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In this article we’re going to talk about ear protection. This includes everything from foam inserts—those yellow or orange pugs—to the high-end noise-canceling headphones.
Whenever you’re shooting, using firearms, or using power tools for that matter, you really need to use your protection. The advantage of using foam plugs or standard over-ear muffs is they prevent any noise from getting into your ear canal. The upside is, no noise is getting in, the downside is you don’t have a situational awareness of what’s happening because it blocks everything. So if you are on a firing line and you can’t hear anything going on around you; hard to hear range commands, hard to hear comments from other shooters. If you are doing any type of instruction or training or competition, most people start looking at some alternatives to the low-end earplugs or earmuffs.
So let’s talk about some electronic ear protection that has noise cancelling features to allow you to hear what’s going on around you, but still protect your hearing.
Howard Leight Impact Sport
At the low end of the spectrum, we have Howard Leight Impact Sport. The thing I dislike about these earphones is the lack of seal around my ears and jaw. If I’m moving around a lot, especially with longer guns like a carbine or shotgun, they get bumped by the butt of the weapon and the seal gets broken around the ear. When this happens they don’t provide the type of protection I want for my ears. Additionally, if you are using them in rainy conditions they have a tendency to short circuit and stop working.
If you will be shooting indoors or only on dry days and won’t be doing any movements that might displace the ear muffs from around your ears, these are a great low-price option.
Pro Ears – Pro 300
The Pro Ears Pro 300 series are a significant step up. They retail for about 3-times as much as the Howard Leight’s above but provide a better experience overall. These phones have adjustable microphones on both sides so you can adjust ear-by-ear. They have the battery pack in the earmuff compartment which makes them feel a little more heavy than the higher end models.
The Pro 300s have a slightly inverted bevel on the lower part of the muff which allows you to get your head closer to your weapon. Due to the batteries being inside the muff, they don’t allow you to get as close to your weapon as the higher end models, but overall these are a great set of electronic ear protection.
3.5mm jack for radio (or mp3 players)
This is a living document and will change as we test more ear protection devices. Sign-up for the email list so you can be notified when it’s complete: