Earned a 22dB noise reduction rating. Recessed microphones amplify ambient sound without picking up wind noise. Variable suppression reduces indoor echoes. Compatible with 2-way radios.
Costly. Batteries not included.
The omnidirectional sound design allows wearers to easily know where noises are coming from. Permits animal noises to come through. Comfortable design.
The volume knob doesn't have many options.
Offers excellent protection, 22dB noise reduction, and ambient noise amplification. Features low-profile design and an adjustable cushioned headband.
Some users would have preferred thicker ear pads. Volume controls are a bit unintuitive.
Lightweight, slim, rugged design. Operates wirelessly or with included 3.5mm cable. Features 22dB noise reduction and dual volume controls for ambient noise and music. Folds easily for storage.
Mic quality is underwhelming. May pick up higher-frequency ambient sounds.
Features a svelte design that effortlessly folds. Offers great hearing protection of 34 dB at a mid-range price. Available in 8 different colors. Comfortable enough to be worn for hours.
Though adjustable, the fit might be too snug for larger users.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Whether you shoot for fun or competition — or even for your profession — safety matters. That includes ear protection. Even the smallest guns create significant noise, and repetitive exposure can damage your hearing.
Shooting earmuffs protect your hearing by reducing the decibels that reach the sensitive parts of your inner ear. To choose the best shooting earmuffs, it’s vital that you understand how they are rated and the features that differ between models.
Passive earmuffs are made from foam and plastic. They reduce all noise.
When wearing passive earmuffs, it’s difficult to talk with the people around you, as a person’s voice will be reduced by the same amount as a loud gunshot.
Electronic earmuffs reduce noise in the same manner as passive earmuffs. However, electronic muffs include small microphones and speakers. They can distinguish between loud noise (like a gunshot) and quiet noise (like a voice).
Electronic earmuffs amplify quiet noise to emulate “normal” hearing while protecting you from louder sounds.
You can use a product’s NRR, or Noise Reduction Rating, to judge the effectiveness of shooting earmuffs. Subtract seven from the NRR, then divide by two to find out how many decibels the earmuffs cancel out. For example, an NRR of 37 will cancel 15 decibels.
Check product details carefully to distinguish between Noise Reduction Rating and a overall decibel reduction. For example, if the package says the earmuffs reduce noise by 30 decibels, the NRR is 67.
Conversational voices are typically 60 decibels. A food processor produces about 95 decibels. Any sound above 120 decibels is considered harmful to the ear, especially during prolonged or repeated exposure. Gun shots range from 145 to 190 decibels.
Shooting ear muffs must fit properly to be effective. Weight, adjustment, and flexibility each influence the fit of your earmuffs.
Weight is particularly important. Lighter earmuffs are preferable, since heavy earmuffs grow uncomfortable after prolonged use. When earmuffs are uncomfortable, the wearer tends to adjust them, and adjustments can reduce the effectiveness of the seal around the ears. Walker's Game Ear and Pro For Sho are two shooting earmuff manufacturers that make notably lightweight models.
The ear cups on shooting earmuffs are attached by an adjustable plastic strap. A strap with a greater range of motion and flexible material is easier to fit properly and is likely to feel more comfortable when it is worn.
How much should you expect to pay for a decent pair of shooting earmuffs?
Lots of great models that cost far less than $100. In fact, many good choices cost less than $20.
If you’re looking to buy from a line of top earmuffs like Honeywell’s Howard Leight selection, expect to find a range of choices that extend up to more than $50. These earmuffs are marketed for both commercial and consumer applications.
Another notable manufacturer, Walker’s Game Ear, offers a Razor series with prices hovering around the $70 mark. These are great muffs, but you can also find an excellent pair of Walker’s earmuffs that cost closer to $15.
In short, it pays to shop around. As mentioned above, passive earmuffs may cost less than their electronic counterparts.
Electronic shooting earmuffs require a battery to power the microphone and speakers.
Some electronic ear muffs contain a dedicated battery, which is charged using a standard USB cord.
At 145 to 190 decibels, gunfire is louder than many other harmful sounds. If your shooting earmuffs fit comfortably, you can get more from them by using them during other activities, such as mowing the lawn or working with power tools.
A few electronic models on today’s market provide a 3.5mm headphone jack. You can plug in your smartphone or mp3 player and listen to music while you shoot.
A. Shooting earmuffs aren’t designed to completely block out sound. Check the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) to determine how much noise reduction each model offers.
A. First, electronic shooting ear muffs reduce all sound in the same manner as passive ear muffs: layers of padding physically block out harmful decibel levels. However, electronic shooting earmuffs capture all sounds via a set of microphones. A microchip determines the decibel level of the incoming noise; if it’s below the “quiet” threshold, the noise is passed to amplifying speakers inside the ear cups.
A. Electronic shooting ear muffs include an indicator LED that lights up when the battery needs to be replaced or recharged.