|Our Top Pick – Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Shooting Earmuff||Check Price|
|Runner-Up – Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector for Shooting||Check Price|
|Popular Budget Option – Walker’s Razor Slim Earmuffs||Check Price|
|Best Premium Option – MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X Hearing Protection Earmuffs||Check Price|
|Best For Hunters – Gloryfire Electronic Shooting Earmuffs||Check Price|
|Best Low-Profile – Caldwell E-Max Low-Profile Electronic Hearing Protection||Check Price|
|Non-Electronic Alternative – SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders||Check Price|
Forget the cotton balls. They do next to nothing to protect your hearing.
When ear protection for shooting is in question, every responsible gun enthusiast, hunter, or those of you who are basically living at the ranges should get proper ear protection headgear to protect yourselves from the dangers of loud gun noises.
Common foam earplugs like Mack’s Ear Plugs Ear Ammo are enough to reduce sharp noises and prevent tinnitus at the ranges.
But why not kick it up a notch?
Today’s market has a plethora of high-quality electronic earmuffs that offer the ultimate in ear protection.
They significantly reduce noise levels and offer great additional features that allow you to hear talking and communicate as they filter out the sharper sounds.
Some can even amplify sounds that allow hunters to hear their prey in the bushes, while others have the option to listen to some music.
Top 7 Electronic Ear Protection Devices for Shooting
In today’s round-up, I compiled the best electronic ear protection for shooting; NRR-certified, of course. With so many cheap knock-offs and low-quality products you see on Amazon, it’s difficult to pick the proper ear protection.
I’ll talk about their advantages and disadvantages, what they’re best suited for, who they’re for, and I’ll also list some alternatives if you feel that you don’t need electronic ear protection or would like to keep a low profile.
How I Evaluated My Picks
I’ve had the chance to use and grade some of them, and some are based on personal criteria.
I explored multiple options like noise reduction rating (NRR), amplification power, battery life, comfort, the durability of materials, and additional features like AUX cables and carry cases.
Let’s check them out.
Our Top Pick – Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Shooting Earmuff
- Optimal noise reduction
- Easy to adjust and operate
- Directional microphones
- Slim, lightweight, and comfortable ear cups
- Snap-in ear cushions for enhanced comfort
- Foldable headband
- Shuts off automatically after 4 hours
- Comes with a 3.5 mm AUX cord
- The AAA batteries are non-rechargeable
The Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sports earmuffs are one of the most cost-effective devices you can find on the market today. They’re lightweight, affordable, and boast a rating of 22dB NRR.
This is the go-to option for most shooters if you’re tired of taking off your earplugs when somebody talks to you at the ranges. They also come with a 3.5 mm AUX cord and volume knob.
The Howard Leight Impact Sports earmuffs have a voice and ambient amplification up to 82 dB while shutting down sharp sounds above the same mark.
The microphone can amplify the tiniest background noises, which are great if you’re a fowl hunter. It practically gives you Superman’s hearing.
The AAA batteries are non-rechargeable, but it’s not much of a downside because they can last around 350 hours. Moreover, the 4-hour auto-off feature saves the day if you happen to forget to switch it off.
The Howard Leight muffs have an adjustable headband, so you can comfortably wear them for hours. The foldable, compact design also allows backpacking, and they’re slim enough to fit nicely if you wear a helmet or eye protection.
You can also check out the Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolt Electronic Earmuffs. They’re a more expensive option with a 0.5 ms attack time.
Or, if you’re looking for something more powerful, the Howard Leight Impact Pro Earmuffs can also shut off ambient noises up to 82dB. They’re larger but provide ultimate noise reduction if you’re shooting large-caliber weapons.
- One of the best for reducing wind noise
- High-quality adaptable noise filter
- Adjustable and intuitive controls
- Vented headband for comfort and convenience
- Bluetooth available
- Annoying sounds when using Bluetooth
In terms of overall value, the Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector is a great set of earmuffs that comes close to the Howard Leight Impact Sports.
With an impressive NRR of 26 dB (-9.5 dB OSHA rating), directional sound, 85 dB volume limit, and Bluetooth compatibility, the Peltor Sport Tactical 500 protects your ears and offers convenience.
The Peltor shooting earmuffs are more expensive than the Howard Leight Impact Sports, but they’re lighter, and the adjustable noise filter is its main crowning feature.
These shooting earmuffs have an attack time of 3-5 ms and are sensitive enough to filter out loud gunshots. They leave out natural sounds, wind, and human voices, so you won’t have to shout while conversing.
The Bluetooth feature allows you to listen to music and even make wireless calls. However, some customers complained about an annoying, low buzzing sound whenever the Bluetooth is turned on.
What you get are adjustable ear cups with cushions for enhanced comfort, a low-profile adjustable headband, and a vented design for airflow, which is convenient if you’re wearing a hat. The earmuffs are weatherproof and suitable for the outdoors.
The Peltor Sport Tactical 500 takes two AA batteries, but it also uses 3M Alpha 1100 lithium-ion battery packs that can be recharged via the micro USB port.
If you want something less fancy by Peltor, check out the Peltor Optime 105—a non-electronic but lighter and cheaper option with an impressive 30dB NRR.
Popular Budget Option – Walker’s Razor Slim Earmuffs
- ely lightweight
- Made for comfort
- Low-profile ear cups with rubber coating
- Integrated audio jack included
- Full dynamic range HD speakers
- Not very adjustable like the others on the list
- Audio quality is subpar
Guess who has a #1 Bestseller tag on Amazon? Walker’s are the main competitor to Howard Leight earmuffs, and their Walker’s Razor Ear Protection is the reason why.
The Walker’s Razor Slim Ear Protection is a brilliant budget option that offers basic ear protection, comfort, two omnidirectional microphones, thick, padded ear cups, and an aesthetic design. They’re made to be as snug and low-profile as possible.
Walker’s Razor Slim electronic shooting earmuffs have a noise reduction rating of 23 dB (-8 dB OSHA rating), 89 dB volume limit, two omnidirectional microphones, integrated audio jack, and a 20 ms reaction time.
They utilize a sound-activated compression circuit (SAC) that filters out loud noises over the 89 dB limit.
While these earmuffs aren’t AUX-compatible, they have Walker’s Upgraded Gel Replacement Pads that guarantee a comfortable fit for anyone’s ears and head.
However, the Razor Slim isn’t as adjustable as the others on the list, and it might be prone to a humming sound when the volume is turned up to the max, especially when windy.
Still, the Walker’s Razor Slim Ear Protection offers all the essential features of good ear protection for shooting.
Using muzzle breaks significantly makes the gunshots louder, so check out our round-up of the best and least noisy muzzle breaks for your AR-15 rifle.
Best Premium Option – MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X Hearing Protection Earmuffs
- Military-grade ear protection
- Supreme comfort
- Slim, low profile is suitable for helmets and eyewear
- The best sound quality and noise reduction
- Snug fit for both left and right-handed shooters
- Over-the-ear and neckband models available
- Very expensive
The Swedish manufacturer designed the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X for serious range junkies.
A lot of sports shooters swear by these, but anyone can appreciate the standard 18 dB noise reduction levels if they can afford them.
The Sordin Supreme Pro X feels great with a slim profile, and you can choose either the over-the-ear or the neckband model, both of which won’t interfere with your comms.
What makes these so comfy is the built-in gel caps, and they also allow you to combine the Sordins with earplugs if you feel the 18 dB NRR doesn’t cut it. The connected ear cups via the metal struts allow you to wear the headset under a helmet.
The Sordin Supreme Pro X earmuffs use 2 AAA batteries as a power source, and it can also be attached to ballistic helmets and communication devices as well. They come with an AUX input (with a 3.5 mm mono jack).
The sound is a bit high on treble, but that means you’ll hear someone talking to you better. Keep in mind that, with a more crisp sound, you’ll also be more likely to hear minor sounds like footsteps and rustling clothes.
The Sordins offer a snug and comfy fit, and this is the most important thing in earmuffs. You can wear them for hours without feeling any discomfort.
If you can afford to splurge, disregard anything else and just go for the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X.
Best For Hunters – Gloryfire Electronic Shooting Earmuffs
- Picks up low frequencies
- Perfect for hunting and outdoor use
- Amplifies sound up to 6 times
- Easy to operate and adjust
- Comfortable and adjustable ear pads
- Replacement parts available at Brownells
- 2 AAA batteries drain too quickly
- Not waterproof
- Leather isn’t very durable
The Gloryfire Electronic Shooting Earmuffs have high-quality sound amplification microphones that make them stand out from the rest.
They have a solid NRR of 25dB (Derated OSHA level: 9dB), directional sound, and an 82dB volume limit with an attack time rate of 20ms. The padded ear cups are adjustable and very comfortable.
The Gloryfire omnidirectional microphones allow you to hear the sounds of your surroundings, making the headset a great way to help detect prey in the wilderness.
You can hear the slightest sounds of twig cracks, footsteps, and rustling bushes while still being protected from the piercing sound of a .308 Winchester caliber.
They’re also great for communicating while you’re wearing them, and you can amplify the sound up to six times. The microphones are automatically muted when noise levels exceed the 82 dB limit.
The downside is the two AAA battery setup. They drain too quickly after a couple of hours, and I believe the culprit might be the high sound amplification. The earmuffs are not waterproof, so be careful in the rain.
Besides that, the Gloryfire is still a great choice for hunters and the great outdoors, or if you’re looking for comfort and a decent sound increase.
Non-Electronic Alternative – SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders
- Simple and effective hearing protection
- Easy to put on and take off
- Great budget option
- Compact and foldable
- One size fits all
- Can snag on clothing
- Unsuitable for humid or hot weather
- Bumps into cheek welds
- Not for shooting higher calibers
If you’re looking for a great non-electronic alternative, the Surefire EP3 Sonic Defenders are no-nonsense, reusable earbuds that are based on simplicity and cost-efficiency.
With foam pads that cover and seal your ear canal, the Sonic Defenders provide standard ear protection with a 24-dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). They’re inexpensive, comfortable, and offer two levels of hearing protection.
The Sonic Defenders have a soft, hypoallergenic polymer foam that feels very comfortable, and you have filter caps that allow you to wear them open or closed.
The ‘open mode’ allows you to hear talking while it protects against pistol noise around the 155-160 dB level, that’s 9mm or .22LR shots.
The Surefire EP3 Sonic Defenders are suitable for both outdoor and indoor shooting galleries, but I advise you to cover them with earmuffs if you plan to shoot AR-15 rifles or Magnums.
They’re available in small, medium, or large sizes, and there are over-the-head fit versions, as well as back-of-the-head wrap versions as well. You also have the EP7 Sonic Defenders with filters and canal tips if you want extra ear protection.
Like other connected earbud models, they can snag on your clothing or eyewear, and they can intercept cheek welds if you plan to shoot AR-9s or battle pistols.
Best Low-Profile – Caldwell E-Max Low-Profile Electronic Hearing Protection
- Simple and affordable earmuffs
- Easy to put on and take off
- Great budget option
- Compact and foldable
- One size fits all
- Unsuitable for humid or hot weather
- Bumps into cheek welds
- Low battery (3-4 hours tops)
Caldwell’s E-Max Low-Profile Electronic Hearing Protection is another budget-friendly option that boasts a low-profile design. These ear protection shooting earmuffs are foldable, easy to carry, and backpack-friendly.
They have a 23 dB noise reduction rating, an oversized adjustable headband for comfort and control, and dual microphones that amplify sounds under the 85 dB mark, good for tracking deer on the hunt.
Though these electronic earmuffs work via two AAA batteries, you get roughly three to four hours of run time. However, the LED indicator shows you when the earmuffs are turned on, and I haven’t seen any other earmuffs with this feature. So, that’s a plus.
You got a cable for an iPod or USB music player for it, and the headphone jack and microphone work together so you’ll hear both the music and people’s voices.
Twisting the knobs with gloves on feels alright, but the Caldwell E-Max doesn’t do much against loud shots from a 12-gauge shotgun per se, so be mindful of this.
Overall, the Caldwell E-Max Low-Profile Earmuffs do a great job as a low-cost ear protection device. They’re more adjustable than the Walker’s Razor Slim Ear Protection, but I’d go with the Razor Slim for that extra NRR score.
How to Choose the Best Electronic Ear Protection for Shooting
Proper ear protection is something that can’t be stressed enough, especially if you’re a frequent visitor at the ranges.
You should always try it before you buy it, so look for electronic hearing protection devices that are comfortable for your ears and head.
Here are the four most important points for criteria when looking for suitable electronic earmuffs.
The NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) calculates the quality of electronic ear protection devices and is measured in decibels (dB). It’s an important concept that tells us how effectively a device can protect our hearing.
The higher the NRR is, the better the hearing protection device is for noise reduction.
Most gun ranges produce intensive, sharp gun noises above the 140 dB (decibel) levels that can cause permanent hearing damage. That’s why we need ear protection for shooting that takes care of the +140 dB mark.
Look for electronic earmuffs with an NRR score of at least 23 decibels. I highly recommend electronic ear protection devices around the 25 mark, especially if you shoot larger calibers like the .44 Magnum revolver (which has one of the highest decibels for firearms ever).
You also need to ensure that the devices you’re planning to purchase are NRR-certified before you do anything.
The CDC has even more cautious standards. According to them, even short-term exposure to 90 dB of sounds can cause hearing loss.
Comfort should be the second priority, but treat it as paramount.
Look for earmuffs that you can wear for long hours and aren’t too loose or feel like it’s a medieval torture device.
Most headwear on this list has adjustable and rotating earmuffs with comfy padding and cushions around the ear.
It’s a good idea to look for ear protection devices with a padded headband like the Peltor 500 or an oversized plush that you can continuously wear without discomfort.
Usually, tactical hearing protection devices like the Howard Leight Impact offer a low profile that’s great for when using cheek welds.
It’s important to figure out if you’ll use the earmuffs for your AR-15 rifle for a more compact or modal approach or if you’re satisfied with a bulky but cheaper option.
Last but not least, if you’re planning on using earmuffs outside, be wary of overcast. Proper noise-canceling earmuffs should have all of the necessary features to be used in rainy weather.
Look for anything that’s waterproof. Indoor use aside, there are many great electronic earmuffs with waterproof features, and you’d be surprised how overlooked this feature is.
Despite your lifestyle, believe me, anyone can damage their hearing one way or another. I have friends that attend rock concerts once every two weeks, and some complain about an annoying high-pitched sound in their ears. That’s tinnitus.
For many, a pair of hearing muffs or simple foam plugs do their job just fine for many. But, I will always recommend electronic ear protection, especially if you’re operating high calibers.
I suggest you first try out multiple models and wear them for a couple of hours before you truly decide.
Besides comfort, I recommend you stick to brand names like Howard Leight, Walker’s, Peltor, and Gloryfire, and watch the NRR rating to be above 22 dB.
I recommend the Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Shooting Earmuff because it’s the most straightforward option that offers all the right features for a great value. Besides these, the Peltor Sport Tactical 500 are also a great choice for the shooting range.
My personal opinion is that electronic earmuffs will always be the superior choice, and I’m sure you’ll quickly tire of uncomfortable foam earplugs after a while. Whatever the case may be, your health should always be your number one priority.
Stay safe, shoot straight.