Today I’m going to show you the best shooting ear protection on the market today.
I’ve hand-tested over 10 shooting ear protections alone for this review.
The best part?
I’ve sorted them by use. So whether you’re on a budget or looking for the most premium ear protection, you’ll find it here.
Let’s get started!
Any time you go to the range, “eyes and ears” are required. But have you ever asked yourself why you should use ear protection?
Hunters, cowboys, movie stars….they don’t always wear ear protection. So why should you?
The answer is simple:
Because you don’t want to lose your hearing.
So let’s discuss some of the facts behind the problem and find some ways to stay ahead of the problem.
Exposure to loud sounds is a reality for shooters, but how loud is too loud? Is it that big of a deal to shoot anyway if we forget our ear protection?
Damage to your ears can occur with the sound of a single gunshot.
The decibel(dB) level of gunfire, in almost all calibers of firearms, is high enough to cause immediate harm. Let’s put this into perspective:
The sound of rock concerts and close thunderclaps is approximately 120 dB. That’s the threshold of acute damage and tends to cause a mild temporary loss with buzzing or tinnitus (aka ringing in the ears).
Noise above 140 decibels, which includes shots from many calibers of guns, can cause acute hearing loss. You will experience some level of damage that very well may last in the long-term.
From .22 rifle fire, approximately 145 dB, to 44 revolvers that can reach 170 dB, there is proven data that details how harmful even a single unprotected gunshot can be.
Chronic hearing loss may also be caused by sounds that aren’t as loud, (at or above 85 dB), that are significant and heard repeatedly.
The lower 85 dB threshold for damage is important. That threshold is the real goal to work to stay below when it comes to your sound exposure level.
The best way to prevent hearing loss when shooting is to wear ear protection. That said, there are many options for ear protection as well as some other things you can do to keep your hearing safe.
One of the most overlooked options by many shooters is to double up on your ear protection. Earplugs and earmuffs each have approximately 30 dB noise reduction. A combined 60 dB reduction to 140 dB gunfire brings you under the 85 dB threshold.
What’s the deal with the 85 dB threshold again? Remember, prolonged or repetitive exposure to sound above 85 dB causes damage.
Keep your sound level below the threshold and you’ll be on track to keep your hearing intact!
With important accessories such as your ear protection, knowing what is available on the market is a big key to success.
Let’s break down the most common options available for your protection.
Earplugs for shooting are placed in the ear to block out unwanted sound.
Many shooters use disposal foam earplugs. They are convenient and affordable, and especially for those who use them regularly, easy to put on quickly.
There are also many different upgraded non-disposable options that range from plastic insertables to high tech digital earplugs.
For hunters, the digital sound activated compression (SAC) feature allows for unhindered ability to hear what is going on around you, with only sounds above harmful levels being blocked out.
This impressive feature is an ideal way to ensure you can hear the game on your hunt without compromising your hearing when the time to fire comes.
Earmuffs for shooting cover the entire ear in an over-the-head set. They are extremely easy to get off and on.
Many basic earmuffs use shape and material to obtain quality levels of sound reduction.
Digital Earmuffs have some impressive technology features that will not only reduce the loud sound with SAC, but digitally improve the quality of the environmental sounds.
For range instructors and competitors, the ability to hear and shoot can be critical. High-tech ears are worth every penny when you’re working with shooters around you that need to be able to hear and understand each other.
Not only do you protect yourself with earplugs and earmuffs, there are other alternative options to ear protection to consider.
Suppressors for your firearm are an excellent way to keep the sound levels low when shooting.
They function by redirecting gas that is pressurized from the ammo being fired from the gun. That redirection, and resulting reduction in pressure results in a reduction of noise.
It also reduces muzzle flash and recoil. This handy accessory has many benefits, but double check the regs in your state. Some parts of the country do not permit the silencing of firearms.
Never underestimate the value of break time when shooting. Long term repetitive exposure can cause damage even with ear protection.
If you are experiencing any of the common symptoms of hearing damage, buzzing, tinnitus, muffled hearing or ear pain, step away and take a break.
Active duty soldiers and law enforcement may encounter situations that are good reason to ignore the symptoms in the heat of the moment and hope for the best.
However, the vast majority of shooters in this country have plenty of opportunity to just be done for the day when things go buzzy in order to save their hearing.
If you experience symptoms of damage to your hearing, stow your firearm safely and come back another day.
All quality ear protection is rated by NRR Noise Reduction Rating.
Tested and approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the system is simple. The higher the number, the more noise reduction the ear protection can provide.
Consider the features of the ear protection you are considering, and then consider how the earmuff and earplug features will work once you’ve combined the two.
As an example, disposable foam earplugs are a fine addition to digital earmuffs if you will be shooting in an environment that doesn’t require the ability to hear what you are stalking through the woods.
Or conversely, if you have spent big bucks on digital earplugs it would be a poor choice to cheap out on the earmuffs that will block the fine sounds your earplugs were designed for.
If affordable ear protection is all you desire, then toss-away foam and bare bones earmuffs are ready to keep you protected.
Whatever you choose, double up every time and you’ll be good to go.
We all know that guy at the range who has been shooting for decades, may have done a few tours somewhere in the world, and has some great stories to tell.
That same guy is also the one that you’d better speak up to talk to, because he’s got such significant hearing loss that he really can’t hear normal leveled conversation anymore.
There is nothing to be done to repair most hearing loss once damage has happened. Sure, there are ways to improve understanding with what you have left, but you’ll still be living with hearing loss.
Regardless of how long you have been shooting, there are many methods to prevent further hearing loss. Enjoy yourself while you’re shooting, use ear protection devices and safety measures, and protect your hearing while you still can.
If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best shooting ear protection:
- Ear Buddy Foam Earplugs: Best Earplugs
- Howard Leigh Impact Sport by Honeywell: Best for Kids
- SureFire EP3 Sonic Defender: Most Affordable Earplugs
- 3M WorkTunes Connect: Best Budget Electronic Hearing Protection
- Howard Leight Impact Pro: Best Electronic Ear Protection for Shooting
- Walker’s Razor Slim Earmuff: Best Women’s Ear Protection for Shooting
The Ear Buddy Foam Earplugs are the best for protecting your ears while shooting at the range or on a hunting trip.
They’re incredibly comfortable and made from latex-free foam, making them hypo-allergenic for most people.
However, they’re not reusable or washable, so are they still a good, cost-effective choice?
Let’s find out!
The Ear Buddy Foam Earplugs have a Noise Reduction Rating of 32, meaning they block out up to 32 dB of ambient noise.
This is one of the highest NRRs you’ll find on foam earplugs, which makes them some of the most protective and efficient earplugs on the market.
They’re perfect for hunting and range shooting, as they provide enough protection that you won’t have to worry about any loud sounds damaging your ears.
The Ear Buddy earplugs are made of non-abrasive, latex-free polyurethane foam, which is an added bonus for anyone with a latex allergy.
They’re very soft and comfortable yet snug, with a slow rebound time for optimal comfort.
Make sure to insert them following the instructions on the bottle for the most comfortable fit, and the earplugs should expand to be nice and tight in your ears within just fifteen seconds!
They’re tight enough that they won’t fall out, but you also don’t have to worry about any earaches or discomfort due to the pressure. They provide a very comfortable fit for anyone with medium to large ears.
Whether you’re deer hunting with a drone or hiding in the brush with your ghillie suit on, you’ll be able to focus entirely on hitting your target, and not worrying about your earplugs falling out or not doing their job!
A bottle of 50 Ear Buddy foam earplugs sells for around $18.
They’re not washable or reusable, so one bottle will keep you protected for up to 25 hunting trips or days at the range.
They are a little expensive to keep buying, but they’re very high-quality and comfortable earplugs.
Plus, there’s a 60-day money-back guarantee if you’re in any way unsatisfied!
If you’re looking for the best earplugs to protect your ears while shooting, I’d fully recommend the Ear Buddy Foam Earplugs.
- BLOCK OUT THE NOISE, PROTECT YOUR HEARING, AND ENJOY A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP OR YOUR MONEY BACK! Our Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs Are Perfect for Sleeping, Construction, Concerts, Hunting, Shooting Ear...
- VERY IMPORTANT** For Optimum Results Ear Plugs Must Be Inserted EXACTLY As Directed; Follow The Simple Instructions As They Are Stated On Product Package To Experience OUTSTANDING Results!
- VERY HIGH NOISE REDUCTION RATING OF 32 DECIBELS PROTECTS YOUR HEARING AND PROVIDES PEACE AND QUIET!
Here are some of their best features:
- Hypo-allergenic (latex-free)
- One of the highest possible Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR)
They’re incredibly effective at blocking ambient noise, so you’ll never have to experience a ringing in your ears after shooting ever again!
The Howard Leigh Impact Sport earmuffs are the best shooting ear protection for kids.
The headband is comfortable and adjustable to provide the best possible fit, and they’re relatively lightweight, so you don’t have to worry about them weighing your child’s head down.
But, can they really provide kid-friendly protection at such a low price?
Let’s find out!
The Impact Sport earmuffs don’t just protect your ears from the loud noises at the range – they also include built-in, directional microphones that amplify conversation, range commands, and other ambient sounds up to 82 dB!
Other types of ear protection block out all noise, making it hard to hold a conversation or hear what’s going on around you, including important range commands.
Not these earmuffs!
They provide a natural, distortion-free amplification that automatically shuts off when sounds exceed 82 dB.
They have a Noise Reduction Rating of 22, and the patented Air Flow Control technology helps to reduce noises at all different frequencies.
I’ve found that they work best in outdoor settings, or in indoor settings with the volume turned off.
With the volume on in enclosed areas, some of the sounds can still be a bit too loud for young ears.
Overall, the Impact Sports provide excellent protection from loud gunshots while still letting you hold a conversation and stay aware of what’s going on.
The Impact Sport earmuffs feature a soft, ventilated headband to reduce the pressure on your head while still providing a secure, tight fit.
The ABS plastic material is surprisingly durable and water-resistant, even in heavy rain!
They feature a folding design and low-profile earcups for easy and compact storage. All you have to do is fold the earcups in and pull the headband tight to secure them.
The easily adjustable headband is thinly padded for a comfortable fit. All you have to do is place the earmuffs on your head and slide the band up or down until the earcups are securely molded to your ears.
The ultraslim, snap-in earcups help keep a low-profile for optimal stock clearance. They’re also easily replaceable to keep your earmuffs more hygienic and performing better for longer!
The microphone runs on two AAA batteries. If you forget to turn it off, it will automatically shut off after 4 hours to ensure optimal battery life. One set of batteries will last you approximately 350 hours of use!
When you do need to change the batteries, you can do so easily by removing the battery cover on the right earpiece.
There are some wires that can protrude out and get in the way while you’re changing the batteries, so keep this in mind and be careful not to damage anything.
One cool feature of the Impact Sports is the AUX input.
This allows you to plug in your smartphone, mp3 player, or a scanner to listen to music while still protecting your ears from loud shots!
The microphone or AUX power and volume are integrated into one perpendicularly-oriented knob at the edge of the earpiece.
This is kind of an odd design, as adjustments will require an unnatural left to right tuning.
However, it’s nice to have one simple, easy to find knob to prevent any confusion!
The Impact Sport headphones include a microphone to amplify voices while still keeping louder noises quiet.
The input microphone is covered with felt, and protrudes slightly past the earpiece.
This design does leave the potential for snagging, so just make sure to be aware of the microphone’s location while aiming your gun!
There is some lag when you turn the volume on or adjust the volume, and it can sometimes pick up static from your phone if you have it plugged into the AUX input.
However, they still give you pretty good sound and pick up significantly less background noise than other similar models!
The Impact Sport earmuffs will cost you somewhere around $40-$50 online.
This includes two AAA batteries and a 3.5mm connection cord for the AUX input.
At this price point, you won’t find anything better.
They’re built very well and offer kid-appropriate ear protection.
The Howard Leigh Impact Sport earmuffs offer high-quality, comfortability, and a relatively light weight that makes them perfect for smaller ears.
Whether you’re going pellet hunting or just taking your family to do some target practice, these earmuffs provide great protection for sensitive young ears at an unbeatable price.
If you’re looking for the safest, most affordable ear protection for your children, these are the ones to go with!
- Sleek, extremely low profile earcup design allows for full clearance of firearm stock
- Automatic 4 hour shut-off increases battery life
- AUX jack connects to MP3 players and scanners
Ear pro is an essential piece of equipment (unless you have loads of money and suppressors).
Surefire claims the EP3 Sonic Defenders will provide great noise canceling and low decibel audio passthrough with no problem.
Is it a gimmick or are they a stellar addition to your everyday life, whether you’re working a construction site or just taking a day on the range?
Find out in my review of the SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders.
The Sonic Defenders feature a comfortable pair of retention rings that have seven points of contact to ensure that your ear protection stays in your ear securely and unobtrusively.
The entirety of the Sonic Defenders is made from a soft, durable, medical-grade polymer, which helps ease fatigue and discomfort on the ear.
The most impressive aspect of the construction is the filter tips with a smart design that can sift through sounds louder than 85 decibels, while still allowing you to hear regular sounds like the chatter from your buddies or the sound of ducks if you’re out hunting.
With the tips closed, you’ll benefit from the noise filtering, but with an easy flip of the filter tips, you’ll be able to hear the sounds around you like you weren’t wearing anything at all.
Not to mention these earplugs are incredibly low profile.
They sit flush with your ear so you don’t have to worry about them catching on clothing, masks, hats or anything else in the headwear arena.
The SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders hit a sweet spot between full-on muffling earplugs and fancy electronic over-ear muffs.
With your standard foam or polymer earplugs, you definitely don’t need to worry about sound passing through, but you’ll sacrifice lower decibel hearing since these earplugs cut off essentially all noise.
Electronic ear muffs have some really great features and technology, but you need to replace batteries or deal with electronic failure to get solid sound passthrough.
The Sonic Defenders alleviate all these issues by having non-electronic noise passthrough and sound dampening.
They work great and do precisely what they advertised.
I use them every time I go duck hunting; I can hear my friends and the ducks, but won’t go deaf when I pop a shot off.
They have become a staple in my own range bag as well.
Now they can’t compete with my electronic headset, but they take up much less real estate in the bag and I use them for almost anything except for deer hunting.
The SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders have a very affordable price tag of $12.49.
That’s a pretty killer price for such a quality product.
I reckon that’s still a smart buy even if you only use them as a backup pair of ear protection.
The answer is a resounding yes! The SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders are worth it.
- 24dB Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) with filter caps inserted, Hear safe sound levels (with filter caps out) as if you weren't wearing ear plugs
- Soft, adjustable, double-flanged stems provide secure seals in ear canals and all-day comfort
- Low-profile design allows you to keep them in place while wearing a mask, helmet, hat, or while using supplemental hearing muffs
- Functionality, these work incredibly well, filter tip in or out
- Comfort, the security, and the unobtrusive fit make for an easy experience
- Cost, these are super cheap for the quality and comfort
Protecting your hearing with the latest offering from 3M, the WorkTunes Connect earmuff-style hearing protection may be one of the best budget solutions to shoot safely.
I also want to make sure that I’m getting quality goods when it comes to gear that is designed to prevent damage to my hearing.
So let’s take a look at the WorkTunes Connect hearing protection earmuffs and you’ll see why these may be the best shooting hearing protection for my budget.
With a noise reduction rating of 24 dB, the WorkTunes Connect earmuffs are very effective at keeping my hearing safe.
From target shooting to tromping through the woods, the earmuffs maintain a good seal around my ears.
The 3M WorkTunes are also easy to adjust and quite comfortable.
Battery life has always been consistently generous. I can get through a weekend with the boys without worrying about the need to recharge.
Effectiveness is so important to protect your hearing. I love that these affordable earmuffs fit the bill for safety while I’m shooting.
3M always makes reliable products and the WorkTunes Connect for hearing protection is no different.
A built-in battery is charged with a common Micro USB to USB charge cord. In a pinch, I’ve been known to charge it in my truck on the way to the range with my Android cell phone charger cord.
One of these days I may lose the cord that comes with it, but thanks to the relatively universal style of cord I can use any of the other cords I have laying around.
I’ve acquired many awesome upgrades to my gear over the years, and reliability is at the top of my must-have list. 3M delivered and my earmuffs have proven to be tough and ready for me every time I need them.
3M makes several versions of the WorkTunes Connect earmuffs, priced from $40-$70.
Mine was right in the middle of that range at just over fifty bucks. The features that come part and parcel with my earmuffs give me so much more than ear protection.
Bluetooth capability allows me to connect these earmuffs to my cell phone. Pairing was easy and I never have had trouble with it disconnecting for no reason.
For such a low price, I have great sound quality.
There is even a built-in microphone to allow me to accept phone calls when I’m at the range or on the hunt. You have no idea how many times that has come in handy!
The 3M WorkTunes Connect hearing protection is a great budget buy!
- Communication Direction: Two-Way
- Bluetooth Technology Lets You Seamlessly Stream Entertainment From Your Mobile Phone And Any Other Bluetooth Enabled Device.
- High-Fidelity Speakers Provide Premium Sound Quality
I’ve had a great time with them. They make a big impact on reducing the harmful decibels and have the added benefit of allowing me to connect to my phone for calls or tunes at the same time.
All of the best safety guidelines for gun owners will tell you that hearing protection is essential.
The WorkTunes Connect earmuffs keep me safe without breaking the bank. In my opinion, they really are the best shooting hearing protection for the budget.
Protecting your hearing on the range and in the field should be a top priority for any marksman.
But, if you’re like me, those cheap grocery store ear plugs just aren’t going to cut it.
If you want all the advantages of top quality noise cancellation along with ambient noise amplification and comfort, the Howard Leight Impact Pro’s are the best ear protection in the business.
Why? Let’s take a look…
Most ear protection comes with an NRR rating somewhere in the 20’s, so when I saw this pair of muffs had an NRR rating of 30, I was instantly intrigued.
The high NRR rating makes these Impact Pro’s perfect for shooting in very loud environments where gunshots are frequent, like an indoor range.
Electronic ear protection has been my choice for a while now because, instead of passively muffling sound (making it hard to hear everything), the built-in stereo microphones actively “listen” faster than your ears can.
They take the ambient noises like you would hear during a normal conversation and amplify them.
This pair of Howard Leights amplifies ambient noise up to four times, enough for me to hear my kids have a conversation downstairs while I’m in the upstairs bedroom. (This certainly has its own set of benefits!)
On the flip side, when these mic’s pick up any sound over 82 decibels, they block up to 30 dB of that noise and make it manageable for your ears.
There is an easy-to-use control knob that lets you turn these muffs on and off as well as adjust the volume to a comfortable level.
After using the Pro’s, I have noticed a significant decrease in the amount of ear-ringing after I get home from the range.
Sometimes with added ear protection the comfort level of your muffs takes a hit.
But I didn’t find that to be true at all for this model.
You can adjust the padded headband to a comfortable height, and I had no problem finding a great fit even over my glasses.
These are a little bulkier than the Sport model, so I couldn’t get a great sight picture with my rifle, but for any handgun shooting the Pro’s are my go-to muffs.
Beside their comfortable design, I also appreciated that this pair automatically shuts off after 4 hours, saving me a lot of hassle changing the batteries.
They come with AAA batteries (my first pair lasted about 6 months before I needed to switch), snap-in ear cushions, and a 3.5mm AUX cord so they can double as headphones to use with your MP3 or smartphone.
If you need a comfortable pair of muffs that amplifies the sounds you do want to hear while saving your ears from all the harmful noises, be sure to check out these Howard Leight Impact Pro’s.
- HIGH NOISE REDUCTION RATING (30 NRR): Designed for handgun and pistol shooters looking for high NRR; perfect for indoor ranges, covered ranges or other extremely loud shooting environments
- AMPLIFIES AMBIENT NOISE UP TO 4X: Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands and other ambient sounds to a safe 82 dB, providing more natural listening and enhanced communication
- BLOCKS HAZARDOUS NOISE: Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when ambient sound reaches 82 dB; passively blocks out noise at 30 dB
Here’s why. They’ve got:
- High NRR rating
- Enhanced communication
The Howard Leight Impact Pro’s are my top choice for electronic ear protection and give me all the confidence I need to make my shots without worrying about my hearing.
Walker’s Razor Slim Earmuffs are the best women’s ear protection for shooting.
Whether you need ear protection for something as loud as shooting at the range or as quiet as pellet hunting, these earmuffs will not let you down!
The only question is: how can they provide adequate protection at such a low price?
Let’s find out!
The Walker Razor Slim Earmuffs have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 27 dB.
This is thanks to the sound dampening composite housing, which makes these slim earmuffs even more effective at reducing noise than bulky pairs!
While they don’t completely eliminate the noise that comes along with indoor shooting, they do significantly reduce it. If you want to completely cut out all sound, try wearing some in-ear protection along with them.
These lightweight, adjustable earmuffs were designed with comfort in mind.
The rubberized ear cups are soft yet snug, and feature a rubberized coating so you can get a better grip while putting them on or adjusting them.
The headband has a metal wire frame covered with plastic. There’s no cushioning, but as long as you have some hair on top of your head, it’s not uncomfortable!
You can adjust the height of the headband by sliding the earcups along two wires that connect to the headband.
They slide along the wire smoothly, but can be pulled right off the wire if you move them too far down! Just keep this in mind and be careful.
They are a bit tight, which makes them more suited to women and other people with smaller heads.
However, they’re still comfortable enough for hours-long shooting sessions, and are very well-made and durable.
The Razor Slim Earmuffs, as the name suggests, have a very low profile and slim design.
They won’t get in the way of a good cheek-weld while rifle shooting, and they fit flush and snug to your ears as they should.
The Walker Razor Slim Earmuffs retail from anywhere between $17-$30, depending on where you shop online.
They’re surprisingly well-made and high-quality for the price point, and you’re sure to be satisfied for what you spend!
Walker’s Razor Slim Earmuffs are the perfect women’s ear protection for shooting.
They block sound well, are solidly-built, and are lightweight and slim enough to not get in your way!
I would definitely recommend these earmuffs to women or anyone else with a smaller head size.
- Ultra low-profile, light weight, slim design with rubberized ear cups
- NRR 27 protection from noise
- Compactly folds up for easy transport and storage
I hope you enjoyed my best shooting ear protection guide.
Now I want to turn it over to you:
Which ear protection will you pick?
Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.