Ears are extremely sensitive and easily damaged, resulting in long-term implications if not taken care of, especially if you’re hanging around a lot, all-day long with guns (including target practice, hunting, etc.). Even brief exposure to noise levels above 125 decibels can result in permanent hearing loss. Not to mention that unsuppressed gunshots can reach incredibly high volumes, typically ranging from 140 to 190 dB. When you combine those two factors, your hearing is almost certain to suffer damage in a dynamic shooting range.
That is why having these high noise reduction rating (NRR) earmuffs/headphones/earbuds, whatever you prefer, whenever you go shooting, is one of the best ways to protect your precious hearing. While there are no minimum NRR requirements for hearing protection when shooting, headphonesty.com recommends getting the highest rating possible or at least 22dB.
Below is our Top 6 pick that remains to carry the seal of approval from tactical shooting enthusiasts across the country.
Top 6 | Act Fire Shooting Earmuffs
The Act Fire Shooting Earmuffs are the most affordable option on the list. With this, you can enjoy all of the basic functionalities you need to protect your hearing from loud noise. In addition, this earmuff is equipped with a unique internal chip that can amplify sound, providing the user with realistic and clear amplified stereo sound that allows them to accurately determine low-level sounds and lower NRR by up to 23dB. Furthermore, this earmuff is ideal for beginners still learning the ropes of the hobby without breaking the bank.
It weighs barely a pound (0.75 lbs), with an attack time of 20ms and a volume limit of 89dB. Aside from the basic essential features, this earmuff also has the “most aesthetically pleasing design,” which tactical shooting enthusiasts will definitely enjoy. We must take note, though, that since the product is low-cost, the durability of the earmuff might not be as heavy-duty as other premium models.
Top 5 | ProHear 016
You should be aware of two types of hearing protection: passive and electronic. And deciding between the two is dependent on what you need the protection for. Passive hearing protection, by definition, is a device that is not enhanced by technology and relies solely on the traditional thickness of the material it is made of to muffle incoming noise—and I mean EVERYTHING, including essential noises (such as range commands or comrades during a big game in the forest). Meanwhile, electronic hearing protection comes with integrated speakers that enhance the surrounding environment while simultaneously blocking out high-decibel sounds. In addition, electronic hearing protection usually includes a headphone jack or Bluetooth connection, giving you the option to listen to music as you sharpen your shooting skills.
The ProHear 016 is a passive-type of the earmuff, covering you to at least 26dB, featuring a very comfortable cushioned ear cup and an adjustable, padded headband that would surely accommodate your head size just perfectly. It’s also foldable, making it compact when being carried around. Finally, since it’s passive, the headgear is much lighter compared to devices equipped with electronic components—making it easy to wear around even after long periods.
Top 4 | SureFire EP10 Sonic Defenders
Passive hearing protection also has an earplug option for those who aren’t fans of bulky headphones. SureFire’s EP10 Sonic Defenders offer an NRR of up to 30dB ( the highest of any Sonic Defenders earplug) at a weight of 0.04 lbs. Well, considering it’s an earplug, it’s not really surprising that it weighs way less than a pound. Also, because it’s so small, you can easily combine it with your other gear, such as helmets and safety googles, without having to sacrifice your hearing. Just make sure always to know where you place them because they can really get lost more often, considering their size.
The EP10 is the most recent and improved version of its predecessor models, with a “full-block” design and expandable memory-foam tips that provide a secure seal in ear canals for a nearly custom fit.
Top 3 | Walker’s Game Ear Razor Slim
If comfort is what you’re after, then the Walker’s Game Ear Razor Slim is for you. This electronic ear muff has an ultra-low profile, slim size, and compact design with many color options. Let’s not forget the thickly-cushioned ear cups and around the headband that make it very comfy throughout the day. It has an NRR of 23dB and a sound-activated nouse compression with a reaction time of 0.02 seconds to protect you from any loud environment. Moreover, it is equipped with two hi-grain omnidirectional microphones and full dynamic range HD speakers for clear and balanced sounds. It can operate on two “AAA” batteries, which are included in your purchase to get you started.
Top 2 | Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolts
Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolts’ exceptional electronic shooting earmuff maintains a fast attack time record of 0.5ms, making it a reliable firing range buddy capable of suppressing gunshot sounds in near-constant. In addition, it allows users to hear outside noises with up to 5x directional sound amplification while blocking out harmful ones over 82 dB. What’s more, it has an auto-shut on/off feature that turns off the earmuffs after four hours of inactivity, thus further extending its overall battery life. A must-have, especially for those who spend a long day in a busy firing range where “constant gunshots can fatigue your ears.”
With an NRR of 22dB, this earmuff is also equipped with directional microphones that can amplify the user’s range commands and an airflow control (AFC) technology that is highlighted when using it as passive hearing protection. The AFC allows a normal conversation to flow while at the same time blocking off high-frequency noise in the background.
Top 1 | Peltor Sport Tactical 500
Last but definitely not least, our top ear protection pick—is the Peltor Sport Tactical 500. Made by the renowned 3M Worktunes, this passive/electronic ear protection boasts an NRR of 26 dB with an attack time of 3-5 ms powered by Bluetooth technology that can take calls and stream music, all while suppressing gunshot noises and amplifying low sounds using the manufacturer’s very own sophisticated technology. Another noteworthy feature of the Tactical 500 is its Automatic Dynamic Suppression, which measures gunshot energy along with the corresponding surrounding echoes, allowing for conversations to continue to flow while filtering loud background noises out.
It has a lightweight form with a low-profile design, soft ear cup cushions, and adjustable headbands that cater to the overall comfort of the user without ear fatigue. Additionally, it can be folded, making it easier to store and bring along without taking too much space.
What would be your Top picks? Let us know in the comments!