Hearing protection is one of the most basic safety tools you can own when it comes to using firearms, even if it is just as a recreational hobby. Firearms produce noises loud enough to cause hearing damage, especially if you are firing a lot of bullets in quick succession, and you might also be around other people who are creating even louder sounds.
If you aren’t careful, long-term use of firearms without protection might lead to partial hearing loss, tinnitus, and other issues that might need proper medical care to fix or avoid. With a good set of ear protection, these problems become extremely easy to ignore, but you need to know that you are using the right products.
View the Best Shooting Ear Protection, Below.
- Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Muff
- Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector
- SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders
- Howard Leight Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff
- DECIBEL DEFENSE Professional Safety Ear Muffs
- 3M PELTOR X5A Over-the-Head Ear Muffs
- Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector
- ClearArmor 141001 Shooters Hearing Protection
- Mpow Professional Ear Defenders
- Caldwell E-Max Low Profile Electronic Hearing Protection
1. Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Muff
These electric earmuffs use two omnidirectional microphones that can detect noises above 89 decibels, dampening the incoming noise with a reaction speed of around 0.02 of a second. The overall noise reducing rating is a whole 23 decibels on average, although you can also play your own noises into the headphones for extra white noise if needed. Thanks to the comfortable headband, you can wear them for long periods of time without having to worry about getting a sore head, and the built-in volume control knob makes it easy to adjust the current audio input level without needing to fiddle with the connected device.
These headphones work extremely well as casual shooting ear protection, giving you plenty of noise dampening that only activates when it is needed, rather than being stuck in an 'always on' state.Check Price on Amazon ➞
VIEW ON WALKER'S ➞
2. Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector
The Bluetooth functionality on this shooting ear protection headset allows you to sync it with your mobile device, keeping awkward cables out of the way when you are trying to practice proper safety with your firearms. The dynamic suppression system automatically adapts to the current ambient noise level and only dampens the audio when a loud noise occurs, as well as automatically adjusting to compensate for any speech it picks up. An NRR of 26dB, as well as a simple and comfortable design, makes it ideal for shooting in almost any environment, especially if you still need to keep track of speech and listen out for any instructions you are been given.
These headphones are great for anybody who wants to stay aware, alert, and fully-prepared no matter what, helping you identify speech while still keeping gunshot sounds quieter and less intense than they normally would be.Check Price on Amazon ➞
3. SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders
These earplugs use special filter caps to act as proper shooting ear protection, giving you up to 24dB of noise reduction while staying comfortable, safe, and reliable for long periods of time. Each of these filters is able to reduce noises above 85dB without making you deaf to other background sounds, like speech. They are as low-profile as possible, making them suitable even while you are using a helmet or another pair of ear protection muffs, meaning that you can easily add them to your existing collection of shooting gear if needed. The unique EarLock system lets you lock the rings in place, making sure that they will always fit your ear shape properly, even after you’ve not worn them for a while.
These earplugs are an amazing shooting ear protection tool for people who like to wear helmets or other headwear, and still offer a high level of noise reduction for their size.Check Price on Amazon ➞
4. Howard Leight Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff
These earmuffs use a specially-designed set of ear cups that are both comfortable and effective at noise reduction, putting just enough pressure around your ears to block out the sound without harming your skin. The durable materials also mean that they won't crack or wear out easily, making them much more reliable for long-term use. Once activated, they will automatically shut off after four hours, helping to extend their overall battery life. The built-in amplification technology increases the volume of background sounds, making speech much easier to hear without increasing the volume of gunshots or other loud noises along with it.
These earmuffs offer plenty of noise reduction while also helping you distinguish speech from ambient background sounds, making them great for staying aware of the situation. The extra comfort from the materials makes them easy to wear for long periods of time, too.Check Price on Amazon ➞
5. DECIBEL DEFENSE Professional Safety Ear Muffs
These headphones have a specially-designed padded headband that dramatically increases how comfortable they are, stopping you from having to deal with unwanted itches and pressures on your head while wearing them for long periods of time. They can easily be folded down to make storage and transport more convenient without damaging any of the internal components.
In terms of noise reduction, they have a total noise reduction rating of 37dB, allowing them to make gunshots much quieter without getting rid of all background audio completely. Thanks to the very non-electronic design, they can be used almost anywhere without having to handle cables or batteries.
These earmuffs aren’t as advanced as some other models you might have seen, but that just makes them far easier to use, especially if you want to shoot on short notice and don’t like dealing with the hassle of an electronic device.Check Price on Amazon ➞
6. 3M PELTOR X5A Over-the-Head Ear Muffs
The over-the-head design of these headphones has been backed up with some comfortable, high-quality materials that let you stay safe and protected for much longer than normal. The twin headbands also help them balance properly and reduce the amount of irritation they can cause on exposed skin. Unlike a lot of designs, you can tilt the ear cups to get a better fit, allowing you to adjust them until you get the full NRR of 31dB that you need. As an extra safety measure, the headband itself is insulated against electric shocks, and it can be mounted to certain helmet designs for better security in non-shooting situations, such as a construction site.
While they are excellent shooting ear protection, these muffs are also perfect for dampening noise in other situations, making them a great general-purpose option for all kinds of noisy tasks.Check Price on Amazon ➞
7. Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector
This electronic shooting ear protection gear uses a two-hour shutoff system to automatically save power when not in use, as well as special recessed microphones that help filter noise and reduce anything that might be loud or irritating. This includes the wind – the system will automatically try to reduce the sound of high winds, making it easier to hear everything else in the background. With an NRR of 22dB, it can provide a good reduction to gunshot sounds and other loud noises, all while staying comfortable and effective thanks to the tight yet nice-to-wear ear cushions.
These electronic headphones are a good choice for most situations where noise reduction is important, especially if you are in a situation where constant background noise (like wind and rain) can make it hard to understand what people are saying.Check Price on Amazon ➞
8. ClearArmor 141001 Shooters Hearing Protection
This specially-designed shooting ear protection offers a compact, easy-to-fold design that you can easily transport or store without worrying about damaging anything important. The industrial-grade materials massively improve durability, while the noise-dampening foam used on the ear cups helps push the overall noise reduction rating even higher to a total of 34dB.
The lack of any over-complicated features makes them great for quick, easy and reliable noise management in a range of situations, and can also help deal with the sound vibrations of noises that are close to your body. On top of that, the headband is fully adjustable, letting you custom-fit it to your head shape and size.
These headphones are great for plenty of situations involving loud noises, especially shooting. They are simple, straightforward and don’t require any kind of special tools or extra items to work properly, making them perfect for varied use.Check Price on Amazon ➞
9. Mpow Professional Ear Defenders
These simple shooting ear protection headphones use a double-layered section of acoustic foam to help dampen and reduce all loud noises, cutting them down by a whole 28dB on average without forcing you to keep them powered and connected to another device. Their designs allow for a good level of adjustment, especially around the headband itself, meaning that you can alter it to fit your preferred shape, size, and angle at almost any time.
The ear cups are protective and comfortable, but won’t slip easily, so you don’t need to worry about them falling off while you are shooting. Finally, they come in a set of two, along with a drawstring bag that makes them easier to transport from place to place.
These ear defenders work well as shooting ear protection, giving you all of the noise reduction you’d want without over-complicating the design.Check Price on Amazon ➞
10. Caldwell E-Max Low Profile Electronic Hearing Protection
These padded shooting and hunting earmuffs have been custom-designed to reduce and compress loud, sudden noises while amplifying any quiet or subtle sounds, making it easier to keep track of what is being said and what is going on in the surrounding environment. The low overall weight means that your pair doesn’t get in your way too much, as well as making them far easier to transport without weighing yourself down. They run on simple AAA batteries, and have a volume control knob (along with an audio jack) that can turn them into conventional headphones when needed.
These shooting ear protection headphones are designed to make loud noises quieter while making quieter sounds easier to hear. The comfort offered by the ear cups, as well as the fact that it takes AAA batteries, makes it a really convenient option for first-time shooters, too.Check Price on Amazon ➞
Shooting Ear Protection Buyer’s Guide
Hearing protection is incredibly important when you are shooting, and it can come in handy for a huge range of other situations that you might encounter in your day-to-day life. The problem is, choosing a single option from the massive amount on the market isn’t easy, and you will want to try and narrow down your search if possible so that you are not spending hours looking through thousands of possible options. If you can build up a general idea of what you want first, it can make it much easier to start tracking down shooting ear protection that offers everything you need.
Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)
The level of noise reduction offered by a set of ear protection is incredibly important since it is the main reason you will be using them in the first place. NRR is measured at a general level of noise reduction in terms of decibels, and noises above a certain level (generally 140dB) can be harmful to your hearing. For this reason, you will want to make sure that your shooting ear protection is properly dampening and softening the noise.
A lot of different headphones and earplugs will have around 22-34 decibels of noise reduction, but this depends on the brand, the design, and the type of technology or materials actually used inside. Protection that is designed for shooting will often have protection on the higher end of this limit since it needs to be able to dampen the sounds of gunfire, which can reach quite high levels depending on the weapon being used.
There is only one reason that a lower amount of noise reduction might be useful is if you are already using some kind of noise-reducing features or tools. For example, if you are already wearing noise-reducing earbuds and just want slightly more protection, you can get some earmuffs with a low level of noise reduction to use both at once. Other than that, when it comes to shooting, more protection is almost always worth it. Some weapons are also quieter than others, especially if they have attachments or modifications designed to dampen the noise they make, so it is important to know how much noise you might be generating while firing.
Amplification can be just as useful as noise reduction, depending on the situation. While you will want to get rid of loud gunfire sounds, it is still important to make sure that you have a good level of situational awareness: if you can’t hear people speaking or get emergency instructions if something happens on a public firing range, it is very easy to end up endangering yourself and the people around you.
Amplification is almost exclusively an option with electrical protection since it is nearly impossible to do without a proper microphone system. This is generally supposed to let you hear things like speech without amplifying every other sound around you, giving you much more awareness of what is happening. Keep in mind that not all amplification systems will handle every situation properly, though – wind can often be a problem since the microphone might pick it up unless it is recessed into the rest of the design.
Another key part of protecting your hearing is making sure that you are comfortable. There is no point in using protection that hurts you in a different way, and uncomfortable earmuffs or earbuds can ruin an otherwise enjoyable shooting experience. The same goes for if you are using them for practical purposes, like using power tools or dealing with loud gardening equipment – discomfort often makes things worse, and there is not a whole lot you can do to really fix a pair that doesn’t fit your head correctly.
First of all, make sure that it’s comfortable in the conventional sense. This means that you will want to look for soft, comfortable, and protective materials since these are the backbone of anything you can wear on your body. Ear padding is always worth having since your ears are the parts most affected by your headwear – better ear padding also leads to more efficient noise reduction, since they are more likely to completely encase your ears and block as much noise from getting in.
How loud is a Normal Gun?
Different guns produce different sounds, but some are far noisier than others. Typically, they will be at least 140dB without any kind of suppressor or noise-reducing modifications, but some can go well beyond that if they fire a larger-caliber bullet. Remember that it is just for a single bullet, though – if you are firing off a lot in short succession, that adds up to far more hearing damage in the long run, especially if it is an automatic weapon that can spit out a large number of rounds per minute.
As mentioned earlier, you can connect certain attachments to your weapon – mainly suppressors – to dampen the sound they produce slightly. However, not all guns can use them properly, and it really depends on the weapon itself.
Is Electronic Shooting Ear Protection Better?
Electronic protection tools and methods are often more advanced than their normal counterparts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are better. You should always make sure you are choosing something that actually helps you and fits your needs, rather than going for an expensive electronic option that you really don’t need.
On the other hand, if you want to ensure that you are completely safe, it might be worth looking for an electronic choice even if you are happy using a regular, non-electronic type of ear protection. It can result in much better protection and noise reduction for only a slightly increased price.
If you are buying shooting ear protection to help you hunt, you will want to focus on the appearance, too. Bright headgear can be really useful on shooting ranges since it lets others know where you are, but it can give away your location to animals. As a hunter, you will want headwear that blends in with your clothing, your hair, or the environment instead.
Did you Know?
Some people use multiple layers of hearing protection. It is quite common for people with sensitivities to loud noises to use both earbuds and earmuffs at the same time, providing even more noise reduction without feeling uncomfortable.