If you’ve ever been to a shooting range, you’ve probably heard the term, “eyes and ears.” This is a shortened term for the most basic and essential pieces of safety equipment required for a day of shooting sports, eye protection and ear protection. Howard Leight is a company that is no stranger to protecting your hearing in either the workplace or in a sporting environment and has been at the cutting edge of preventing occupational hearing loss for over 30 years. Recently, I was fortunate enough to test one of the newest items from Howard Leight, the Impact Sport Earmuffs.
The version I tested was the “Tactical Black” edition which included a protective watertight hard case suitable for travel, 2 extra AAA batteries, an extra pair soft touch ear cushions, a carry bag and an audio cord that can be plugged into any 3.5mm audio jack. All of the included accessories stow neatly within the hard case foam cutouts. The water-resistant earmuffs I tested came in a flat black color (OD Green also available) and sport a padded leatherette headband. The overall slender design of the Impact Sport Earmuffs reduced any interference when shouldering a rifle. In addition, they fit comfortably under a Modular Integrated Communications Helmet (MICH) as well as the Ops-Core and Team Wendy helmet variants.
Despite February temperatures in Northern Michigan dipping into the low teens, I headed out to my range for a test session with the Impact Sport Earmuffs. After inserting the AAA batteries and turning the control knob to its highest setting, I placed the well-fitting set of earmuffs on over my hat and instantly knew what it was like to be the 6 million dollar man. The microphones amplify the slightest ambient noises essentially giving you super human hearing ability. The birds, a light breeze, a whisper, all at full volume in the ear cups. My Peltor’s certainly can’t match the Howard Leight Impact Sport’s ability to pick up those minuscule sounds. Although I can see the advantage of this while hunting, I really needed to dial back the volume knob to a more underwhelming level of acuity. I’ve shot 9mm, .40Cal & .45ACP handguns, short barreled rifles in 5.56 and 9mm, 12 Ga shotgun and some bolt-action long guns with these earmuffs. Regardless of the volume setting on the Impact Sport Earmuffs, they attenuated the sharp crack of the firearms with lightning efficiency every time. I intend to use these earmuffs this spring when I dabble in 3 gun competition.
Gone are the days of yelling at your shooting partners while on the range or in competition. The Impact Sport Earmuffs allow up to 82db of noise pass through the microphone. Once that value is exceeded, they reduce any impulsive damaging noise by 22db. Over the last month, I’ve found myself packing the Howard Leight Impact Sport Earmuffs instead of my long-term Peltor Tactical 6-S headset for a day at the range. They fold up into a nice tight package and fit neatly in any range bag if you decide not to use the included hard case. The earmuffs never wavered on my head despite my attempts to unsettle them. Even with various hats, watch caps and my shooting glasses tucked into the ear cups, the earmuffs never felt like they would leave my head. The fit is comfortably snug, unlike some headache inducing headsets I’ve used in the past.
The single on/off volume control knob and solo battery compartment are a major plus in my book versus two of each on the Peltors which never made sense to me. I’m less likely to leave one earpiece on, something I’ve done on occasion resulting in a dead battery which can be very annoying. The single on/off switch eliminates that possibility and also features a 4 hour automatic shut off to preserve the battery should you forget to manually shut them off at the end of the day. And with a 350 hour battery life, I don’t see myself swapping batteries in the near future.
One of the features that is new to me is the 3.5mm audio jack which I neglected to test while at the range because it’s not something I’m used to. Although it isn’t something I typically look for in a headset, it’s a nice feature to have. You can plug-in any audio device or smartphone that supports the included 3.5mm audio cable. To make sure it worked, I decided to write this article while listening to the latest Podcast on Sofrep Radio. I know, that’s a shameless plug…whatever.
Impact Sport Earmuffs Additional Features:
- Noise Reduction Rating 22db
- Battery life of up to 350 hours
- Automatic 4 hour shut off
- Convenient folding design for easy storage
- Single knob to control on/off and volume
- Air Flow Control Technology
- 2 additional comfort ear cushions
- 2 AAA batteries and cloth bag included
- 3.5mm audio cable included
- Water resistant
- MSRP $140
- Can be purchased here
With a reasonable price point, I feel the Impact Sport Earmuffs deliver a great feature laden value as compared to the other electronic earmuffs on the market. The ergonomics of this headset are well thought out down to the smallest of details. For example, the soft tactile feel of the textured on/off volume control knob are reminiscent of the current stereo and dashboard controls in an Audi. The leatherette headband is a nice comfort feature often overlooked or left out by other manufacturers as a cost cutting measure. An extra set of ear cushions and the protective hard case are just a few of the reasons you should take a good look at the Howard Leight Impact Sport Earmuffs for your next set of “ears.”