10 Best Hearing Protection for Shooting [2022]

Man wearing hearing protection while shooting (From: Pixabay)
Man wearing hearing protection while shooting (From: Pixabay)

The complete guide to the best hearing protection devices for shooting in 2022. Plus, some tips on how to choose them!

NameNRRAttack TimeDirectional SoundPrice
Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Best Overall26dB3-5msY BUY
Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolt Strong Runner-Up22dB0.5msY BUY
Act Fire Shooting Earmuffs Best Budget23dB20msY BUY
OTTO Engineering NoizeBarrier Micro Best Premium40dB20msN BUY
Walkers Silencer BT 2.0 Best In-Ear24dB20msN BUY
GLORYFIRE Electronic Shooting Earmuff Best for Hunting25dB20msY BUY
PROHEAR 030 Most Versatile22dB10msN BUY
Walker's Game Ear Razor Slim Most Comfortable23dB20msN BUY
PROHEAR 016 Best Passive Ear Muffs26dBNN BUY
SureFire EP10 Sonic Defenders Best Passive Earplugs30dBNN BUY

How to Pick the Best Hearing Protection for Shooting

Unsuppressed gunshots can reach incredibly high volumes of between 140-190 dB. This means hearing damage is almost inevitable in a dynamic shooting range.

That’s why finding the appropriate hearing protection for shooting is more important than ever, whether within the gun range or out on the hunt.

However, it isn’t as simple as grabbing just about any hearing protection and expecting it to work for you.

Hearing protection devices (HPDs) specifically designed for shooting have unique features that can drastically improve their overall effectiveness.

Some of these features, like cut-outs and directional sound amplification, don’t make sense in standard hearing protection devices but are necessary if you want to go shooting.

So, what are the most important features to consider when buying noise protection designed for gunshots? Read on to find out!

How much NRR do you need?

The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is a rough estimation of the maximum decibels a particular hearing protection device (HPD) can protect against.

For example: If a hearing protection device (HPD) advertises that it has an NRR rating of 27, that means the device will reduce– not eliminate– noise levels up to 27dB. This is because NRR calculations follow a derating formula to arrive at merely an estimation of the protection HPDs can provide.

Derating is the process of applying calculations to the NRR rating (based on real-world usage of the device) to make it more accurate. These calculations vary depending on the body overseeing the process, so you should check out the different ways to get a more accurate rating.

NRR ratings are often tested in highly controlled, ideal environments which do not take into consideration the device’s real-world applications.

For instance, several factors can get in the way of your device – such as your hair or the straps of safety goggles, thereby hindering its efficacy.

Plus, the device might not fit your ear properly, making it far less effective, or it might quickly be exposed to wear and lose some of its capabilities.

Thus, the ratings you see advertised by manufacturers aren’t really the protection levels HPDs can practically offer in the real world.

Although there aren’t any minimum NRR requirements for hearing protection when shooting, you should always prioritize getting the highest rating possible.

This is why you need as much protection as possible – or aim for at least 22dB.

Ear muffs vs. earplugs for shooting: which should you go for?

Aside from the overall design, the functional differences between earplugs and earmuffs can be difficult to see at first. After all, they both do the same thing.

It can seem like a matter of convenience to simply opt for the smaller and more portable earplugs. Still, you should take a moment to go over the pros and cons of each before making that decision.

Earplugs

What We Like
  • Small and portable
  • Don’t interfere with other safety equipment (such as goggles or helmets)
  • Can offer more protection than earmuffs, as they conform to the ear canal
What We Don't Like
  • Usually don’t offer electronic hearing protection
  • Easy to misplace
  • Can cause infections if touched with dirty hands
  • Can cause discomfort if improperly sized

Earmuffs

What We Like
  • One-size-fits-all
  • Can offer electronic hearing protection
  • Faster and easier to take on and off
  • Harder to misplace, owing to their size
What We Don't Like
  • Can interfere with other safety equipment
  • Can cause discomfort if used in hot or humid environments

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which type of protection you want to use, depending on what you prioritize.

If you can’t see a clear winner out of the two options, you could always purchase one of each option. That way, you could test both options and determine which works best for you!

This would have the added advantage of allowing you to ‘double up.Doubling up is a technique some people recommend in which you wear both earplugs and earmuffs for the most protection possible.

Yet, while doubling up does increase protection, it is also more expensive, as you need to purchase twice the amount of protective equipment. You also won’t be able to utilize features like sound amplification or directionality since one could be blocking the other.

Passive vs. electronic hearing protection

Earplugs versus earmuffs aren’t the only choice you have to make when choosing your ideal HPD. You’ll need to decide on many more features before making the purchase. One of them is the decision between passive or electronic hearing protection.

  • Passive hearing protection: This refers to earmuffs not enhanced by technology but instead rely on the thickness of the ear pads to muffle all incoming noise. With this, the earmuffs will also block out range commands and other important noises around you.
  • Electronic hearing protection: Electronic HPDs come with integrated speakers that work to enhance the audio of the surrounding environment while blocking out high decibel noises– such as gunshots. Some electronic HPDs will also include a headphone jack or Bluetooth connection, so you can listen to music or podcasts while shooting.
Electronic hearing protection devices do not use electronics to muffle the sound they block. They simply pause the amplification of outside noises for the duration of the sound, relying on the passive protection of the earmuffs to muffle the noise. For more information on this, see Attack Time.

Though more expensive, HPDs with electronic protection are preferred in general. They are far more convenient, especially when shooting at a range or with others, as you can stay aware of your surroundings and hold a conversation without risking your hearing.

Directional Sound Amplification

Hearing protection for hunting (From: Pixabay)
Hearing protection for hunting (From: Pixabay)

If hearing protection devices for musicians let you hear your surroundings by using acoustic filters, HPDs for shooting take this up a notch by incorporating advanced technologies to amplify specific sounds.

Sound amplification is the volume increase of low-level sounds. These sounds include the rustling noises of wild game or team communication.

Aside from that, some HPDs for shooting also offer directional sound amplification, which not only increases the volume of low-level sounds but also lets the listener pinpoint where the sound is coming from.

This works by using electronic components and multiple, strategically placed microphones to pick up the environmental sounds you wouldn’t usually hear with an uncovered ear. It then amplifies the noise and plays it through the corresponding headphone speaker inside the earmuffs.

However, the quality of directional sound amplification can vary depending on HPD models and manufacturers. Some have stereo amplification (you can only tell if the sound is coming from the left or right), while others have 3D/surround sound amplification.

For hunters, it’s highly recommended to go for the more advanced directional sound amplification feature for optimal hunting. Whether you’re trying to pinpoint the hushed footsteps of wild game or the communication from a fellow hunter, this feature will come in handy in any number of situations.

However, for exclusively range shooters, the stereo sound amplification works just fine. There is no need to spend extra money on a feature you likely won’t use.

It’s important to note that most HPDs with sound amplification have volume limits. This means that the amplified sounds you hear cannot exceed 80-90dB. This is deemed as the safe listening level by the World Health Organization (WHO). You should not go above this threshold, regardless of the volume.

Attack time

While electronic hearing protection is usually more effective and convenient than passive protection, it has its disadvantages. One of these is the time it takes to turn off amplification and block the gunshot sound, a.k.a. the attack time (also known as reaction time).

When electronic earmuffs detect a sound that is at a dangerous level, they will shut off their amplification and rely on the passive protection of the earmuffs to muffle the noise. Once they detect that the noise has ended, they will continue with their amplification.

The faster the attack time, the more functional you will find the earmuffs.

On the other hand, the longer the attack time, the more likely it is that you will hear the gunshot sound. This is because the sound will have more time to reach your ears before being cut off.

The fastest recorded attack time is 0.5ms at the time of writing, while the average is 20ms.

Design functionality

Police wearing hearing protection device (From: Pixabay)
Police wearing hearing protection device (From: Pixabay)

There are several design factors to consider when choosing hearing protection for shooting. It’s essential to take note of the features that you care about. With these in mind, you can select a model that best suits your needs.

The following only apply to earmuffs, not earplugs.

Cut-outs

Certain hearing protection devices come with cut-outs. These are indents or incisions in the ear cups that help contour the shape of safety glasses or the gunstock to the side of your head.

The notches on the earmuffs make it so that it won’t feel awkward to lean on the gunstock while shooting because the gunstock fits into the cut-out.

Low profile design

Whether you prefer to wear something inconspicuous or dislike bulkier earmuffs, a low-profile design is something to consider. This design also helps when you must hide in cramped areas to hunt game.

These models are usually lighter and smaller, offering you more opportunities to use them due to their compact size.

Portability

Some HPDs have more portable designs than others. If portability is that important to you, then you’ll generally want HPDs that can fold up to a smaller size. Having a compact design also makes for easy storage. Bonus points if it comes with its own carrying case.

Tactile controls

Aside from glasses and HPDs, shooters also need other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like shooting gloves.

Shooting gloves are usually thick, so it’d be challenging to find and access regular headphone buttons without taking off your gloves when wearing these.

That’s why reliable tactile controls are essential. This helps you precisely know what you’re pressing, where it’s located on the HPD, and how many times you’re pressing it, even with gloves.

Durability

Hearing Protection Devices are constantly being exposed to harsh environments and extreme conditions. That’s why it’s important to look for HPDs that can take a beating.

If you often find yourself hunting in rough weather, it helps to get a hearing protection device that is specifically advertised as sweat/water-resistant. Its durability also depends on the kind of materials that were used.

It’s good to look out for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene and other synthetic materials for HPDs. Synthetic materials have been designed and optimized to offer the best protection possible so they can perform better than natural materials, when it comes to both protection and longevity.

As sleek as they look, some HPDs should possess long-lasting properties in their exterior design that can protect them from UV degradation. Some of these properties include anti-scratch characteristics in their paint/designs.

Comfort and fit

Overall, the comfort and fit of an HPD are two of the more crucial yet underrated factors you should consider when choosing hearing protection. Whether in the shooting range or out hunting in the wild, chances are you’ll be wearing the devices for extended periods.

For earmuffs

For earmuffs, they must fit snugly and comfortably on your head. This is to minimize the incentive of taking them off. By doing so, you won’t be exposing yourself to potentially dangerous sounds.

Comfortable shooting earmuffs usually have large, soft ear cups that fully cover the ears. Having vented headbands also helps for additional airflow. You can also go for padded headbands known to provide more support to the head.

Lastly, adjustable/rotating sliders can better conform to different head shapes/sizes. The more the earmuffs can adjust to the size and shape of your head, the more comfortable it will be.

For earplugs

Earplugs must fit snugly into your ear for the most protection. If the earplugs are too large for your ear canal, this can result in immense discomfort.

On the other hand, if the earplugs are too loose, they will constantly fall out of your ears, exposing you to the dangerous sound levels you’re trying to avoid.

There’s a right and a wrong way to use earplugs. Here’s a checklist of do’s and don’ts you can follow when purchasing and using earplugs.

10 Best Hearing Protection for Shooting in 2022

Peltor Sport Tactical 500

Best Overall
Close look at Peltor Sport Tactical 500 (From: Amazon)
Close look at Peltor Sport Tactical 500 (From: Amazon)

Key features for shooting

  • NRR: 26dB
  • Derated NRR (OSHA): 9.5dB
  • Sound Amplification: Yes
  • Directional Sound: Yes
  • Attack Time: 3-5ms
  • Volume Limit: 85dB
  • Weight: 0.93 lbs

As made by the manufacturers of the renowned 3M Worktunes, it’s not that surprising to see the Peltor Sport Tactical 500s as the best overall pick for this list.

They have one of the highest NRR ratings among other HPDs on this list, in addition to other features that can prove to be very useful during shooting sessions.

This hearing protection device uses the proprietary 3M SMART technologies, which analyze and adapt to your surroundings for better hearing protection. These effectively suppress gunshot noises while amplifying low-level noises, all in addition to a fast attack time.

One of these technologies is the Automatic Dynamic Suppression is one of the more noteworthy selling points of the Peltor Sport Tactical 500s. This feature measures gunshot energy and the corresponding surrounding echoes. It then adjusts the suppression time accordingly, thus allowing for optimized comfort and communication, especially for indoor shooting.

They also have precise voice tracking that specifically amplifies voices for improved communications, helping you hear your teammates’ voices or commands above everything else.

Moreover, their lightweight form factor, low-profile design, soft ear cup cushions, and adjustable headband improves overall comfort for long hours of usage without ear fatigue.

Additionally, the headband uses a vented design. This allows for optimal airflow and lets you wear the device with hats more comfortably.

The Peltor Sport Tactical 500s are also foldable, so although they’re not the most low-profile of earmuffs, they are easily portable.

With their intuitive and tactile button set up in addition to the voice guidance system, the Peltor Sport Tactical 500s give you complete control of the settings without removing the headset.

Compared to their earlier model, the Peltor Sport Tactical 300s, the 500s have a higher NRR and are significantly lighter. This makes them more suitable for shooting, as they cause less discomfort despite long periods of wear.

They also have Bluetooth capabilities, in addition to a detachable audio wire, so you have the option to control your audio from your phone, tablet, or laptop. These comprehensive controls allow for continuous hearing safety without sacrificing ease of access and functionality.

However, their Bluetooth connection isn’t the most stable and can be prone to lags or disconnections – so they’re not exactly that recommended for music listening.

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Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolt

Strong Runner-Up
Close look at Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolt (From: Amazon)
Close look at Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolt (From: Amazon)

Key features for shooting

  • NRR: 22dB
  • Derated NRR (OSHA): 7.5dB
  • Sound Amplification: Yes
  • Directional Sound: Yes
  • Attack Time: 0.5ms
  • Volume Limit: 82dB
  • Weight: 0.66 lbs

The Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolts are a strong-runner up for many reasons. This is mostly thanks to their superlative attack time of 0.5ms, the fastest attack time on this list.

These earmuffs are exceptional for use at a busy shooting range, where the sound of gunshots is near-constant, as they will allow you to experience almost all of the outside noise (except damaging ones)

The Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolts also promise up to 5x directional sound amplification– 100% more than the average 4x amplification.

Whatever you need to hear in the surrounding environment, whether it be the movement of animals or the words of a shooting instructor or partner, you can be sure that these earmuffs will enable you to pick up on every sound.

These earmuffs are lighter than their predecessors, the Howard Leight by Honeywell, and have 5x amplification compared to the earlier models’ 4x volume. This makes the Impact Sport Bolts the preferred choice for shooting due to their more comfortable weight and more sensitive amplification.

Moreover, their auto shut-off functionality turns off the earmuffs after 4 hours of inactivity. This feature helps prolong the overall battery life, since you no longer have to worry about forgetting to turn off the device. This also means saving up on having to buy new batteries constantly. The easy snap-on lid also allows for convenient battery replacement.

Furthermore, the low-profile ear cups, slim design, and rifle cutaways allow for better shooting accuracy and gun-to-cheek placement. The cut-outs can help you use a tight gunstock cheek weld for a better intuitive sighted/unsighted fire– all without disrupting the protective seal of the ear cushion.

It’s also good to know that this HPD comes with other convenient add-ons. These include an extra pair of replacement snap-in ear cushions, 2 AAA batteries, a detachable 3.5mm wire for music listening and a belt clip for portability and hands-free carriage.

However, be careful when turning the volume all the way up with these on, as these earmuffs can be prone to creating annoying high-pitched feedback noises.

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Act Fire Shooting Earmuffs

Best Budget
Close look at Act Fire Shooting Earmuffs (From: Amazon)
Close look at Act Fire Shooting Earmuffs (From: Amazon)

Key features for shooting

  • NRR: 23dB
  • Derated NRR (OSHA): 8dB
  • Sound Amplification: Yes
  • Directional Sound: Yes
  • Attack Time: 20ms
  • Volume Limit: 89dB
  • Weight: 0.75 lbs

If you’re looking for a suitable shooting HPD without breaking the bank, then the Act Fire Shooting Earmuffs may be your best bet. These earmuffs are far more affordable than most on this list, despite having plenty of useful features.

This device possesses the minimum standard functionalities needed to make it useful in almost any situation where you need hearing protection. Whether you’re shooting guns at the firing range, sawing wood at your workshop, or mowing the lawn, this HPD applies to all those situations and more.

The Act Fire Shooting Earmuffs also use a unique internal chip for their sound amplification, thus promising realistic and clear amplified stereo sound. Not only do the internal amplifiers increase the volume of low-level sounds, but they also accurately determine the direction it is coming from.

Aside from amplifying sounds, the Act Fire Shooting Earmuffs also lower noise exposure by up to 23dB. Although other tactical noise-canceling HPDs also let you hear quiet sounds while protecting your hearing, this device stands out by amplifying those soft sounds with little to no sound distortion.

It also sports one of the most aesthetically pleasing designs on this list– one that almost every American tactical shooting enthusiast would enjoy. For example, the incorporation of the American flag is an exciting addition to the overall design.

Plus, this HPD uses imported Japanese paint that helps protect the device better against UV irradiation, natural fading, and surface damage.

Just remember that the manufacturer had to sacrifice their build quality to bring down the cost of these earmuffs. Don’t expect this HPD to be the most durable or last as long as other premium models.

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OTTO Engineering NoizeBarrier Micro

Best Premium
Close look at OTTO NoizeBarrier Micro (From: Amazon)
Close look at OTTO NoizeBarrier Micro (From: Amazon)

Key features for shooting

  • NRR: 40dB
  • Derated NRR (OSHA): 15dB
  • Sound Amplification: Yes
  • Directional Sound: No
  • Attack Time: 20ms
  • Volume Limit: 85dB
  • Weight: 0.1 lbs

OTTO Engineering’s NoizeBarrier Micro electronic earplugs are a perfect pick if you have problems keeping your HPDs intact outside the shooting environment. They come with a sturdy case, which isn’t just robust enough to protect your earplugs from damage but also charges the earplugs when they’re slotted into place!

It even has a display to show you how much charge the earplugs have and how much power is left in the charging case itself. However, the earplugs themselves have a 16-hour battery life, so you shouldn’t need to use it often!

The earplugs also come with a cleaning kit, to keep your ears free from infection. Plus, to help the earplugs to conform to your ears, they come with three ear tips of different sizes.

While the OTTO NoizeBarrier Micro have an incredibly high NRR rating, the noise reduction remains smooth and seamless– meaning you can continue a conversation while the guns are firing.

The sound amplification is designed with 360-degree detection and localization – a feature that isn’t quite prevalent for earplugs. They can amplify sound up to 5x your natural hearing while being equipped with two modes to choose from: sound amplification and sound dampening.

Also, even though they’re loaded with high-quality features, these earplugs are discreet and don’t protrude when worn, so you wouldn’t have to worry about aesthetics.

Despite how expensive the OTTO NoizeBarrier Micro are, they can break after barely one or two years of use and only come with a limited one-year warranty.

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Walker’s Silencer BT 2.0

Best In-Ear
Close look at Walker’s Silencer BT 2.0 (From: Amazon)
Close look at Walker’s Silencer BT 2.0 (From: Amazon)

Key features for shooting

  • NRR: 24dB
  • Derated NRR (OSHA): 8.5dB
  • Sound Amplification: Yes
  • Directional Sound: No
  • Attack Time: 20ms
  • Volume Limit: 85dB
  • Weight: 0.1 lbs

The Walker’s Silencer BT 2.0 electronic earplugs are another excellent option for in-ear protection. Though their NRR is not as high as the abovementioned high-tech earplugs on this list, the Walkers come with many other stand-out features.

One of these is the mobile controls. These earplugs come with a downloadable app that you can use to control every aspect of your HPD experience, though there are also tactile buttons on the earplugs themselves.

The app lets you customize your earplugs’ controls, such as adding voice controls to operate the Walkers Silencer BT 2.0 without touching them. As you can imagine, this would be a huge boon when shooting.

The Walkers Silencer BT 2.0 even have a Bluetooth connection that you can use to enjoy your favorite music while shooting wirelessly!

Having improved on a previous model, the Walker’s Silencer Digital Earbuds, the Walker’s Silencer BT 2.0 have a more stable right/left earbud connection, longer-lasting battery, and higher connection range than Walker 1.0s.

Electronic earplugs are frequently faced with battery life issues; however, this model comes with an auto shut-off feature so you can make the most of your charge.

These earplugs also come with three sizes of Sure-Lock fins and foam ear tips to help you choose the right fit.

Additionally, these earplugs also come with dynamic wind noise reduction, so if you’re out shooting in the wild or within a gun range with lots of ventilation, these are the earplugs for you.

Although these earplugs seem high-tech, some users have complained that the app doesn’t recognize them when connected. If the app was a major selling point for you, then you should read through the reviews before settling on your purchase.

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Also Good: AXIL GS Extreme 2.0

With a derated NRR of 11dB, the AXIL GS Extreme 2.0 electronic earplugs have a higher protection level than the Walkers Silencer BT 2.0.

However, they do lack some useful features that the Walker’s Silencer BT 2.0s have, such as the app controls. But with 25 hours of run time, these earplugs are a good alternative.

Though they come with a Bluetooth connection for audio listening, the AXILs are not “truly wireless”, as their controls are attached to the earplugs. However, this could be handy, as the wires are linked together. This means that the wire runs around your neck, so if the earplugs fall, they will simply dangle rather than fall to the floor.

GLORYFIRE Electronic Shooting Earmuff

Best for Hunting
Close look at GLORYFIRE Electronic Shooting Earmuff (From: Amazon)
Close look at GLORYFIRE Electronic Shooting Earmuff (From: Amazon)

Key features for shooting

  • NRR: 25dB
  • Derated NRR (OSHA): 9dB
  • Sound Amplification: Yes
  • Directional Sound: Yes
  • Attack Time: 20ms
  • Volume Limit: 82dB
  • Weight: 1 lb

The GLORYFIRE Electronic Shooting Earmuffs are our pick for the best HPD for hunting. That’s because they have the highest sound amplification (up to 6x) on this list. They also have some of the most accurate directional sound designs.

With these on, if your prey does so much as to step on a crunchy leaf or breathe a little too loudly while you’re in the vicinity, you’ll be sure to hear it and hunt it down easily.

Hearing the sound cues you wouldn’t usually pick up on will give you the hunter’s edge and improve your overall hunting experience.

Comfortable earmuffs help keep your ears safe as you don’t have to take off your HPD prematurely. To that effect, the Gloryfire Electronic Shooting Earmuffs, with their padded headband design and soft ear cups, are an excellent choice for comfortable all-day usage.

These earmuffs also have decent noise reduction. Although they don’t have the highest NRR on this list, they still provide solid hearing protection.

Additionally, the Gloryfire Electronic Shooting Earmuffs also use a high-quality sound microchip that helps maintain high-quality sound when listening to music or podcasts while you wait in hiding.

Make sure you’re careful when using the earmuffs outside in inclement weather. This HPD is not waterproof.

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PROHEAR 030

Most Versatile
Close look at PROHEAR 030 (From: Amazon)
Close look at PROHEAR 030 (From: Amazon)

Key features for shooting

  • NRR: 22dB
  • Derated NRR (OSHA): 7.5dB
  • Sound Amplification: Yes
  • Directional Sound: No
  • Attack Time: 10ms
  • Volume Limit: 82dB
  • Weight: 0.63 lbs

The PROHEAR 030s are the most versatile HPD on this list. This is mainly due to their Bluetooth capabilities and intuitive volume controls. These features combined make for an improved shooting experience.

Aside from this list, PROHEAR 030s are also listed in our top picks for the best Bluetooth hearing protection.

Their integrated Bluetooth 5.0 technology allows you to keep a stable wireless connection with your media player device. This connection works up to a range of 33ft. Connecting to other Bluetooth-enabled devices and seamlessly streaming music can drastically improve your overall shooting experience.

They feature wide ear cups, ultra-soft cushioned ear pads, and a thickly-padded headband. This allows you to wear the PROHEAR 030s for much longer without experiencing ear fatigue.

This makes them especially useful during those extra long shooting/hunting sessions. Moreover, they feature an adjustable ergonomic headband design, allowing them to fit different head shapes and sizes.

Weighing in at only 0.63 lbs, this HPD is the most lightweight one on the list.

Their compact folding design means you can bring these earmuffs wherever you go without worrying about transportation.

What’s more, you can use these earmuffs in dangerously loud environments other than just shooting. Whether using a chainsaw, noisy power tools, or firing gunshots, these earmuffs keep you safe.

They also feature a high-quality rubber paint coating that helps improve the earmuffs’ overall durability, longevity, and feel.

Be sure to stockpile extra batteries. This HPD consumes batteries quickly, and there is no way to tell how much battery life you have left. The lack of a battery indicator means you won’t know if you’re at 70% or 7% until it’s too late.

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Walker’s Game Ear Razor Slim

Most Comfortable
Close look at Walker’s Game Ear Razor Slim (From: Amazon)
Close look at Walker’s Game Ear Razor Slim (From: Amazon)

Key features for shooting

  • NRR: 23dB
  • Derated NRR (OSHA): 8dB
  • Sound Amplification: Yes
  • Directional Sound: No
  • Attack Time: 20ms
  • Volume Limit: 89dB
  • Weight: 0.89 lbs

Comfort and a low-profile design are significant factors in shooting hearing protection. If that’s what you’re looking for, then the Walker’s Game Ear Razor Slim may just be what you need.

The Razor muffs are specifically engineered to have the lowest possible profile. They do this without compromising the muffs’ hearing protection and sound amplification properties.

Shooting long guns feels much less awkward when wearing lightweight and smaller hearing protection. Luckily, this HPD has the slimmest design among all the other hearing protection on this list.

Their slim size and form don’t sacrifice comfort and functionality. The ear cups have a good amount of space for your ears. Also, the thickly-padded ear cups and headband lets you wear the device throughout the day for all-day comfort.

The Walker’s Game Ear Razor Slim are one of the few HPDs with ample headband clamping force that lets them stay snugly in place. You can even wear glasses with these on without having them break the protective seal around your ears.

Additionally, the device also features highly tactile and accessible volume control. The raised ridges on the volume knob allow you to adjust the sound levels accurately, even when wearing thick shooting gloves.

Of course, it’s also worth discussing the hearing protection it provides. The Razor Slims use a sound-activated compression circuit (SAC) to block out sounds that go over 89 dB in just 20ms.

Just note that these earmuffs may be prone to creating white noise or humming sound when in use. This sound becomes a lot more prominent when you turn the volume all the way up.

Lastly, they come with 2 AAA batteries to get you started and are available in a variety of colors.

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PROHEAR 016

Best Passive Earmuffs
Close look at PROHEAR 016 (From: Amazon)
Close look at PROHEAR 016 (From: Amazon)

Key features for shooting

  • NRR: 26dB
  • Derated NRR (OSHA): 9.5dB
  • Sound Amplification: No
  • Directional Sound: No
  • Attack Time: N/A
  • Volume Limit: N/A
  • Weight: 0.46 lbs

If you’ve decided that passive protection is what you need, then the PROHEAR 016 are a quality pair of passive protection earmuffs worth looking at.

Designed with both comfort and safety in mind, the 016s come with wide, cushioned ear cups and an adjustable, padded headband. They are also foldable, meaning that they can easily be carried around.

In addition, because they lack the electronic components found in others on this list, the PROHEAR 016 are very lightweight at only 0.46lbs. That makes these earmuffs easy to wear for long periods without experiencing any discomfort.

The PROHEAR 016 are coated in high-quality rubber paint, so the design and exterior are predicted to last a long time. However, these HPDs are still made primarily of plastic, making them susceptible to damage after daily wear and tear, especially in harsh conditions such as hunting.

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SureFire EP10 Sonic Defenders

Best Passive Earplugs
Close look at SureFire EP10 Sonic Defenders (From: Amazon)
Close look at SureFire EP10 Sonic Defenders (From: Amazon)

Key features for shooting

  • NRR: 30dB
  • Derated NRR (OSHA): 11.5dB
  • Sound Amplification: No
  • Directional Sound: No
  • Attack Time: N/A
  • Volume Limit: N/A
  • Weight: 0.04 lbs

If you’re looking for a low-profile pair of passive protection earplugs, then the SureFire EP10 Sonic Defenders could be the ones for you.

As the lightest weight HPD on this list, the SureFire earplugs are guaranteed to offer you the ultimate comfort. This is enhanced by the memory foam ear tips, designed to conform to your ear canal for maximum protection.

Because the earplugs are so small and low-profile, you can use them in conjunction with any protective gear. This includes helmets and safety goggles, so you can be sturdily protected from any danger without risking your hearing.

These earplugs have been improved since their previous model, the EP7 Sonic Defenders, with an additional 2dB NRR. Evidently, the current model has been designed in the most up-to-date manner possible.

The SureFires also come with a patented EarLock design. This keeps the earplugs locked into your ears with seven points of contact for maximum security possible for any pair of earplugs.

However, this design requires the user to wear the earplugs differently than standard ones since their wings have been created to stay within the Concha bowl. So wearing them is something you’ll have to get used to.

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3 comments

  1. Hands down Axil is better than all of these. Come on if you are going to compare at least include the best.

    1. I purchased from Axil. I never could get a decent seal; hence they were worthless.

      I contacted Axil customer disservice…. they weren’t any help.

      Mine just sit on a shelf, as an education to not believe salespeople.

  2. Axil states theirs are not directional. One mic picks up the sound. Directional situational awareness is MANDATORY. Under no condition will I consider any electronic noise cancelling device if using it costs me directional awareness.
    I’d rather stick with ear muffs I put on for firing.

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