With so many choices for hearing protection, it can sometimes be difficult to determine how much protection you need, and what brand to choose. Here we will look at how much protection you need, as well as our top choices for every budget.
The Science Behind Hearing Protection
Sound intensity is measured using logarithmic scale, I promise this is as scientific as we are going to get. Basically, this means that if silence is 0 decibels then 10 decibels is ten times more powerful, if a sound is 100 times more powerful than silence, then that would be 20 decibels, likewise 1,000 times more powerful is 30 decibels.
My point is that as the decibels get higher, the intensity increases at a more rapid rate. So, increasing from 10 to 20 decibels is not as intense as increasing from 140 to 150 decibels.
Now that you kind of understand how decibels work, you understand that when I say hearing protection can decrease decibels on average from 150 decibels to 110-130 decibels, you know that is significant, since the higher the decibel the more the frequency increases.
Beginning at 80 decibels, doctor’s state that there are certain time limits for listening to those levels of sounds without ear protection. The below chart will help illustrate:
- 80 Decibels: No more than 8 hours in a single sitting
- 90 Decibels (motorcycles at 25 feet away): No more than 2 hours
- 100 decibels (jet taking off, jackhammer): No More than 15 minutes
- 110 decibels (the average human pain threshold, riveting machine, rock concert): no more than 1 minute to 30 seconds
- 130 decibels (military jet aircraft takeoff): Instantaneous damage to the ear, it is not recommended to listen to this decibel without ear protection
- 150 decibels (Jet take-off): Immediate Ear Drum rupture
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA):
"A small .22-caliber rifle can produce noise around 140 dB, while big-bore rifles and pistols can produce sound over 175 dB.
Firing guns in a place where sounds can reverberate, or bounce off walls and other structures, can make noises louder and increase the risk of hearing loss."
Important Hearing Protection Facts
- Hearing protection can significantly reduce decibels, even inexpensive foam plugs can reduce noise by up to 30 decibels
- Hearing loss is cumulative, so you may not notice it right away. Wearing protection early can stop hearing loss from further degeneration.
- Tissues of the brain and ears are not able to repair themselves like the tissues and muscles in the rest of our body. Once you damage your ear drum and tissue, you cannot repair it.
- With hearing loss, you can get tinnitus, commonly known as ringing in the ears. If you are around a noise that is loud enough to cause this, the ringing may never go away.
Now you understand why we need hearing protection while shooting, and approximately how much hearing protection you need to be safe. Let's take a look at our choices for best hearing protection for every budget.
Our Picks For Best Hearing Protection For Shooting
- MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X - Premium Edition
- Walker's Razor Silencer Earbud
- Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Hearing Protection Muffs
- Howard Leight Electronic Shooting Earmuff
- Pro For Sho Shooting Ear Protection
- SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus Filtered Earplugs
- Howard Leight Quiet Band Shooting Earplugs
1. MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X - Premium Edition
If money is not a concern, and you want top of the line hearing protection then this is the hearing protection for you! Top notch hearing protection...but comes with a hefty price tag. While this price tag may be out of my range, many may think these are well worth it.
- Equipped with the MSA Sordin Supreme GEL Comfort Ear seals
- MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X - US military grade ear wear
- Dampens harmful noise to 82dB. Amplifies safe noise four times
Check the current price on Amazon: MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X
2. Walker's Razor Silencer Earbud
- Left & right ear buds (pair) independent Volume control
- Includes baffled silicone & foam ear buds. (3 sizes each) secure fit - sizing fins (3 sizes)
- Carry case included
- Powered by #10 batteries (4 included) 80 hours continuous usage battery life (estimated)
You get Walker's Razor quality in a small, compact earbud. While they may not be in the price range of the MSA Sordins listed above, they are still much more than the traditional electronic ear muffs that you may be used to. These would be perfect for you if you have the money and want something of high quality, but in a very small package.
Check the current price on Amazon: Walker's Razor Silencer Earbud
3. Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Hearing Protection Muffs
- Two Omni Directional Microphones
- Full Dynamic Range HD Speakers for clear balanced sound
- Low Noise / Frequency tuned for natural sound clarity
Here is my favorite and go to hearing protection. I love my Walker's Razor Slims. They are durable, high quality, and excellent sound.
I do have the Howard Leights in my range bag as well, and they are close competitors. But I just prefer these. Either one of those are excellent choices.
Check the current price on Amazon: Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Hearing Protection
4. Howard Leight Electronic Shooting Earmuff
The Howard Leights and the Walkers Slim are always among the top sellers in hearing protection...and that is for a good reason. These are high quality, electronic hearing protection at an affordable price.
Like I said above, I own both these and the Walkers. I tend to use my Walkers most often, while my wife prefers the Howard Leights.
- Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands and other ambient sounds to a safe 82 dB
- Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when ambient sound reaches 82 dB
- Features low profile ear cups for firearm stock clearance; adjustable headband for secure fit; compact folding design for convenient storage
Check the current price on Amazon: Howard Leight Electronic Shooting Earmuff
5. Pro For Sho Shooting Ear Protection
While the other ear muff protection on this list is electronic, these are not. However, that drastically cuts down on the cost. These are MUCH cheaper than the other muffs, but without the benefit of being able to hear others talking around you.
- 34dB – Highest Hearing Protection Ratio
- Solid and Lightweight – Specifically designed to address the limitations of conventional ear muffs
- Perfect for carrying in bags without weight or bulk
Check the current price on Amazon: Pro Fo Sho Shooting Ear Protection
6. SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus Filtered Earplugs
The sonic defenders are perfect if you want inexpensive and small. While they don't offer any electronic assistance, they do dampen the noise of your shooting. These are perfect if you want something you are not afraid to lose and can store in a very compact area.
- 24dB Noise Reduction Rating
- Soft, adjustable, triple-flanged stems
- Low-profile design allows you to keep them in place while wearing a mask, helmet, hat, or while using supplemental hearing muffs
Check the current price on Amazon: SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus Filtered Earplugs
7. Howard Leight Quiet Band Shooting Earplugs
Are you a fan of Hickok45 on YouTube? If so, you have probably seen these. VERY inexpensive and easy to use. Just let them hang on your neck and then plug them in when ready to shoot.
If these are not your cup of tea, then you can also just use regular old foam ear plugs.
- Specially-designed headband rests comfortably around neck when away from shooting noise to keep the earplugs away from dirt
- Quick insertion design for easy on/off
- Soft, ergonomic foam pods rest partially in ear for a balance of comfort and protection
Check the current price on Amazon: Howard Leight Quiet Band Shooting Earplugs
Hearing loss is a very serious risk for gun owners and lovers. As discussed earlier, hearing loss is not something that you recognize right away, like a broken bone or the flu, some people don’t even realize they have lost the ability to hear a certain tone until actually tested by an ENT.
Let's not take our hearing for granted, make sure you are wearing proper hearing protection the next time you head to the range.
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