Monday, February 10, 2014

Recommendations on Electronic Hearing Protection?

At the class yesterday, I used some of the hearing protection with active electronics that cuts out gun shot sounds, but allows everything at normal volume through.  Very cool!  I have thought about buying these in the past, because it both protects your hearing and lets other sounds through.  These particular ones were apparently a cheap brand that the instructor bought from Midway USA some time back.  He indicated that spending a bit more for a higher quality set might make sense.

There seem to be a lot of choices out there.  Any preferences?  I don't need the ability to plug in an MP3 player.  What would be nice is if they could tune out (or at least turn down) power tools as well. At least some of these electronic ear muffs can only shut off gun shots and other noises with a dramatic rise and decay characteristic.  It would be nice to have a set that could do double duty, both for shooting and in the shop.  (I wear passive muffs when using the chop saw or the band saw.  I also use them when drilling metal on the drill press.)

UPDATE: It took a while, but I found the set that my instructor was using.  And they cost $25.49.  Unless someone can point to a set that quiets power tools as well, I'll buy a set for me and a set for my wife.

UPDATE 2: I just ordered this set from Amazon.  With Amazon Prime, shipped cost was $20.41.  Reviews were generally quite positive.


  1. The ones your instructor was using are not electronic.

    Check out these:

    I have one or two of both types, and they are certainly (a) pretty decent for most range use, and (b) cheap enough to give a try to see how they are in the shop.

    My recollection (it's been a while since I've been in any classes) is that under sustained fire they pretty much stay off all the time (i.e. they're based on the sound level, not some kind of differentiator that only blocks the steep wavefronts of impulse noise.) So they might be fine in the shop--and if not, you've still got them for the range.

  2. I bought a set at WalMart that was a bit more than that. I don't know how well they work at the range, but one thing I did like about them was they also have sound amplification.

    (although, I don't now how SENSITIVE the sound amplification microphones are. They may only increase the volume of sounds you'd still be able to hear with the naked ear.)

  3. This would seem to be the same thing, at Amazon, without the MidwayUSA branding:

    Close to the same price, and maybe slightly cheaper if you have Amazon Prime, and can get it without paying shipping costs.

    Here is a Peltor model, that is apparently more popular, and for just about the same price:

    I was not aware how inexpensive these had become. I've been using an older Peltor model for several years, that I paid 3x times as much for.


  4. Looking around Amazon a bit more, turned up this model, which is a "behind-the-head" earmuff:

    If you wear a hat when shooting, this may be a better choice. Noise reduction is a couple of dB less than the others, though. I still may get a pair. I do usually wear a hat when shooting, and the over the head model is a bit awkward with that.

    FWIW, at the range, I will often use both earplugs and a earmuff, as earmuffs alone do not do enough to suppress the sound to my liking. Depends on whether or not I can hear the range officer. Sometimes, I'll plug one ear, and leave the other unplugged if having trouble hearing the range officer.


  5. Thanks for the link, Clayton. I'll have to get a pair each for my wife and I. We need to get out to the range one of these days.

  6. Much spendy, but very good. I have a set I use and 2 more to use with students.

  7. Peltor. I have a set, and they are amazing. Lots of models. Here is one, recommended for gun ranges, but also airport tarmac workers etc. Should fit the bill.

  8. Several years sgo when I was RSO at a local range, we used Pro-Ears (don't remember which model). They were very good but also pretty expensive. Other than those, I preferred standard muffs for pistol and molded silicon plugs (or foam plugs) for rifle. My main concern was the NRR rating and most electronic muffs tend to have lower NNR ratings than similar standard muffs. A friend at the range lent me his cheap electronic muffs and I thought they didn't react quickly enough (something to watch out for).

    I recently bought a pair of Howard Leight Impact Pro which are rated at NRR 30. I like them. I got them at Opticsplanet, but I just noticed that Overstock has them for about $60. Not cheap, but very nice for the price.

  9. These look to be Passive/Non Electronic ear muffs. They look like nice ones though.

    Shooting Gear ▶ Earmuffs & Ear Plugs ▶ Non-Electronic Earmuffs ▶

  10. Between my wife and I we have three sets.

    I have a pair of Howard Leight (

    A pair of Peltors (which my wife uses, and are buried in the garage right now I think) and a pair of MSA Sordin's.

    The Sordins are expensive, but (a) are lower profile and built so a rifle works slightly better and (ii) have a 1/4 inch input for sound. This is what I use for airline travel as well.

    The sordin's also have a "behind the head" clamp (as well as a strap over the head). I had hoped that this would make it easier to use with a hat for outdoor classes, but no such luck.

    The HLs were second best for rifle work, with the Peltors (being more "normally" shaped) were the worst.

    One thing I noticed is these *are not* as good as straight up protective earmuffs for sound suppression. If you're going to be shooting indoors use foamies too.

  11. I generally don't even both with domes for rifles -- foam ear plugs seem to work quite well, even though uncomfortable. Indoors, yes, I will use foam as well as dome.

  12. Many instructors are "requiring" electronic muffs for class work, even if you're doing rifle stuff.