Best passive ear muffs? Howardleight, 3m or Pro-Ears? Any world real data?


March 31, 2012, 10:33 PM
Any idea which one of these is the best?

Any real world tests with QuietDose™ In-Ear Dosimetry Measurement system been used to compare these muffs?

Some thoughts:

Pro Ears
I know pro-ears has the best rating but that could be just marketing. I've seen it done all the time in other industries. Over promise and under deliver on performance.

Pro Ears Ultra 33 NRR 33 Passive Ear Muffs

Howard Leight
Howard Leight put an impressive amount of resources into their website. The VeriPRO and QuietDose™ In-Ear Dosimetry Measurement system make me wonder if anyone has used those systems to test real world applications at the firing range. With that amount of resources focused on hearing protection you have to wonder if they aren't at the top.

Howard Leight LeightningŪ L3
NRR 30

I think the navy uses these so they have to be good right? I'm not sure how to read their attenuation ratings yet. SNR, H, M, L??? They seem to be the only muff that has double walls. I assume the Bull's Eye is better.

3M™ Bull's Eye™ III Earmuff
( code:
H540A-441-GN - Headband
HY54 GN - Hygiene Kit, Military Green
SNR=35dB, H=40dB, M=32dB, L=23dB

3M™ Optime™ III Earmuff
Headband: SNR=31dB, H=34dB, M=29dB, L=20dB
Neckband: SNR=31dB, H=34dB, M=29dB, L=20dB

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March 31, 2012, 11:13 PM
My recommendation always has been to purchase shooting hearing protection from major occupational hearing protection manufacturers. Of your list, 3M and Howard Leight are the two occupational hearing protector manufacturers. Pick the highest NRR and wear the highest NRR plugs under them.

Since you're in the U.S. why are you looking at SNR from a UK site instead of NRR which is what you'll find in the U.S.? What is important is that the highest rated hearing protection be used when comparing products and less what the numbers mean absolutely.

For anyone that cares,

NIOSH recommends using subject fit data based on ANSI S12.6-1997 [or most current edition] to estimate hearing protector noise attenuation.

If subject fit data are not available, NIOSH recommends derating hearing protectors by a factor that corresponds to the available real-world data. Specifically, NIOSH recommends that the labeled NRRs be derated as follows:

Earmuffs - Subtract 25% from the manufacturer's labeled NRR
Formable earplugs - Subtract 50% from the manufacturer's labeled NRR
All other earplugs - Subtract 70% from the manufacturers labeled NRR
1. When the noise exposure level in dBC is known, the effective A-weighted noise level (ENL) is:

ENL [dB(A)] = Workplace noise level in dBC - derated NRR

2. When the noise exposure level in dB(A ) is known, the effective A-weighted noise level is:

ENL = Workplace noise level in dB(A) - (derated NRR -7)

There are other single number ratings available. For details refer to the Canadian Standard CSA Z94.2. Another single number rating is based on (Subject Fit) Real Ear Attenuation measurements, known as Single Number Rating (Subject Fit 84th percentile) and abbreviated as SNR (SF 84) (for details see ANSI Standard S12.6). "SF 84" indicates that 84% of the users in a well run hearing conservation program are expected to receive at least that much protection.

What is a Single Number Rating (SNR)?

An SNR is a single number rating system determined according to International Standard ISO 4869. The tests are carried out by commercial laboratories that are independent of the manufacturers. Like NRRs, SNRs are expressed in dB's and are used as a guide for comparing the potential noise reduction capability of different hearing protection devices. Since the procedures for measuring NRRs and SNRs are different, the NRR and SNR values for an individual hearing protector are different. For further details please refer to ANSI S12.6.

April 1, 2012, 01:19 AM
I fixed the link. US link still uses SNR. Would love to see these measured side by side with QuietDose ( on the range.

Home Depot and Amazon both have Howard Leight L3 muffs.

3M stuff is hard to find. I can't find Optime III or Bull's Eye on google shopper or amazon. "peltor optime H540A" comes up empty on google shopper. Found some mom & pop shop that carries Bull's Eye III (

Easier to understand explanation of SNR vs NRR on Wikipedia: (

{On NRR} 98 percent of users should be able to achieve that level of attenuation. The SNR and HML are a mean minus one standard deviation statistic. Therefore, approximately 86% of the users should be able to achieve that level of protection. Similarly, the NRR(SF) is a mean minus one standard deviation and represents an 86% of users should achieve that level of protection. The difference between the ratings lies in how the protectors are tested. NRR is tested with an experimenter-fit protocol. SNR/HML are tested with an experienced subject-fit protocol. NRR(SF) is tested with a naive subject-fit protocol. According to Murphy et al. (2004), these three protocols will yield different amounts of attenuation with the NRR being the greatest and NRR(SF) being the least.

April 1, 2012, 08:30 PM
I've used Peltor Bullseye 10 muffs for many years. Even though they say they're only NRR 29 they seem to do the exact same job as the highly rated Leight muffs.

The Bullseye 10 muffs also do an excellent job compared heads up against my Pro Ears Pro Tac Mag Gold (NRR 33) with the electronics turned off.

And fwiw, the Leight MaxLite plugs are my favorite.

April 2, 2012, 10:03 AM
3M isn't difficult to find.

Locate your local Grainger's and visit them or just order them off the internet. There are 2 in Indy (

Mom and Pop shops don't carry 3M because they aren't marketed to.

April 2, 2012, 08:42 PM

Home Depot carries some of the 3M/Peltor muffs. These are NRR 27 - "3M Tekk Protection Bull's Eye Earmuff" - $23.47

And the redesigned 3M Tekk Protection Ultimate 10 is only $21.47. NRR is 30 and the blurb says "Designed for use with large caliber or magnum rounds "

3M bought Peltor about 5 years ago for something like a billion and a half dollars.

April 2, 2012, 11:36 PM
The only 3M site for that muff ('t even have a picture but it sounds impresive:

3M™ Passive Hearing Protectors, Bullseye Ultimate 10 (NRR 30dB): The Bull s Eye Ultimate 10 inch has the highest noise reduction rating on the market for any earmuff that has been tested by an accredited test facility. Dual cup design minimizes resonance in the system and gives a smoother attenuation over the whole frequency range, improving the speech intelligibility. The cups have different resonances, and they re separated by a compressed layer of special foam material. This absorbs energy in the same way as a shock absorber, thus reducing the sound transmitted from the shell of the cup..

Old model? Their Catalogue ( doesn't even list that muff. Their current catalogue says Bull's eye III is where it's at. And that doesn't make those claims.

Weird. Time to call 3M.

April 3, 2012, 06:09 AM
These are the new Howard leight pro electronic with NRR 30. The old and popular sport series was only NRR 22 if I remember correctly.

Sent from my Lumia 900 using Board Express

April 3, 2012, 09:02 AM

The 5th pic down is what both of my old Peltor Bullseye Ultimate 10 muffs look like. I have one in red and one in blue that was my father's.

After a little googling I have found a variety of names on the Ultimate 10 - Peltor, AO Safety and now 3M.

Okay, earlier when I said 3M bought Peltor, I should have said that 3M bought Aearo Technologies five years ago.

Aearo included Peltor, AO Safety, EAR and a couple others.

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