Best Hearing Protection For Shooting (Buying Guide)

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Whether you are a serious marksman or a casual shooter, you want to protect your hearing and we believe having the best hearing protection for shooting is a must.

On this website we will focus on all aspects of hearing protection including; earplugs, electronic shooting ear muffs, headband style ear muffs, hunting hearing aids, and other electronic earplug solutions.

Can shooting a gun damage your ears?

People don’t recognize the danger of firing even a small-caliber gun like a .22 can cause ear damage. Over time your hearing will be damaged if you don’t take the proper precautions. Once you lose or damage your hearing it won’t come back and living without hearing is not worth it. We take protection seriously and so should you.

Review of Our Top 5 Ear Muffs

Before we reveal which top 5 best hearing protection for shooting we have picked we want to explain the different types of hearing protection on the market. Some headsets you see on the market are passive while others are active. Each person will have their preference for the two and we will explain what you can expect from each. Let see what makes our selected headsets the best

Passive Ear Plugs

This is the most cost-effective hearing protection on the market but it isn’t the best. You have probably used passive earplugs before in your life and all they are is either a type of foam or plastic insert you put into your ear.

When you are firing a gun while using a passive set of earplugs you will still hear the gunshot which could still damage your ear depending on which gun you are firing. It is always a good idea to wear passive earplugs with something else to receive the full benefit and we never recommend using these if you shoot often. For the price of some of the passive ear muffs on our table, you won’t go wrong spending the extra money to upgrade.

Passive Ear Muffs

Protective earmuffs are the next step up in-ear protection and picking out a set that fits is crucial. You want to make sure you have a set that will adjust properly to your head size and will encompass your entire ear. The idea is to hear very little to no sounds around you. This is a great way to hear your thoughts!

The only drawback is not hearing anything, unlike our active ear muffs. If you are going hunting we recommend you invest a little more for an active headset. If you are at a shooting range or somewhere where you can remain mobile without the need to hear, passive ear muffs will work just fine.

Active Ear Muffs

If you are going hunting or need to hear when you are out shooting, then these are for you. Active headsets have built-in electronic equipment to both cancel loud noises (like gunshots) and amplify sounds.

These headsets cancel noise when they detect a certain decibel range which is great in all situations. The last benefit for active ear muffs is they make you much more aware of your environment. You can hear your surroundings and make split-second decisions. Companies now add features to active headsets like MP3 functionality and communications headsets. Features you can expect out of your headset are

  • Active-volume provides maximum distortion-free amplification for low-level sounds
  • Auto battery power saving feature
  • Volume controls and settings
  • Adjustable Headset for comfort

Top 5 Best Hearing Protection For Shooting

Howard Leight R-01902 Impact Pro Electronic Earmuff

Howard Leight R-01902 Impact Pro Best Hearing Protection For Shooting

Howard Leight has some of the best electronic ear muffs on the market and with all the included features you can see why. The R-1902 is one of the most loved over the head type headsets. It’s a rugged design and a fantastic fit that makes it a pleasure to wear for long periods. With the Howard Leight headset, you get a standard 3.5mm headphone jack so you can listen to your favorite music amid things.

What’s great about the R-1902 is that it stays in place during any type of weather. It will amplify commands or conversations you are having and will cancel noise if sounds go over 84 decibels. This headset is perfect for communication between fellow friends while protecting your ears against hearing damage/loss. One concern you might have is if the batteries in the headset die so Howard Leight implemented an automatic shut-off after 4 hours of use from the original turn on. All in all, we recommend the Howard Leight R-01902 Impact Pro Electronic Earmuff based on its price vs performance features.

For more information about the R-1902, including an additional photo gallery, you will find it on the Amazon website here.

3M Peltor SV Tactical Pro Hearing Protector

3M Peltor SV Tactical Pro Hearing Protector Best Hearing Protection For Shooting

3M is another fantastic company that produces some of the best active ear muffs on the market for any enthusiast. The 3M Peltor SV Tactical Pro Hearing Protector envelops the years of innovation that 3M is known for. Like the Howard Leight set above the Peltor SV Tactical is an over the head style ear muff that is not only comfortable but durable as well.

The noise cancellation technology built into this active headset is fantastic and is just a little more sensitive than the R-1902. You can carry on in any conversation and still have a safe experience when anything louder than 82 decibels is produced. As with the Howard Leight, these earmuffs come with a standard headphone jack to plug into any of your smartphone or MP3 devices. You will be amazed at the clarity of having “360 degrees sound” as advertised by 3M. Included are many of the power saving features you love which will save your battery life and headaches in the future. We cannot recommend this to a hobbyist more because of the crystal clarity and quality features.

For more information about The 3M, including an additional photo gallery, you will find it on the Amazon website here.

Howard Leight R-01526 Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff

Howard Leight R-01526 Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff Best Hearing Protection For Shooting

What can we say, we love to use Howard Leight ear muffs for a reason, and for the going rate of $49.92 (at the time of writing) we can’t complain. The first feature that you will notice from the feature is that it is an over the head type ear muff but that it’s also an adjustable low profile set. I love the fact that while I am taking a break from hunting I can just fold these up and put them in my front pouch.

Just like the other Howard Leight headset, the R-1526 comes with an external audio input for your MP3 player or scanner. Even though this headset is half the price of the other Howard Leight ear muffs, it still comes with many of the same features. The headset amplifies commands and conversations while canceling out any sound over 82 decibels. Also, these earmuffs have a noise reduction rating 22 and will power down after 4 hours of periodic use to save battery life. One last thing before we move on, the Howard Leight R-01526 Impact Sport Electronic Earmuff has over 2700 customer reviews with an average rating of 4.4 which is amazing.

For more information about The R-1526, including an additional photo gallery, you will find it on the Amazon website here.

Walker’s Alpha Series Power Muffs

Walker’s Alpha Series Power Muffs

We like Walker’s Alpha Series Power Muffs for there price point and features. This headset like the others comes in an over the head style setting that promotes comfort. Another great feature is the included stereo microphones that are not only high frequency but also wind resistant. Coming with two independent volume controls is just a bonus.

Another feature we love to see is the Anti-Microbial pads used on these ear muffs. Anti-microbial material hinders the growth of bacteria, which reduces the smell over time. No one wants a stinky headset and Walker has not only made a sleek looking earmuff but a sanitary one as well.

The clarity on the headset is stellar and the ability to adjust sounds up to 5x your normal hearing with the two microphones on each cup will make you the most feared hunter in the forest. With all the features included in the Walker’s Alpha Series Power Muffs, we can only see one drawback…no audio jack to listen to your tunes while lurking behind trees.

For more information about The Walker’s Alpha Series Power Muffs, including an additional photo gallery, you will find it on the Amazon website here.

Caldwell E-Max Low Profile Electronic Muffs

Caldwell E-Max Low Profile Electronic Muffs

Our last offering is something more lightweight and low profile. Even though it might look like something a little less comfortable, Caldwell delivers a headset that is not only adjustable but easy to wear. This headset makes a difference when you have to wear them for long periods. Even the thinner earpiece isn’t noticeable, these are one of the first headsets to focus on reducing weight to make having these on just an afterthought.

Just like the Walker’s Alpha Series, these also come with dual microphones to amplify sounds lower than 85 decibels when listening to conversations or commands. Listening to environmental sounds is just as important so anything between 0 and 20 decibels is amplified so you don’t miss a single thing. The cut off for anything above 85 decibels is 2 milliseconds and is just higher than some of the other competition (82-84 range). Most people will dismiss this minor note and find that functionality will win them over in the end.

For more information about The Walker’s Alpha Series Power Muffs, including an additional photo gallery, you will find it on the Amazon website here.

Ultimate Hearing Protection Guide

Below we have an interactive chart where we focus on some of the best hearing protection for shooting on the market. We will even focus on Mutt Muff Ear Muffs for your dog’s protection. I take my dog everywhere and realize that his hearing is even more essential when I am shooting. So, let’s take a look at some ear protection.

best hearing protection for shootingTypeAmplifierNRRRatingPrice
Howard Leight R-01902 Impact Pro Electronic EarmuffActiveYes304.6$$$
3M Peltor SV Tactical Pro Hearing ProtectorPassiveYes264.2$$$$
Howard Leight R-01526 Impact Sport Electronic EarmuffActiveYes224.5$$
Walker’s Alpha Series Power MuffsPassiveYes244.2$$
Caldwell E-Max Low Profile Electronic MuffsActiveYes204.4$$

Guide For The Table Above

  • Hearing protection headset: if you follow the link in the first column you will receive more information about the product
  • Type: Active (intelligent electronic level-dependent protection), Passive (constant, unchanging amount of sound reduction)
  • Amplifier: Enhanced hearing (ambient sound magnification)
  • NRR: Noise reduction rating from the manufacturer
  • Rating: We base our ratings off of Amazon.com and believe this is the best source for accurate reviews
  • Price: Approximate prices on Amazon.com. We have no control over pricing and promotions and coupons could effect cost but generally speaking: $ = under $20, $$ = $20 to $50, $$$ = $50 to $100, $$$$ = $100 to 300$, $$$$$ = 300$ +

Protect Your Ears When Shooting

Final Thoughts On Hearing Protection

There are so many different kinds of headsets on the market and choosing a good pair of earmuffs may not be easy. We recommend that you purchase a reputable brand and always read reviews before you purchase anything. Ratings play a big role and setting a budget to decide which set will suit you best will come down to you.

Do you want a military-grade set or something for casual shooting? If you take your time and look at the specs, you will end up with the best hearing protection for shooting out there.

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I’m Maryam, the girl behind Your Amazing Gift. Our guides are fully researched by our team of writers to deliver you the best information available, enabling you to make informed buying decisions.

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