Do you know that 20% of Americans report to having a degree of hearing loss? Yes, that’s a whopping 48 million people suffering from something that is preventable. What do I mean preventable? Most hearing loss happens as a result of exposing your ears to high levels of noise for prolonged periods of time.
And this is why you need adequate, no, the best ear protection for shooting. You see, most people take eye safety seriously on the range, and yet don’t take their ear protection seriously. And hence they end up as a statistic the Hearing Loss Association of America reports as a warning to the masses.
Don’t be a statistic
So how loud is too loud? Well, to put it in perspective, the sound level of normal speaking is 60dB, loud is 90dB, and dangerous is 120dB. How loud is your gun? Anywhere between 140dB and 175dB depending on your caliber. Now, that’s treading on dangerous ground.
And that, my friend, is why you need ear protection for shooting. And fortunately for you, I’ve compiled this handy list of some of the best ear protection for shooting you can get. But before we go there, we need to look at the 3 types of ear protection you can use when shooting.
3 Types of Ear Protection for Shooting
Ear protection comes in 3 main types that are named after their main characteristics and features. And no, cotton balls and cigarette filters don’t qualify as ear protection.
1. Ear Plugs
These fit inside the ear to block out all sound coming into the ear and are the least expensive ear protection you can get. Their major drawback is that they are only good at reducing low-frequency noise.
2. Traditional Earmuffs
Traditional ear muffs are over the ear protectors that have a headband to hold them in place and foam pads that cover your ears to block out loud sounds. Earmuffs are a step above ear plugs in reducing noise levels as they are good at handling higher frequency sounds.
3. Electronic Earmuffs and Earplugs
Electronic earmuffs/earplugs are like your traditional earmuffs/earplugs, only that they have some serious electric upgrades that not only reduce the loud bang of your gang greatly but still allow you to hear other sounds around you – even the conversations around you. The really cool ones even allow you to shoot to your favorite song, talk about having your firing range soundtrack.
Now that you have a rough idea of the kind of ear protection you would like (hopefully), let’s take things a step further so that you can now take a specific pick of your next ear protection for shooting.
The 10 Best Ear Protection Devices for Shooting
The reason you need ear protection when firing your gun on the range is that you need to reduce the noise (and vibrations) your ears receive from your gun. And to effectively do that, ear protection comes with different ratings that show their potential to reduce noise. That rating is called the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), and in simple terms, the higher the NRR, the greater its ability to reduce noise. And that number will help you be sure of the effectiveness of the ear protection you are getting.
Let’s get you fitted with your ear protection for shooting, shall we?
Earplug Protection for Shooting
Although earplugs are invasive in nature, they can also be comfortable and less bulky than ear muffs. If earplugs are your choice for ear protection for shooting, here are 5 for you to choose from.
1. Ear Pro by Surefire 4 Sonic Defender
- 24dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) with filter caps inserted, Hear safe sound levels (with...
- Soft, adjustable, triple-flanged stems provide secure seals in ear canals and all-day...
- Low-profile design allows you to keep them in place while wearing a mask, helmet, hat, or...
The Surefire Ear Pro really is a surefire way to protect your ears while at the range. Not only do these ear plugs protect your hearing, but they also protect your skin as they are made from a soft medical grade polymer. So if you are one person who is troubled by allergens, these might just be the earplugs for you.
As for your hearing protection, the Ear Pro provides adequate protection as they have an official NR rating of 24dB. And if you want to hear other sounds that are not too loud, all you have to do is pop the stoppers out without even having to completely remove the earplugs out of your ears.
And the best part is actually the price – you can get a pair from as little as $13.46. For stylish earplugs like these, that’s a bargain you can’t afford to miss.
2. Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs
- CUSTOM MOLDED EARPLUGS: Easily and quickly fitted to the exact shape of your ear. This...
- EASY SHAPE SYSTEM: Simply heat the Decibullz thermoplastic molds in boiling water, let...
- PERFECT FOR ANY SITUATION: Decibullz are perfect for shooting, traveling, working, loud...
Decibullz is one company that is shaking the ear protection industry with their innovative designs and efficient products, and their custom molded earplugs are a sure testament to that.
As their name says, these earplugs can easily be molded to fit your ears perfectly, and not just once either. If for some reason, they become uncomfortable, you can re-mold them again. How cool is that? All it takes is 10 minutes apiece and you will have a “new” set of earplugs. This means they will offer you protection without compromising on comfort.
The Decibullz custom molded earplugs are so comfortable you can wear them for hours without any discomfort. Now, these are earplugs worth looking into. And once you’re done looking and are satisfied with them as your favorite choice of ear protection, you can get them for a ridiculously low price of $25.99, and you get to choose which color you want. Oh, and their 30dB rating is actually a great rating for ear protection.
3. 3M Peltor TEP-100 Tactical Digital Earplug
If there is one thing 3M does well, it is making plastic and rubber products. And so when it comes to ear protection for shooting, your ears are in safe hands.
These are electronic earplugs whose reliability and efficiency is attested to by the fact that they are used by the police and military personnel. Despite being electronic, the Peltor TEP-100 digital earplugs are waterproof, a good feature to have if you want to use them on a rainy hunting trip. As for the batteries, they are rechargeable, another bonus point.
With an NR rating of 23dB, the 3M Peltor TEP-100 Tactical Digital Earplug, real value for money at the price of $298.85. Considering the fact that they are able to amplify low non-hazardous sounds like voices and other sounds in the environment while greatly reducing dangerously high noises, these earplugs are worth their hefty price tag.
4. Mack’s Shooters Ear Seals Earplugs
- Dual-purpose earplugs – reduce noise and seal out water (Noise Reduction Rating - 26...
- Dual-durometer design provides a unique combination of super-soft seal rings for unmatched...
- Detachable cord allows user to conveniently hang the earplugs around neck in environments...
If the price of the 3M Peltor TEP-100 is way shocked you, the Mack’s Shooters Ear Seals will shock you more – at their rock bottom price of $6.36.
If you are looking for budget ear protection for shooting, you can’t get it better than this.
Don’t let the price fool you into thinking this is a sub-par product, not at all. With an amazing NR rating of 27dB, a uniquely beautiful design, and a detachable cord, these earplugs will provide you with pretty great protection, great comfort, and a great way to keep them safe by way of the cord.
5. Walker’s Game Silencer Ear Buds
If you are into electric ear plugs for ear protection, Walker’s is the brand to walk to as they have some pretty cool gadgets that seem to be from a sci-fi movie.
Despite their punitive size, these earplugs offer amazing protection for your ears while enhancing the sounds you want to hear. And if you choose to use them on a hunting trip, you won’t have to worry about the batteries as four #10 batteries can give you up to 80 hours of protection.
From as little as $138.99, you can get yourself a pair of these nifty ear protectors.
Ear Protection for Shooting - Top 5 Ear Muffs
Although earmuffs can be bulky, they offer some of the best ear protection you can get on the range, especially with the electronic type. Below are some great examples of both electronic and passive (non-electronic) ear muffs that will afford you some of the best ear protection for shooting.
1. Clear Armor 141001 Safety Earmuffs
- SonicSeal - ClearArmor's exclusive sound technology provides better protection to save...
- Comfortable, premium quality, lightweight, super soft ear ring foam for maximum long wear...
- Padded head band adjusts to fit most head sizes . . . Industrial grade. . . Engineered to...
This set of earmuffs from Clear Armor is possibly the best ear protection you will ever find. Most ear protection hovers just around the 30dB mark, but the engineers at Clear Armor broke a record by creating these earmuffs that have an NR rating of a whopping 34dB.
Not only do they provide a comfortable fit due to the materials used and the headband that is precision made to apply equal pressure on both ears, but these earmuffs offer you supreme ear protection for a super low price of $14.95. Of course, the only drawback is the size, but, that’s a small price to pay for saving your hearing and your favorite pastime.
2. Walker's Hearing Protection: Passive Low Profile Folding Muff
Walker's Passive series of folding muffs are another great value for money hearing protection any shooter can get. Walker’s ear muffs are compact, durable, and also offer an adjustable headband to ensure maximum comfort, even for extended periods of use.
And with an NR rating of 31dB, your ear protection during shooting is guaranteed. Despite their size, these muffs are surprisingly light, and so is the price tag – a mere $12.37 will get you started walking in safety to the firing range with these cool earmuffs.
3. Caldwell Low Profile Earmuffs
- SPECS: Experience high quality stereo sound while confidently protecting your hearing with...
- COMFORTABLE: Featuring an adjustable headband and padded ear cups, you’ll find a custom...
- EASE OF USE: Runs on 2 AAA batteries (not included).
If you enjoy your time at the range, these are probably the best earmuffs for you. Their low profile design and super comfy padding make it possible to keep them on for a long time while their NR rating of 23dB offer you the protection you require to spend as much time shooting as you want.
For added protection, Caldwell’s low profile earmuffs come with a super sensitive set of microphones that automatically cut of the feed to the muffs when they detect a sound higher than 85 decibels. This lowers the chances of stray loud noises reaching one of your ears while giving you a great stereo feed of the safe sounds around you.
And if you enjoy listening to music as your shoot, these earmuffs come with an audio jack you can plug into your favorite portable music device. These great ear muffs are priced to the tune of $25.67.
4. Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Pro
- HIGH NOISE REDUCTION RATING (30 NRR): Designed for handgun and pistol shooters looking for...
- AMPLIFIES AMBIENT NOISE UP TO 4X: Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands...
- BLOCKS HAZARDOUS NOISE: Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when...
These sound amplification earmuffs are unique in that while they protect you from the loud noise of guns firing, they allow you to amplify the normal sounds around you. You won’t have to miss an instruction or an interesting conversation at the expense of trying to protect your ears.
Purchasing the Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Pro will give you 30dB NR rated ear protection for just $55.
These earmuffs come with a 3.5 mm audio jack and 2 AAA batteries which provide more than adequate power as this pair of ear muffs is very power efficient. It can go for 350 hours and has an automatic shut-off feature that turns the power off after 4 hours.
5. 3M Peltor SV Tactical Pro Hearing Protector
- Amplifies low-level sounds while suppressing dangerous impulse noises
- Protects hearing with a Noise Reduction Rating of 26 dB
- Offers clear, ambient sound and voice recognition in noisy environments
If you are looking for high-end ear protection for shooting, 3M made a pair of amazing electronic earmuffs just for you. The 3M Peltor SV Tactical Pro Hearing Protector offers you superb protection rated at 26dB and comes with sound amplification as well. Loud noises are canceled at 82dB. These earmuffs are made from high-quality materials that make them durable, comfortable, and above all effective at what they do.
Running on 2 AA batteries, the 3M Peltor SV Tactical Pro Hearing Protector also offer 2-way communication, enhancing your experience at the shooting range. For $210.00, you can add advanced ear protection to your shooting accessories.
Ear Protection for Shooting – Definitely Not a luxury
If you spend a lot of time around guns, ear protection is definitely a must if you are to preserve your hearing. Don’t take chances. Take your health and safety seriously and get yourself one of these ear protectors.