS Extreme 2.0 earbuds in and forget they were there. They disappear into and around the ears with tugging, plugging, and prying at your ears.
The last two inches or so near the buds are a moldable material that allows the user to conform them around your ear for security and comfort.
They stay in place without issue and don’t fall out or slip, even when moving and shooting. Other experiences with wired earbuds have left me desiring a more secure attachment. I’ve had moments where the seal protecting my ears broke without me noticing until a shot’s been fired. The moldable rear portions of the earbuds keep them locked in place.
Using ear muffs is mostly easy enough. The only time I’ve found them cumbersome is when it comes to shooting a traditional rifle with a magnified optic. Muffs tend to get in the way of a good cheek weld, and that’s a big reason why earbuds plugs work so well and why so many people prefer them.
The GS Extreme 2.0 buds allow you to get a nice, tight cheek weld without discomfort. Going from muffs to earbuds on a rifle feels like switching to easy mode, especially with a low-mounted optic.
I’m not much of a high-powered rifle shooter. It’s expensive, and my at-home 100-yard range doesn’t let me make the most out of full-powered rifle rounds. The majority of my shooting is PCCs, handguns, shotguns, and intermediate rifles with those calibers at an outdoor range. The GS Extreme 2.0 earbuds offer complete and total protection without any real difficulty for the majority of shooting I do.
So to test the protection these things offer, I grabbed a Big Horn Armory 500 Auto Max AR pistol equipped with a brake. It’s the loudest gun I have and one of the most unpleasant to shoot for sure. With the earbuds in place, I casually touched off a few rounds of mighty 500 Auto Max.
My shoulder hurt, but my ears didn’t. Granted, it was an outdoor range, but I was also using the silicone tips at the time. No ringing ears, no deep discomfort in my ears, nothing but the sound of the Wu-Tang clan serenading me.
The GS Extreme 2.0 earbuds offer Bluetooth audio for phone calls, music, or whatever else you want to listen to or broadcast. Additionally, the external microphone amplifies ambient noise so you can have a clear conversation with the people around you while gunfire is going off around you.
You can use each feature independently. You don’t need to use Bluetooth compatibility to use the external amplification or vice versa. Shooters can use both at the same time and independently control the volume of either setting. Two remotes hooked to the wires allow you to control either feature without having to look at what you are doing.
AXIL’s GS Extreme 2.0 earbuds give you clear and consistent audio with either the internal Bluetooth or external microphones. The sound quality is equivalent to standard music earbuds. I’m no audiophile, but the sound is crisp and clear, and I can appreciate it.
Overall, the GS Extreme 2.0 earbuds sound fantastic, are comfortable, and provide plenty of hearing protection for a modest set of earbuds.
Specifications: AXIL GS Extreme 2.0 Electronic Earbuds
Protection Rating: 29 DB SNR with foam tips, 19 DB with silicone
Bluetooth Audio: 5.0
Noise Threshold: 85 dB
Sound Spectrum: 0HZ-40,000
Ratings (out of five stars)
Audio Quality * * * *
They sound clear to me, and I’m not a huge stickler for my headphones. However, they are much clearer than most gun-based headphones I’ve tried. I can make phone calls easily and hear my music and podcasts without issue.
Ergonomics * * * * *
The AXIL Extreme 2.0s are lightweight, comfy, and easy to mold for a sure fit. The variety of earbuds makes it easy to get a comfy fit, and the molded portions make them easy to fit my ears. I found them so comfy that I used to mow, run, and exercise.
Protection * * * * *
They seem to work perfectly for the majority of weapons at an outdoor range and provide consistent protection. Plus, they stay put when in place. The only time where I would double up is at an indoor rifle range, but I’d do that with any earbuds or muffs.
Overall * * * * ½
Are there better earbuds out there? Maybe, but I haven’t found them yet. I’ve tried a number of them and have always gone back to muffs. However, I might be sticking with the GS Extreme 2.0 earbuds.