Best Electronic Hearing Protection Ear Muffs for Shooting [2017]

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?!?”

Ready to stop yelling and level up to electronic hearing protection?

I’ll walk you through the most popular ear muffs for all budgets and what I use for all-day competitions and when I’m being the range officer (RO).

My Hearing Protection Journey

Shotgunner & Optime Ear Muffs
Optime & Shotgunner Ear Muffs + Ear Plugs

I first started with the 3M Optime ($20) above since it had the best hearing protection number (30dB NRR) and was cheap.

It was fine for pistol shooting but once I got into shooting rifles, it became too big and affected my cheek weld.

So I moved to the 3M Shotgunner ($20) for it’s slim profile.  However, it wasn’t the greatest by itself with 21dB NRR and I combo-ed it with regular foam earplugs ($10) and eventually custom molded ones ($25).

I still double-up with foam since I get sweaty and want to wipe off the earmuffs whenever without going deaf.

This worked fine for 5 years with lots of shooting.

But after I started doing more long competitions and being the RO sometimes (the guy that holds the timer), I needed something where I could hear voices better and with more comfort.

That’s when I tried out everyone’s electronic ear muffs.  Here’s what I found…

The Cost Effective One

You’ll probably recognize these Howard Leight’s ($36) from the range.  A LOT of people have them (10k+ reviews on Amazon).

Most Affordable

Howard Leight Impact Sport

And for good reason…it’s affordable and does the job well.  I personally still combo-ed it with foam earplugs that weren’t stuck all the way in since the ear muffs themselves are only 22dB NRR.

Speaking sound amplification was decent too.  No more yelling at the range since you couldn’t hear yourself!

Other perks include its low profile, AAA batteries, auto-shutoff, sound-input, and ability to fold down.

Folded Howard Leight
Folded Howard Leight

However, after a few hours they became pretty uncomfortable and I yearned for cease-fires to take them off.

BUT…if you’re a weekend shooter and not doing long stints at a time…these are the ones to get.  I gave these away to my buddy who was just starting in firearms.

The More Comfortable One

I only tried the Peltor Sport Tactical 100 ($60) for a long range session (~3 hrs).  Everything is on-par in performance (22dB NRR) with the Howard Leight’s but it has the edge in comfort.

Peltor Sport Tactical 100

My buddy who owned it tried on my Howard Leight’s and found that the Peltor’s didn’t have as much of a max volume but were clearer.  So if you decide to double-up on ear protection, you might stick with the HL’s.

The Middle Ground

I haven’t tried out the Peltor Tactical Sport ($100) but wanted to find something in the middle-ground of pricing.  I found at least the ranges/comps I frequent people had the affordable ones or simply jumped to the top tier.  I guess I’m guilty of that too!

Peltor Tactical Sport

Reviews make it seem like it is effective and comfortable, but that if you plan on using audio-in you’re going to have to buy a separate cable.

So I can’t vouch for this one…but wanted to give you guys the choice of something around the $100 mark.

The Big Boys

Pro Ears

There’s a bazillion models of Pro Ears.  But I’ll focus on the two that I’ve tried out.

First, the Pro Mag Gold ($225).  See that price jump?

Pro Ears - Pro Mag Gold

But…it’s pretty nice!  If you’re looking for something just for shooting pistols, the larger profile and 30 dB NRR will serve you nicely.

The sound is distinctly better from the affordable electronic ear muffs.  But I can’t help but feel a little ripped-off from the overall construction.  It just feels very…plastic-y.

Next up from Pro Ears is the Pro Tac Slim Gold ($210) which is…slimmer but still great protection at 28dB NRR.

Pro Ears - Pro Tac Slim Gold

Same great sounds and a slimmer profile.  However, I still felt it didn’t give me as good a cheek-weld as my shotgunner muffs.

Cool things include the ability to change the sound level for each ear and the comfort..it’s another level compared to more affordable ones.

However, there are enough reviews of them breaking after a short while and a tight head squeeze.  I didn’t feel the head squeeze even though I have a pretty giant head.

MSA Sordin

These are the ones I went with…the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X ($250).

Editor's Choice

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X

I simply asked my competition buddies “what are the best electronic ear muffs” and the MSA’s got the majority of votes.

Everyone raved about the sound clarity and probably even more…the gel seals.

Gel Seals
Gel Seals

They are SO comfortable and now I find myself not waiting for cease-fire so I can take them off.

You can see the two mic’s and also the easy to access buttons.  They are also loud enough that even with foam earplugs fairly in, I have no problem hearing or giving commands.  Plus they feel quality and give a great cheekweld.

MSA Sordin Controls
MSA Sordin Controls

However, it does have a fairly low 18dB NRR so I would suggest you go the doubling up method with foam earplugs.

I’ve used them for around 6-months and cannot imagine going back to passive or the Howard Leights.

If you’re in the market for new ear muffs but don’t want to spend a lot…don’t try these bad boys on since you’ll end up getting them.  Ignorance is bliss!

Conclusion

How did we do?  Do you know what electronic hearing protection to get now?

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7 Comments on "Best Electronic Hearing Protection Ear Muffs for Shooting [2017]"

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Ken
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At an 18 db rating, the only reason MSAs are even mentioned when asking for shooting range suggestions is because they’re designed for, and used by, military to fit under their helmets. At $250+, you shouldn’t need to add $3 earplugs to actually achieve your desired level of noise.

Florian
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By reviewing various tests and product reviews I decided to go for the 3M Peltor ComTac XPI. Because they don’t have the weaknesses of the MSA nor the Pro Ears. Very durable head band (the pro ear head bands break regularly) and just work perfect even under the roughest conditions (there are al lot of stories on the internet about people wearing the MSA at the beginning of lots of gun shows because they are hip not but switching to more reliable ones after a few hours when the MSA can’t get the job done. Plus the 3M are solely… Read more »
Larz
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MSA Sordin PRO-X Gentlemen, I do have one pair of the MSA Sordin Pro-X for a few years. Nice product and sufficient dampening for 308 when adding foam earplugs as well. The strategy of dual protection is reasonable and I insert foam earplugs when arriving at the range parking lot for basic protection the whole time. For me, shooting 308 is very painful without proper protection. I have used passive protection for many years. Like the dual-walled Optime 3 with gel-pads when using various farming machinery in the field or in the workshop. But these are too bulky for shooting.… Read more »
E
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I might be reading it wrong but at least on amazon it says that the MSA Sordin ear pro is rated up to 82 DB’s. Let me know if I’m just reading it wrong or am just miss informed though.

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