Handgun hearing protection


September 10, 2009, 04:25 PM
Howdy everyone,

What is a good, inexpensive pair of electronic muffs? I'm taking a class at the beginning of the month, and have already dropped a boatload of cash. My wallet is hurting, and I'm looking to pick up some cheap ears for the class. I figure that the electronic versions would be great to be able to hear the instructors.

They dont have to be top quality, turn 50bmg reports into a whisper. Only to be used for centerfire handgun. I can save up later on to purchase nicer ones, but just to get me by, what would you reccomend? Are the 25$ caldwell ones decent enough to be able to clearly hear someone speaking, and not make my ears bleed when shots are fired?

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September 10, 2009, 04:36 PM
IMO, for $25, get the regular Peltors that aren't electronic - they have a higher db rating. Look for ratings at 29 or so - actually in that reduction range, the basic foam plugs will do as good a job for about .25/pair

Steve C
September 10, 2009, 04:48 PM
Hearing protection is rated by the NR (noise reduction) in decibels. Look for that information in making your selection.

All hearing protection must be worn correctly to get the rated NR. Wearing over glasses or long hair or anything that interferes with the seal decreases its effectivness.

With hearing protection you can hear normal conversation and range commands just not as loud as without protection. You don't need an electronic muff to do this unless you are already hard of hearing.

A good set of cheap disposable ear plugs will normally give more protection (NR of up to 32) than even the best muffs. But they must be inserted correctly according to the instructions. This means rolling them between your fingers to make them smaller, inserting them in the ear and letting them expand to fit the ear canal.

You get the best protection from wearing both muffs and plugs.

Looking at the Cabellas site I spotted these Electronic Ear Muffs (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp?id=0031405227184a&type=product&cmCat=SEARCH_all&returnPage=search-results1.jsp&Ntk=Products&QueryText=hearing+protection&sort=all&Go.y=12&_D%3AhasJS=+&N=0&Nty=1&hasJS=true&_DARGS=%2Fcabelas%2Fen%2Fcommon%2Fsearch%2Fsearch-box.jsp.form23&Go.x=16&_dyncharset=ISO-8859-1) on sale for $29.99 about as inexpensive as you will see.

September 10, 2009, 04:59 PM
I found a pair of good electronic muffs for $14 or so at Northern Tools. Harbor Freight had them too. But these are not the noise reduction type that are in the $100+ range. They work like regular muffs with the typical 28- 29 db reduction but have an amplifier that picks up regular sounds and broadcasts them at an adjustable range inside the ear pieces. When any sound, like clapping your hands, closing a trunk lid, or gunshot is beyond a stated 79db, they cut out. I'm very pleased with mine.

September 10, 2009, 05:14 PM
I don't know your age, but trust me, PROTECT YOUR HEARING. My ears are always ringing. I wish I could go back and change how I protected my hearing when I was younger

September 10, 2009, 05:26 PM
I fully agree with you kanook. My ears are the same or probably worse. I put foam ear plugs in under the muffs when I'm at the range alone with no need to hear the cold range signal. And Stuntheavy, if you are young then I know you think you are invincible. Bad hearing is really hell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 10, 2009, 07:15 PM
Bad hearing is really hell!!

But it gives you a good excuse for not doing what the wife asked....Huh??? Didja say something honey??? ;)

I have a nice white noise in my hearing and have had it for many years - mine came from Jimi Hendrix records in college with headphones running at about volume 9.....(OK, beer was involved)........

Would be nice to redo that "experience".......

September 10, 2009, 07:29 PM
Cheap is just that. Hearing is not cheap so I personally don't wear the cheap muffs. 33 nrr is the highest level of protection I can find anywhere. The Proears are the best that I have found including many brands. I use the 33 plugs and the 33 muffs. You probably know already that that doesn't compute to 66 nrr protection. There is a mathematical formula which shows the protection is much less even with the best.
The best eletronic muffs that I have found are the Pro Mag Gold.
I have terrible tinnitus. I mean terrible. 1000 crickets in my head 24/7. Can't sleep at night without a fan or white noise. Can't hear high frequencies. It gets worse with age. I am certain that I am preaching to the choir but nothing is worth damaging your hearing for. The exception is firing a gun in self-defense to save lives, of course.
Whatever you buy, check the NRR. Less is less. Good luck.

September 10, 2009, 09:09 PM
And Stuntheavy, if you are young then I know you think you are invincible. Bad hearing is really hell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I understand that one. My invicible days were cut short when I tomahawked a streetbike into a cement pole, and got to spend my junior/senior summer of highschool teaching myself how to walk again. :(

Dad has hearing loss as well, from being around the tower workin on radar equipment for the better part of his 22 yr stint, so I know it first hand. I also spent a couple years working the barricade at concerts, and those speakers sure are punishing...even with plugs in. I'm 'that guy' outta my group of friends that is always hollerin' at people to put their ears on.

Really, I'm just looking for something for the class. I've looked at the pro-ears ones, and they look amazing. But 299$ just isn't in the budget right now. Sadly, I had to save up just to be able to afford the ccw class. Drained the savings account on setting aside the money for a belt, and bought a used CTAC, so money really is an issue when it comes to buying another set of ears.

I have a nice set of non-electronic muffs, and have plenty of the disposable plugs, but I was just looking for a set of electronic ones to get me through the hour or so of live fire for the CCW class.

Thanks everyone.

September 10, 2009, 09:49 PM
Kanook: I cannot reiterate what you said LOUDLY enough (no irony intended).
My right ear always rings, it never stops, I have a grade 1 or 2 hearing loss in that ear and most all voices sound like mumbling. Protect your ears. Mine have been this way about 30 years, it doesn't take that long to ruin them.

September 10, 2009, 10:13 PM
I wear plugs and muffs 'cause I like being able to hear.

September 10, 2009, 11:00 PM
I would love to wear both plugs and muffs, but I can't get plugs to stay in. Is that just my technique, or are their ears that don't really fit plugs?

September 11, 2009, 08:35 AM

My ear muffs are electronic at 29, and my plugs are 33 throw aways. I paid $125 (Bass Pro) for the muffs and $15 for a box (Home Depot) for the plugs.

I put in the plugs, on the muffs, and crank the volume to where I can barely hear talking. When the shooting starts, the muffs take over and really help the ringing reduce after the shooting. I hunt with a handgun now and this is how I sit in the treestand also.

I'm sure we all understand the money thing (no work for me for 2 years now), We are just trying to push the hearing thing. My friends have learned my hearing problem and speak in a louder tone to me, not yelling just louder.

What part of Maine? I have a cousin that is NRA certified as am I. I know he is into firearms (just like all of us) and take them in on trade for payment on classes (just like me.)

September 11, 2009, 08:42 AM

Which plugs to you use. Try the foam ones that you roll into q-tip size and insert in the ear. It seems to me that the cheaper they look the higher the decibel #.

September 11, 2009, 09:29 AM
Go to an audiologist and get a set of custom ear plugs. They will pour some goo in your ear and make a mold of the outer ear canal and then make an ear plug to match your ear exactly. They work great, are easy to use, are very comfortable, and last forever. If you ever lose them the audiologist has the mold and can make you another set.

September 11, 2009, 09:49 AM
the ones that I had made were only 23 rating. didn't realize that till after I had them made.

The Wiry Irishman
September 11, 2009, 05:18 PM
I would love to wear both plugs and muffs, but I can't get plugs to stay in. Is that just my technique, or are their ears that don't really fit plugs?

Plugs will never stay in my left ear on their own. However, wearing muffs force them to stay in. Wearing both at the same time tames even my 16" braked .308 to moderate, comfortable pop.

September 11, 2009, 07:33 PM
The Caldwell ones work fine but the speakers are too quiet for my taste, and the batteries fall out if you bump them wrong. The cheap ones I've liked are the Sportsman's Guide brand muffs. They are nearly identical but the volume is good and the batteries don't fall out.

September 11, 2009, 07:53 PM
just off topic a little but what class are you taking.

anyway to the original question, wal mart sells caldwells for about $25 they work fine, and i have had my pair for about 5 years of constant use. a little more will get you a pair of peltor, i used the caldwells until i got the free pair of sordin and that is what i wear now, now my caldwells are my back up. however if i wouldn't have gotten the sordins free, i would still be using the caldwell. my first few training courses were done wearing the caldwells.

September 12, 2009, 12:34 AM
Double up always, if you can stand to. I learned that the hard way being a musician for years. The in-the-ear ones, as has been said, go for the cheaper and crappier and oranger, the better..they do more reduction. Then the muffs over the top make it all more pleasant sounding. The sooner you start, the longer you'll hear the little things in life.

September 12, 2009, 01:30 AM
The Howard Leight Sport Impacts are getting good reviews in terms of bang-for-the-buck electronic earpro:


I was fortunate enough to start off shooting with the foam plug + electronic muff combo and I wouldn't do it any other way.

September 12, 2009, 08:33 AM
Growing up in the late '40s and '50s, wearing hearing protection was unmanly. Sheet, a "Real Man " does not wear hearing protection..... Lord was I stoopid.

Now I am deef in one ear and cain't hear out the udder.....HUH? Say what?

September 12, 2009, 10:56 AM
The Howard Leight Sport Impacts are getting good reviews in terms of bang-for-the-buck electronic earpro:
i agree. i have a couple sets of howard leight impact sport muffs, and they work great. outdoors i typically use the muffs alone and they work very well. indoors, however, i double-up with ear plugs.

September 12, 2009, 10:42 PM
Ironically, I stopped into a shop today, and they raved about the Howard Leight Sport Impacts. I almost bought them on the spot at 70$, but did some research, and found them on the internet for 47$ shipped. I decided to snag a pair.

I've got plenty of the cheapy foam plugs, so I'll have to test and tweak and see what works best for me.

Thanks for the tip on the Sport Impact muff's fellas. I'm excited to see how they work out.

September 12, 2009, 11:28 PM
You get the best protection from wearing both muffs and plugs.

Agreed, this is exactly what I do. Having had much experience with hearing protection (worked in hard manufacturing environment for a while) I will say this is the best bet. Just get through the instruction class and then get the best decibal protection you can afford. Just my $0.02.

September 24, 2009, 12:23 AM
Just a little update.... Got to take the Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs for a test drive today. Very Very impressed. Only downfall is that at high volume, there is a good amount of 'white noise' in the background. But most times I had the volume at low to medium volume and that was plenty to hear others talking.

Very happy with how well they block noise. We shot several hundred rounds of .40, .45, and .22. Also touched off some rounds of .460, and they blocked the noise quite well. None of the centerfire cartridges ever made me feel "ouch thats loud". .22 was quite mild. Needless to say, one of the best 47$ I've spent.

September 24, 2009, 10:13 PM
Plugs + muffs for me.

My ears have been ringing for 20 years. I've gotta save what hearing I have left.

September 24, 2009, 10:21 PM
Like many, I now wear both plugs and muffs. It is imperative you wear both as you will only get a 40dB reduction at best with them (not a lot when you consider an AR-15 will register about 161 dB if only for a fraction of a second). That is assuming you are wearing them correctly.

The worst thing you can do is wear those ear plugs that are connected with a loop under your chin. The reason being is that they rarely seat properly in you ears and even if they were they often slip out of position.

The moral of the story is to protect yourself as best you can.

September 28, 2009, 01:33 PM
I love the electronic muffs with plugs combination. You can crank up the volume on the muffs to hear conversations well enough while having the doubled protection for the louder sounds.

In classes, I've realized that everyone else had removed their ear protection during a instruction, and I hadn't even noticed because I could hear just fine.

October 2, 2009, 09:53 AM
Leightning 30 and some foam plugs does a good job.

Bought 3 pair so the whole family can shoot. I wear them when shooting anything including 22lr

October 4, 2009, 04:08 PM
I'm an older shooter and like a lot of guys my age, I have tinnitus (ringing in the ears). It's with me 24/7 and I can never enjoy a quiet day in the woods just sitting listening to nature because of the high pitched squeal. Mine is a result of being an ambulance EMT in Los Angeles where we often drove lights and siren with the windows rolled down to hear other emergency vehicles in the vicinity.

Whenever I hit the range, I don my ear protectors, usually ear plugs until I hit the gate, then the muffs go on too. There's nothing as fiercesome as walking into the range just when someone touches off a centerfire handgun or rifle-ouch!

Get out of the budget mindset when buying ear protection, too. That's no place to save money-get the best you can afford, trust me.

Water Garden
October 4, 2009, 09:26 PM
I use bilsom 30db muffs and usaf canal plugs. I can tell you that your hearing damage will happen suddenly and without warning. Once its damaged its damaged. There are all kinds of problems associated with damage to your inner ears. Dont mess around, protect your ears. Most gunfire is 130 db ++

+1 to what Ironvic said

October 5, 2009, 10:41 PM
Growing up in the 70's and early 80's, in rural Louisiana, no one wore ear protection, myself included. I didn't start until I got married, and my wife bought me some.
Oh, man, was I an idiot. I've done permanent damage to my hearing. One thing I try to really talk to new shooters about is hearing protection.
IMO- cheap plugs, with muffs over. I've never used electronic, but more power to you.

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