While the 3M-owned Peltor hearing protection brand has gained most of it’s attention from military issued units, their Peltor Sport line-up of ear-pro has been making some local waves of their own. This past SHOT show (January 2018) I had a chance to stop in a check out the Peltor Sport Tactical 300 and 500 series. I’ve had a set of each to test out for a while now, so here’s the rundown. Tech specs first.
From 3M’s website: The 300 series.
- 24 dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)
- 3M SMART Technologies
- Dynamic Suppression Time adapts to firearm and environment for optimized shooting experience
- Clear Voice Tracking seeks voice within noise for improved speech intelligibility
- Auto shut-off
- Intuitive buttons and voice guidance let you operate without removing headset
- Low-profile cups have cut-outs for use with long guns
- Vented, adjustable headband improves comfort when worn with hats
- Durable recessed microphones designed to reduce wind and fan noise
As per 3M’s website, the 500 series is the same with these exceptions:
- 26 dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)
- Bluetooth® Wireless Technology syncs with mobile devices
Externally, the headsets are nearly identical. The sole visible difference is on the outside of the right ear cup, the 300 series has a letter “P” on the menu button where the 500 has the Bluetooth rune (see below)
The price point ($30-70 higher), Bluetooth capability and NRR (2-4 dB better) of the Peltors’ put them in a different (and higher) class than the Leight Impact Pro (the only other electronic ear-pro headset I have handy to make comparisons to). When collapsed, the Peltor headsets were noticeably thicker, taking up a little more room in the range bag (see below). Obviously, when you have more sound absorbing material in your gear, it takes up more space.
Once on my head, the Peltor set faded off my radar quicker than the Leights, mainly due to the vented headband and much better ear cups. The stock ear cups on the 300/500 ear pro are comfortable enough with or without eye protection that I don’t see upgrading them to aftermarket gel cups as a necessity the way I see it with the Leight’s. They are very comfortable, and the headset itself doesn’t provide enough “crush-force” to give me a headache even after a 4-hour range trip.
The Clear Voice Tracking works pretty well, picking up spoken word by pushing it to the front of the line, electronically. Same goes for the Dynamic Suppression, a feature some others have claimed to have troubles with, though I have not. The DS adapts response time based on environmental factors, so longer strings of fire may be met with a slower return to an unsuppressed noise level.
As far as the Bluetooth feature present in the Peltor Sport 500’s, it’s a nice. I don’t usually use Bluetooth, so I was quite happy that it was simple to set up. Following the included instructions, I had Guns N’ Roses up and running for much of my range trip.
Above, I mentioned the Peltors featuring a 2-4 dB better rating than the comparison set- the Howard Leight impact Pro. Three decibels is often discussed as the lowest level of change detectable by the human ear when around 140 dB. I’m sure the Leights have deteriorated a little bit over near a decade of use, but both sets of Peltors were noticeably quieter when shooting the same gun (a Noveske Gen 4 N4 PDW with Cherry Bomb muzzle break). Even if the difference were only two decibels, and even if that was undetectable to you, it still represents a major reduction in sound pressure levels which translates to less hearing loss over time.
Bottom line, Peltor really earned their name in the military ear protection market. When designing their Sport line-up, clearly they brought over their experience and knowledge. The 300 and 500 series of electronic ear-pro are both excellent. If you need Bluetooth integration or just like the extra 2 dB of protection, get the 500 series at $119.99. Otherwise, consider the excellent 300 series at $89.99. Check them out!