Best Ear Protection For Shooting: Our Top 10 Recommendations

Knowing how to handle a gun safely isn’t the only form of protection you need when you’re out hunting or at the range. You also need the right equipment, and your safety equipment isn’t complete without ear protection.

If you like to think that you don’t really need ear protection, think again. The level of noise that guns make creates percussive vibrations that can kill little hairs in your inner ear. This can lead to high pitch ringing in your ear that lasts long-term, not to mention the discomfort and pain that ear damage can cause. To avoid that kind of damage, there’s a fairly easy fix: use top-quality hearing protection devices!

What Should I Look for in Shooting Ear Protection?

Of course, not all hearing protection equipment is created equal, right? There are several factors you should consider when sifting through different types of ear protection, such as:

  • NRR. The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is an approximation of the decibel level that specific equipment can protect against. The higher the MRR, the better protection you’re getting. As a standard rule, it’s best to get at least 22dB protection.
  • Technology. Advanced earmuffs can come with additional technology, such as electronic hearing protection that allows you to hear more from your environment while still protecting your eardrums from gunshots.
  • Comfort. If earmuffs or earplugs are painful to wear, especially over time, you won’t use them or wear them accurately if you do, which defeats the purpose of purchasing any.
  • Functionality.  Hearing protection gear needs to be just as functional and versatile as the rest of your equipment, so it should be portable, low-profile when possible, and easy to use with other accessories like gloves or glasses.
  • Durability. A high-end ear protection device that offers the best protection may be more expensive than cheap options, but that investment should last you a long time when it is made with good materials, despite the environment or weather conditions you go shooting in. 

We’ve gone on the hunt for the best ear protection for shooting the market has to offer and have compiled 10 recommendations so you can make the most of your purchase. Let’s get into it!

Top 10 of the Best Ear Protection for Shooting

1. DECITECH™ E2 Electronic Active In-Ear Hearing Protection, Defender Safety

At the top of our list, we have Defender Safety’s DECITECH™ E2 Electronic Active In-Ear Hearing Protection, which we would consider the perfect blend of all of the most important elements. Perfect for rugged or outdoorsy settings, these rechargeable earplugs are vetted with speech-tracking technology and sound optimization to offer some of the best hearing protection on the market in a small and convenient package.

Quick summary

  • NRR rating: 22dB
  • Fit: Earbuds (with adjustable foam)
  • Price: $84.95

Key features

  • Active hearing protection. Cancels out loud noises but enhances quiet noise, so you can still hear people talking and your environment sounds without the sounds of a gun. This selective hearing technology will enhance your voice while lowering loud noises so that your communication is always optimized.
  • Long battery life. You can enjoy 8 hours of battery life and an additional 8 from the charging case.
  • Water-resistant. No matter your environment or the weather, these earbuds are both sweat and water-resistant, so even the most rigorous hunting trip, heat, or rain won’t stop your hearing gear from doing its job. 

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Ultimate comfort with several foams and ergonomic design to fit all ears
  • Easy access to controls and settings on earbuds while wearing them
  • Comes with sturdy charging case for easy and safe transportation
  • Top-notch technology that rivals the competition, at a lower price

Cons:

  • May need to experiment to find the right size for your ears

2. Peltor Sport Tactical 500

The Peltor Sport Tactical 500 is a smart hearing protector in the form of earmuffs and is an excellent wireless option for an indoor shooting range or outdoor activities. Compared to many other earmuffs, these are more lightweight and comfortable with vented designs for airflow and sound suppression technology.

Quick summary

  • NRR rating: 26 dB
  • Fit: Earmuffs
  • Price: $199.99

Key features

  • Wireless Bluetooth. Sync your earmuffs to your phone or device to control your volume and even play music or make calls. This gives you even more control over what you hear and don’t hear while still offering ultimate ear protection.
  • Voice tracking. Instead of straining to hear others during an important conversation, voice tracking technology tracks and amplifies voices and filters other noises to improve communication.
  • Dynamic suppression time. These earmuffs can also measure the energy of gunshots and the echoes around you to then adjust and optimize the suppression time automatically. 

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Has one of the best NRR ratings among competitors
  • High comfort level with soft ear cup cushions and an adjustable headband
  • More portable and convenient due to foldable design

Cons:

  • Needs AA batteries to function
  • Expensive equipment
  • Not as low profile

3. Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolt

Next, we chose the Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolt, a pair of earmuffs that focus on microphone technology and air flow design for greater hearing protection. These offer a nice balance between hearing sounds from your environment and protecting your ears. One of the standout features is the especially competitive attack time of these earmuffs.

Quick summary

  • NRR rating: 22 dB
  • Fit: Earmuffs
  • Price: $95.94

Key features

  • Active listening. These earmuffs use directional microphones to amplify sounds until it picks up anything above 82 dB, and after that, it automatically turns off any amplification.
  • Padded headband. These typically won’t give you a headache or pressure point issues at the top of your head since the headband is padded, offering optimal comfort.
  • Attack time. The attack time is the interval between when a sound level goes above safe hearing levels and when the earmuff lowers external sound to a safe level. With an attack time of 0.5ms, this pair of earmuffs is one of the fastest on today’s market.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Ideal for indoor shooting ranges where you need to hear your surroundings as much as possible
  • Save on battery life using the automatic turn-off function
  • More affordable compared to some earmuffs

Cons:

  • Run on batteries (though they are provided with your purchase)
  • Not as effective for rifle or shotgun shooting as previous iterations due to cheek weld issues
  • Possible high-pitched feedback noises at high volumes

4. Walker’s Silencer BT 2.0

Another electronic earplug option, Walker’s Silencer BT 2.0, is a pricier earplug option that offers sound control and suppression for different settings. One of the biggest selling points for these earplugs is the app you can use to customize your experience—including voice prompts. 

Quick summary

  • NRR rating: 24 dB
  • Fit: Earplugs
  • Price: $319.99

Key features

  • Downloadable app. Using Bluetooth capabilities and the downloadable app, you can control your earplugs from your phone or use the tactile buttons on the earplugs themselves. The app gives you access to volume, set sleep timers, and 4 specific sound settings.
  • Auto-shutoff feature. Saving on battery life is also easier with these earplugs with the auto-shutoff feature, so each charge will last longer.
  • Sound suppression. Additional sound suppression kicks in at certain decimals to offer the ultimate protection for your ears.  This way you can still hear your environment as much as possible without damaging anything.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Great for outdoor shooting with the dynamic wind noise reduction
  • Add voice controls through the app
  • Good balance and connectivity between left and right earplugs

Cons:

  • One of the most expensive options on our list
  • Some reviews have complained about syncing with the app

5. Act Fire Shooting Earmuffs

If you need a budget-conscious choice, the Act Fire Shooting earmuffs are one of the best options that will give you the biggest bang for your buck. You still get a slew of great features without breaking the bank.

Quick summary

  • NRR rating: 23 dB
  • Fit: Earmuffs
  • Price: $39.99

Key features

  • Protective paint. The paint used is from Japan, which offers protection from  irradiation of UV rays and prevents damage to the surface.
  • Internal chip. These earmuffs are designed with an internal chip to help with sound amplification, helping amplify low-level sounds you may otherwise miss and the direction those sounds are coming from.
  • Low profile. The thin band and compact design make these low-profile without being cheap and delicate.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • One of the cheapest options on our list
  • Aesthetic design and functional button placement
  • Fairly easy to implement with eye protection

Cons:

  • Not as durable and may not last as long
  • Not as many high-tech features
  • No app or Bluetooth capabilities

6. OTTO Engineering NoizeBarrier Micro

If you want high-end but sleek earplugs, OTTO Engineering NoizeBarrier Micro earplugs are a good place to start. These are top-of-the-line and high-tech, offering a high NRR noise rating and great sound amplification, along with other useful features.

Quick summary

  • NRR rating: 40 dB
  • Fit: Earplugs
  • Price: $450

Key features

  • Huge battery life. With a 16-hour battery life, these earplugs will last as long as you do during a lengthy hunt or a day spent at the shooting range.
  • Excellent NRR rating. With a rating of 40 dB, it’s easy to carry on your conversations while still protecting your ears. In fact, you can customize the kind of hearing you want to experience for both sound amplification and sound dampening.
  • 360-degree detection and localization. This feature isn’t as common in earplugs, but the OTTO Engineering NoizeBarrier Micro earplugs sound amplification will amplify your sound up to 5 times your natural hearing.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Low profile and appealing aesthetic 
  • Accu-Technology provides high-definition sound quality
  • Many high-quality tech features

Cons:

  • May not last as long
  • Only come with a 1-year warranty
  • One of the most expensive options

7. GLORYFIRE Electronic Shooting Earmuff

Another affordable but effective option is the GLORYFIRE Electronic Shooting Earmuffs, which offer some of the best sound amplification available. Considering how affordable these are, they offer surprisingly good noise protection and comfort.

Quick summary

  • NRR rating: 25 dB
  • Fit: Earmuffs
  • Price: $37.99

Key features

  • Top sound application. Of all the earmuffs we’re listing, these GLORYFIRE earmuffs offer the most sound amplification—up to 6 times your natural hearing. This makes them perfect for hunting if you want more noise sensitivity.
  • Directional sound. The directional microphones give this pair of muffs some of the most accurate directional sound available while still providing decent noise reduction.
  • Wearability. When you’re hunting and need protection all day, these earmuffs have a padded headband design and soft ear cups so that you can wear them comfortably for long periods of time.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Great for hunting, both due to how comfortable they are and sound amplification.
  • One of the more affordable options for hearing protection
  • Comfortable and functional

Cons:

  • Not as high-end as some options
  • Not waterproof and may struggle in extreme weather
  • Noise reduction isn’t as competitive compared to other earmuffs

8. PROHEAR 030

The PROHEAR 030 pair of earmuffs is one of the more versatile options on our list while still remaining under $100. With tech features and optimized ergonomic design, there is something for everyone to appreciate. Durable yet lightweight, you get a little bit of everything with these earmuffs.

Quick summary

  • NRR rating: 22 dB
  • Fit: Earmuffs
  • Price: $61.99

Key features

  • Bluetooth capabilities. With Bluetooth 5.0 technology, these earmuffs have a range of 33ft, so you can sync your hearing protection with your phone, laptop, tablet, or whatever device you have and enjoy a seamless connection.
  • Comfortable design. These come with a padded headband and cushioned ear pads that are nice and wide for maximum comfort. This also allows you to wear them longer, and their slim design means you can easily wear them with protective eyewear, too.
  • Intuitive volume control. There is a separate volume control on the earmuffs that gives you the freedom to control the volume and tune your hearing according to the noise around you.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Great for hunting due to enhanced environmental sounds
  • You can wear these for a long time without them hurting your ears or head
  • Long-lasting design with high-quality rubber paint

Cons:

  • Require batteries to function
  • Goes through battery life quickly, even with strong batteries
  • Has no battery indicator

9. SureFire EP10 Sonic Defenders

These are the cheapest earplugs we have on our list, so if you want to save your money and get something basic but efficient, the SureFire EP10 Sonic Defenders are the hearing protection for you. Small and low profile, these earplugs are going to protect your hearing without getting in the way.

Quick summary

  • NRR rating: 30 dB
  • Fit: Earplugs
  • Price: $20

Key features

  • Comfortable earpiece. With memory foam tips, these earplugs will adjust to your ears and offer great protection. These are also replaceable, so if they do wear out, you can still refresh them and wear them for longer.
  • Small and slim. These are very lightweight and will easily integrate with the rest of your equipment, such as glasses, goggles, or helmets.
  • Variety of noise protection. These offer both continuous noise (like from your environment) and impulse noise (like gunshots), so they are great for hunting and shooting ranges.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Sleek and out of the way
  • Very affordable price
  • Great NRR rating for the price tag

Cons:

  • Not as tech-heavy compared to some options
  • Come with winged earpieces, which may require some getting used to
  • May be hard to put on and take off

10. AXIL TRACKR Electronic Earmuffs

Finally, we have the AXIL TRACKR Electronic earmuffs, hearing protection that is available at a competitive price and with high-end features. These focus on balancing hearing protection and enhancing the noises in your surrounding environment—and they come with several technology-driven highlights, like Bluetooth. Fun fact: they are made with medical-grade hearing components since AXIL started out designing hearing aids!

Quick summary

  • NRR rating: 25 dB
  • Fit: Earmuffs
  • Price: $99

Key features

  • Slim and compact. If you’re looking for that all-day earmuff option, the slim design of this pair keeps your head comfortable; the compact structure helps with cheek weld, too.
  • Saves battery. These will automatically turn off after 4 hours to save on battery life.
  • Sealing ear cups. The ear cups are sized so that they fit easily over your ear to seal completely for ultimate hearing protection.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Affordable price without being cheap
  • Can get a 3-year warranty
  • Designed to last for 10+ years when well taken care of

Cons:

  • The strap may be a bit tight at first
  • Must use AAA batteries to operate

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Earmuffs Better Than Earplugs?

One is not better than the other, but there are some key differences between earmuffs and earplugs; what you choose will affect the benefits you get from your ear protection. 

For example, since earplugs fit directly into your ear canal, they tend to offer more protection by fitting to your ears. Earplugs are also more portable and easy to use with other gear and equipment, so many gun owners prefer how convenient and functional they are. Still, earplugs do have some downsides; though they protect the ear well, they can also be easily misplaced or worse, cause ear infections if they aren’t cleaned properly. Not all earplugs are one-size-fits-all, so you also have to be careful which size you buy if you want them to fit comfortably.

On the other hand, earmuffs tend to be adjustable and can fit almost anyone. Because they are a bit bulkier, they are also simpler to handle and you won’t lose them as easily compared to earplugs. You can quickly sling them on or off when needed and pack them away without worrying they will get damaged. Keep in mind, though, that they aren’t as low-profile as earplugs and may interfere with other equipment; they can also be uncomfortable in humid environments.

What you choose may depend on how you use them. The higher quality of an item you purchase, the more likely you won’t have to deal with some of the more minor inconveniences of either type. Some earplugs come in multiple sizes to accommodate different sizes of ears, and some earmuffs are specially designed to work with other safety equipment—it all depends on the brand, the quality, and your own preferences.

What Is the Highest dB for Earplugs?

Earplug reduction caps around 33 dB, though most earplugs range from 15 to 30 dB. With a 33 dB NRR, any noise softer than 33dB won’t be heard at all when your earplugs are equipped.

What Do Navy Seals Use for Ear Protection?

Navy Seals often use hearing protection equipment like electronic headsets that are mounted into their helmets. These have comms plugged in that allow for communication and protection.

What Are the Best Shooting Glasses to Wear With Earmuffs?

The best kind of eye protection is the type that you can wear along with your earmuffs. That’s why most people recommend wearing thin-armed glasses that don’t interfere with cheek weld or other elements of your hearing protection.

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