Going to the range is my all-time favorite outdoor activity but protecting my hearing is of utmost importance. If you plan to shoot make hearing protection a priority by choosing one of the best shooting ear protection options from our list below.
What is shooting ear protection?
Shooting ear protection refers to the use of earplugs, earmuffs, or electronic hearing protection to safeguard the shooter’s ears from the harmful noises that firearms produce.
It works by blocking out the high-pressure waves caused by gunshots and reducing the decibel level of the sound. It is crucial in protecting the shooter’s hearing as every single gunshot has the potential to cause permanent hearing damage.
Whether you are a casual shooter or a seasoned veteran, investing in high-quality ear protection is essential for preventing hearing loss or damage.
Best Hearing Protection for Shooting
Here are our picks for the best ear pro for shooting on the range or in competition.
Surefire Sonic Defenders
The SureFire Sonic Defenders are passive earplugs with filter caps that use a pressure diaphragm to block out noise above 85 dB.
The caps come in small, medium, or large sizes with a triple-flange tip for the best seal.
They are an excellent choice for hunting and range time and are low-profile, allowing for use with protective gear like plate carriers.
They have a patented EarLock design and a port-plug opening for passive sound.
The Sonic Defenders are trusted by the military and law enforcement and come in multiple color options.
The earplugs have a wire attaching the left and right plugs to avoid getting lost and have a porthole that runs through them with a closing cap that allows for hearing and talking while still protecting the ears from loud discharges.
New Impact Sport
The Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs offer both passive and active hearing protection for shooting, making them a great option for shooters.
These earmuffs amplify ambient sounds up to 5x but turn off when shooting, allowing you to have conversations on the range.
Like most electronic ear pro, when any sound over 85 decibels is detected, the electronic protection kicks in to provide hearing protection.
The ear cups were designed specifically to provide a good fit to protect your hearing at all times.
They run on two AAA batteries and have an auto-shutoff feature to conserve power, offering up to 350 hours of battery life.
Overall, the new Impact Sport earmuffs are a reliable and effective option for shooting ear protection.
New Impact Pro
The Impact Sport model is a great value choice for hunting ear protection. However, for those that want to better performance, the Impact Pro headset may be a better choice.
The Impact Pro headset has better noise reduction, which makes them a better choice for the shooting range.
At the same time, they are a little larger than the Impact Sports.
Walker’s Razor Slim hearing protection earmuffs are a top choice for shooters.
They feature four omnidirectional microphones that provide excellent situational awareness and a padded headband and soft ear cups that offer all-day comfort.
They provide ample electronic ear protection under most circumstances.
They also have Bluetooth technology, a low-profile design, and are easy to pack.
Protecting your hearing while shooting is crucial, and Walker’s Razor Slim earmuffs provide the comfort and protection needed for a successful shooting experience.
Axil GS Digital
The Axil GS Digital is a high-tech solution for hearing protection while shooting.
It offers 50% more decibel protection than other in-ear options and has up to 25 hours of runtime on a single charge.
The earbuds feature multiple function modes, including noise cancellation and hearing enhancement, and are Bluetooth-capable.
The earbuds also come with a 3-year, no questions asked, replacement guarantee.
While on the pricey side, the Axil GS Digital is a compact and lightweight option that offers industry-leading hearing protection and enhancement.
Peltor Ear Muffs
Peltor Sport Tactical 500 electronic earmuffs are the best hearing protection for shooting. With advanced noise-canceling technology, these earmuffs provide optimal hearing protection for competition shooters and those shooting indoors.
The contoured design of the earmuffs works well with long guns, and the recessed controls provide a lower profile.
Additionally, the replaceable ear cups and ventilated headband make these earmuffs comfortable to wear for extended periods.
Axil GS Extreme 2.0
The Axil GS Extreme 2.0 ear protection for shooting is a lightweight and Bluetooth-capable product that offers noise blocking when properly worn.
It has foam plugs that come in various sizes, ensuring an adjustable fit.
The earbuds enhance ambient sound while eliminating high dB noises, making them perfect for shooting.
It has sport hooks to get the best fit over the ear, and multiple sizes of tips to get a good fit.
It has up to 25 hours of run time with USB charging. The earbuds are also equipped with Bluetooth connectivity and volume control.
The earbuds are comfortable to wear for long periods of time and won’t affect your cheek weld when shooting a long gun.
AXIL TRACKR Blu
The AXIL TRACKR BLU electronic ear muffs use advanced technology to block out loud noises and amplify quiet ones, while also protecting the bones of hearing behind the eardrum from damage caused by the pressure wave produced by gunshots.
The Tracker is easy to adjust using the simple volume wheel on the side.
Its low-profile design makes it a great option for hunters and shooters who prefer ear muffs over earbuds.
AXIL XP Defender
The AXIL XP Defender earplugs are the ideal hearing protection for shooting, available in different sizes to provide a secure fit for any shooter.
These earplugs offer excellent protection from loud noises while having an extremely low profile.
The unique filter technology of the EP Defender earplugs allows for clear communication while still blocking out harmful noises.
These earplugs are trusted by military and law enforcement and come in multiple color options for use in tactical, hunting, and civilian situations.
The port-plug opening allows for passive sound, making them perfect for hunting or other situations where you need to hear your surroundings.
With a secure fit ear hook design, these earplugs will stay in place even during intense activity.
It is crucial to protect your hearing while shooting, and the AXIL XP Defender earplugs provide the necessary protection without sacrificing communication or comfort.
Benefits of using Shooting Ear Protection
Protection against Permanent Hearing Loss
Loud noises, such as gunshots, can cause permanent hearing damage. This damage can result in muffled sounds, ringing in the ears, and even complete hearing loss.
However, wearing proper shooting ear protection can greatly reduce the risk of hearing damage.
The goal of hearing protection for shooting is to get gunshots under the 140 dB limit, the level at which exposure can cause permanent damage.
By wearing shooting ear protection, you can protect your ears from the harmful effects of loud noises and ensure that your sense of hearing remains intact for years to come.
Ambient Noise Amplification
Using ear protection while shooting can significantly improve your shooting experience by enhancing ambient noise, and improving clarity of sound, and communication.
Shooting ear protection is designed to block out harmful noise levels while allowing you to hear important sounds such as safety commands, conversations, and natural sounds around you.
Active hearing protection is particularly helpful because it not only blocks out loud sounds like gunshots but also amplifies sounds that are not harmful to your hearing.
This allows you to have a conversation at the range, hear safety commands, and listen to your instructor without having to remove your ear protection.
Using ear protection ensures that you have a safe and enjoyable shooting experience, while also protecting your hearing from permanent damage.
Decreased Stress and Anxiety
Shooting can be a fun and exhilarating activity, but it can also be stressful and anxiety-inducing.
One way to decrease stress and anxiety when shooting is by using shooting ear protection.
Hearing loss and hearing-related conditions, such as shooters’ ear and tinnitus, can be caused by shooting.
However, wearing ear protection can prevent damage to your hearing and also decrease stress and anxiety.
Using both ear plugs and ear muffs at the same time can provide even more protection. Additionally, comfortable ear protection is important to prevent discomfort and pressure points.
In conclusion, wearing shooting ear protection not only protects your hearing but can also decrease stress and anxiety when shooting.
With many options available, it’s important to find ear protection that is comfortable and provides adequate noise reduction.
Wearing comfortable shooting ear protection can make a significant difference in your shooting experience.
It allows you to wear the protection for prolonged periods of time without feeling uncomfortable or experiencing pain.
Without proper protection, shooting can be quite painful and can lead to permanent hearing damage.
Good quality ear protection will feature comfort-enhancing items such as gel earcups, padded headbands, and ergonomically formed designs so that you won’t feel tempted to do without your hearing protection in the name of comfort.
When selecting ear protection, it’s essential to consider the fit and padding used in over-ear and in-ear protection.
Look for ear muffs with gel pads and earplugs that offer a custom fit. The key to comfort is having protection in your ears versus over your ears, which could be the difference between having a great time or having a real pain in your ear.
If you’re going to wear the ear protection for a long period of time, then comfort is going to be of extreme importance here.
Having comfortable ear protection can make shooting more enjoyable and less painful, allowing you to focus on your aim and technique.
Overall, investing in comfortable ear protection is crucial for both your safety and enjoyment while shooting.
Ability to Use Audio Devices with Muffs
Shooting ear protection muffs often come with an AUX input that allows for the connection of external audio devices, such as two-way radios or MP3 players.
This feature enables the wearer to stay connected with their team or listen to music while still providing hearing protection.
Improved Shooting and Hunting Performance
Using shooting ear protection can greatly improve shooting and hunting performance by preventing hearing damage and enhancing situational awareness.
Electronic earmuffs, like the Walkers Razors, allow for clear communication and the ability to hear important sounds in the environment while still providing protection from loud gunshots.
This can help hunters and shooters stay alert and aware of their surroundings, potentially leading to better accuracy and a safer overall experience.
Additionally, protecting one’s hearing can prevent long-term hearing damage and improve quality of life in the future.
How to use ear protection while shooting
Step 1: Choose your hearing protection
When choosing hearing protection for shooting, consider the type of protection you need, such as earplugs, earmuffs, or electronic hearing protection.
Look for features such as cut-outs for glasses and tactile controls for easy use with shooting gloves.
Ensure the hearing protection fits properly and is comfortable for extended wear.
Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and replacing worn-out ear cups, will ensure maximum effectiveness.
Step 2: Learn how to use your new hearing protection
To properly use your new earmuffs for shooting, follow these steps:
- Make sure the earmuffs are clean and free of any damage or cracks before use.
- Adjust the headband to fit snugly over your head, but not too tight. The ear cups should fully cover your ears.
- If your earmuffs have additional adjustment features, such as adjustable ear cups or a padded headband, adjust them for maximum comfort.
- Turn on any electronic noise reduction features if applicable.
- When shooting, make sure the earmuffs are securely in place and covering your ears at all times.
- If you need to communicate with others while wearing the earmuffs, consider using hand signals or removing one earcup temporarily instead of removing the earmuffs entirely.
- After use, clean the ear cups and headband with mild soap and water and store them in a dry, cool place.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your earmuffs provide maximum protection and comfort while shooting.
Remember to always prioritize safety and follow all recommended guidelines for proper use and maintenance of your earmuffs.
Here are some of the most common ear pro questions.
What are the best shooting ear protection products?
There are three types of shooting ear protection available in the market: earplugs, earmuffs, and electronic hearing protection.
- Earplugs are the least expensive option and fit in the ear, typically made of foam.
- Earmuffs fit over the ear and can be used repeatedly.
- Electronic hearing protection earmuffs reduce the sound of the shot while amplifying conversation and voice, allowing the wearer to hear conversations while protecting them from gunshot noises.
The best ear protection for shooting depends on individual needs.
Earplugs are affordable, but earmuffs offer better protection.
Electronic earmuffs are the most advanced option, but they are also the most expensive.
The Walker’s Silencer BT 2.0 is the best in-ear option, the Walker’s Game Ear Kids Muff is best for kids, and the Walker’s Razor Slim is best for all-day comfort. Aftermarket gel cups are the best ear pro upgrade.
What is the difference between earplugs and earmuffs?
Ear plugs and ear muffs are both effective forms of hearing protection when shooting, but they have differences in terms of comfort, convenience, and level of protection.
Ear muffs are easier to put on and take off, and offer a one-size-fits-all approach. They also provide higher levels of noise reduction and can have passthrough audio capabilities.
On the other hand, ear plugs require custom fitting and can be prone to misuse and improper sizing.
They offer more comfort and protection than muffs but with a lower protection level.
It is recommended to use both earplugs and earmuffs simultaneously to achieve optimal hearing protection.
Do ear muffs reduce noise to a safe level?
Yes, ear muffs can reduce noise to a safe level when used correctly.
Look for ear muffs with a minimum noise reduction of 15dB, but 30dB is preferable.
Pairing a good set of earplugs with muffs can further reduce noise by 10 to 15 dB.
Unpowered earmuffs offer similar sound reduction levels to earplugs but can be bulkier and prevent you from hearing.
It’s important to wear ear muffs correctly and consistently to protect your hearing from damage.
Are there any special features to look for when purchasing shooting ear protection?
When purchasing shooting ear protection, there are several special features to consider.
Cut-outs in ear cups can contour the shape of safety glasses or gunstock to the side of your head, while tactile controls are essential for easy use with shooting gloves.
Durability is another important factor, with electronic or passive earmuffs being ideal for most shooters’ needs.
Other features to consider include Bluetooth compatibility, audio jacks, battery life, replaceable ear cups, and padded headbands.
The type of shooting ear protection to choose from includes earplugs, earmuffs, and electronic hearing protection, each with its own benefits and suitability for different shooting applications.
Ultimately, the best shooting ear protection is one that is of high quality, worn properly and well-maintained.