Best Shooting Ear Protection

Choosing the best shooting ear protection is an endeavor that can have a major impact on the enjoyment in most shooting scenarios. It is a very straightforward process to choose hearing protection, but will require a good basis of information and there are a plethora of options that can vary on several different fronts.

There are so many good options for shooters of all types, but the general field of availability and the vast breadth of the offerings can make it seem like a daunting challenge for a shooter, especially a new shooter, to make a confident decision.

With the information contained here, you’ll be able to determine the most important aspect to selection, and confidently be able to deice on what’s best for your needs.

Hearing protection is so important because no hobby should alter your quality of life. With the inherent sound concerns that come with shooting firearms, it’s important to get the best possible protection that has a good mix of other benefits including comfort and versatility.

Bluetooth Earmuffs
3M Worktunes
Audio Capabilites
Comfortable
Well Priced
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Best for Kids/Petite Heads
Pro For Sho 34dB
Ideal for smaller head sizes
Wide range of colors
Affordable
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Great Protection
Decibel Defense
Well priced
Comfortable
Range of colors
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Military Grade
Pro Ears Pro Tac Plus Gold
Great hearing protection
Very comfortable
Excellent waranty
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Key Considerations When Choosing Hearing Protection

There are some important considerations when choosing hearing protection and the following should cover most of the important aspects involved.

What is NRR?

Noise Reduction Rating is an important variable, which offers a number which corresponds to the total amount of decibels which will be reduced on the top end of the environment.

Meaning if you are shooting a gun that has a 125 decibel rating, and you have a 25 NRR earmuff on your ears, the adjusted decibel rating will be 100 for the time when the gunshots are audible.

The same methodology applies to the ambient sound environment so if you are talking with hearing protection with someone at a normal conversational level (about 60 Db), the conversation would then be reduced to 35 Db (or about the sound of a whisper or just slightly less than a light to moderate rainfall).

The reduction in decibels from an audible perspective is the purpose of the NRR variable. It is a static number that generally does not fluctuate.

Note, there are many tests and studies that seem to substantiate that the 33NRR is about the maximum realistic expectation for total sound reduction that is possible. That doesn’t mean that something cannot be rated higher, it just means that it is likely to be no better audibly than the protection rated at NRR 33.

How does the decibel rating system work and what are some comparable sound levels?

Decibel (dB) ratings work in a sort of exponential way, meaning that to get to the next 10 decibel points, it requires a larger leap from the previous one. An example of this can be seen by comparing the sound ratings for common, understandable sounds and comparing them relative to each other.

Silence is an obvious starting point. Notwithstanding the ringing in your ears that can be heard, complete silence can be quantified as 0 Db.

Ambient sound in a room with electronics could be 10-20 Db, with the hearing distance of “not next to” the device(s). The sound of normal conversational tones would rate at about 60 Db. A hair dryer would rate somewhere around 90 Db. Given the increases between each of these standard markers, you can see the increased rate of volume.

Comfort level and how to determine it

Sometimes, people with very sensitive hearing will still experience discomfort during shooting. It’s important to understand how to obtain the maximum NRR (noise reduction rating – as described above); similarly, it’s important to find a comfortable ear protection for shooting.

The optimal reduction in noise and comfort can sometimes be a dual protection solution of in-ear and over-ear protection. It will allow for better containment of noise concerns, but over time it will also affect comfort as added pressure inside the ear and heat from the over the ear protection can contribute to the lack of comfort for the user.

Furthermore, the pressure that the highest NRR rated earmuffs (over the ear) put on the ears and side of the head can make it somewhat uncomfortable to use the hearing protection.

Look closely at the notes about pressure and look at the general size and build quality of the earmuffs so you don’t have problems with discomfort.

Independent consumer reviews can also be quite helpful if you are one of a handful of people who have a legitimate concern with mainstream products.

Over Ear protection or In Ear protection?

Over Ear Protection

Over the ear protection is fast to remove, easy to implement and has a certain tactile effect which helps the shooter to recognize quickly if the protection needed in properly in place.

Generally, for those with small ear canals, ear muffs/over the ear protection will provide the best protection for the least discomfort. Over the ear protection offers the most advanced protection available and generally offers the highest NRR numbers with the high end products.

There is a large market for advanced over the ear protection devices which often allow for better conversation and ambient noise detection while still offering loud noise protection for intermittent noises like gunshots. Over the ear protection offers a quick way to add protection and works well for most people.

In Ear Protection

In-ear protection is great for those who prefer to have long term hearing protection in place, or for when you know you will not need to remove the ear muffs. Additionally, in-ear protection like ear plugs will be best for when you are doing rifle shooting with precision firearms or highly active shooting, where you will move around a lot while shooting.

The small profile of these types of hearing protection will make it much easier to perform the tasks you need to while maintaining proper decibel reduction. If you don’t have particularly sensitive ear canals, in-ear protection can be very good for reducing sound without discomfort.

Sometimes when shooting Magnum calibers or otherwise exceptionally loud firearms, you might be best served by using BOTH in-ear and over the ear protection in a combined function.

In cases like this, you will want to find harmony between the benefits of the in-ear and the over the ear components. They are complementary assets, but also have differing benefits.  Knowing how to find the harmony between them will be a combination of choosing good quality products to begin with; experiencing them and then tailoring them to your specific needs.

Pricing differences and how to interpret them

Sometimes you get what you pay for. Sometimes there are brand names that can command higher prices without a noticeable improvement in performance.

With innovations in hearing protection the gap can widen a large amount based on the newest type of improvement. Even slight improvements in comfort or capability for hearing protection can command a huge price increase.

It’s important to determine what is most important to you and then come up with a range of prices you are comfortable with paying.

The stark reality is, that the lasting effect of permanent hearing damage or any amount of hearing loss, will always outweigh the cost of wearing hearing protection while shooting or being slightly uncomfortable in observing proper hearing protection best practices.

18 Top Shooting Ear Protection Options!

$14.05
$14.95
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$19.98
$35.95
103 new from $19.98
3 used from $18.58
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$44.47
87 new from $42.96
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$12.99
$49.99
1 new from $12.99
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$49.99
$73.95
29 new from $43.69
1 used from $39.90
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$15.35
19 new from $15.25
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$38.70
54 new from $38.70
1 used from $35.99
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$16.97
1 new from $16.97
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$132.99
34 new from $132.34
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$279.97
$309.00
28 new from $275.00
3 used from $215.00
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$25.67
1 new from $25.67
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$69.99
$75.09
51 new from $69.99
9 used from $57.39
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$8.49
$10.79
22 new from $8.49
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Last updated on July 16, 2018 12:50 pm

1. SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus filtered Earplugs

SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus filtered Earplugs

$14.95
$14.05
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Features

  • 24dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) with filter caps inserted, Hear safe sound levels (with filter caps out) as if you weren't wearing ear plugs
  • Soft, adjustable, triple-flanged stems provide secure seals in ear canals and all-day comfort
  • Low-profile design allows you to keep them in place while wearing a mask, helmet, hat, or while using supplemental hearing muffs
  • Patented EarLock retention rings utilize seven contact points to lock earpieces in place and fit the same way every time
  • Made in USA from hypoallergenic, medical-grade polymer that's soft, durable, and long-lasting

A very good, modern take on the classic earplug, the Surefire triple flanged design offers better than average protection in a reusable format.

The in-ear design gives better rifle shooting comfort and the quality is very good. Surefire is a firearm specific brand name and much of the research and development work that went into the design of these plugs makes sense from a shooter’s perspective.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Reusable
  • Brand recognition and credibility by shooters
  • Hard to lose

CONS:

  • Lower NRR than most quality ear plugs or muffs
  • These won’t last forever
  • Fairly pricy compared to other options

These are fine instruments within a certain use case scenario. Where you cannot have interference with the ability to perch your head on a rifle or shotgun stock.

They are a well built unit that will last a while with care, but they aren’t perfect and do not offer the best NRR available.

Surefire do however come from a highly credible brand from a shooting perspective and they offer innovative features never before seen on shooting specific ear protection which is very nice.

2. 3M Peltor Optime 105 Over the Head Earmuff

3M Peltor Optime 105 Over the Head Earmuff

$35.95
$19.98
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Features

  • Noise Reduction Rating of 30dB
  • Superior comfort, fit, and hearing protection
  • Patented twin-cup design
  • Recommended for extremely loud conditions

3M Peltor Optime 105 Earmuff is a larger earmuff unit that offers excellent hearing protection from the number one industrial specific producer in the business.

For years Peltor offered some of the best made hearing protection and the 3M brand name is a known entity.

The quality is excellent, and the comfort is very good. It’s a better fit for those who will not need to shoot rifles, as the cup size is large and the interference at the gunstock may be quite annoying.

PROS:

  • Durable
  • High NRR Rating (30dB)
  • Brand recognition and credibility by shooters

CONS:

  • Hard to shoot some rifles/shotguns with these on
  • Can be hot and might cause some discomfort due to the pressure on the area surrounding the ears.

3M is the standard for the industrial hearing protection industry and enjoys easily the largest budget for R&D in the world for the category.

Leaning on their ability to innovate and budget for development of new features, allows the consumer to get a great deal on a proven earmuff.

3M Peltor Optime 105 Earmuff are not 100% compatible with all shooting styles and might be a bit warm to wear, but there are no surprises with the high noise reduction rating and the comfortable ear pads.

3. Ear Protection, AVANTEK NRR 34dB Professional Noise Reduction Shooting Hearing Protection Safety Ear Muffs

AVANTEK NRR 34dB Professional Noise Reduction Shooting Hearing Protection Safety Ear Muffs

$13.99
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Features

  • PROFESSIONAL SOUND INSULATION: The advanced double-shell sealing technology and 8 layers of thickened materials offer perfect noise reduction with SNR (Signal Noise Ratio) 34 dB / NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) 28 dB; lab tested to meet US and European standards along with ANSI S3.19 and CE EN 352-1 certification
  • UNIQUE MATERIALS: Specialty synthetic materials containing no metal pieces (like iron wires) that may cause electrical hazards; lightweight design makes them best companion for shooting, hunting, racing, reading, concerts and operating machines
  • ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL RESILIENT HEADBAND: Extendable and adjustable to suit adults and children with different head sizes; can be flexibly twisted without causing any damage
  • COMFORTABLE FIT: Soft and cozy imitation leather ear cushions and acoustic foam give you a comfortable wearing experience; ergonomically designed double-deck headband stays close to your head without causing pressure
  • SOLID AND DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: Built with industrial grade high strength material; product will not be easily damageable when you're taking it with you on the go; 45-day return and 18-month warranty from the date of your purchase

Avantek makes a hard to beat product with a quality construction, lots of versatility in sizing and in a durable build. The NRR is relatively high at 28dB and the price is very good.

For a very balanced ear muff, this is an excellent contender for the top spot as it offers a lot of features for a small price.

This is not a new brand, but it’s not as well-known on the American shooting market, so it’s yet unproven over the long-term.

PROS:

  • Durable
  • Flexible
  • Good value for money
  • Excellent Warranty

CONS:

  • Hard to shoot some rifles/shotguns with these on
  • Can be hot and might cause some discomfort due to the pressure on the area surrounding the ears
  • Something of an unknown company on the American market

Good value for the money, high durability and creature comforts that might not be found on other brands and even on more expensive passive hearing protector muffs.

The flexible sizing and durability of the headband as well as the overall high quality of materials in a fully synthetic design (no metal) makes the Avantek Earmuff a very good candidate for shooters who can handle a large ear muff design.

4. Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Muff

Walker's Razor Slim Electronic Muff

$44.47
87 new from $42.96
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Features

  • Razor" ultra-thin rubberized cups
  • Two Omni Directional Microphones
  • Provides sound Activated protection over 89 dB at 0.02 reaction time
  • Noise reduction rating of 23dB
  • Operates on 2 'AAA' batteries- included

Walker’s is a credible company in the shooting market but doesn’t have a huge footprint, so the wide distribution and overall market satisfaction is a bit harder to gauge.

That said, they have a very loyal following of fans, and despite having a bit lower NRR, they are a very nice set of “ears”.

Creature comforts are high with the attention to shooter-type details like a reduced cup outline for rifle shooting and a comfortable headband.

PROS:

  • Electronic Noise cancellation
  • Good design for all types of shooting including some innovations that others don’t offer
  • Good value for money in the Electronic Segment

CONS:

  • Lower NRR (at 23dB)
  • Something of an unknown company on the American market

The shooting centric design and good overall design niceties offer a bunch of cool features for a relatively low price in the electronic ear muff segment.

While the NRR is a bit low, this is a very nice set of “ears” for all types of shooting and has a lot of features that competitors don’t offer.

The rubberized ear cups and the design profile of the cups is a nice touch on the Walker’s Game Ear Razor Slim Electronic Earmuff.

5. Fnova 34dB Highest NRR Safety Ear Muffs

Fnova 34dB Highest NRR Safety Ear Muffs

$49.99
$12.99
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Features

  • 34dB - Highest NRR ear defenders for shooting, sports events, concerts, festivals, fireworks.
  • COMPACT - Portable size for for efficient storage, the must- have for ear protection.
  • ADJUSTABLE - Design adjustment headband of the earmuffs for a perfect fit from kid to adults.
  • SOLID - Industrial grade premium quality Guaranteed not to Break give to best hearing protetion
  • WARRANTY - Free for 60 Days or Your 100% Money Back Guarantee

Fnova is making a good quality ear protection for a low cost but has little to no traction on the broad market brand name wise.

Sometimes the “generics” are very good products and in a commodity business like hearing protection, it may not be a bad thing to have this kind of competition.

Beware, on certain marketplaces, independent sellers can inflate marketing hype a bit and some information might be a bit inaccurate. All-in, however, Fnova offers good value for the money with a high NRR claiming 34dB.

PROS:

  • Foldable for more compact storage
  • High NRR
  • Good value for money especially considering the high NRR

CONS:

  • Higher pressure on the area surrounding the ears
  • Something of an unknown company on the American market
  • Hard to shoot some rifles/shotguns with these on
  • Can be hot and might cause some discomfort due to the pressure on the area surrounding the ears

Even though it will put some pressure on the ears and the cup is large, these offer a high NRR, and a compact folding design with a durable build quality at a very good price point.

The highly padded top band offers decent comfort and the materials are long-lasting. Great for pistol shooting, the Fnova Earmuff ears are gigantic, but do offer good sound reduction.

6. Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff

Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff

$73.95
$49.99
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1 used from $ 39.90
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Features

  • Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands and other ambient sounds to a safe 82 dB, providing more natural listening and enhanced communication
  • Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when ambient sound reaches 82 dB; Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): 22
  • Features low profile earcups for firearm stock clearance; adjustable headband for secure fit; compact folding design for convenient storage; classic green color
  • Includes AUX input and 3.5 mm connection cord for MP3 players and scanners. Integrated power/volume knob
  • Includes 2 AAA batteries; automatic shut-off feature after 4 hours increases battery life; approximately 350 hours of battery life; works well and long with Polaroid AAA Batteries

Already a very well known shooting centric brand name, the Howard Leight company now owned by Honeywell offers excellent protection from sound with good innovative features and a comfortable easy to use design that is suitable for all types of shooting.

The relatively low NRR means this will be a hard sell for those with sensitive ears, but it does offer very good build quality and reputation.

PROS:

  • Good value for money in the Electronic segment
  • A well known shooting brand
  • Automatic shut off to prevent battery drain

CONS:

  • Low NRR (22dB)

This is a great value for shooting ear muffs with a brand name that’s been in the game for a very long time.

The low profile of the ear cups and the good quality electronic platform make these an excellent entry into the electronic hearing protection world.

The comfort and flexibility for sizing are good and the brand name has credibility. Despite the low NRR, for those who can handle only a 22dB reduction, the Honeywell Howard Leight Impact Sport Sound Earmuff are an excellent choice.

7. 3M Peltor X-Series Over-the-Head Earmuffs

3M Peltor X-Series Over-the-Head Earmuffs

$15.35
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Features

  • Over-the-head hearing protection with Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 22 dB for low to moderate noise exposures
  • Twin headband design helps reduce heat buildup with good fit and balance
  • Wire headband offers comfortable pressure during prolonged usage
  • Earcups tilt to ensure a customized fit and comfort for individual users
  • Electrically insulated (dielectric) wire headband helps reduce exposure to electrical hazards

The 3M Peltor X-Series Earmuff are the plain vanilla entry that everyone should have in their shooting gear as it allows a universal fit for tag-alongs that you didn’t plan on having and offers good solid protection in a pinch with easy implementation.

They are among the most straightforward earmuffs on the market. The slightly lower NRR still offers decent protection but the real story here is the ability to work on people across the board in all sizes and shapes without difficulty.

PROS:

  • Simple design
  • Universal fit
  • Proven name in the industry

CONS:

  • Only a 22dB NRR

Simple, easy to understand and use and a relatively slim design without some of the same pressure point issues that other muffs have.

The proven brand credibility and durability of the build makes the 3M Peltor X-Series Earmuff an obvious choice for those extra pairs to have on hand, or for a first purchase, where you don’t know what you want or expect out of an ear muff design.

8. Peltor Sport RangeGuard RG-OTH-4 Electronic Hearing Protector

Peltor Sport RangeGuard RG-OTH-4 Electronic Hearing Protector

$38.70
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Features

  • NRR 21 dB
  • Ideal for both indoor and outdoor shooters and hunters
  • Suppresses gunshot noise to protect hearing while amplifying voices for clear communication
  • Low profile cup design proven to work with shotguns & rifles
  • Re-engineered headband for improved fit and comfort

3M Peltor Range Guard Sport Electronic Hearing Protector Earmuff are a great name brand with a good set of features in a relatively straightforward design. This is a good entry point item for the electronic market segment.

The lower NRR isn’t too far below the standards for the price point but does offer some cause for concern or those with the most sensitive hearing. The comfort level is high and the ambient sound abilities are very good for the money.

PROS:

  • Good value for money in the Electronic segment
  • A well known shooting brand
  • Automatic shut off to prevent battery drain

CONS:

  • Low NRR (21dB)

Good comfort and durability combined with a great brand name and a very good price to enter into the electronic segment of the market if you previously have not been in it.

The sound quality is good for the money and despite a low NRR, it does match up well for the price with competitive products. The cup design of the 3M Peltor Range Guard Sport Electronic Hearing Protector Earmuff offers some distinct advantages over larger, more rounded cups.

9. Pro For Sho 34dB Shooting Ear Protection

Pro For Sho 34dB Shooting Ear Protection

$16.97
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Features

  • 34dB - Highest Hearing Protection Ratio Earmuffs Help Silence Your World " In A Snap "
  • SOLID, LIGHTWEIGHT - Specifically resigned to address the limitations of conventional ear muffs
  • COMPACT & EASILY CARRIED - Perfect for carrying in bags without weight or bulk
  • Industrial Grade Ear Muffs Protect Your Hearing During Shooting, Hunting, Woodworking and Study
  • ✭ SMALL SIZE: Young Child through Average Adult, LARGE SIZE: Average Teen to Large Adult | Looking for large size? Search " ProForSho Large Ear Protection " on Amazon ✭ - THE PRO FOR SHO PROMISE - 90 DAYS NO RISK MONEY BACK GUARANTEE and LIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY

Pro For Sho Small Earmuff offer a folding, compact design and a big NRR (34dB) in a no-nonsense, low priced package, this offers the best of both worlds, with a smaller earcup design and good NRR.

The sizing is appropriate for youth and offers a bit less discomfort on the ear areas due to the design. Despite being a little bit cheap looking, the value for money is definitely present.

PROS:

  • Foldable for more compact storage
  • High NRR (though some claims for NRR can be inflated)
  • Good value for money especially considering the high NRR
  • Great for Youth

CONS:

  • Some pressure on the area surrounding the ears
  • Newer company on the American market

The quality build might look a bit cheap but offers very good longevity and works well with youth due to the sizing and the durability of the materials.

The NRR of the Pro For Sho Small Earmuff is high and seems to be a fairly legitimate claimed number with a small ear cup design, that makes this a hard to beat product, especially for children or those with petite features.

10. 3M Peltor Optime 101 Behind-the-Head Earmuff

3M Peltor Optime 101 Behind-the-Head Earmuff

$21.00
12 new from $17.36
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Features

  • NRR 22 dB
  • Recommended for noise levels as high as 101 dBA
  • Twin cup design minimizes resonance
  • Two low mounting points provide great comfort
  • Excellent attenuation at low and high frequencies

An easy to conceal design for women who are uncomfortable with wearing a big band over their hair or for those who think regular earmuffs are ugly, makes the 3M Peltor Optime 101 behind the Head Earmuff a good choice.

From a functionality perspective, this set of ears is much more comfortable because it doesn’t need as much pressure to keep the ears in place and offers a respite from those high pressure bands/cups.

PROS:

  • Good for those with a lot of hair
  • More comfortable for those with sensitivity to pressure

CONS:

  • Large earcups might not be great with certain long guns

For those who want to look good during shooting and after they are done shooting, these are a great set of ears.

The female shooters who have a lot of hair will like the easy relocation of the band to behind the head under the hair, as well.

The 3M Peltor Optime 101 behind the Head Earmuff offers a reduced pressure mounting system that makes wearing them for longer periods of time more comfortable. The NRR is acceptable and while not incredible, does offer good protection.

11. Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Electronic Hearing Protector

Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Electronic Hearing Protector

$132.99
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Features

  • Low profile cups
  • Suppresses gunshot noise while amplifying low-level sounds
  • Designed for indoor or outdoor Use

Superior quality to the lower priced and passive models available on the market with few more expensive competitors offering the good mix of comfort, durability and safety features.

The Peltor Tactical 300 Earmuffs are a great choice for those who already like electronic muffs and want a bit more quality to replace a lesser model they had previously purchased.

PROS:

  • Great entry level pricing for the gateway into the premium electronic segment
  • Great build quality

CONS:

  • Some pressure on the area surrounding the ears
  • Only moderate NRR

The build quality is excellent, but you’d expect that for the price point, with these ears offering a very good point of entry into the premium lines of the electronic earmuff market.

The durable build and materials makes this a long-term purchase that will serve you well for years. Despite having only a moderate NRR, the overall benefits of the Peltor Tactical 300 Earmuffs outweighs most of the drawbacks.

12. 3M PELTOR TEP-100 Tactical Digital Earplug

3M PELTOR TEP-100 Tactical Digital Earplug

$309.00
$279.97
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Features

  • Portable Charging Compartment
  • Micro B USB charging Port Sealing Rings. Rechargeable electronic earplugs help reduce loud noise while amplifying low-level sounds
  • Battery Type: Rechargeable, Rechargeable or Disposable
  • Compatible with most headborne Personal Protective Equipment such as helmets, hardhats, eyewear and faceshields

SWAT operator level hearing and communication devices. 3M Peltor TEP-100 are about as legitimate a tactical earplug as you can get for under the $1k Mark.

The ability that you have when wearing these ears, to perform movements, tactical communication and difficult transitions in physical activity are unparalleled.

These are a professional quality law enforcement grade device that offers shooters some unexpected benefits over other options on the market for the most hardcore users.

PROS:

  • Compact design
  • Situational awareness is at a high level while protecting against gunshot noise

CONS:

  • A dedicated use case
  • Very Expensive

There are few competitors under $1k for these ear pieces, that function more as an all-inclusive communication device than just as a noise reduction product.

The ability to communicate with other operators or companions while offering protection against loud noises is unparalleled. Comfortable design, moderate NRR and very specific capabilities that come with the design set makes these a first choice for those who have high movement, need more technology or use hearing protection around multiple partners.

The 3M Peltor TEP-100 offer the best ear protection for shooting when you need to be situationally aware and have companions nearby.

13. Pro Ears – Pro Tac Plus Gold – Military Grade Electronic Hearing Protection and Amplification

Pro Ears - Pro Tac Plus Gold - Military Grade Electronic Hearing Protection and Amplification

$234.74
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Features

  • WHAT SETS US APART FROM THE REST? For starters, Pro Ears offers the only ear muffs with dual, fully-enclosed military-grade circuitboards with gold connectors.
  • WHY'S THIS IMPORTANT? It allows the incredible ability of independent volume control. Set each ear level separately to best suit your individual hearing needs whether to compensate for hearing loss in one ear or increase situational awareness.
  • PROPRIETARY SOUND TECHNOLOGY: World's only DLSC Technology with Full Spectrum Sound to protect hearing while letting you hear softer sounds. Eliminates "tinny" sound.
  • INDUSTRY-LEADING METRICS: The Pro Tac Plus Series has a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 26 and a lightning fast 1.5ms response time, which greatly enhances your situational awareness while simultaneously protecting your hearing from loud noise.
  • COMFORT & CONVENIENCE: Modularly designed ProForm Leather ear seals and visco-elastic foam padded, easily adjustable headbands enhance comfort while auto-shutoff, low-battery indicator and 3.5mm input jacks provide unmatched functionality.

High build quality and attention to detail and a long history of experience by Pro Ears in offering top tier ear protection on the shooting market.

These ears are comfortable compared to almost all other competitors, and offer nice touches like leather instead of vinyl, and comfortable headband padding.

The military quality circuit boards are top tier compared to the rest of the industry and the overall experience is pretty nice.

PROS:

  • 5 year warranty
  • Good NRR considering size and segment
  • Extremely comfortable

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Some analog aspects

These are premium versions of the analog/digital market segment offerings. The overall quality of the earmuffs is very high and the company offers very good service/support after purchase.

They are top quality builds with a 5 year warranty, and despite the high cost, they do offer many benefits, for serious shooters who want a premium offering.

The electronic functionality of the Pro Ears Pro Tac Plus Gold Earmuff may seem a bit dated, but in the same way that vinyl records inherently have a better sound quality than mp3’s these ears will appeal to the purists who want the quality build.

14. MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X – Premium Edition – Electronic Earmuff

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X - Premium Edition - Electronic Earmuff

$395.00
$244.00
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Features

  • MSA Sordin Supreme PRO X - US Military grade earwear
  • Equipped with MSA Sordin Supreme GEL Comfort Earseals
  • AUX input for connection to external radios, mp3 players, phones, etc.
  • Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): 18dB - Great for hunters, shooters, and those working with loud machinery
  • Very low battery consumption: 600 hours of battery life

The low NRR of the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X Earmuff means these are mostly for shooters who wait a long time between shots and can accept the 18 NRR that is published.

The superior comfort level of these ears makes them an excellent choice relative to peers for long term hearing protection uses that need the best fit and comfort.

The price is noticeably better than competing products when you factor in the ear rings (gel style), but you must remember the low NRR that is present.

PROS:

  • Incredible comfort
  • Great ambient noise performance
  • Great for full time use or many hours of use

CONS:

  • Poor NRR

Offering a factory build quality that is far superior to many competitors and one of the few factory products that feature a gel ear ring, this is a product made for complete comfort.

It’s a perfect all-day earmuff, or for those who may have a single shot throughout a long period of time (like hunters in a stand/blind).

The quality of construction of the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X Earmuff and added feature like an LED light give a great opportunity to enter into the high end of the market segment.

15. Professional Safety Ear Muffs by Decibel Defense

Professional Safety Ear Muffs by Decibel Defense

$25.67
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Features

  • BEST SAFETY EAR MUFFS AVAILABLE: Decibel Defense are the QUIETEST & MOST COMFORTABLE hearing protection you have ever owned, or your MONEY BACK! That's our "Double-D Guarantee".
  • MAXIMUM HEARING PROTECTION: Our ANSI S3.19 & CE EN 352-1 Certified Ear Protection tests at an NRR of 37 Decibels! Reducing noise 34-37 Decibels (OSHA rating of NRR 34dB, as OSHA automatically subtracts 3dB for their approval rating, considered like an additional 3dB "safety net" for the consumer).
  • AS YOU FEEL THE STURDY CONSTRUCTION OF OUR PROFESSIONAL EAR PROTECTION - you will know you have just received an unmatched bargain of quality. Our smooth, padded cell headband with fabric stitching is the pinnacle of long lasting comfort and durability. Plus, our noise reducing ear muffs are foldable and lightweight for easy portability.
  • ONCE YOU ADD OUR UNRIVALED SAFETY EAR MUFFS TO YOUR CART - You will know that you have chosen the perfect hearing protection accessory for: The Shooting Range - Personal Quiet Time - Machinist Tools - Construction Work - Lawn Maintenance - Mowing - Study - Concerts - Sporting Events - Drummers - Shooters - NASCAR - Monster Truck - Fireworks AND MORE!
  • WE ARE COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE: After you have unwrapped our beautifully custom designed packaging, you can take comfort in knowing that your purchase is secured by our 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE, or your money back. If you ever have any problems at all, just reach out to us and we will make things right, FAST! Now when you click "add to cart", you know your order is RISK FREE. So go ahead and give yourself the gift of the greatest hearing protection available.

Decibel Defense Earmuff are a folding, compact design and a high NRR rating that is arguably the highest on the market, with very few drawbacks and a comfortable headband.

The noticeably large ear cups function better with pistol shooting, though they can work with some shooting/rifle styles.

The bright colors help to remind users to put them on and the price point is very good considering the NRR.

PROS:

  • Foldable for more compact storage
  • High NRR
  • Good value for money especially considering the high NRR

CONS:

  • Some pressure on the area surrounding the ears
  • Newer company on the American market

A great bargain for those with the most sensitive hearing, these ear muffs offer the best protection for the money and a compelling argument as the best value on the market for those who truly value the NRR above all else.

The cups of the Decibel Defense Earmuff are a bit heavy on the ears and the top band, which is well made and very comfortable, helps a lot with that.

16. 3M Worktunes Wireless Hearing Protection

3M Worktunes Wireless Hearing Protection

$75.09
$69.99
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Features

  • Safe Volume control technology allows for increased Volume, yet corrects to maintain safe levels over an 8-hour work Day
  • Audio assist technology provides setup and operational guidance without having to Remove the headset
  • Am/FM digital Radio with enhanced Radio performance for clearer sound quality; saves up to 50 stations
  • Requires two 1.5 AA batteries (not included).

While the 3M Worktunes Wireless Earmuffs are bulky and feature a massive antenna, they offer protection beyond just the shooting range and offer hunters some respite to the lonely tree stand or solo blind with the music offering.

The 3M brand name is credible and the NRR of 24 while slightly low does protect sufficiently.

PROS:

  • Noise cancelling effects that offer good music capabilities too
  • Offers more benefits outside of just shooting
  • Great for disinterested shooters/guests who are in the background and still need protection

CONS:

  • Some pressure on the area surrounding the ears
  • Moderate to low NRR
  • Reduced situational awareness may not be appropriate for all shooters or all situations

This is a great all-around headset and works exceptionally well for friends or family members that are not shooting actively or are not interested in shooting, but are observing from outside the firing line.

The added bonus of having music can cause a safety concern without planning but does offer those who aren’t actively engaged at the moment a great option for listening to music while others are shooting. The 3M Worktunes Wireless Earmuff outside of shooting benefits are better than any other pair on this list.

17. Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs, 50 Pair

Mack's Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs, 50 Pair

$10.79
$8.49
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Features

  • ULTRA COMFORTABLE - Made with super low-pressure, slow release, Comfy Cush Comfort Foam. Their user preferred color is as easy on your eyes as they are on your ears.
  • ULTRA NOISE BLOCKERS - With a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 32 decibels, these versatile, noise blocking earplugs are great for sleeping, studying, work, travel, concerts, relaxation, motorcycling, loud events, etc.
  • #1 BRAND FOR SNORING, SLEEPING AND TO PROTECT HEARING - Mack's is the #1 doctor recommended brand of foam earplugs to protect hearing and to get a good night's sleep when sleeping with a snoring spouse.
  • #1 BRAND USED BY DOCTORS - Mack's is the #1 brand of foam earplugs personally used by doctors. Trust the brand that doctors trust.
  • MADE IN THE USA - Proudly made in the USA with safe, high performance, noise reducing foam. Satisfaction guaranteed. The plastic jar is safety-sealed and features a convenient flip-open top for easy dispensing.

A bulk package of earplugs by Mack’s that offers a huge advantage over other products because they are disposable, comfortable and block a high amount of noise.

The flesh colored foam is unobtrusive, and the package cost is basically negligible.

PROS:

  • Disposable
  • High NRR
  • Cheap
  • Great backup item

CONS:

  • Some pressure in the ear canal for those who aren’t used to earplugs

As a backup device, a secondary solution (like inside your ears while wearing muffs), or for large shooting events where other ear protection is impractical, these are excellent choices.

The soft foam and high NRR offers a good compromise between cheap cost and good protection. The throwaway nature of Mack’s ultra soft Foam Earplugs Bulk means you will maintain hygiene and the in-ear plug design isolates a lot of sound.

18. HEAROS Xtreme Protection Noise Cancelling Disposable Foam Earplugs NRR 33 Hearing Protection

HEAROS Xtreme Protection Noise Cancelling Disposable Foam Earplugs NRR 33 Hearing Protection

$5.97
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Features

  • 14 PAIR of disposable polyurethane foam ear plugs, tested according to ANSI specifications S319-1974 by Michael & Associates, Inc NIST NVLAP code 100427-0. These fit virtually every wearer.
  • NRR 33 is the highest available noise reduction rating possible. These noise cancelling ear plugs are suitable for construction, law enforcement, military and those seeking relief from a snoring spouse.
  • COMFORTABLE closed-cell foam skin is soft and impervious to dirt. Premium expanding foam provides customized fit in each ear canal, ensuring optimal noise blocking capabilities up to 33 decibels.
  • EASY INSERTION by rolling between the fingers and inserting in your ear. Light blue color is discernible in the workplace, and attractively complements law enforcement and first responder uniforms.
  • MADE IN THE USA under rigorous quality control protocols for noise reduction you can rely on. These must-have travel accessories strike an uncompromising balance between performance and comfort.

Hearos Xtreme Protection Ear Plugs are simple, straightforward and at the highest level of NRR that really makes a difference (NRR 33) the Hearos are a premium ear plug choice that offers good comfort, disposable design and high noise reduction.

These are a premium offering for those who prefer in ear protection as opposed to ear muffs or other over the ear protection.

PROS:

  • High NRR
  • Comfortable for in ear protection
  • Great for Youth

CONS:

  • Temporary/disposable (which could be considered a PRO)

The easy to use, straightforward design of the ear plug in a quality, high NRR design that offers quick, temporary protection against sounds like gunshots that can damage hearing permanently.

The Hearos offer a very comfortable feel in the ear and are quick to expand. Despite the premium ear plug price point, they still offer a huge discount to most other competitive products for noise reduction.

How Loud Are Guns?

Guns are loud. Their dB (decibel) rating can differ by type and caliber. For instance a shotgun can rate at about 160 Db at the ear of the shooter. A .357 Magnum revolver can be even louder, due to the open design of the firearm – it can reach around 165 Db at the shooter’s ear.

Hearing Damage Risk and Concerns

The threshold of pain for decibel ratings is at about 130 Db. The general rule of thumb for the threshold at which a human should be keeping under is 85 Db.

Sustained exposure to sounds above that level can be damaging over the long term to your hearing. Even a second or two of exposure to sounds above 130 can cause permanent hearing damage and or hearing loss.

This means that a user must be cognizant of the ambient environment and the potential for noise pollution and heavy noise impacts like a firearm.

Even a single gunshot heard by unprotected ears in certain conditions can cause irreparable damage.

Different types of hearing protection: Passive vs. Electronic

Passive hearing protection is a baseline type of hearing protection, with Electronic offering additional perks to help with conversation and other ambient sound needs while engaging in activities where short frequent bursts of sound are part of the environment but may not be constant.

Passive devices are generally ear plugs or ear muffs. They are very inexpensive for the most part.

Electronic devices can also be in-ear and out of ear, but the vast majority of electronic devices, including all of the devices listed in this article will be pertaining to over the ear or outside of the ear protection, and specifically ear muffs.

Electronic devices utilize a specialty hardware that allows a diaphragm to open and close based on the sound levels present in the ambient environment.

In conjunction with an amplifier, the systems can offer unrestricted or lightly restricted hearing when no gunshot is present, and immediately (in fractions of a second – and before the ear can sustain damage) close off that audible sound to protect it with a static NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) as gunshots become present in the environment.

For the most part, there are very few deviations of this setup and minor differences, while marketed differently, utilize mostly the same framework. As hearing protection evolves and innovations become more prevalent, this may change, but for now, there is semi predictable architecture in place for electronic hearing versus passive hearing options.

Bottom Line

It’s important to know the basic facts about hearing protection. For shooting sports, hunting, and range time, getting the best hearing protection for shooting is important.

After all, it’s a life long journey you will have to use your hearing for, and shooting sports are but fleeting moments that make that lifelong journey more fun and rewarding. Your hearing is important, and you should be able to easily protect it with the wide array of products that are available in the spectrum of hearing protection.

There are glamorous options, plain options, fancy, high tech options and options that are a hundred years old – they are all viable options in deferent scenarios, and it is important to remember that hearing protection can be as customizable and personalized as anything else, including firearms.

Long story short: there are a ton of options and you can find exactly what you need in a wide range of prices and complementary options to suite your individual needs.