1. SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders
For those on a tight budget
Earplugs are a compact and convenient way to protect your ears when you’re around loud noises. What’s unique about the EP3 Sonic Defenders is that they have a small port that allows you to expose your ears to a bit more noise, while protecting you from the weight of sound coming from a gunshot. or a loud noise. These little ports let you hear important comms like range commands, but also don’t use batteries, so you don’t have to worry about carrying extra juice for your ear pro.
Advantages/Affordable and with a standard NRR of 24 dB
The inconvenients/May be uncomfortable for some people, easy to get dirty, difficult to clean
Conclusion/A simple, reusable form of hearing protection that does not require batteries
2. Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuffs
It was my very first pair of electronic hearing protectors and I still use them today. Howard Leight electronic earmuffs have a similar design philosophy to the SureFire EP3 earplugs, but take them to the next level in terms of technology. The earmuffs encompass the entire ear, giving you good passive hearing protection, but also add an electronic layer of protection and convenience by passing sounds that fall below the 82 dB threshold, and quickly shutting off highs. internal speakers when the earmuffs pick up noises that are above that, allowing your ears to stay protected while listening to range commands at a normal spoken level.
Advantages/Relatively affordable, durable, and with a few extra features for those who like to do comms or listen to music
The inconvenients/Not the best passive NRR
Conclusion/A great pair of simple electronic hearing protectors that won’t break the bank or complicate things.
3. Axil Ghost Stryke Extreme 2.0
The author’s choice
This is my current pair of hearing protectors. The Buds feature similar technology to the Howard Leight option, but they’re much lighter and don’t rely as much on the shape of your ear to sit in. The GS Extreme 2.0 headphones are powered by a built-in rechargeable battery with 16 hours of playtime when using both Bluetooth connection and active noise cancellation. It’s like having Bluetooth headphones, noise isolating headphones and electronic earmuffs in one product. Connecting these headphones through your phone will allow you to monitor outside noise and noise from your connected device independently.
Advantages/Lots of cool features and a good mix of lightweight design and good grip design
Conclusion/A great pair for competitive shooters or anyone who doesn’t like wearing earmuffs in the hot summer months (like me)
4. Peltor ComTac III Helmet
Peltor’s Comtac III headsets are some of the best because they’re built for some of the best. These military-grade headsets are capable of mounting microphones and PTT buttons, and can be integrated into dual or single comms systems so you can stay connected on the battlefield or with your group of friends surrounding you in the forest. Beyond the communication capabilities, the Comtac III headsets also feature a rifle-friendly design that won’t interfere with your cheek weld, and they also have one of the best passive noise reductions on the market and have Decent enough on-board drivers to deliver crisp images and clear communications and external noises which in some cases can improve your situational awareness.
Advantages/Electronic hearing protection designed to work well with rifle shooters and capable of performing communications
The inconvenients/Phrohibitively expensive for the most part and also quite bulky
Conclusion/A very high-tech and robust option for the discerning audiophile
5. MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X
All electronic active hearing protection headphones manufactured by Sordin are made in Sweden and demonstrate the highest craftsmanship, excellent wearing comfort and precision engineering. Each hearing protector is suitable for outdoor and indoor use and protects its user from unpleasant and harmful noises. This headset is designed for those who don’t want to sacrifice protection for communication. External microphones can even amplify quiet sounds around you up to four times their normal noise level. Perfect when you’re out hunting and waiting for a deer to turn the corner. The integrated digital electronics perfectly combine attenuated loud noises with amplified quiet noises.
Advantages/More affordable than the Peltor Comtac III models and about as good or even better according to some reviews
The inconvenients/Not as much after-sales support
Conclusion/A great option currently used by armed forces around the world
What does NRR mean?
NRR stands for Noise Reduction Rating. The noise reduction rating (NRR) is a measure of the effectiveness of a hearing protection device in reducing noise levels. Higher values indicate greater noise reduction. NRR values go up to about 30 dB. On the right is an example of an EPA label for a helmet with an NRR of 33 dB. You should aim for hearing protection with a noise reduction rating of at least 22 when you are near loud noises.
Are earmuffs better than earplugs?
There is some debate as to whether or not it is necessary to cover your entire ear to protect your ears. Many PPE documents indicate that earplugs are much more effective because they directly cover your ear canal and thus prevent the entry of more harmful noises. Others say covering your earlobes is just as important and hearing damage can still take place if you’re around extremely loud noises like heavy machinery, jet engines or gunfire. My recommendation would be to double down and wear in-ear earplugs plus earmuffs to cover all your bases – you only get one pair of ears and there’s no factory warranty on them.
What NRR rating is needed for shooting sports like hunting and clay shooting?
Most firearms are around the 140 dB mark, with centerfire magnum rifles being much louder. Most hearing protectors on the market today have an NRR rating of around 23 to 25, which is more than adequate for reducing a standard 5.56 caliber firearm from its harmful noise levels to something that is much safer for hearing. If you’re using a suppressor you can probably get away with wearing lighter hearing protection and with subsonic ammo you can probably shoot an entire afternoon without the need for earplugs. However, again, use your best judgment and if something seems to be too strong, double down.
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