Anyone who uses firearms know how useful hearing protection is. During the beginning of my tenure in the Army we were give ear plugs (yellow foam). Eventually, we moved over to electronic protection (similar to this). For me, there were many pros and cons to this switch. These new devices were wildly uncomfortable with our helmet set up (later they improved this), your reliance on the electronic aid was made glaringly obvious if your batteries ever failed (it was like being blindfolded). The upside was better communication (they hooked into various radios), enhanced hearing (electronic aid), and reduced hearing damage over time.
Since I left the Army I have bounced around using various types/brands of hearing protection. Recently, I settled on the Peltor Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector. The idea behind this hearing protection is to suppress harmful (loud) noises, while amplifying good (low) sounds. If you’ve never experienced being able to talk while gunshots ring out, you’re missing out. These Peltors can also be used to assist with sound amplification for activities such as hunting.
Specifications (courtesy of solutions.3m.com)
- NRR 22 dB
- Ideal for both indoor and outdoor shooters and hunters
- Adaptive Frequency Response reduces background noise for clearer conversations and hearing of commands
- Variable Suppression Time feature provides optimal echo reduction in indoor shooting environments
- Re-engineered headband for improved fit and comfort
- Low-profile cups for rifle/shotgun use
- 2-hour auto shut-off
- Easy-access battery door with tether (Runs on 2 AAA batteries)
- 3.5 mm audio input jack compatible with most MP3 players and 2-way radios
Before you know which hearing protection will work for you, it’s important to understand how its rating translates to real-world activities. Most hearing protection will advertise its NRR (Noise Reduction Rating), in the case of the Peltor Tactical 100, we are looking at an NRR of 22 db (decibel). In short, the NRR rating is a way to measure how useful/effective a particular hearing protection device is. Most will assume you can reduce the level of exposure to noise by simply subtracting the NRR db rating from the overall decibels one is exposed to. This is not the case.
OSHA explains the calculation process, “Estimated Exposure (dBA) = TWA (dBA) – (NRR – 7)” (osha.gov). Clear right? What OSHA explains poorly is better understood when we have known values.need to apply the known values. Let’s apply this to an example; I am mowing the lawn (approximately 90 db), while wearing the Peltor Tactical 100 (NRR 22 db). Now plug our numbers into the above formula: Estimated Exposure = Lawn mowing (90) – (22 – 7), reduced to (90)-(15), finally Estimated Exposure is 75 db.
Although it may seem like the reduction is insignificant, in this example the Peltor Tactical 100 reduced the noise exposure of a lawn mower (90 db) to around the same as a vacuum cleaner (75 db). The Peltor Tactical 100 could also reduce the noise exposure of a Jet plane take-off (120 db), to around the level of motorcycle (100 db). You can increase your protection by adding inner ear protection (ear plugs), however OSHA suggests this only adds about 5 db to the overall protection level, “Estimated Exposure (dBA) = TWA (dBA) – [(NRR- 7) + 5]” (osha.gov). Using our above example of mowing the lawn our overall noise exposure would be 70 db (instead of 75 db). One final note on noise exposure, 90-95 db is the level at which sustained exposure could result in hearing loss, and 140 db short-term exposure can cause permanent damage (OSHA’s permissible noise exposure tops out at 115 db for 15 min over 24 hours) (1910.95(b)(2)).
The reason I selected the Peltor Tactical 100 over similar products was its audio input jack. This lets me plug-in my phone (MP3 player) and listen to music while I am reducing my exposure to loud noises. You control the audio levels on the attached device, by the device itself. This means you don’t have to jack up the electronic aid level to better hear your tunes.
After 2 hours the electronic portion of the Peltor Tactical 100 will automatically shut-off. This is great if you get distracted and forget to switch them off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to change batteries in things that don’t have auto shut-off. Yes, it’s my fault for not turning things off, but batteries are expensive and I’ll take the extra help.
The Peltor Tactical 100 folds in on itself, making it as small as possible for storage. This same sleek design helps the user wear safety glasses without compromising comfort, or hearing protection. These really are some of the more comfortable hearing protection I have ever worn.
The Peltor Tactical 100 runs on 2 AAA batteries. This makes it easy to replace if needed (no special trips to the store for a 123, or 2032 battery).
I purchased the Peltor Tactical 100 for about $80 from a local hunting store. 3M (Peltor) is a well-known name and can be found at most hunting stores, and online retailers. Regardless of your choice of hearing protection, make sure the ones you are using are equipped to handle your specific noise exposure.
If you have any questions about this product please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.