Earplugs are idiot proof. Sometimes, I feel like an idiot. By the transitive property, I should be using earplugs always. Sometimes, you need the ability to be selective about what you hear. Like that time Nick Leghorn spotted nine pigs on the run before I did. Thankfully, I had my brand new Peltor headset cranked to 11. This is my first foray into the world of electronic earmuffs and I have to say that I am impressed.
Normally, I hunt with earplugs because muffs mess up my cheekweld, and they are hard to incorporate with a hat or beanie. I normally hunt solo so this isn’t a problem. Adding a hunting buddy certainly throws a wrench in the works. How am I supposed to communicate vital info to my hunting buddy with foam plugs blocking my auditory canal?
For those not familiar with how the electronic muffs work, imagine a normal set of “Mickey Mouse” hearing protectors. Now imagine a microphone connected to a speaker in each cup. Toss in some microchips and you’ve got the makings for a really cool auditory experience. Sitting in the blind, I was able to hear EVERYTHING. My breathing, the rustling of the fabric on my jacket, the wind in the trees, and the footsteps of rapidly approaching deer. Once Nick started shooting, the “brain” of the headset registered sounds above a factory programmed threshold and killed the input from the microphones thus creating a normal set of ear protectors.
The Peltor headset does all of that with stunning precision. I was actually kind of worried when we first went out. I had clap tested them and sure enough, they killed the sound. But what if they failed? Bleeding from the ears is not a good look on anybody. The best part was how fast it processed things. I could watch someone’s mouth move and the audio was synced perfectly. Surely, there was a lag (5 ms according to the internet), but it was imperceptible to me. The other really nice function was the return to amplified hearing. As soon as the shot was over, I was back to my regularly scheduled amplified listening.
The other thing that surprised me was how well they fit. I’ve worn them for hourlong stretches with no issue. The headband and ear cups are extremely thin and I’m almost able to use them with my rifle and keep a good checkweld. I had no issues wearing a beanie over the whole rig as you can see in this picture. I experienced zero chaffing, pinches, or otherwise.
Unfortunately, the user experience wasn’t all roses. There are three things that are a pain in the ass. Let me present them to you in an easy to read numbered fashion.
- The batteries are hard to replace. You have to remove the ear cup and foam to get at the batteries. This is totally possible and can be done in a matter of minutes, but there are some fragile electronics under that foam. It would be really easy to fat finger something and break things. Also worth noting is that there is not any kind of moisture barrier to protect said electronics. So when the summer rolls around, and the ear sweat starts rolling, you might have to hang these out to dry with some frequency (audio joke completely intended).
- It is really easy to accidentally click the dial on when you put the headset in the stowed and locked position. The metal band seems to roll over the right side muff and turn the dial enough to turn the muffs on. This is a small nagging point, but still something worth mentioning.
- Last, but not least, they work like utter dogshit at an indoor range. For those with damaged hearing, I will repeat. DO NOT WEAR THESE AT AN INDOOR RANGE. Stated noise reduction is only 19 dB. For reference, my favorite foamies boast a noise reduction rating of 32 dB. Keep in mind that the dB scale is logarithmic so this is a big difference. I took them to my local indoor range last week, walked in, and turned right back around. My ears honestly hurt after only 10 seconds at the range. Outdoors with plenty of room to dissipate sound, this is a non issue.
Specifications: Peltor Tactical 6S Active Volume Hearing Protector
Ratings (Out of five stars)
Feel and Function * * * 1/2
These fit very nicely and seem to be designed with some thought to minimizing impact to the user. However, they get dinged a full star and a half for the battery location and lack of moisture protection for the delicate electronic guts.
Overall Quality * * * * *
The quality is superb. Everything just seems to fit really well, the dials are rubberized and have a positive action to them. The whole unit just feels really solid.
Audio Quality * * * 1/2
The amplification is very good and on that metric would get five stars. There is very little static, fuzz, buzz, ringing, etc. However, when the shooting starts indoors, you are up a creek. Major points lost.
Overall Rating * * * *
If you’ll be shooting outdoors or hunting and want to amplify everything, but the shooting, these are a great buy. If you will only shoot indoors, take a pass and look for something with a better reduction in sound. I can’t wait to wear them at my CHL class in January now that I know it is hosted at an outdoor range.