Shooting ear protection is often neglected by new shooters, and they do not really realize the damage that is done by rifle fire to your hearing when shooting guns without ear protection. In fact, many older generation shooters, cannot hear their wrist watch alarms right next to their ears because they are completely deaf to those tones thanks to years of hunting or in the army shooting a gun without hearing protection. The best shooting ear protection for PRS and precision rifle matches becomes vitally important, especially since most shooters in race gun matches use muzzle brakes, which divert the sound to the people next to them, and there are many shooters shooting the whole day so damage without hearing protection is a certainty. Read on as I explain not only why should you use ear protection when shooting a firearm, but also which models I have tested, recommend and still use, but also how to ensure they are comfortable enough that you will carry on using them.
How to Choose the Best Ear Protection for Shooting Precision Rifle?
Electronic Hearing Protection (Over the ear)
When using ear protection, you want to minimize the sounds produced by your rifle shot blast. However, you don’t want to miss out on other possible important sounds or conversations with people around you. For this reason, electronic shooting hearing protection was developed, so the shooter can hear any safety calls, animal sounds, or even conversation, whilst shooting is going on around or next to them. These are usually over-the-ear type and quite large, allowing only the use of hats like caps, beanies or no hats with them.
Earplugs for Shooting (in-ear electronic hearing protection)
Earplugs are often also used for shooting, ensuring protection from unwanted external noise. These usually fit inside the ear, being less obtrusive and allowing them to be use with any kind of hat, which is why many outdoor shooters prefer them. Also army snipers that wear boonie hats, as the boonie hats cannot be worn with over-ear hearing protection. You get custom molded in-ear electronic hearing protection for shooting, which is the most comfortable, and block out the most unwanted noise, but these are often by far the most expensive and can only be molded by hearing specialists, which make them prohibitive to most amateur shooters. Also, when shooting large calibers with muzzle brakes, it is often advised to also wear over-ear hearing protection over these in-ear devices as there is still a risk of hearing damage through shock to the outer-ear which is picked up from very loud shots. Custom hearing protection for shooting is the way to go if you can afford it.
Best 5 Shooting Hearing Protection Electronic
When it comes to your hearing and shooting, you do not want to compromise, rather get the best ear pro you can afford. Your hearing is vulnerable and noise damage is can be permanent and irreparable. In order to make the choice easier for you as to which models of electronic ear pro to buy, we have tested and compared them below.
Walker’s Razor Slim Low Profile Electronic Earmuffs
These made-in-USA models also have thin profiles for clearing rifle stocks and folding away very small. The omni-directional microphones ensure stereo hearing allowing you to hear which direction the sounds are coming from, and still protects your hearing from loud shots with a noise reduction rating of 23dB. They are the models I still use as well as my wife and both kids so my choice for the best shooting ear protection of all I tested and used, and I have physically used all listed here.
The electronic shooting earmuffs work on 2x AAA batteries which are included in the package, saving you time and money and allowing to get going straight out of the box.
- Tuned for natural clarity whilst offering hearing protection ensures they can comfortably be worn all day during a precision rifle competition or hunt
- Comfortable pads ensure good fit for all day comfort
Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff
These low-profile models from Howard Leight are our choice for the best shooting ear protection from all the models listed and tested here, and they are the models we now use for ourselves in racegun matches. They block any noise or loud sounds over 82dB, offer twin directional microphones so you still have stereo hearing so you know where what sounds are coming from just like when not wearing any earmuffs, and are the lowest overall profile of all the models tested.
They also have snap-in cushions which can easily be replaced or changed with other silicone cushions for more comfort.
- The slim ear cups give more rifle stock clearance than the larger models
- Telescoping and adjustable headband ensure goo snug fit for all head sizes, even our kids aged 4 and 7 each wear a set when they come to the shooting range with us
- Thanks to the way they fold in and their low profile, they store very small, and there are great storage cases available for them
- They can connect to external sources with the included aux cable and port
- Automatically shuts off after 4 hours
Caldwell E-Max Shadows 23 NRR – Electronic Hearing Protection with Bluetooth Connectivity for Shooting, Hunting, and Range
These in-ear shooting hearing protection electronic earplugs are great for if you wear wide brim and boonie hats, something you cannot do with the over ear models. Just make sure these fit snugly inside the ear and seal the whole ear canal to block all incoming noise and only allows the noise that is filtered by the device. These electronic earplugs also connect to you phone or Bluetooth device so you can answer calls or listen to music whilst being protected from gun shots to you hearing.
The case that is included doubles as a charger as well, which is a great added benefit and feature. These electronic earplugs shut off after 4 hours automatically to conserve battery life and help you if you forgot to turn them off, and they feature an on / off indicator so you know when they are on or off.
- Suppresses loud noise and external sounds constantly when on
- Automatic on and off indicator built in
- Black in color
- Provides a noise reduction rating of 23 dB
- 6 different sizes of foam tips are included so you can change them until you find the perfect fit for your ears
Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector with Bluetooth Technology, NRR 26 dB, Ideal for the Range, Shooting and Hunting
With a 26dB noise reduction rating, a medium profile design and Bluetooth connectivity, these electronic shooting earmuffs allow you to keep your phone connected to them and still keep them on when at a hunt or shooting range.
With the clear voice tracking function built-in, you can hear what friends or other shooters around you are saying. This function helps a lot as busy shooting competition where you need to keep listening to the range officers whilst shooting.
The dynamic suppression sensing also adjusts noise blocking time to prevent echo as well as the main shot.
- Works with both normal AA batteries as well as rechargeable 1100 Lion batteries
- Recessed microphones prevent wind noise
- Can play music or receive phone calls wirelessly from other bluetooth enabled devices
- Auto shut-off function
Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff
These Impact Sport shooting earmuffs by Howard Leight block any sounds above 82db, but because of the built-in directional microphones, you can still hear the rest of the sound around you and where it is coming from. They are cheaper earmuffs than the Impact Pro models from Howard Leight mentioned above, but are also quite a bit larger and get more in the way.
The electronic shooting hearing protection earmuffs come with 2x AAA batteries included, so they are ready to go as soon as you receive them, making the the most affordable quality electronic shooting hearing protection of all models tested.
- Can be connected to external music players thanks to the included Aux cable
- Easier storage thanks to folding design
- The snap-in ear cushions allow for easy maintenance
- Automatically shuts-off after hours to conserve battery life and for if you forgot to switch them off after use
Hearing Protection Comfort
Custom hearing protection for shooting, does not only have to be the expensive in-ear kind that you have to get molded by an audiologist. You can also customize your over-ear electronic hearing protection to make it sit so comfortably, the whole day, that you do not even notice them even when wearing sunglasses.
Although the Howard Leigh Impact Sport Pro electronic ear protection is my favorite of all the over-the-ear models, and the one I have been using very happily for the past 7 years, even they do become uncomfortable if worn for a whole day or especially if worn together with sunglasses. I recently found these gel ear pads that are made for them, and WOW! Let me tell you, the difference and improvement in comfort is remarkable. I literally could not believe what a big difference they made. So much in fact that I could now wear them the whole day with my sunglasses and not even notice them. The added bonus is, they seal your electronic earmuffs even better than original, so even more of the sound is blocked.
It took me a mere 3 minutes to install, and I will never again buy any electronic ear protection muffs for shooting without getting them too.
What to consider when choosing shooting ear protection
What is the best NRR rating for shooting?
When it comes to shooting ear protection, the best NRR rating is typically between 22 and 33. This range provides sufficient protection from the loud noises associated with shooting, while still allowing the shooter to hear ambient sounds. For example, a shooting earmuff with an NRR of 33 would reduce the noise of a gunshot by about 30 decibels. This is enough to protect the shooter’s hearing without significantly affecting their ability to communicate or hear any potential threats. Of course, each shooter’s needs are different, so it is important to choose a shooting earmuff with an NRR that is appropriate for the individual.
Hunting Ear Protection
When hunting, it is important to protect your ears from the loud noise of gunshots. There are a variety of hunting ear protection options available, and the best choice for you will depend on your individual needs. If you hunt frequently, you may want to invest in a pair of electronic earmuffs. These muffs amplify soft sounds while simultaneously blocking out dangerous level noises, making it easier to communicate with other hunters and stay aware of your surroundings. If you only hunt occasionally, however, a less expensive option such as foam earplugs may be sufficient. Whichever type of hunting ear protection you choose, be sure to look for a product that is comfortable and easy to use, so that you can keep your focus on the task at hand: finding your target.
Shooting 9mm Without Ear Protection
Shooting a 9mm without ear protection, will still cause hearing damage, even if just once.
Shooting Guns without Ear Protection
Shooting a gun without ear protection, is not recommended, even if only just once. The sound waves caused by the un-suppressed gunshot, can cause permanent hearing damage and loss of certain hearing frequency tones.
Why Should You Use Ear Protection When Shooting a Firearm
You should use ear protection when shooting a firearm, because even just one loud shot from a firearm, can cause permanent hearing damage and loss of certain frequency tones of your hearing.