Hearing loss is a major problem for many shooting enthusiasts with a good reason: guns produce hazardous noise level. According to this medical journal, using an adequate ear protection can lower the risk of hearing impairment by 30%.Yet, so many shooting hobbyists avoid using ear protection with unacceptable reasons, even with all the best shooting ear protection products available.

Nowadays, the best shooting ear protection muffs and plugs are priced for every budget range. They are also packed with different features, design, and comfort level that will cater to just about anyone. Yet, we understood that picking the right one just for you can be difficult. So, this Buying Guide For Best Shooting Ear Protection is aimed to help you with that fact.

Top 10 Shooting Hear Protection Ear Plugs

ProductWeightNRR RatingsBatteriesPricing
Honeywell Howard Leight Impact Pro (R-01902)1.1 pounds25 2 AAA
Glock OEM Hearing Protection11 oz.30No battery required
Honeywell Howard Leight Impact Sport (R-01526) 1.0 Pounds223 AAA
3M Peltor TacticalPro SV1.1 pounds262 AAA
ClearArmor 141001 Safety Ear Muffs 9.4 ounces34No battery required
3M Peltor Sport Tactical 100 1 pounds222 AAA
Howard Leight by Honeywell Leightning L0F 15 ounces222 AAA
Mack’s Shooters Ear Seals 9.4 ounces34No battery required
Surefire 4 Sonic Defender Ear Pro1 pounds222 AAA
3M PELTOR TEP-100 13.5 ounces304 medical style batteries

Top Earmuffs for Shooting Range and Field

Choosing the best shooting ear protection muffs can be a nightmare, simply because there are so many options. There are passive earmuffs for basic protection, and there are electronic earmuffs with audio jack input.There are also many different models and colors to choose from.

1. Top Electronic Earmuffs From A Top Electronic Manufacturer: Honeywell Howard Leight Impact Pro (R-01902)

Honeywell is definitely one of the biggest electronics manufacturers in the world, with products ranging from home appliances, vehicle solutions, to sports and safety appliances like the Howard Leight Impact Pro.

Honeywell Howard Leight Impact Pro

With a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 30, the Howard Leight Impact Pro by Honeywell is simply one of the most protective earmuffs available in the market, with very few other products surpass or even match that NRR.

Looks wise, it is also pretty decent with a black and grey finish and modern-military design. So, let us first discuss the key features of the Howard Leight Impact Pro by Honeywell.

Key Features

Intelligent Sound Protection

Passively, the Howard Leight Impact Pro blocks out noise at 30 dB (NRR rating of 30). It actively listens to your surroundings with built-in directional microphones, and so you can still have clear communication when there are no dangerous noises. Yet, once it detects noises over 82 dB, it will automatically shut off amplification, blocking the noise altogether.

Audio Jack Input

The Howard Leight Impact Pro is a pair of active (electronic) ear muffs operating with 2 AAA batteries (included). You can input any 3.5 mm audio jack for radio, scanners, MP3 players, and phones as you see fit either for added communication or entertainment. There is a battery-saving shut-off every 4 hours, and so the batteries can last for up to 350 hours.

Excellent Looks

The black and grey finish with a modern military-inspired design fit well with other safety glasses and other equipment while providing decent camouflage for hunting or competitive activities. With a sleek folding design, you can also easily transport the Howard Leight Impact Pro by Honeywell anywhere.

Durability and Comfort

The Howard Leight Impact Pro features a rubberized surface on pressure points to prevent scratching, which often happens with gunstocks. It is relatively light at only 15.8 ounces and features a padded, adjustable headband for both comfort and security. The earmuffs parts are especially comfortable, and so you wouldn’t have any comfort issues with prolonged use.

Advantages

  • Excellent protection with NRR of 30 and active noise cancellation above 82 dB
  • Built-in microphone to amplify sounds when there are no dangerous sounds allowing clear communication
  • Sleek design with excellent durability
  • Very comfortable to wear with padded headband and excellent ear cups
  • Long battery life with audio jack support

Disadvantages

  • Relatively expensive compared to other competitors
  • The microphones are not wind-resistant
  • The design is relatively bulky

Bottom Line and Our Verdict

The Howard Leight Impact Pro is definitely one of the best earmuffs protections for shooting out there. If you are only looking for protection, it boasts a very high NRR of 30 with active noise cancellation of 82 dB. So, your ears are going to be protected at all times even when shooting high-caliber guns. It is also very comfortable to wear and you can easily communicate with others when there is no shooting happening.

The thing is, there is another Honeywell Howard Leight out there that is quite cheaper with a slimmer design: the Impact Sport, and so comparisons between the two will be unavoidable.

We will also cover the Howard Leight Impact Sport further below on this list, but before that, here are a few things to consider: the Impact Pro is more protective with 30 NRR compared to just 22 with the Impact Sport. However, as we have mentioned, the Impact Sport is slimmer and slightly lighter.

So, the Howard Leight Impact Pro is the better choice if you need more protection. For example, if there are a lot of high-caliber guns on the shooting range you frequent. Nevertheless, a very comfortable, durable, and protective choice.

2. For Those Looking For Passive Earmuffs: Glock OEM Hearing Protection

Glock is one of the most prominent gun manufacturers out there, known for their high-quality guns with excellent performance. So, with the Glock OEM Hearing Protection, we can expect the same standard.

While the previous earmuffs we have reviewed above is an active-electronic one, the Glock OEM Hearing Protection is a pair of passive earmuffs.  For casuals looking for a more simple protective solution with a more affordable price tag, passive earmuffs are a better choice.

Glock OEM Hearing Protection

Because there is no electronic noise protection with the Glock OEM, we can only rely on its passive noise protection. Thankfully, the noise protection is pretty decent with an NRR of 26 dB. Meaning, it will reduce any outside noise by 26 dB. So, if you are shooting a gunshot of 100 dB, it will be reduced to a less dangerous level of 74 dB.

Because it is a pair of passive earmuffs, it doesn’t require any battery to operate. It is also very light at only 11 ounces and is very compact so you can easily transport it anywhere. As mentioned, it is also very affordable.

Let us discuss the key features of the Glock OEM Hearing Protection.

Key Features

Simple and Elegant Design

The Glock OEM Hearing Protection earmuff features an all-black design with a modern-minimalist approach. With a big Glock logo, it boasts a quality of the well-known brand.

Light, Durable and Comfortable

Weighing only 11 ounces, it is one of the lightest earmuff available in the market. So, it is also very comfortable to wear with a nice padding for your head and ears. It is also surprisingly durable, and the Glock logo is printed in very high quality.

Decent Passive Protection

The Glock OEM Hearing Protection will passively reduce any noise by 26 dB. You can still communicate with people although they will need to speak a little louder, and it can easily reduce any low-caliber gun sounds to non-dangerous levels.

Advantages

  • Very affordable compared to its competition
  • Sleek, modern design with big Glock logo
  • Very comfortable and very light
  • Decent durability, the finish and logo won’t wear off easily

Disadvantages

  • Very simple in features
  • Won’t be able to block noises from high-caliber guns

Bottom Line and Verdict

The Glock OEM Hearing Protection is simply one of the best choices if you are looking for a passive earmuff. It is well designed, very durable, and features a big Glock logo that will please a lot of people.

Yet, being a passive earmuff it has pretty modest features and can only reduce 26 dB of noise levels. It is a great choice if you don’t visit a shooting range frequently, and you are exclusively using low-caliber guns.

3. A More Affordable Alternative From Honeywell: Honeywell Howard Leight Impact Sport (R-01526)

As promised, now we will cover the Howard Leight Impact Sport, the younger brother of the Impact Pro we have discussed above. There will be many similarities between the two models, so instead of repeating our points, we will focus on the differences.

Honeywell Howard Leight Impact Sport (R-01526)

Let us cut the chase and discuss the main differences between the two.

Key Differences to Howard Leight Impact Pro

More Affordable

The Howard Leight Impact Sport is significantly more affordable than the Impact Pro counterpart, yet they are built with similar qualities. It also packs a similar active noise cancellation above 82 dB, and also supports 3.5 mm audio jack for phones, mp3 players, and radio. Also, the battery life is ‘only’ 350 hours, compared to the 450 hours of the Impact Pro version.

Lighter, More Compact Design

Perhaps the biggest downside of the Impact Pro is its bulkiness, being 2.5-thicks on each ear. The Impact Sport, on the other hand, is only 1-inch thick with a more compact overall design. It is also slightly lighter at 15.2 ounces (versus 15.8 ounces). The Impact Pro also sports a green military finish instead of black and grey.

Less Passive NRR

While the Howard Leight Impact Pro packs an NRR of 30, the Impact Sport only features a 22 dB noise reduction. However, with the active noise cancellation of 82 dB, many will argue that 30 NRR is overkill.

Better Microphones

A minor difference on the Impact Sport is that the built-in microphones are protected from the wind. So, it won’t be disturbed by too much ambient sounds, especially when you are playing outdoors.

Advantages

  • Relatively affordable not only compared to the Impact Pro, but for the active earmuff market
  • Excellent active noise reduction at 82 dB
  • Built-in microphones are wind protected, you can easily communicate while wearing it
  • 3.5 mm audio jack support for various communication or entertainment devices
  • Compact, light, and comfortable to wear

Disadvantages

  • Not as durable as the Impact Pro
  • Relatively modest passive NRR at only 22 dB noise reduction

Bottom Line and Our Verdict

For most cases, the Howard Leight Impact Sport by Honeywell is a better pick than the Impact Pro, except if you really need that extra passive protection. If you are playing exclusively with low-caliber guns, for example, the more affordable Impact Sport is more than enough.

However, if you need that extra protection from high-caliber guns, or if you frequent the range a lot, you might be better off with the Impact Pro version if you don’t mind the bulkier design.

4. A Pair of High-End, Intelligent Earmuffs: 3M Peltor TacticalPro SV

With the brand 3M, we can always expect high-end industrial quality and excellent safety standard, and that is also what we get from the 3M Peltor Tactical Pro. The 3M Peltor Tactical Pro SV features an NRR of 26, which is pretty decent. However, where it really stands out is the electronic side of the features.

3M Peltor TacticalPro SV

Similar to the Howard Leight by Honeywell earmuffs we have discussed above, it features a built-in microphone to amplify low-level sounds while blocking dangerous sounds above 82 dB. However, with the 3M Peltor Tactical Pro SV being significantly more expensive, the difference lies in the quality of the microphone.

With the 3M Tactical Pro, you can easily recognize low-level voices in a very noisy environment, you can also hear the ambiance in high-definition, which sets the 3M Tactical Pro apart from its competitors.

Let us discuss the Key Features of the 3M Tactical Pro.

Key Features

Excellent Physical Design

The 3M Peltor Tactical Pro is relatively light at only 13.6 ounces and is extremely comfortable to wear. It is also built with high-quality materials that are very durable, and the finish won’t wear off easily.

Excellent Protection and Audio Quality

With a passive NRR of 26 and high-end noise cancellation microphones, the 3M Peltor Tactical Pro offers an excellent level of protection. The amplified audio it offers is high-definition, and you can hear every essential audio clearly.

3mm Audio Jack Input

You can use portable radios, MP3 players, and phones with the 3M Peltor Tactical Pro. It uses 2 AA batteries with excellent battery life.

Advantages

  • High-definition microphones with excellent noise cancellation
  • Decent NRR of 26
  • Excellent physical design that is light yet very durable
  • Very comfortable to wear

Disadvantages

  • Significantly more expensive than its competition
  • Very bulky design

Bottom Line and Final Verdict

If the budget fits, the 3M Peltor Tactical Pro SV is definitely worth every penny. It offers a very high-definition amplification allowing clear communication anywhere, even when high-caliber guns bursting around you. It is very well-built and is also very comfortable to wear.

The only major downside is that the bulky looks might not be for everyone. However, again, if you are looking for high-end earmuffs with the best quality, the 3M Peltor Tactical Pro is your best pick.

5. Affordable Earmuffs With The Highest NRR:  ClearArmor 141001 Safety Ear Muffs

The brand ClearArmor might not be as famous as others on this list, however, the 141001 Safety Ear Muffs is an interesting product.

ClearArmor 141001 Safety Ear Muffs

For instance, it boasts the highest NRR on this list (and currently, anywhere on the market) of 34. Meaning, it will reduce any noise level by 34 decibels. Being a pair of passive earmuffs, the high NRR is definitely necessary.

The ClearArmor 141001 is pretty modest in features, comparable to the Glock OEM we have discussed above. Let us discuss the key features.

Key Features

High Level of Protection

Being a pair of passive earmuffs, the 34 dB noise reduction it provides is very high. Decent to protect your ears from low to mid caliber guns and most noises.

Affordability

Definitely, the biggest value of the ClearArmor 141001 is the combination of affordability and protective quality. It is one of the cheapest earmuffs available today and is an excellent pick for those with tight budgets.

Advantages

  • Very affordable, if not one of the most affordable earmuffs available
  • Very high NRR of 34
  • Durable built that won’t easily break and wear off
  • Decent comfort with padded headband and ear cups
  • Very light at only 9.5 ounces

Disadvantages

  • Very bulky and not as pretty as others on this list
  • Being a pair of passive earmuffs, quite limited in application

Bottom Line and Our Verdict

The ClearArmor 141001 Safety Ear Muffs is a very decent passive earmuffs with very high NRR of 34. It provides decent protection from low-caliber gun noises, while also being very durable. It is also very affordable, being the most affordable earmuffs we have discussed so far on this list.

However, although it is a matter of preference, it is not as well-designed as others on this list, especially the Glock OEM, its direct competitor. Nevertheless, a decent choice if you are looking for an affordable pair of passive earmuffs with a high level of protection.

6.A More Affordable Option From 3M Peltor: 3M Peltor Sport Tactical 100

Another entry from 3M Peltor besides the excellent 3M Peltor Tactical Pro SV we have discussed above. The biggest downside from the Tactical Pro SV is definitely its price tag, which is not for everyone. So, the 3M Peltor Sport Tactical 100 aims to fill that gap by giving a more affordable version with downgraded features.

3M Peltor Sport Tactical 100

So, the question is, how worse it is compared to the Tactical Pro SV? First, you get ‘only’ 22 dB of noise reduction (NRR or 22), compared to 26 we get from the Tactical Pro SV. However, being a pair of active earmuffs, we can argue that the difference in NRR is not much.

Second, instead of having a Clear Voice Tracking on its microphones like the Tactical Pro, it features an Adaptive Frequency Response technology to block harmful gunshot noises and amplify low-level sounds. It is not as detailed as the one in the Tactical Pro, but still, provides excellent protection and communication.

Let us discuss the Key Features of the 3M Peltor Sport Tactical 100.

Key Features

Low Profile Design

As a result from cut-down features, the Tactical 100 sports a slimmer, more low-profile design that actually will appeal to more people. It is very comfortable to wear and is lighter in the build.

Adaptive Frequency Response and Variable Suppression Time

Although it is not as advanced in technology as the Tactical Pro SV, it is still pretty decent in allowing clear communications while blocking harmful sounds. It uses 2 AAA batteries instead of 2 AAs, and still featured 3.5 mm audio jack input.

Durability

As expected from 3M Peltor, the excellence standard in durability is also met on the 3M Peltor Tactical 100. It won’t break easily and the finish won’t wear off with scratches.

Advantages

  • Affordable option from 3M Peltor with high-quality build and features
  • Decent protection with 22 NRR and decent active noise cancellation technology
  • Lightweight and very comfortable to wear
  • Very durable
  • Nice all-black design with slim and low-profile cups

Disadvantages

  • Gunshot suppression is not dynamic, you will need to adjust manually
  • Noise cancellation not as reliable as the Tactical Pro SV

Bottom Line and Verdict

With the price tag, we feel that the 3M Peltor Tactical 100 is more of a direct competitor with the Howard Leight Impact Sport. They both are in a similar price range and have many similar features. The 3M Peltor Tactical 100 is relatively more durable than the Impact Sport, while the Impact Sport is slightly more protective. Hard choice between both, but you will get very similar results.

7. A Passive Option From Honeywell: Howard Leight by Honeywell Leightning L0F

While we have discussed two excellent active earmuffs from Honeywell Howard Leight, now we will review a pair of passive Howard Leight earmuffs, dubbed the Leightning LOF.

Howard Leight by Honeywell Leightning L0F

Being a passive earmuff, it is significantly more affordable than the Impact Pro and Impact Sport, and very light at just 8 ounces. It only offers a modest NRR of 23, so nothing special. Yet, the highlight of the Leightning LOF is its build quality and excellent comfort.

So, let us discuss the key features of the Howard Leight Leightning LOF.

Key Features

Ultralight Design

The Leighting LOF is extremely light at just 8 ounces. It features ultra slim earcups for a very comfortable feel, giving you the utmost comfort while not sacrificing much protection. When folded, it is only four inches wide, very compact for transportation.

Decent Protection

On the surface, the Leightning LOF only features a modest NRR of 23. Yet, it features a patented Honeywell Airflow Control technology to effectively reduces sounds across all frequencies. The Air Flow Control technology is specially designed to maintain the slim design of the earcups and the ultralight weight.

Advantages

  • Very affordable option
  • Very comfortable, in fact, it is specially designed for comfort with ultralight and ultraslim design
  • Adjustable headband for custom fit
  • Steel wire construction for durability
  • Adjustable sound reduction levels (3 options)

Disadvantages

  • Modest protection at just 23 NRR maximum
  • Modest overall features

Bottom Line and Our Verdict

The Honeywell Howard Leight Leighting LOF doesn’t provide much in protection. However, it is an excellent choice for those looking for comfortable earmuffs. It is very light and slim, and the ear cushions are very soft to eliminate squeezing sensation. The cushions are also easily replaceable with the snap-in feature.

Best Shooting Ear Plugs

No matter how comfortable earmuffs are, there are still people that are not comfortable with wearing it. Also, earmuffs can be a hindrance with aiming, especially with bulkiest ones. For them, there is always the option of wearing shooting earplug, and here are our top picks for best shooting ear protection plugs.

With the level of technology we have today, however, we can get very decent NRR from shooting earplugs. Some can even match the higher NRR spectrum of high-end passive earmuffs. There are also a lot of different earplugs with many different features. So, again we have chosen three of our best shooting ear protection picks for you.

1. The Simple But Effective Seal Plugs: Mack’s Shooters Ear Seals

For those looking for comfort, affordability, and simplicity of ear seals, Mack’s Shooters Ear Seals is a very decent pick.

The pair offers a surprisingly high NR rating of 27 dB, on par with some passive earmuffs we have discussed above. It comes with a detachable cord so  when you remove them, you can leave them hanging around your neck for easy re-plugging.

Macks Shooters Ear Seals

Many shooting enthusiasts avoid using earmuffs and even earplugs to preserve their hearing. Most of the time, their reasons are either price tag or that it affects their performance. With Mack’s Shooters Ear Seals, those two factors can be neglected, being very comfortable and affordable.

The only downside from the Mack’s Shooters Ear Seals is the color selection, which is too bright and won’t be suitable for activities like hunting. With very decent hearing protection, extreme comfort and simplicity, and affordability, it is definitely one of the best shooting ear protection products for those looking to get started without investing too much.

2. High-Tech Stopper Ear Plug: Surefire 4 Sonic Defender Ear Pro

The Surefire 4 Sonic Defender Ear Pro offers unique sets of features as one of the best shooting ear protection plugs out there. Instead of relying on noise-cancellation microphones, the pair of plugs utilizes the patented Hocks Noise Braker filter to block noises above 85 dB. On the other hand, you can still communicate clearly in lower level.

So, albeit being a very comfortable pair of plugs, it offers similar features to that of active earmuffs. Passively, it has an NRR of 24, which in combination with the stopper technology, providing you very nice hearing protection for a plug.

Surefire 4 Sonic Defender Ear Pro

The Surefire 4 Sonic Defender Ear Pro is quite expensive, on par with even the high-end active earmuffs. Yet, it is extremely comfortable to wear with very soft hypoallergenic plugs, put in place with EarLock technology with seven contact points.

With a low-profile design, you can keep them in place while wearing a mask or safety goggles. If necessary, you can also wear earmuffs over it for added protection. You can manually unplug the outer stopper to hear safe sound levels as if you are not wearing anything.

A very well-designed and comfortable pair of earplugs with smart technology to provide excellent hearing comfort. One of the best shooting ear protection plugs available.

3. Your High-End Digital Plugs: 3M PELTOR TEP-100

As with other 3M products on this list or anywhere in the market, we can expect a high level of quality with the TEP-100. The 3M Peltor TEP 100 is a very simple yet effective digital earplug, featuring many excellent qualities from their active earmuffs.

The 3m Peltor TEP 100 is fully digital, so it operates with a rechargeable battery. On paper, it only features a modest NR rating of 23. Yet, as with their active earmuffs, it can amplify lower volume sounds while blocking hazardous sounds effectively.

3M PELTOR TEP-100

As a result, it is very comfortable to wear, and especially to communicate with. It utilizes many small environmental microphones to detect sounds, and it can smartly detect which ones to amplify and which to reduce. Specially designed for military and gun shooting use, it works extremely well in limiting gunshot noises.

It is also water resistant, including the waterproof charging case. It can also withstand temperatures up to 122-degrees Fahrenheit while being only 3.5 ounces.

Being widely used by military personnel and law enforcers, there is no doubt the 3m Peltor TEP-100 is one of the best shooting ear protection plugs available in the market.

Tips For Buying Your Best Shooting Ear Protection

We understood that you might still be confused with choosing the best shooting ear protection for you. So, here we will discuss several tips to help you make a better purchase decision. Here are several factors you should consider:

Understanding Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

Throughout this guide, you’ve seen the term NRR mentioned a lot, because indeed it is the most important feature the best shooting ear protection should have.

What is NRR? It is a rating to determine the effectiveness of hearing protection device, showing how many decibels it can reduce. So, an earplug with an NRR of 23 will reduce any noise by 23 decibels.

For small low-caliber firearms, the NRR of 20 is sufficient to protect your hearing on a long-term basis. For long guns and mid-caliber handguns, you should aim for an NRR of 25. Heavy-caliber guns like magnums require NRR of 28 to 33. You will also need similar NRR of around 30 for prolonged indoor shooting practices.

If you frequently shot indoors, it is wise to double your hearing protection using ear plugs under your muffs. If you want to understand NRR further, this guide by Howard Leight might help you.

Earplugs or Earmuffs?

Simple, disposable earplugs generally do not block enough noise level to keep you safe. However, as we have shown on our list above, there are several earplugs that can exceed NRR of 25.

With today’s technology, there are also many digital earplugs that offer noise cancellation and communication capability like the best earmuffs out there.

So, the basic difference between earplugs and earmuffs is the comfort. Many people are simply uncomfortable with wearing earmuffs, because indeed they can be a hindrance in movement and performance. In that case, you might be better off with digital or high-end earplugs that can give you that level of comfort while also provide excellent protection and communication clarity.

Electronic or Passive Earmuffs?

With earmuffs (although to some extent also with earplugs), there are generally two types you can consider: passive or electronic.

Passive earmuffs are pretty self-explanatory: they rely on their physical design to provide protection. They are often more affordable, and also generally lighter due to the lack of electronic components.

With electronic earmuffs, there are two main benefits. First, they are usually equipped with an audio jack input, so that you can input your radio communication devices, phones, scanner, or even your MP3 players for entertainment. Second, they usually provide second layer of hearing protection through noise-cancellation microphones.

The electronic noise cancellation is usually like this: the microphone(s) can detect noises around you, and will amplify low-level noises such as voices to be more clear. On the other hand, when it detects a hazardous, high-level noise, it will block them. Different technologies can be utilized to achieve this effect, but the principle remains the same.

So, which one is the right one for you? Generally, an electronic earmuff is always a better choice if your budget allows. However, for a hobbyist that doesn’t frequent the shooting range as much, many passive earmuffs offer an excellent level of protection.

So, the main deciding factor here is the budget.

End Words

Once your hearing is impaired, it is very hard if not impossible to fix it. So, ear protection is a must in shooting activities with a lot of hazardous noises. If you haven’t picked your ear protection for shooting, this is definitely the time.

While choosing the best shooting ear protection for you can indeed be a hard task, it is definitely doable once you know your needs and the principles behind ear protectors. The products we have picked cover all kinds of budget ranges, and offer different sets of features to cater different needs.