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Axil introduced their new XCOR earbuds last week. The company tells us they’ve put a lot of time and effort into this design and after a busy week of shooting and travel with them, they have a very good product on their hands.

I’ve been a dedicated AirPods user for a couple of years. I don’t go anywhere without them and I’ve tried some good tethered electronic earbuds including Axil’s GS Extreme 2.0 buds. Wireless, however, is definitely the way to go.

What’s more, Apple AirPods don’t do me any good at the range. The XCORs were designed specifically for shooters, though non-shooters should be fans, too.

The Axil XCOR earbuds have a range of features that make them really functional and a pleasure to use. They come with silicon tips which are fine if you won’t be shooting. But silicon doesn’t provide enough sound insulation for most shooting situations. For that you need the foam tips that also come along with the XCOR buds.

Axil packs three sizes to fit virtually anyone. They’re very comfortable and do a great job of keeping range noise out. I’ve worn them for hours at a time without irritation.

In the week that I’ve had them, I’ve used them at both indoor and outdoor ranges. I’ve used them on airplanes and listened to music and podcasts while I walked the dogs. I never thought I’d find a better set of everyday Bluetooth buds than my AirPods, but the XCORs have officially become my first choice. They’re that comfortable and functional, and the sound quality is better.

The XCOR earbuds pair easily with your phone and a quick look at the instructions reveal the range of controls they give you. You can keep the electronics off to isolate yourself from outside sounds as much as possible, or turn let ambient sound in with one touch. The little rectangular tab switch on top of each bud (above) gives you three different volume settings for ambient sound.

Various combinations of taps let you start and stop music, skip or restart songs/podcasts, pick up or hang up phone calls…pretty much everything you want a premium pair of Bluetooth earbuds to do.

They also do a great job of protecting your ears when shooting without getting in the way like over-the-ear muffs do. They’re rated between 19 and 29 dB of noise reduction depending on the tips used and the electronic mode.

With foam tips they do a great job of managing the sound of gunfire outdoors. They do well with handguns indoors, too, but you may want to double up if someone’s shooting a rifle in the next stall. Axil has also done a good job of managing wind noise. You’ll hear it, but it won’t drive you crazy like it can with some electronic hearing protection.

Battery life is very good. They’re rated for 12 hours on hear control only mode, six hours for Bluetooth only mode, and four hours Bluetooth and hearing control. That’s significantly better than the tethered buds I’ve used and much better than AirPods. A fully charged charging case will give the XCOR buds two additional full charges before having to plug them in.

In short, I couldn’t be happier with Axil’s XCORs. No, they’re not inexpensive. MSRP is $349 (though Axil is having an introductory sale here. These are exactly the kind of electronic hearing protection a lot of us have always wanted.




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  1. Do they do any active noise cancellation? I bought the Axil Xtremes and was disappointed to find out they were just expensive earplugs that could do bluetooth and some passthrough.

    • The “noise cancellation” of the XCOR is the ambient sound turned off. On a plane, they were quieter than my AirPods with noise cancellation on. I tested them side by side by side.

  2. How is retention in the ear? They look to sit pretty deep, which probably means they are better than other earbuds I’ve used that want to fall out because there is weight hanging off of them.

    Are they in secure enough to wear when bouncing around on a bike? Slipping on a snowy log coming down a hill and busting your tail? Real questions lol.

    I have a set of Bose and I can’t keep them in riding my bike on the road.

  3. Ive never tried them but for some reason I just don’t trust earbuds for shooting. Just dont seem like they would do the job, the fit wouldn’t be snug enough or something it seems like. Love the idea, not intrusive at all when rifle shooting etc

    Can anyone else chime in with experience

    • Don’t have experience here because this is also my concern. I double up even outside, I’ve got very slight hearing loss and tinnitus. Paranoid about making it worse.

      I don’t find Dan untrustworthy, but speaking just for me and my circumstances, I can’t imagine ever using these things by themselves in an indoor range.

      • I have the extreme 2.0 axil’s. Got them about a year ago when they were 50% off. They are great. I have listened to books while hunting, and used them at the range, outdoors. They do as well as the foam plugs. I have been extremely happy with them. They do not work well doubled up because of the wires, bit it can be done.

      • “Don’t have experience here because this is also my concern. I double up even outside, I’ve got very slight hearing loss and tinnitus. Paranoid about making it worse.”

        Stick with passive ear muffs and foam plugs, “double up”.

        There are issues with all electronic ear bud things like this:

        1. Fit: They may seem to fit, but the reality for ear bud for noise reduction of impulse noise (e.g. firearm firing) is they have to fit and be molded to your particular ear and not be a ‘one size fits all’ to achieve their highest noise reduction. The ear canal has to be sealed properly and remain sealed which means a custom fit for your ear canal and not a ‘one size fits all’.

        2. Reduction: In electronic noise reduction/cancelling the reduction/cancelling factor rating in dB is average-vs-time. This is because of the way the attack and rise time for the average happens, the maximum noise reduction happens after the sound has started and not at the beginning of the sound. This means there is short burst noise energy that happens at the very beginning of an impulse noise (e.g. gun shot) which can still damage hearing even though our brain makes us think we don’t hear it because of the way the electronics average it out. Its similar to the ‘persistence of vision’ concept in humans that was taken advantage of for movies on actual film shown at 24 frames a second – it all seemed to be one fluid motion because our brains made it seem that way but in reality it was a lot of different still shot pictures being shown at 24 frames (“pictures”) a second – we just didn’t notice the breaks between the pictures but they were still there.

        3. Noise reduction is variable: Take a look at these in the article, see where it says “They’re rated between 19 and 29 dB of noise reduction depending on the tips used and the electronic mode” – this means the noise reduction is not a constant and relies on a ‘physical barrier’ (“the tips”) to seal the ear canal. The difference between 19 dB and 29 dB is, well, 10 dB – this is very significant – for “power” (the sound energy) 6dB is 50%.

        All this means that that more than 100 times the amount of sound energy needed to damage hearing still reaches your ear for a very short time at the beginning of a gun shot impulse noise. Repeated firing over time will still damage hearing.

        With suitable passive ear muffs and foam plugs (or just a good set of high reduction passive ear muffs) the protection is always there vs the electronic ear bud where the protection does not really begin until after a ‘harmful’ amount of noise has already happened. The electronic ear buds thing for weapons fire noise reduction is a ‘parlor trick’ that takes advantage of our brain inability to to recognize the very beginning of a high energy impulse noise (e.g. weapons fire) because of the way the electronic ear buds averages it out but the damaging sound energy is still there at the beginning of the impulse noise and happens very fast but you just don’t notice it with the electronic ear buds (and with most electronic head set type hearing protection).

        • Hearing damage can still be present even if you don’t notice it. It can be so slight that the body can ‘repair’ it over time, but the fact is that hearing was still damaged and even though the body may have repaired it (which is for extremely minor damage from one time exposure basically and even then its not a guaranteed thing the body will repair it. The body’s ability to repair physical hearing damage is extremely limited).

          Repeated (unprotected) exposure to high energy impulse noise (e.g. weapons fire), or one time exposure, will cause permanent hearing damage – period. You may not notice it for a while (or you might notice it right after it happens or soon after), but remember, our body’s age and damage that exists becomes more of a weaker point over time and this includes hearing. It may not be noticed at first for some people, everyone is different, but the damage is still there.

          It may manifest its self at first in different ways, it may be slight or not noticeable, it may be, for example, certain sounds are not as clear or seem like they don’t sound as ‘sharp’ any more. For example, certain letters in a spoken word may not be as clear and we ignore it because the word is familiar to us so we think we heard the spoken word clearly because our brains have filled in the ‘blanks’ of what we did not hear clearly but later in life we realize that we can’t really hear that letter very well. So later we realize this because the damage that started in the past has gotten worse to the point where our brains can’t ignore it any longer.

          So basically: Once your hearing is damaged, no matter slightly or not, its damaged period and that damage is not going to go away. And even if we may not notice it for a while the damage is still there.

          So when someone tells you how great their ‘one size fits all’ electronic ear buds seem to work to block out weapons fire noise, its a pretty safe bet their hearing has been or is being damaged by weapons fire impulse noise and they just don’t notice it yet.

          yes, even with electronic ear buds, like the ones in this article, still ‘double up’ with a set of good passive ear muff hearing protection over them.

        • Thanks, yeah I don’t like indoor ranges but if I go to one I use passive. Outside I use my Sordins because they’re slim and also when I take a class the electronics are superb.

  4. Blue Tooth
    What the fck is a blue tooth? Did it fall out of Paul Bunyans ox’s head or something.
    Everyday I pray a meteor shower will destroy every satellite in the sky.

  5. Got my XCOR delivered a couple of weeks ago (Australia here).

    Used them at Pistol indoor/outdoor range and rifle outdoor. Bloody amazing, had them in for hours and didnt even know I had them on. Crystal clear when someone is talking then reduces the report of rifle/pistol fire.

    I wear glasses and would often have issues with ear protection skewing the glasses frame and thus clarity…no longer an issue with these babies. Also can wear yellow over glasses with no problems.

    I do not use the bluetooth etc, just the noise reduction so battery life is great.

    Not cheap (our dollar is terrible atm) but worth every cent. I do not miss the mickey mouse ears and am never going back.

    • You can’t own pistols in Australia. The only thing you can do in Australia is take your gene transfer “therapy” jab and wear your piece of paper/cloth over your airway.


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