Even a relatively quiet gun will still be loud enough to cause permanent damage to your hearing if you don’t wear ear protection. There are plenty of options to choose from, which vary in their style and effectiveness. Picking the best ear protection for shooting comes down to choosing a device that is comfortable to wear for long periods and offers an appropriate level of noise reduction for your gun. More reduction is usually better, but too much can make it hard to pay attention to the environment. We’ve ranked the best options for their power and value to help you find the right protection for your needs.
10. SureFire EP10
EP10 earplugs offer an incredible degree of noise reduction, which makes them a great fit for use with louder firearms. They rely on a soft foam that can reshape itself to get a better fit in the ear canal, which helps with comfort. The foam does wear out over time, but replacements are available. The frame also has a cord to help keep individual plugs from getting lost. These earplugs are highly expensive, but they are some of the best plugs for people who want power and comfort.
9. Liberty Duraplug
|Manufacturer||Liberty Glove & Safety|
The Duraplug from Liberty has a simple design that should be familiar to most shooters. They are simple foam plugs that fit reasonably well in the ear and can make slight adjustments to their shape over time. Their noise reduction is excellent, and it’s hard to beat the price, but they aren’t nearly as comfortable as other options. You also need to purchase them in bulk under most circumstances. Try them if you need a huge number of cheap plugs or high noise reduction, but choose a more comfortable option if you can.
8. Etymotic GSP-15
GSP-15 earplugs are highly expensive, but they make up for that with their versatility. This model has two separate modes, one of which is for dealing with sudden blasts that otherwise allows the normal hearing, and the other is for continuous protection. That allows shooters to use these plugs for their shooting and for protection in a workshop or while mowing the lawn. The plugs come with cleaning kits and other miscellaneous tools, so it does pay to read the instructions before using them. They’re a good choice for people who will use their plugs heavily, but too expensive for occasional use.
7. Decibullz Custom Molded Ear Plugs
Decibullz custom ear plugs are the best choice for people who want to ensure a good fit. The plugs can be boiled to soften the material, which allows the user to shape them to get a perfect fit in their ear. The process is repeatable, so getting it right the first time isn’t crucial, but the assembly can still be a little tricky for some shooters. Plugs that fit well will offer excellent noise reduction, so this is a perfect choice for people who are willing to work to get the fit just right. As for other things that are a must at the range, you need to check out the best range bags.
6. Mack’s Shooters Ear Seals
Mack’s Ear Seals are a great choice for hunters who are in wet environments. They offer fairly good noise protection, but they also seal the ear to keep water from getting in. That can be useful both in the rain or during an accident when hunting from a boat. The plugs are made in two pieces from two different materials, with a soft set of rings for comfort and a stiffer core for structural reasons. They’re not quite as comfortable as plugs that can adjust their shape, but they’re better than the simpler designs. Use them in wet environments, or if you want a balance between comfort, power, and price.
5. Walker’s Razor Patriot
Walker’s Patriot earmuffs are more powerful than many other electric options. The difference is small, but it is enough to be noticeable. This model also excels in boosting the clarity of sounds, especially the quiet ones that it can amplify. That makes it the best ear protection for shooting when you need to distinguish subtle differences in your environment. They’re a little more expensive than some options, but they’re a great choice for people who are willing to pay slightly more for their ear protection.
4. Glock Electronic Hearing Protection
Glock’s earmuffs are simple, with a compact design that helps to keep them comfortable when worn for long periods. Like many electronic models, they offer amplification for quiet noises and reduction for loud ones, which helps to keep a hunter aware of their surroundings. The downside to Glock’s hearing protection is that it is both a little weaker and a little more expensive than many of the comparable choices. It’s some of the best ear protection for shooting if you prioritize comfort and ruggedness, but that comes at the cost of some power.
3. Walker’s Razer Slim
The Razor Slim earmuffs have a traditional design, but the execution is excellent. The earmuffs fold for easier storage, which combines with the low profile cups to make them easy to pack. The slim design also boosts comfort, as does the extra padding on the headband. The earmuffs are made fairly well, so they should hold up to the rigors of use in the wilderness. They’re the best ear protection for shooting in environments that lack electricity when heavy protection is needed.
2. Howard Leight Impact Sport Earmuffs
Impact Sport earmuffs from Howard Leight offer a mix of noise reduction and amplification. They will reduce most sounds, but they actively pick up and amplify quiet things to make sure you can hear them while shooting. That makes them the best ear protection for shooting in areas where situational awareness is important. They do need electricity, but the battery lasts for a long time, so that is rarely a problem. The design is sculpted to fit around guns, so this is also a comfortable choice. Try them if you need to be aware of your environment while shooting, but avoid them if you expect to lose power.
1. Howard Leight SmartFit
SmartFit plugs from Howard Leight are the best ear protection for shooting if you prefer a plug design. The plugs are designed to use body heat to soften and adjust to fit the shape of the wearer’s ear. That makes them more comfortable and more effective than most plugs. They also have a removable cord that connects the two plugs to make sure that you don’t loose them while in use. Their noise reduction in unexceptional, but good enough for most shooters. Give them a try if you want a comfortable and cheap set of earplugs.
Making The Right Choice
Shooters need to protect their hearing if they want to avoid going deaf, so it is always worth investing in the best ear protection for shooting your weapon. Comfort is key, but it does need to be balanced with an appropriate power level. If you have experience with a good choice that we missed, talk about it in the comments in case others want to try it.