Peltor Sport Electronic Hearing Protectors are very different. Proprietary 3M SMART technology does the seemingly impossible, Dynamic Suppression Time technology suppresses gunshot noise above 82 dBA while Clear Voice Tracking seeks human speech within background noise to improve intelligibility and detection of low-­level sounds improving situational awareness. That is all great, but wait, there is more, they are Bluetooth enabled to sync with mobile devices.

I just spent two days taking a Rob Pincus Combat Focus Shooting class from the Personal Defense Network. Reno Guns and Range is a world class facility, but it is indoors. They have rubber lined walls and traps, but it is indoors and there were shooters on the adjacent bay firing machineguns (Yep, it is THAT kind of Range) and rifles. Combined with the shooting of my classmates in the bay with me. It was pretty loud.

I have always been a fan of electronic hearing protection. I had a set of Peltors I wore frequently in Afghanistan sparing me from explosions and machinegun noises at random times. When I got back home, I wore them serving warrants and on ranges. They let me separate the loud and immediate from the soft and necessary. It was sometimes a challenge catching voices, but much better than the alternatives.

Those old muffs had an auxiliary jack and I felt pretty cool with my iPod Mini under my helmet listening the Indigo Girls. Some things never change. As an instructor, I could entertain myself and still hear what the shooters had to say. I could even plug in a tactical radio for more professional listening. The new 500’s had all that and a big surprise.

I got the PELTOR™ SPORT TACTICAL 500’s right before this class. I took them out of the package during the safety brief and figured out where the batteries went around “keep your finger off the trigger.” No surprise here, I didn’t read the manual. I read some where that the Japanese write a completely different manual for the same devices sold in America and Japan. Not just the language, duh, but the content. It seems the Japanese read the book from cover to cover before taking the plastic off the device. I, like most of my countrymen, enjoy figuring it out.

It was intuitive and easy. The controls are self explanatory. I could clearly hear voices and not bangs. These 500’s are a different, smarter breed of cat. Using Dynamic Suppression Time technology, they “optimize the shooting experience by measuring the energy of the gun shot and echoes in the environment to set suppression time.” The Peltor’s modify their performance based on the environment. That means more clarity, less noise. I was able to clearly hear the class, range commands and questions. I kept my Peltors on all day, even when others were taking off one ear for conversation during breaks. I could just hear everything better.

The big surprise was when I read the quick start instructions at lunch. Not only could I listen to the Indigo Girls on Bluetoothbut I could screen phone calls and scroll through play lists using buttons…on the head phones. All the features of high end noise cancelling head phones for around $100.