Unsuppressed gunshots can hurt ears, leading to damage. These gunshots can reach incredibly high volumes ranging from 140-190 dB. Because of this, it is almost inevitable to avoid experiencing hearing damage caused by the regular shooting. The loud shooting sounds make the best ear protection for shooting a must-have gear when going to any gun range. It is best combined with eye protection. That way, you can enjoy your time in the shooting range without worrying about any risk when shooting.
There is no possible excuse to say not to use ear protection for shooting. Forget about using cotton balls or tissues as alternative ear protection. They are not enough since they can do nothing in terms of preventing hearing damage. Good thing you can choose from different types of ear protection for shooting. Whether you worry about your budget or comfort, there can be an ideal ear protection that can fit your needs. So, let’s see those different types of hearing protection devices below.
Different Types of Ear Protection for Shooting
In general, the effective choices of hearing protection devices for shooting down to earplugs, earmuffs, a combination of earplugs and earmuffs, and devices with sound-circuit technology. There can be a suitable option for everyone—including you—as there is a wide array of options, from neon foam-on-strings to high-tech headphones. What’s more important, they can improve shooting experience and comfort. You know how to shoot, so you must also know how to protect yourself.
Now, let’s get deeper into knowing the different types of ear protection for shooting. Let’s discover what makes each option different from others, together with the pros and cons of choosing each type.
Traditional earplugs sport a small design. That’s why they can effortlessly fit inside, forming like a seal that blocks the loud shooting sound. Commonly, they are available in a wide variety of sizes, configurations, and materials. They are usually made from hypoallergenic rubber and moldable polymers. What makes them great is that they tend to be more efficient at handling low-frequency shooting noise.
PROS AND CONS OF EARPLUGS:
- Usually the least expensive option
- Highly effective in reducing shooting noise
- Low profile
- Can be disposable
- Good for tight spaces, no sagging
- Compact for transport; can be packed along with other shooting gear
- Most models are moldable for a custom fit
- The reusable earplug models are washable
- Available strung or unstrung
- Some earplugs are rated 30dB or even better for drastic improvement in effectiveness
- Soft and comfortable in ears
- Sharing is not possible because of fit
- Wide quality spectrum
- High comfort is not guaranteed as the comfort varies
- Some earplug models are quite difficult to pair with earmuffs
- The fit can create constraints in narrow or wide ear canals
- Muffles all sound indiscriminately
- Vulnerable to the fumble and loss factors in dirty shooting environments
- The moldable ear plug models are pretty expensive, and they are also quite challenging to alter for a custom fit
- Fit can loose because of sweat and movement
- Foam models need proper roll-down insertion, removal, and reuse
Traditional earmuffs are styled differently compared to earplugs. In fact, these hearing devices sport headbands and have foam pads that sufficiently cover and form a protective seal around the entire ear for solid protection from loud sounds in the shooting. They are great choices for shooters who don’t like an over-the-head fit for their ear protection. Ultimately, earmuffs make ideal companions for shooting adventures since they are great at screening out higher-frequency sounds at a gun range.
PROS AND CONS OF EARMUFFS:
- One size usually fits most shooters
- Highly durable for consistent use
- The comfort level is good
- Comes with electronic and Bluetooth options
- Easy to pair with earplugs
- Also relatively expensive, like most earplugs
- Most foldable models are compact
- Highly convenient and effortless to put on and take off repeatedly
- Can interfere with proper cheek weld
- Some earmuff models can be bulky and heavy
- There can be issues with comfort when the shooting environment is harsh, primarily in humidity, hot or wet weather
- Earmuffs require to be paired with earplugs for solid hearing protection
- May bug or snag in confined spaces, such as in range bags
- They can be uncomfortable for shooters with long hair or wearing hat
- May experience issues with prescription or shooting glasses
Electronic Ear Protection
High electronic ear protection for shooting steps up the game in terms of protecting the ear from hearing damage. They are generally great at screening out the loud booms and sounds when shooting. What’s more impressive is that they can still allow shooters to hear conversations and the sounds of outdoors. If you need that kind of ear protection, this type is the one for you.
PROS AND CONS OF ELECTRONIC EAR PROTECTION:
- They feature noise-filtering advantages that can block ear-damaging sounds from shooting but allow other sounds to reach the ear
- Comfortable to the ears
- Small, compact, and lightweight
- Comes with a variety of designs, including muffs, earplugs, semis, and cuffs
- Available in lots of high-technology features, like Bluetooth, to enable connection to smartphones
- Also available in stereo
- The prices are usually more expensive than other types of ear protection
- Some models require batteries
- There are some other models that can be bulky and heavy
- Too pricey to lose in a shooting range
- Not all the models are water-resistant
Indeed, each type of ear protection has its fair share of advantages and flaws, right? For that reason, you can’t decide what to buy based on type alone. In reality, you need to focus on each of your potential options and their designs and features. No need to search elsewhere; this guide can introduce you to the reviewed ear protection options below.
8 Best Ear Protection for Shooting
The best ear protection for shooting should be part of your must-have gear to pack in your range bag. You can only enjoy your shooting time if you are not concerned with any risks since you are fully protected. Hence, the reason why you need to get the best ear protection possible. If you are still hesitant to choose from the different types of hearing protection devices available, explore the list below.
The list is complete with the different types of the best ear protection for shooting. So, it is worthwhile to explore which makes it to the best list. Take a closer look at each option since they are reviewed in detail so you can easily know if it is a suitable choice. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
1. Peltor Sport Electronic Hearing Protector
Starting the list strong is the Peltor Sport Electronic Hearing Protector, one of the most popular ear protection devices on the market today. It boasts a solid 24 dB noise reduction rating, which makes it a great companion for outdoor shooting and hunting. There is no doubt that it can get the job of reducing the loud sounds that can reach your ears. You can trust that your hearing ability will remain flawless if your ears are protected by this earmuff.
One of the best highlights of this hearing protector is its dynamic suppression which can effectively measure the energy in harmful gunshot noise and then automatically set a suppression time that can dramatically reduce the echoes while instilling high comfort in ears. Additionally, the clear voice tracking feature actively works the dynamic suppression, letting you hear the voice from a noisy background to improve speech intelligibility.
Remarkably, this hearing protector from shooting has high demand since it doesn’t compromise the hearing ability of the wearer. If you wear this, you can still hear conversations at a normal level, but not loud noises since it can filter them. With that advantage, you no longer need to take off the protector so that you can avoid the risk of sudden loud noise. You can’t be so sure, especially if you are in a shooting range.
While noise filtering is automatic, Peltor Sport amazingly adds control arrows to manage the volume of sounds that enter the internal speaker. The Bluetooth feature, on the other hand, can keep you more distracted from the loud noises in the gun range. All you need to do is to connect it to your phone to enjoy the music or podcast of your choice. Simply put, you can be entertained while shooting.
Surely, this Peltor Sport Electronic Hearing Protector has well-thought designs. Its adjustable, vented headband proves that claim. With that said, you can wear this earmuff even if you are wearing a hat. No discomfort to worry about since it has a low-profile and lightweight design that makes it comfortable to wear all day. Therefore, you can look forward to an optimized shooting experience.
Jam-packed with every feature that can reduce the ear-damaging gunshot noise, it makes sense why this is among the best earmuffs for shooting that can guarantee solid protection. It is considered a bonus that it will let you enjoy the sound you want by connecting it to your phone. On top of that, it has a great price that you won’t hesitate to get.
The hearing safety it can give without sacrificing ease of access and functionality is something worth your well-earned money.
2. Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff
Popular for being one of the best noise canceling earmuffs, the Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff sports a style that will not get in your way while shooting. What makes it impressive is its ability to automatically shut off loud impulse gunshot noise to a safe 82dB. Also, it simultaneously amplifies conversation and range commands. No need to repeatedly wear it on and off, depending on what you are doing in the gun range. It can stay in your ears, as it can allow you to hear what you must.
Featuring a sleek, extremely low-profile ear cup design, you won’t actually think that it is one of the best choices you can have. Nothing fancy, but it can impress you with how it allows full clearance of firearm stock. In short, it won’t get in your way or distract you while you are shooting. If you no longer need to wear it, you can simply store it inside your range bag. Since it has a convenient folding design, you won’t be stressed about fitting it inside the bag.
When it is hot, it is discouraging to wear earmuffs, right? Great news, hot weather is not an issue with this one since it is designed with airflow control technology that can keep you feeling incredibly cooler. So you won’t regret wearing ear protection. Meanwhile, this earmuff is also connectable to your MP3 player or scanner through the auxiliary jack. That’s why you can listen to the sound you like and be distracted from the harmful gunshot noise.
Like how it is ideal to be worn during mid-summer shoots, this Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff also has no problem in harsh weather. Well, it is made with water-resistant construction that can withstand bad conditions. On the other hand, it also features a volume control knob and works with 2 AAA batteries that are changeable via the external battery compartment. Its 4-hour shut-off is meant to preserve battery life.
Basically, this earmuff gained popularity because it provides ultimate hearing protection. The sounds you can hear are cleaner, real, and feel more directional—comfortable enough for your vulnerable ears. It is more than a protector since it is a gear that can improve your hearing.
3. Walker’s Razor Series Slim Shooter Electronic Ear Muffs
Who says you can’t be stylish while wearing earmuffs? Definitely, not Walker’s because its Razor Series Slim Shooter Electronic Ear Muffs are intentionally designed to be state-of-the-art hearing protection for shooters. Available in different colors, TrueTimber Strate, Teal, Flat Dark Earth, and Kryptek Highlander, you can find one that suits your liking. If you care about the style of your ear protection, this one must be included in your top choices.
Remarkably, these earmuffs are not made just focused on style and design. Along with other best ear protection, they can also automatically block impulse noise so that the sound that can reach your ears will be a safe NRR of 23dB. They do that simultaneously to amplify conversation and range commands so you can still hear what you need to hear. That’s all thanks to their Omni directional microphones and HD speakers.
In terms of comfort, it is pretty obvious from the name that these electronic earmuffs are made slim and low-profile to promote high comfort. They only cause minimal interference with firearm stocks, letting you effortlessly shoulder your gun quickly and shoot instinctively. More than that, even their headbands are nicely padded on the metal wire frame, promoting all-day comfort and strength to resist recoil. Hence, they can remain in their place.
These Walker’s Razor Series Slim Shooter Electronic Ear Muffs operate with 2 AAA batteries which are already included in the package. For quick access, there’s a designed external battery door. Out of the box, these earmuffs are made ready to accompany you in your shooting adventure at the gun range. No need to be skeptical about getting one of these earmuffs because they can adequately cancel out the gunshot sound and let you have typical conversations while earmuffs are on.
The most exciting thing about these Walker’s ear muffs is that they aren’t ridiculously expensive.
4. Caldwell E-Max Pro Electronic Earmuffs
Featuring a comfortable style, the Caldwell E-Max Pro Electronic Earmuffs are great to wear even all day long in range and track. They are designed with a 23dB noise reduction rating, boasting optimal hearing protection. By wearing one Caldwell earmuff, you can enjoy wearing ear protection because you no longer have to be bothered by the damaging gunshot noise.
What’s more, these electronic earmuffs feature a low-profile design that guarantees lightweight, streamlined comfort. That’s why you can actually wear the earmuff for a long time or as long as you are inside the shooting range. Hence, you don’t have to expose your vulnerable ears to the damaging noise of gunshots in the range. You’ll be all good and protected by keeping the earmuff to your ears.
If you still like to talk to other people, you can do that as well without the need to take off the earmuff. Since the Caldwell E-Max Pro Electronic Earmuffs are built with technology, they allow you to carry on conversations and stay in tune with your surroundings. On top of that, they can provide an impressive crystal clear stereo sound. All that while they muffle out harmful noises above 85dB.
Basically, these electronic noise reduction earmuffs come with great, functional features that can do more than just protection. Plus, they don’t cost much, so switching to an electronic earmuff won’t be a bad choice.
5. AXIL GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Plugs
If you think earmuffs are still too heavy for your liking, choose earplugs. The AXIL GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Plugs make a great choice for that because they are too lightweight and work with different tasks in one. To be specific, they can deliver solid hearing protection and noise isolation at the same time. On top of that, they are designed 3 products in 1: electronic protection, noise isolation, and Bluetooth earbuds in one, available at a reasonable price.
What’s more, these earplugs can also provide high-quality audio for the music you want to hear while shooting. If you don’t want to hear silence strictly, you can step up the game by adding music. Also, they can deliver 85 dB of compression of gunshot noise. You no longer need to feel bothered about your hearing protection because your ears can be protected and sealed.
As for their performance, you can expect these earplugs can perform 25 hours of hearing enhancement-only runtime and 9 hours of audio-only. These earplugs can last up to 8 hours when both enhancement and audio are used together. They have everything you need and nothing that you don’t. They might sound simple, but they can be the greatest companion when shooting.
One thing you must be extra careful about with these AXIL GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Plugs is that they can trouble you with their fit. Frankly, some have encountered issues with the challenging fit. So, it will be practical to pay attention to that. Nonetheless, there is an included extra set of heavy-duty foam earplugs that can help with ensuring excellent seal. Therefore, you can still like them so much.
6. RangeMaxx Corded Silicone Shooting Plugs with Case
As mentioned above, earplugs are typically the least expensive out of other types of ear protection for shooting. If you are looking for budget-friendly earplugs, the RangeMaxx Corded Silicone Shooting Plugs make a good choice. What’s impressive about these plugs is that they are light, simple, and effective. They are nothing flashy, but they can get the job done without costing you too much.
Since these shooting plugs can effectively protect your hearing from damaging gunshot noise, you can concentrate your focus on your target and shooting performance. As for their design, they are built from hypoallergenic soft silicone material, providing the best comfort when you wear them. Because of their type, they can go deep through the safeguarding ear canal.
In terms of performance, these RangeMaxx Corded Silicone Shooting Plugs can guarantee a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 25 as long as you wear them properly and securely. Meanwhile, they feature a highly convenient corded design, keeping the plugs together and easily accessible around your neck. Hence, you can keep the shooting plugs close to you if you need to wear them again. Plus, you won’t lose them.
Despite being extremely inexpensive, these plugs still come with a handy case that will keep them neat inside your range bag. No worries that they will be misplaced. Certainly, these shooting plugs are the best option if you are on a budget, yet still want to have ear protection for hearing safety. Ultimately, they are washable so that you can use them for a long time.
7. Peltor Sport Banded Earplugs
Looking for versatile ear protection? If that’s the case, you can consider the Peltor Sport Banded Earplugs. They are great since they have different sizes available and a noise reduction rating from 22 to 32 dB. With that said, they are suitable for shooting ranges, hunting, fireworks, sporting events, racing events, and concerts. Definitely, you can create a quiet environment by wearing ear protection.
What’s unique about these Peltor Sport Earplugs is that they are untouched by technology. Hence, they are a traditional type of ear protection, so it makes sense that they are not extremely pricey. With their thick padded ear cushions around them, you can look forward to long-lasting comfort. There will be no trouble to experience even if you wear them all day.
Being a traditional type, these sport earplugs are designed to be washable so you can always keep them clean, preserving their lifespan. Frankly, there are nothing more fancy features they can boast, but you can trust that they can do their expected job of hearing protection with comfort.
8. SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus Filtered Earplugs
Featuring a low-profile and stylish design, these EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus Filtered Earplugs from SureFire can give you the choice of what sounds can reach your ears. For instance, wearing earplugs with filter caps can block most sounds from ear-damaging gunshot noises. Without filter caps, on the other hand, you can hear safe sounds as if you are not wearing ear protection at all.
What’s unique about these filtered earplugs is that they are made with hypoallergenic, medical-grade polymer construction, making them highly safe to wear throughout your time in the shooting range. Additionally, they feature soft, adjustable, triple-flanged stems that can guarantee a custom fit and secure seal in the ear canal. Hence, there won’t be any discomfort to be bothered about. In fact, you can pair them with shooting glasses, masks, or hats.
Moreover, these SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus Filtered Earplugs sport patented ear lock retention rings that add to the security of the fit, so they remain in place no matter how you act on the shooting range. They won’t suddenly slip out from your ears, so you won’t be exposed to unnecessary gunshot noise that can potentially hurt your hearing capabilities. Ultimately, there’s an additional special noise-reducing filter that adds effectiveness.
Overall, these filtered earplugs can be worn depending on how you want sounds to reach your ears. If you like those advantages, there’s nothing wrong if you will try these, especially if you like lightweight filtered earplugs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the questions frequently asked about ear protection for shooting and other relevant topics:
Are earmuffs better than earplugs?
In reality, it is quite challenging to compare earmuffs and earplugs since they have their fair share of advantages and flaws. Plus, they have unique features even if they serve the same purpose of solid hearing protection. For instance, earplugs have an edge to earmuffs in terms of fitting, but that’s only if they are custom-made. The right size of earplugs can completely block the ear canal, which provides solid, dangerously loud noises.
What’s more, earplugs are generally created from foam or molded material that ensures a protective covering for an excellent level of protection. On the flip side, earmuffs are great for being easy to take on and off. Plus, they can work very well since they don’t require custom fitting. Earmuffs are impressive since one size can already fit all. Hence, which one is better depends on your liking and needs.
How much noise reduction rating do you need for your ear protection for shooting?
Truth be told, there is no strict requirement for a noise reduction rating of good ear protection for shooting. Yet, the most practical thing to do is to aim to get the highest rating possible. If you just want to have adequate protection, go for anything over 25 dB of reduction. You can already look forward to reliable protection in that rating.
Can you go deaf shooting a gun?
You will not go deaf if you just shoot a gun once in a while. Yet, your hearing ability might deteriorate if your ears are not properly protected from loud gunshot noise. But, if you are constantly exposed to gunfire many times over many years, hearing loss will last for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, some records proved that firing just a single shot can damage hearing capacities. That’s why it is never too bad and inconvenient to pay extra attention to hearing protection.
Are 3M earmuffs good for shooting?
3M earmuffs are more than good for shooting. In fact, they are precisely what you need if you want a quality set of earmuff hearing protection. Also, they make an ideal choice if you are not exactly looking for electronic features for your ear protection. They can keep your shooting experience nice and quiet while still being comfortable in your head. Hence, they are worth buying.
Are electronic earmuffs worth it?
There are still traditional earmuffs available, but many are switching to traditional ones for three good reasons: electronic earmuffs have slimmer profiles, Bluetooth advantage, quality hearing protection, and increased safety for shooting. With that said, they are surely worth it to buy. While they might be pricey, they are a great upgrade, so you will not really feel that they are too much to buy.
Which is better, passive or electronic hearing protection?
Passive hearing protection refers to earmuffs that are not touched or upgraded by technology. Despite that, they are still great for protection against loud gunshot noise since they are built with thick ear pads, quieting all the incoming noise. With that said, they also tend to block other sounds, such as range commands. Hence, you won’t really hear that much. If you want to shut down everything, this is an advantage.
On the other hand, electronic hearing protection devices work as they sound. They usually come with integrated speakers that will let enhance the audio of the surrounding environment be heard but not the ear-damaging gunshot noise. At the same time, they feature a headphone jack or Bluetooth connection. Hence, listening to music and podcasts is possible. With what they can offer, it makes sense that electronic hearing protection devices are more pricey.
In terms of performance comparison, electronic hearing protection devices are preferred in general. They can allow more activities, like holding a conversation, without risking hearing. That’s possible since they don’t need to be removed to hear those sounds. All in all, electronic hearing protection devices got the edge because of technology. Now, they are far more convenient. They are the go-to options if you can spend more on your ear protection.
What ear protection for shooting is the most comfortable to wear?
Earmuffs ensure great comfort since they have one size that fits all, so they snugly fit with no problems. That’s why there is no excuse to have them taken off. However, it doesn’t mean that earmuffs are comfortable to wear that earplugs are not. As a matter of fact, earplugs are also quite comfortable to wear as long as they are custom-sized.
Too large earplugs can cause immense discomfort, while too small can constantly loosen and fall. Loose earplugs can cause harmful exposure to gunshot noise, so they are useless. Basically, earmuffs are effortlessly comfortable to wear without exerting much effort.
Where to get the best ear protection for shooting?
You can get the best ear protection for shooting at reliable online stores if you don’t want to experience hassle in buying. In fact, you can order even in the comfort of your own home. What you need to be extra cautious about is to only buy from trustworthy online stores. To give you an idea, Amazon and Cabela’s are among those stores where you can get solid options for ear protection at highly reasonable prices. Don’t go for those stores that don’t look reliable, especially if their products have a suspecting low price.
Choosing the best ear protection for shooting can be a daunting task to complete if you don’t consider what your needs and preferences are. This means you can’t just grab any ear protection and expect it to work according to what you want. For that reason, you need to have some essential factors to consider when searching for the most suitable ear protection for shooting. These include durability, design functionality, comfort, fit, and budget.
Moreover, you can also look at what each ear protection is best about. For instance, the Peltor Sport Banded Earplugs make a good option if you are going for traditional ear protection that can give you a quiet environment while you are on a shooting range. The Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff is what you need if you want more than just a hearing protector but gear that can improve your hearing. There’s more above so you can be sure that you can find what suits you.
Hopefully, this guide about the best ear protection for shooting can help you to increase your hearing safety, so you can make your day at the shooting range more enjoyable and with fewer risks. Explore the Survival Gear Shack website if you need more shooting gear.