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Which shooting earmuffs are best?

There are a few things that you must consider when going to the shooting range. First, while your equipment needs to be in the best condition, you must also protect your hearing. The best way to dampen the loud effects of ammunition fire is to wear earmuffs.

For indoor and outdoor shooting, a pair like the Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector is ideal. It filters out background noise so you can hear others clearly and features Bluetooth technology for making calls or listening to your favorite tunes. 

What to know before you buy shooting earmuffs

Decide which Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is suitable for you

Shooting earmuffs are available in different specifications, and the most important to look out for is the NRR. It is the measure (or rating) of how adequate the hearing protection is. The NRR represents the number of decibels it will reduce loud sounds by. So, for example, if the earmuffs have a rating of 29, it will lower the noise levels by 29 decibels. It’s convenient to determine the protection required, depending on the weapon.

Passive vs. electronic earmuffs

Besides the NRR, you should also consider whether you want passive or electronic earmuffs. The biggest difference between the two types is the way they work. Passive hearing protection is the classic earmuffs that most people will know. They block out noise by using thick foam and a tight fit. On the other hand, electronic earmuffs reduce the noise levels while still letting you communicate with others. Through several built-in microphones, it picks up the background sounds like talking. So, there is no need to remove your earmuffs after each shot.

Comfortable fit

Even if the technical specifications protect your hearing, another crucial component is the fit. It is essential because you don’t want gaps or openings between the earmuffs and your ears. The headband must also fit comfortably, so look for hearing protection that you can adjust and position to cover your ear canals completely.

What to look for in quality shooting earmuffs

Faster attack time

Also referred to as the response time, this is the split second it takes for the hearing protection amplifiers to turn off. Under normal circumstances, the amplifiers in the earmuffs let you hear the ambient or surrounding sounds, such as talking. But the moment a loud sound is detected, the amplifiers deactivate. In well-made earmuffs, the response time should be between 10-20-milliseconds. The fastest response time available is half a millisecond. 

Well-placed tactile controls

While passive earmuffs don’t have controls, electronic earmuffs do. This is so that you can adjust the volume of the amplified sounds and the sensitivity of the built-in microphones. These controls can be hard to reach or press, so a good pair of earmuffs should have well-placed controls that are easy to access, even when wearing shooting gloves. 

Durability in construction

Blocking out noise is critical, but earmuffs will be no good to you if they only last for a few shooting sessions. The best earmuffs are made from durable plastic and metal parts and won’t break or come apart easily. The batteries in electronic earmuffs should also have the capacity to last at least a few hours. 

How much you can expect to spend on shooting earmuffs

The average price of shooting earmuffs largely depends on the manufacturer and their type of protection. Affordable, passive shooting earmuffs cost $20-$30, while powerful electronic earmuffs cost $70-$200. 

Shooting earmuffs FAQ

What’s the difference between earmuffs and earplugs?

A. Earmuffs, as explained, go over your ears to provide all-around hearing protection with an adjustable headband. On the other hand, earplugs are made of pliable foam or plastic inserted into your ear canal, much like music earbuds.

Can you use earplugs with earmuffs?

A. Yes, and by using both forms, you get the maximum hearing protection available. Just keep in mind that earplugs with electronic earmuffs will also dampen the sounds of conversations.

What are the best shooting earmuffs to buy?

Top shooting earmuffs

Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector

Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector

What you need to know: These electronic earmuffs reduce external noise by 26 decibels and can connect to your mobile device through Bluetooth technology.

What you’ll love: The Dynamic Suppression Time automatically adjusts depending on the loudness of the shot, while the Clear Voice Tracking identifies and enhances conversations. The medium-profile ear cups have a rifle stock cutout.

What you should consider: The earmuffs don’t operate on a rechargeable battery but work on two AA batteries instead. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top shooting earmuffs for the money

3M Peltor Sport Shotgunner II

3M Peltor Sport Shotgunner II

What you need to know: Designed to be worn when using a shotgun, these static earmuffs have a rifle stock cutout for easy aiming. 

What you’ll love: The adjustable headband fits on most head sizes and the earmuffs can also fold up into a compact storage position. It lowers any noise by up to 24 decibels.

What you should consider: Some users have indicated that these earmuffs can be uncomfortable to wear with shooting glasses.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolt

Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolt

What you need to know: The Impact Sport Bolt uses digital compression circuitry to provide some of the fastest response times in electronic earmuffs. In only 0.5 milliseconds, it reduces any noise above 82 decibels by 22 decibels. 

What you’ll love: The built-in microphones can amplify range commands and conversations by up to five times, ensuring that you can always hear what is going on. In addition, the ear cups have a low profile and a rifle cutout, making it easy to aim without getting in the way.

What you should consider: The built-in battery provides power for around 150 hours, and the earmuffs come with a 3.5-millimeter connection to listen to music.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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