Best Shooting Hearing Protection (Earmuffs, Electronic Earmuffs, Earplugs)

New big article about hearing protection. The noise level of the shotgun shot is more than 150 dB. The threshold of pain is considered to be 140 dB. This means that shooting without hearing protection can cause sudden hearing loss with complications.

Shotgun Shooting: Lesson 1, Safety First

Due to many requests from readers, I am starting posting shotgun shooting lessons.

First of all, you need to understand safety rules. The best rules I know are the ones by Colonel Jeff Cooper.

Four Rules introduced by Colonel Jeff Cooper:

1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.
4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.

TRANSPORTATION

You need to protect your shotgun during transportation. Most sights are fragile, especially with fiber optic inserts. Also, it is possible to scratch finish of your shotgun.

You can read more in my article: Shotgun Carrying Cases.

Good case enables you to have all necessary equipment: earmuffs, glasses, belt, shell caddies, cleaning kit, timer, knee pads, chokes etc.

CARRYING ON THE RANGE

Take shotgun out of the case only vertically. This way, you won’t point your firearm into unsafe direction.

Always carry a firearm on a range with muzzle pointing up. Shotgun must be unloaded, load it only before shooting. Always check a firearm is unloaded after each training.

Firearm checking procedure:
1. Unload magazine tube and chamber.
2. Make visual and touch inspection.
3. Hammer down, open action.

EAR AND EYE PROTECTION

Shooting Hearing Protection (Earmuffs, Electronic Earmuffs, Earplugs, Combat Earplugs)

Ear amd eye protection are must have for all shooters. Shooters and spectators must wear earmuffs/glasses on the range. Eye or ear injury is very easy and cheap to prevent, but very difficult and expensive to cure once it has happened. Always wear eye and ear protection.

Attention: Regular eye glasses will not help to protect your eyes when using a shotgun, and even can cause worse injury when fragmented. Always use proper ballistic glasses.

Remember, the noise level of the shotgun shot is more than 150 dB. The threshold of pain is considered to be 140 dB. This means that shooting without hearing protection can cause sudden hearing loss with complications.

The Best Shooting Hearing Protection: Electronic Earmuffs

Electronic earmuffs are the newest kind of technology that you can wear to block noise at the firing range. Many people have misconceptions about electronic earmuffs because they think the electronic attribute has something to do with enhanced noise cancellation abilities. The truth is that electronic earmuffs will block gunfire noise just as much as passive earmuffs. The only difference is electronic earmuffs still let you hear normal sounds just fine. They only block noises that are very loud, which are approximately over 85 decibels. The earmuffs are built with special electronic circuitry that is made to suppress these loud sounds every time they are made. This means you don’t hear the sounds as intensely when you are wearing the earmuffs. But if the sounds are under 85 decibels, like in normal conversations with people, you will be able to hear them just fine.

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Earmuffs
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Earmuffs

Electronic earmuffs are built to be comfortable and lightweight. Besides using them for just at the firing range, they also give hunters a whole new hearing ability they didn’t have before. Traditionally, hunters either had to go without earmuffs and risk damaging their ears from the rifle noise, or they had to wear earmuffs and not hear any sounds. This means they couldn’t hear the bushes rattle when a deer was nearby. The new electronic earmuffs are perfect for these situations because they will protect your ears from the sound of the rifle and still allow you to hear the dear moving near you. This gives hunters a whole new advantage to their hunting abilities that they didn’t have before. When the earmuffs block the high intense sound of gunfire, it lowers the noise to about 24 decibels. Then it takes around one second for the noise reduction to stop and go back to normal.

Electronic earmuffs are relatively cheap. The average pair costs around $20, so you don’t have to spend a lot to get this new hearing technology. However, the amount of noise reduction usually depends on the quality of the electronic earmuffs. You might get down to 24 decibels with a $20 pair of earmuffs, but an $80 pair of earmuffs could get you down to 18 decibels. It is not much of a difference, but it may be to you. Also you will have to purchase batteries for the device as well. Some brands use two AA batteries and others use four AAA batteries. But they all serve the same basic purpose. Overall they are a pretty good investment and you should consider getting them if you frequent firing ranges or go hunting.

Shooting Hearing Protection: Earmuffs

Earmuffs are commonly found at firing ranges because of their enhanced ability to reduce the sounds of gunfire. They basically form a seal that surrounds the outside of your ears. This prevents noise from getting into your inner ear canal. Earmuffs contain a plastic or metal band that holds itself in place over your head to create a pressure fit. There are two kinds of earmuffs; electronic and passive. The electronic earmuffs contain noise reduction technology to reduce loud sounds while allowing you to hear normal volume sounds. Passive earmuffs are the traditional kind that most people have used for decades. These earmuffs have acoustic foam built inside of them that are made to block sound waves from entering the ear canal. They don’t completely take away gunfire noise, but they reduce it to the point where you can barely hear it. The only disadvantage with passive earmuffs is you also don’t hear anybody else talking to you either. This is the main distinction between the passive and electronic types.

Shooting Hearing Protection (Earmuffs, Electronic Earmuffs, Earplugs, Combat Earplugs)
Shooting Hearing Protection (Earmuffs, Electronic Earmuffs, Earplugs, Combat Earplugs)

Despite the bulkiness of earmuffs, many people consider them to be more comfortable than earplugs. For one thing, earmuffs are extremely easy to wear. You don’t have to worry about fitting a plug into your ear canal while hoping that you blocked it out completely. With earmuffs, you just place them over your ears and then you are done. If someone is talking, you can just take them off and listen to what they have to say. Then you can put them back on afterwards without any hassle. This simplicity goes a long way with people and that is why earmuffs have stayed in existence for so long.

There are three ways that earmuffs are built to wear. The traditional way is placing them over your head like you are wearing headphones. Another way is to wear them behind the neck, which is similar to the new style of headphones where the support goes behind the neck inside of on top of the head. Some people find this style more comfortable, but both versions provide the same level of noise reduction. In some situations, you may be wearing a hard hat with earmuffs mounted into the accessory slots on the sides. These are less likely to be found on a firing range and more likely to be found in a factory or construction site. Whichever earmuffs you choose to protect your ears at the firing range, it is certainly better than having no earmuffs at all.

Shooting Hearing Protection: Earplugs

Earplugs are tiny lightweight objects that fit into your ear canal. This ultimately prevents sound waves from entering your ear canal, so you won’t hear anything. There are many benefits to using earplugs to block out noise from the outside world. For one thing, earplugs are extremely cheap because they are small and do not contain any electronic parts. The most common earplugs are made out of foam. Since they are not as big and bulky as earmuffs, you can go to sleep with them in your ears while still staying comfortable. Foam is soft and bendable, which makes them easy to fit into any ear canal without causing irritation. There are other kinds of earplugs made out of harder materials, like plastic and wood. These materials usually do a better job of blocking sound waves from entering your ear canal, but they are also very uncomfortable. If you were to go to sleep wearing wooden or plastic earplugs then you would probably feel irritation all night long. It all depends on the person and if they can find a pair of earplugs that fit them properly.

Surefire EP4 and EP5 Sonic Defenders Earplugs Review
Surefire EP4 and EP5 Sonic Defenders Earplugs Review

Earplugs are often used at firing ranges to block the loud intense sounds of firearms. By wearing earplugs while shooting, you won’t have any weight of earmuffs clinging onto your head. This will help you focus and be more comfortable at aiming your weapon. However, you have to be sure you put the earplugs in your ear canal properly. It is easy to use earmuffs because they just cover your entire ear. That is how you will know that you put them on properly. But with earplugs, you have to make sure your entire ear canal is blocked. If the plug is tilted or not in all the way then there could be an opening for the loud sounds of gunfire to reach your eardrum. That is why some people prefer earmuffs over earplugs. Again, it is all about preference and what works best for you.

There are new kinds of earplugs out that you can customize to mold to the exact structure and shape of your ear. These earplugs are made out of a soft non-toxic hypoallergenic silicone material that you can shape to fit your ears completely. This means you don’t have to stick anything hard directly into your ear canal. Instead this soft material will fill every opening in your ear and create the same level of noise reduction as most earmuffs can.

Surefire Earpro Sonic Defenders

I decided to test Surefire Earpro Sonic Defenders. They are inexpensive, compact and block loud harmful sounds. These earplugs are little different from regular ones, they have retention rings that lock the earplugs in place.

Hearing Protection is very important when shooting.

Surefire Earpro Sonic Defenders
Surefire Earpro Sonic Defenders

These earplugs block all sounds, so you cannot hear anything. Just like regular earmuffs.

Surefire Earpro Sonic Defenders are good but I prefer my MSA Sordin earmuffs.

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Shooting Hearing Protection Review

The best shooting earmuffs ever! -This is what I can say about MSA Sordin Supreme Pro :) Now let’s take a closer look at these earmuffs…

These earmuffs are very expensive but surprisingly popular. This was a mystery for me until I got them. Comparing to all other earmuffs which I tested: Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection, Peltor Tactical 6 Electronic Hearing Protection and they are much more sturdier and solid.

As you may know, all instructors recommend to use the same earmuffs all the time because you get used to them. Don’t change earmuffs before competition because unusual equipment becomes irritant. When you wear the same equipment from training to training, you simply don’t feel it and even forget that you have glasses and ear pro on.

So, the biggest disadvantage of this hearing protection is that it isn’t cheap. But MSA Sordin is worth it. They are very comfortable for the all day wear. These shooting earmuffs will work for more than 200 hours on 2 AAA batteries. They come with auto shut-off function.

Microphones are waterproof and wind-proof. They provide stereo sound, so you can easily understand where sounds are coming from.

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro are waterproof, so you can wear them even when it’s raining.

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Earmuffs
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Earmuffs

The controls are the best from all earmuffs. You have three buttons and also hear a tone when turning them on or off which is very convenient.

Slim, low profile cup design makes shouldering of long guns easy. I’ve never had a problems shouldering a shotgun or rifle. Also, they are pretty compact when folded, but they cannot be completely folded because of the design of the battery compartment screw:

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Shooting Hearing Protection Folded
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Shooting Hearing Protection Folded

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro are electronic earmuffs which enables you to communicate with your friends and hear commands of instructor but reduce impulse noise from firearms. This way, you don’t need taking them on and off. Anyone that has fired a weapon without ear protection knows the discomfort and even pain caused by the noise.

Leather head band on MSA Sordin Supreme Pro is a very good addition which makes it comfortable to wear earmuffs for a long time.

There is an auxiliary input port which you can use to listen to a music or connect radion.

Not sure if it’s important for you but you can use them under helmet.

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro earmuffs also can amplify sounds if needed.

You won’t regret buying the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro earmuffs, they are well worth it!

Recommended Product:
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Earmuffs
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Earmuffs
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Earmuffs

MSA Sordin Supreme Gel Ear Cushion Hygiene Kit

As you know, I think that MSA Sordin Supreme Earmuffs are the best hearing protection the money can buy.

There is one thing that you can upgrade even in these top earmuffs. There is MSA Sordin Supreme Gel Ear Cushion Hygiene Kit which comes with gel spacers. Standard foam spacers are good but gel ear seals provide tighter seal between earmuffs and ear. This is especially important when wearing shooting glasses (I think that eye pro is must for any shooter).

Gel ear seals add weight and are little thicker but they make earmuffs even more comfortable.

The MSA Sordin Supreme Gel Ear Cushion Hygiene Kit is little expensive as earmuffs themselves but recommended.

MSA Sordin Supreme Gel Ear Cushion Hygiene Kit
MSA Sordin Supreme Gel Ear Cushion Hygiene Kit

Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff Review

Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuffs are the most popular ones. I see them on many shooters on the range, they are top sellers in internet shops. This is because this earmuff is the best bang for your buck.
They are inexpensive, high-quality and good looking.

Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff Review
Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff Review

These compact and lightweight electronic earmuffs let you hear conversations while blocking out dangerous noise such as gunfire. The electronic earmuffs will shut down when sounds above 82 dB are detected to allow the earmuffs passive hearing protection to take over.

When in amplification mode directionally placed microphones help detect where the sound is coming from. The AUX input accepts 1/8″ (3mm) stereo plug (the patch cable is included) which allows you to connect an MP3 player, radio, or other audio device. The electronic muffs automatically shut down after four hours to prolong battery life. The muffs are designed so you shoulder a weapon and not have the weapon hitting the bottom half of the ear cups.

It allows for a better cheek weld because of the low profile design. Earmuffs can be used when working around noisy equipment and the fact you can connect an MP3 player is ideal when working with heavy equipment where it is not necessary to hear voice commands from others. Earmuffs work great for mowing the lawn and having the ability to connect your favorite music device is ideal.

Shooter with Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff
Shooter with Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff

The amplification works good and must be adjusted so when you do fire your weapon the gunshot is deadened. A simple adjustment is all that is needed. In a hunting situation, you can adjust on the “fly” to make sure, you can hear other hunters and game and then have the ability to deaden the shot. This means you can leave the muffs on instead of trying to find a place to store them when not shooting.

Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff is sturdy and lightweight and can take the abuse out in the field.

One of the problems shooters tend to have is not having equipment that works together, so if you have ear muffs that get in the way of your cheek weld or do not work with certain protective helmets then the product has lots it usefulness and in some cases gets shelved.

The Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuffs according to users will fit under certain helmets and does not interfere with your shooting position.

Electronic earmuffs are not water-proof but can be used in the rain and other bad weather.

Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff has the best cost-to-benefit ratio. Highly recommended.

Recommended Product:
Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff
Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff
You can buy Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff on Brownells

Peltor Tactical 6 Electronic Hearing Protection Review

Manufactures’ Specifications/Description
• Compact and small sized stereo hearing protection
• Electronics built in
• Slim dome that amplifies audible sounds while virtually eliminating clearance problems from any gun stock
• Able to hear range commands and other normal conversations
• Suppresses hazardous noise above 79 dB
• NRR rating of 19 dB

Peltor Tactical 6 Electronic Hearing Protection Review
Peltor Tactical 6 Electronic Hearing Protection Review

The Peltor Tactical “6” Electronic Hearing Protection is suited for applications such as when sighting down the barrel and you are trying to find your cheek weld. You simply do not want your earmuffs banging the stock each time. You do not want the earmuffs getting in the way when you shoulder your weapon as well.

The more convenient ear protection is to wear the more it will be worn. It is especially important that younger shooters have quality ear protection, and it is up to you to ensure they realize the importance of it. Of course, the more stylish and advanced the ear protection is the more it will be worn by younger shooters. The Peltor Tactical “6” Electronic hearing Protection is ideal for younger shooters.

An electronic vent on these hearing protectors reduces impulse noise from firearms reducing to harmless levels of 82 dB. Each earmuff has a separate microphone, receiver, amplifier and volume control.

Because of the compact size they can be carried anywhere. Keep a pair in your range bag, glove compartment, and everyday carry bag. The hearing protection from Peltor is ideal for target practice, competition shooting, and tactical as well as, home/personal defense situations.

Peltor Tactical 6 Electronic Hearing Protection Review
Peltor Tactical 6 Electronic Hearing Protection Review

Your hearing is extremely valuable and you do not know how valuable until you begin to lose it. The firing a weapon without ear protection will result in permanent hearing loss. Even if you have some level off hearing loss wear your ear protection to prevent more and make sure it is quality protection. Protection that allows you to hear normal sounds while reducing or eliminating the danger from impulse sounds.

From the moment you step on the firing range have your protection on and with the Peltor Tactical “6” Electronic Hearing Protection you can be assured you will not miss any range commands.

These hearing protectors are ideal for sport shooting and competitive matches where it is important to be able to hear the announcements clearly. One of the reason shooters do not wear ear protection is because it is bulky, cumbersome and makes talking difficult because of the echo and you cannot hear normal sounds.

Taking them on and off to hear conversations means you may not have them one when there is a gunshot. Anyone that has fired a weapon without ear protection knows the discomfort and even pain caused by the noise. Your ears will ring for hours making hearing anything difficult, not to mention talking, because of the ringing.

The Peltor tactical “6” allows you to adjust each ear. Typically, shooters will have varying levels of hearing loss and one ear may be less or more so having adjustments can “even” out the sounds. The “shooting ear” can be adjusted because it will be closest to the noise while the opposite ear can be adjusted to listen for commands or even normal conversations.

There are only two important disadvantages of this earmuffs:
1. It is pretty difficult to change batteries.
2. There is no automatic shut-off feature which prevents excessive battery loss in case you forget to switch off earmuffs.

I have used them for about 2 years without any critical problems. But when choosing between Peltor Tactical 6 Electronic Hearing Protection and Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff, I would choose Howard Leight.

Recommended Product:
Peltor Tactical 6 Electronic Hearing Protection
Peltor Tactical 6 Electronic Hearing Protection
You can get Peltor Tactical 6 Electronic Hearing Protection on Brownells

Surefire EP4 and EP5 Sonic Defenders Earplugs Review

I recommend always using hearing protection on a shooting range. I use MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Shooting Hearing Protection, they are expensive but they are the best electronic earmuffs the money can buy.

But I decided to get earplugs to test them and see if they can replace earmuffs.

Surefire EP4 and EP5 Sonic Defenders Earplugs Review
Surefire EP4 and EP5 Sonic Defenders Earplugs Review

EP5 earplugs block all sounds. EP4 earplugs allow to hear surrounding sounds but block loud harmful sounds.

I have tested EP4 and EP5 earplugs. They are very comfortable, they stay in place. I liked EP4 because you are able to hear some sounds. Not as good as in electornic earmuffs but you can still hear when someone is talking to you.

I don’t like EP5 earplugs which block all sounds. They are like regular earmuffs.

It is good idea to have earplugs in your range bag. They will save your hearing if you forget your earmuffs at home.

Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection Review

Uses for this item, include target practice, hunting, competition shooting, training of shooters, tactical and personal/home defense.

The biggest advantage are leather ear seals and headband. They make wearing of this earmuff extremely comfortable for a long time. Much more comfortable than Peltor Tactical 6 Electronic Hearing Protection and Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff.

Anyone that has ever worn ear protection knows that after a while the ears can begin to burn and in some cases, the discomfort is so great you have to remove the protection. The Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection is comfortable enough to leave on for hours without any discomfort. They are lightweight and easily adjustable.

But Brownells Pro Series earmuffs are little bulky, they are not as compact as other earmuffs. They also not as compact as other earmuffs when folded. This is one of the things that can be improved in future.

Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection
Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection

I like the fact that Brownells Ear Pro muffles the gunshot but allows the shooter to hear others in particular the range officer/manager.

Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection
Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection

The earmuffs fold into themselves for easy storage and the batteries are easy to insert and/or remove when needed.

Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection
Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection

I would prefer a steel headband instead of plastic one for additional reliability.

The individual ear adjustments are ideal and enables you adjusting each ear as you wish.

The adjustment knobs are pretty big, I would like to see more low profile design. The audible click on/off makes it easy to determine if the switch is activated.

Some lesser quality hearing protection will have a “tinny” sound but this is not the case with the Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection. The sound is normal and there does not appear to be an echo, which is common when wearing ear protection.

Anyone that has worn ear protection knows that your own voice can echo in your ears, which is very irritating and may cause some you not wear protection at all times. With the new technology, the Brownells series eliminates that problem.

Manufactures’ Description/Specifications

NRR 26 leather ear seals and headband. Uses four (4) 1.5-volt N cell batteries (included); expected normal use battery life: 400 hours.

• Blocks dangerous noise and yet lets normal sounds through
• Snug fitting with advanced dynamic compressions circuitry with less than 5.5 millisecond “attack time” to reduce the sound of gunfire and other loud noise to a safe level
• Allows sounds below 70 dB so you can hear and understand range commands and normal conversations from people standing nearby
• Microphones built in gives you a 360ᵒ sound range that helps you determine the direction of sound
• Each ear piece has its own volume control with an audible “click” on/off
• The foam padding over the ears is leather to allow your skin to “breath” which will help with sweaty ear problems typical of ear muffs
• Ear muffs are angled so as not to interfere with your cheek weld on either a shotgun or rifle stock

Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection is more expensive than other earmuffs but very comfortable to wear during long time. They are little bulkier than other earmuffs, but they are lightweight and easily adjustable. Recommended.

Recommended Product:
Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection
Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection
You can get Brownells Pro Series Hearing Protection directly from Brownells

Vitaly Pedchenko

My name is Vitaly Pedchenko, I started this blog and forum to share information, tips, photos, and advice about the Remington 870 shotgun, accessories, and upgrades. Now I also own AR-15 rifle and MP5 pistol caliber carbine. I am firearms instructor, competitive shooter and IPSC Range Officer. I participate in practical shooting and 3-Gun competitions because they are the best way for me to test equipment and upgrades under stress. I am member of the PRACTICA shooting club. I also participate in REAGO, which provides Tactical Combat Casualty Care training. The main purpose of the Rem870.com blog and forum is to have a compilation of information about the Remington 870 shotgun in one organized, accessible place.

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