5 Best Electronic Earmuffs for Shooting – Max Situational Awareness

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Guns are extremely loud and protecting your hearing is a MUST at a gun range unless you want to go deaf. Loud gun sound can permanently damage your hearing, so protect it at all costs!

There are many labeled best electronic earmuffs for shooting on the market, and you might be thinking, which one I should get?

You want a product that not only can protect your hearing, but also last long in any condition.

The most popular one is the Howard Leight R-01526 Impact Earmuff with millions of units sold for only $50, but the one people REALLY like is the 3M Peltor Tactical Sports similar to the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X as the industry gold standard for firearm hearing protection at 1/3 the price.

At the end of this post, you will learn their differences and which ones to get.


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Best Electronic Ear Muffs for Shooting

Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff, Classic Green (R-01526)
  • Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands and other ambient sounds to a safe 82 dB, providing more natural listening and enhanced communication
  • Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when ambient sound reaches 82 dB; Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): 22
  • Features low profile earcups for firearm stock clearance; adjustable headband for secure fit; compact folding design for convenient storage; classic green color
  • Includes AUX input and 3.5 mm connection cord for MP3 players and scanners. Integrated power/volume knob
Sale
Caldwell E-Max - ADULT Green - Low Profile Electronic 23 NRR Hearing Protection with Sound Amplification - Adjustable Earmuffs for Shooting, Hunting and Range
  • SPECS: Experience high quality stereo sound while confidently protecting your hearing with 23 NRR (Noise Reduction Rating).
  • COMFORTABLE: Featuring an adjustable headband and padded ear cups, you’ll find a custom fit to ensure proper noise cancellation and hearing protection. A slender, low profile design provides a...
  • EASE OF USE: Runs on 2 AAA batteries (not included).
  • FEATURES: Dual microphones in each ear provide directional clarity, amplifying sounds below 85dB to the ideal volume with push button controls. Includes an audio jack for connectivity.

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3M 04528 Peltor MT16H210F Tactical Sport Electronic Headset
  • A premier hearing protection and communication solution for high noise environments
  • Great for hunters and shooters
  • Environmental microphones allow face-to-face conversation and improved situational awareness in quiet and low-to-moderate levels of noise
  • Foam and liquid-filled cushions provide lasting comfort and an effective acoustic seal for long duration wear times
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X - Premium Edition - Electronic Earmuff with black leather band, black cups and gel seals fitted
  • Equipped with MSA Sordin Supreme GEL Comfort Earseals
  • MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X - US Military grade earwear
  • Dampens harmful noise to 82dB. Amplifies safe noise 4 times
  • Foldable and slim design of cups suitable for both left and right-handed shooters

Why Use Electronic Earmuffs

Wearing ear muff while shooting an AR15

The only reason to use an electronic earmuff when shooting a gun is to protect your hearing and have MAXIMUM situational awareness, Such as hearing footsteps, receiving directions, people talking, ambient noises and others.

It’s great for instructors, hunters, ranger goers and even construction workers.

Roughly over 40 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, and about 10 million of that was caused by NIHL (Noise Induced Hearing Loss), which can be a one-time gunshot without any hearing protection.

Repeated exposure to loud sound over an extended period of time, it creates tremendous damage to the microscopic hair cells inside the cochlea. These hair cells respond to sound vibrations by sending electrical signals to the auditory nerve.

Long story short, that’s how you hear and YOU MUST PROTECT IT when shooting guns especially.

Check out the NIHL study done by US National Library of Medicine here


How Loud Can A Gun Be?

A gunshot can get as loud as 150 to 190 dB depending on the bullet fired, barrel and muzzle configurations, which can cause instant hearing damage.

To put 190 dB in perspective, the thunderstorm is at 120 dB, and a typical conversation is around 60 dB.

Which is why the use of suppressor is so important.

Do Soldiers and Police Officers Wear Ear Protections In Gun Fights?

soldier covering his ears

Image Referenced US ARMY

Yes and No.

Police officers who are reacting to situations out of nowhere usually have NO time to put on any hearing protection at all, and that’s the same for the military as well.

The only time they do is when it’s a prepared raid.


Should I Wear Hearing Protection During Home Defense Situations?

Home defense shooting

Image Referenced Home Defense World

If you have to fire your weapon inside your house defensively, then it’s a life or death situation, and you want EVERY sense you have to deal with the situation.

Locating the threats, hearing footsteps, communicating with family members are all very important.

Should you wear ear protection or not is a tough choice to make, and it’s all up to you. However, what I will leave you is: Do you value your life or your hearing?

A little hearing damage is better than shot dead!

If you have time to put them on then do it, but it will dramatically reduce your situational awareness due to the fact that some electronic hearing protections don’t give you directional audio feedback.

  • Tip 1: You should always have your ear protection right next to your gun within reach. If time permits immediately put on ear protection before discharging a firearm indoor.
  • Tip 2: Choose a subsonic round that is quieter and has less penetration
  • Tip 3: Use a suppressor

What To Look For In A Electronic Ear Muff

Comfort

Wearing an ear muff must be comfortable on your head.

Most ear muffs on the market let you adjust the length of the head strap and they’re generally very comfortable. However, you need to try multiple products to get the best fit.

Some ear protection sticks out so much that the bottom of it tends to touch the stock when shooting a rifle, which causes discomfort when trying to get a good sight picture. The size of the ear pro is what we will cover next.

Size

Rifle cheek and hearing protection

Image Referenced Grand Thumb

Most earmuffs can be folded away for easy storage, but what you need to care about is how it fits on your head.

You want to pick an earmuff that’s low profile and sits fairly high on your head especially when shooting a rifle. If the size of the earmuff is too big, you could run into the problem where you’re pushing them or jack knocking them off your cheek where you get that opening.

That opening exposes you to all the harmful firing noises, which also distract you from getting a good sight picture. If that’s a problem for you then I highly recommend using electronic earbuds that are small, lightweight and it doesn’t affect your cheek weld at all.

The most popular one is the 3M Peltor TEP-100 Tactical

Seal

Find an earmuff with high-quality gel pads that completely cover your ear without leaks is important. It’s the worst experience when the earmuff gets loose every time you move your head position in a certain way, or your rifle stock bumped it off your head.

Fast Attack Time

Attack time measure the speed the amplifier switch between on and off.

Without going too technical, the faster the attack time the less you find yourself cut off from the surrounding, which means fewer losses and greater sound fidelity.

Noise Reduction Rating

Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) measures the effectiveness of hearing protection to reduce harmful sound exposure. We classify their potential to reduce noise in decibels (dB), its a term approved by the American National Standard (ANSI) in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The highest NRR rating for supersonic rounds is 33 dB, and the lowest is 20 dB for pistol-caliber rounds.

What you will find most are ones with an NRR of 20 – 23 dB, which is the gold standard in the industry.

Generally, high-quality electronic ear protection has a higher NRR rating, which also costs more too.

Sound Amplification Quality

You want to hear high quality sound like an apex predator in your environment. A good pair of electronic earmuff amplifies your surroundings and give you very precise and natural sound that enhances your situational awareness both in front and behind you.

First, getting one with directional sound is very important, which means each ear cup must have at least one recessed microphone on it. The MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X is the gold standard in the industry with audio feedback.

Second, you want something that doesn’t amplify your voice or the surroundings too much. A similar product that is 1/3 the price of the MSA Sordin is the 3M Peltor Tactical Sports with similar audio quality and performance.

Battery

Depend on the temperature battery lives varies, during super cold temperature it can last just 100 – 200 hours.

Usually, 300 – 600 hours of the battery under good temperature conditions is pretty good.

Most hearing protection earmuffs use 2 AAA lithium batteries. Additionally, finding one that lasts long with the auto-shutoff feature can save you a lot of batteries.

Price

Hearing protection is fairly affordable, if you can buy tons of ammo and expensive guns then you can afford a pair of hearing protection for $50 up to $160. Do not go cheap on them because your hearing is more important than saving a couple bucks.


For Tactical Helmet Users

Gentex Next-Gen USSOCOM Helmet

Image Referenced Task & Purpose

For tactical helmet users, the 3M Peltor ComTac III is the most popular one that already has helmet attachment adapters installed and with a mic. You can buy rail adapters for other earmuffs, but it requires you to take apart your earmuff.

Sale
1Pair Tactical Helmet,Headset Support ARC Rail Adaptor Suspension Headphones Bracket Hunting Earmuffs Left & Right Side Attachments For Peltor Comtac (Tan)
  • ★Note:Helmet Rail Adaptor 1Pair Tactical ARC Suspension Headset Support Headphones Bracket Hunting Earmuffs Left & Right Side Attachments For Peltor Comtac can match with full range of FAST helmets,...
  • ★ Easy to use:By testing, Comtac I and Comtac II headset can be combined perfectly with this headset adapter. New version headset adapter can match with full range of FAST helmets (BJ, PJ , MH), ACH...
  • ★ Excellent Performance:With the hanging after the Comtac intercom headset, headset will be separated out from the arc-shaped headband, used on the card directly to the hanging chain.Improves the...
  • ★ Rotating Design:Hang buckle can be fixed to the helmet on the 2 sides of the helmet rails, after installation, the Comtac headphones headset can rotate freely. Rotating design allows headset to...

Bottom Line

An electronic earmuff completely seals around your ear and drops the harmful gunshot volume down to a safe level, and additionally, it lets you hear what’s going on around you, receiving instructions and communicate with other people on the range.

Ear Muff
Howard Leight
Caldwell E-Max
Our Best Pick
3M Peltor Sport Tactical 100
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X
Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff, Classic Green (R-01526)
Caldwell E-Max - ADULT Green - Low Profile Electronic 23 NRR Hearing Protection with Sound Amplification - Adjustable Earmuffs for Shooting, Hunting and Range
3M 04528 Peltor MT16H210F Tactical Sport Electronic Headset
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X - Premium Edition - Electronic Earmuff with black leather band, black cups and gel seals fitted
Weight
16 oz
11.2 oz
15 oz
16.2 oz
Noise Reduction
22 dB
23 dB
22
20 dB
Audio Jack
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Battery
2 AAA
2 AAA
2 AAA
2 AAA
Comfort Level
3 / 5
5/5
5/5
5/5
Ear Muff
Howard Leight
Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff, Classic Green (R-01526)
Weight
16 oz
Noise Reduction
22 dB
Audio Jack
Yes
Battery
2 AAA
Comfort Level
3 / 5
Ear Muff
Caldwell E-Max
Caldwell E-Max - ADULT Green - Low Profile Electronic 23 NRR Hearing Protection with Sound Amplification - Adjustable Earmuffs for Shooting, Hunting and Range
Weight
11.2 oz
Noise Reduction
23 dB
Audio Jack
Yes
Battery
2 AAA
Comfort Level
5/5
Our Best Pick
Ear Muff
3M Peltor Sport Tactical 100
3M 04528 Peltor MT16H210F Tactical Sport Electronic Headset
Weight
15 oz
Noise Reduction
22
Audio Jack
Yes
Battery
2 AAA
Comfort Level
5/5
Ear Muff
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X - Premium Edition - Electronic Earmuff with black leather band, black cups and gel seals fitted
Weight
16.2 oz
Noise Reduction
20 dB
Audio Jack
Yes
Battery
2 AAA
Comfort Level
5/5

Most electronic earmuffs even when they’re turned off can still protect your hearing perfectly, but if you want a great amplified sound quality, the 3M Peltor Tactical Sport is the best without being too expensive.

The Howard Leight is an affordable one that many people get, but the comfort level isn’t even comparable to the 3M Peltor or the MSA Sordin.

Lastly, if you’re a helmet user the 3M Peltor ComTac III is the best for noise reduction and filtering without losing situational awareness.

Read More: How Do Electronic Ear Muffs Work