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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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Weight: 8 ounces (without the necessary 4 AAA batteries)
Length: 8.2 inches
Width: 4.7 inches
Height: 2.9 inches
MSRP: $80
Street Value: Between $53.59 and $74.99

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.

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  1. Agree on using electronic muffs indoors. Even when you double up with earplugs it’s not enough hearing protection. Not for me anyway.

    An exception to the rule: they’re ideal for home defense. eMuffs amplify the sounds of bad guys and kills the worst of the blast noise (should worst come to worst).

    Note to the permanently paranoid: you WILL have instant, significant and maybe permanent hearing damage if you fire a shotgun indoors, which will limit your ability to assess further threats and make follow-up shots and listen to the quieter parts of Beethoven’s Ninth. You know, later.

    I keep a pair by the HD shotgun. Excellent review Tyler. Natty hat.

    • Thats why I intend to acquire a rifle that suppresses well for home defense — I’m thinking something like the honey badger…

    • are you using the foamies correctly? Although it may look quite goofy, to foam plug your left ear, reach over the top of your head with your right hand, pull up on the top of your left ear to expand the ear canal. Using your left hand, roll up the foamie & insert. Release the top of your ear, allow the plug to expand until you can tell you have a good seal. If you don’t get a good seal, repeat until you do or replace the plug. Reverse the ear/limb combo & repeat for the right ear.

      I find these same electronic muffs + foam plugs work excellent at the NRA range. 15 lanes of all calibers great & small. This allows you to communicate but not be overwhelmed by ear splitting sound. If you’re instructing, or being instructed this is very helpful.

    • My Howard Leight muffs work fine indoors, even with 30 cal rifles. Its nicer to double up on protection, but i’ve never had any ringing in my ears after shooting.

      How much static is there when your mic is turned up all the on these Peltors?

  2. I recommend you also check out the Howard Leight Impact Sport Ear Pro. The batteries are accessed from the outside through a simply cover and there is a single volume control knob.

    • I have the Howard Leight and they work well. The fit is a bit weird for me when I wear a hat, but once on you forget about them and they work just as Tyler described for the Peltor. Battery life has so far exceeded four hours and exchange is simple.

      Regular plugs and muffs made me lose too much situational awareness, and were less than ideal when receiving instruction.

      I consider them a great $40 investment.

  3. I just got this for Christmas. No problem if you leave the power on because you have to cycle the power every four hours anyway. Batteries last about 350 hours.

  4. Pretty expensive for what they do or don’t do. I prefer the custom molded plugs I have with their 29 db reduction and they are perfectly comfortable. I have electronic ones as well but paid only 30 dollars for them. Battery changes are easy and they work satisfactory. I will dig up the name for them.

  5. I am used to foam and plastic ear plugs as I wear them at work. You learn to work around their limitations.

  6. Hmm, I have the same ones that I use at an indoor range and I never thought
    it was too bad. My range has a lot of sound damping material around so maybe
    that helps. I was thinking about getting some custom foam plugs, maybe I should
    consider that more seriously.

  7. Tyler, like you I wear muffs with an NRR of 32db at the indoor range and it’s barely enough protection once the rifles and shotguns come out to play.

    BTW, you’ve seen me on some TTAG videos with my bile-colored muffs with antler drawings on them. If you see a goofier looking set somewhere, please let me know and I’ll buy them. I’m all about the style.

  8. I have Caldwell E-Max Electronic muffs that have 25db NRR. They work well outside and at indoor ranges too. The best part is that they are easy on the wallet. You can find them at different stores for around $20 a set. I have had them for over and year and they have been quite reliable.

  9. The Peltor MT15H7F SV Tactical Pro are far superior (albeit 3x more expensive) with 26db NRR.

    Batteries are dead easy to replace, you just remove a simple battery cover on the outside. You don’t have to disassemble the headset like you do with the Tactical 6S.

    Sound quality and the active noise cancellation is fantastic, the best of any active headset i’ve ever used.

    Even then, you still want to double up at indoor ranges — especially when those yahoos start blazing off rapid fire with their short barreled .223s.

  10. Total crap,I have had 6 pair everyone of them failed.
    As a shooting instructor these get used everyday ,
    I called Peltors and was basicly “too bad” you need to replace them.
    Ok I forgot to mention I also instruct at the police dept.
    Foam will work better,cheaper,longer than this crap

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