Quantcast

Are custom molded ear plugs better?

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by socalbeachbum, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. socalbeachbum

    socalbeachbum Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    507
    Location:
    Laguna California
    Do custom molded ear plugs work better than expanding foam types, in the real world, or

    is it just marketing hype?
     
  2. MihiT

    MihiT Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2019
    Messages:
    62
    Yes.
     
  3. MihiT

    MihiT Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2019
    Messages:
    62
    Sorry.My sense of humour. Ask a binary question, get a binary answer.
    I have found custom plugs to be an advantage, in comfort alone, but I'm sure they also have greater dB ratings than mass-produced ones.
     
  4. Sour Kraut

    Sour Kraut Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2011
    Messages:
    232
    Location:
    Idaho
    My custom fit plugs are both more comfortable and tighter fitting. They seem to work better than foam plugs I’ve tried but I cannot quantify it for you more than that.
     
  5. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,778
    Location:
    Ca.
    I use mine all the time. They were a bit pricy (75 bucks I think I paid about five years ago, which may have been 10-15 bucks off if I recall?) but they are really comfortable over a day's shooting. I hate using muffs when shooting long guns, as they will bump the stock and go askew when shouldering for a clay bird, get all sweaty when it's hot, etc. so I got these.

    Some folks do them in soft color tones like FDE or flesh-colored so they're not as obvious or they blend in with their gear. I did mine in zombie green so they're easy for a RSO to spot in my ears on the range and they stand out should they drop in grass, etc.

    Stay safe!
     
    Olon likes this.
  6. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2016
    Messages:
    1,258
    Location:
    Alaska
    In my experience, expanding foam (i.e. "disposable" or "cheap") ear plugs are completely useless as they never seem to offer much protection. I've used them on the range and in industrial settings, and they're crap.

    I have been using my USGI plugs since basic training in 94. (Not the double sided ones under class action lawsuit at the moment.) They've been convenient and effective. (I did have to replace them a few years back.)

    For both comfort and noise reduction, nothing beats a good pair of over the head ear muffs. Mine are 29 db NRR. When running up jet engines, I've always warn both. Even with all my religious use of hearing protection, I still have hearing loss in the right ear.

    The trade off comes when you want to hear a conversation on the range. I bought a pair of Howard & Leight electronic ear muffs, and they're total crap. They're better than the foam inserts you're asking about but not much else. Sure, I can hear normal voice levels, but the report of guns is noticeably louder.

    Long story short, in my opinion (and this applies to gun ranges, running a chainsaw in your back yard, or working in an industrial environment), foam plugs are the absolute worst option with the least protection; the best is a silicon ear plug that fits your ear and a good set of high NRR ear muffs. (double protection) You should look for something in the middle that suits your needs and has the trade-offs you value. Anything is better than nothing.
     
    Riomouse911 likes this.
  7. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2016
    Messages:
    1,258
    Location:
    Alaska
    Olon, earlthegoat2 and jdc1244 like this.
  8. Bwana John

    Bwana John Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2004
    Messages:
    1,988
    Yes. By orders of magnitude.

    The only issue is i can not hear anything with them in. Not range commands, nothing.

    $50 custom molded while you wait at the gunshow.

    Even 9mm cases work better than disposable foam plugs for me.
     
    Olon likes this.
  9. entropy

    entropy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    7,101
    Location:
    G_d's Country, WI
    DB Cooper has your cheapest good solution. Custom ones are much better, I have a set for Trap shooting, take them out after I'm done, then put the electronic ones on for sitting behind the line and Annie Oakley shoots, as you need to be able to hear down the line then. For certain rifles, I've worn both.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
    Riomouse911 likes this.
  10. jdc1244

    jdc1244 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2007
    Messages:
    794
    Location:
    Florida
    Correct.

    The ‘belt and suspenders’ approach is best.
     
  11. socalbeachbum

    socalbeachbum Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    507
    Location:
    Laguna California
    so I went to gun show and got custom plugs made $65 will test this week but can already tell they are more uncomfortable than foam plugs but way more effective
     
  12. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
    Messages:
    14,746
    Location:
    Happy Valley, UT
    For those poo-pooing disposable foamies note that the NRR of the good ones is typically higher than good muffs. 32ish NRR vs 29ish. Of course both is preferred. I use Howard Leight Max or Max Lite and if you use them as directed they are very effective. If you just mash them and stuff them in your outer ear then certainly they are not any better than a wad of terlet paper or a 9mm case or a stray peanut M&M.

    However if you roll them into a thin cylinder, lift up on the top of your ear with your other hand, and insert them deep, they are very effective. You should cough when they touch your pituitary gland.

    The main advantage of the custom molded ones is long term comfort. Foamies get uncomfortable after a few hours.

    The best combo I've found is quality foam plugs with electronic muffs over the top. So I can still hear range commands, light rounds, etc but protection is good.
     
    Olon and uofaengr like this.
  13. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
    Messages:
    14,746
    Location:
    Happy Valley, UT
    They shouldn't be uncomfortable at all. That's the whole point of custom molded ones. Call the company
     
  14. socalbeachbum

    socalbeachbum Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    507
    Location:
    Laguna California
    I've always used foams rated high and used properly under muffs rated high. I'm not used to the feel of the customs but I'm sure I'll get used to them
     
  15. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    Messages:
    4,999
    Location:
    SE GA
    I’ve never used customs but the yellow EAR foamies work best for me. Really I am surprised at all the foamy hate. I find them just as good as my 28 NRR muffs.

    I also like the orange 3M foamies. They definitely let more noise in though but they are rated lower than the yellow ones too.
     
  16. bassjam

    bassjam Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2014
    Messages:
    1,041
    Location:
    Cincinnati
    I visit a ton of manufacturing plants where those foam plugs are provided and required. I've found 99% of the time someone complains about their effectiveness it's user error. The other 1% is an unusually large ear canal.
     
    drband, Olon and 1KPerDay like this.
  17. rpenmanparker

    rpenmanparker Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2018
    Messages:
    2,208
    It is hard to break though the 33 decibel reduction barrier with any hearing protection device. If you don’t believe me just look at the specifications for yourself. The best foam plugs (the purple ones from Amazon) work very, very well if you install them properly and claim -33 db. They must be pressed down to a very long and narrow cone and placed far back in the ear canal so that just enough remains exposed to allow you to grip and remove them. When they swell bsck to fill the ear canal, they provide excellent noise reduction. IMO no matter how perfectly the custom molded ones fit your ear, they don’t block noise quite like the better foam ones.

    To get better noise reduction than that you have to double up. I put a pair of electronic muffs over the foam plugs to get better noise reduction as well as amplification of speech and ambient sounds. I don’t think either passive plugs, electronic plugs, passive muffs or electronic muffs alone can do as good a job. And it isn’t necessary to have the most effective noise-reducing electronic muffs since they are just supplementing already excellent noise reduction by the plugs. The real role of the electronic muffs is to give you hearing of speech.

    Not only that but the cost of foam plugs and Howard Leight electronic muffs together is much more reasonable than custom anything. I highly recommend this approach for both effective hearing protection and also ability to hear speech at a low cost.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
  18. jmorris

    jmorris Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2005
    Messages:
    12,314
    Not all disposable plugs are equal as some fit certain ears better than another.

    I got an assortment years ago to figure out what ones I like best. The push-ins are my favorite. That said the custom ones my ENT Dr made for me are the most effective I own. They, by themselves get you in the plugs & muffs territory with disposables.

    upload_2019-3-25_13-36-39.jpeg
     
    Olon and 1KPerDay like this.
  19. Ruger 15151

    Ruger 15151 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2016
    Messages:
    232
    Location:
    Pacific Southwest
    Every time I went to the gun show I saw the guys making the custom ear plugs I said to myself, "Those aren't worth $50 bucks!" Now that I have 2 sets, I can absolutely tell you they are worth every penny.

    Fit better, dampen sound better, don't fall out, and don't irritate my ears. Get some. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
    1KPerDay likes this.
  20. sota

    sota Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2012
    Messages:
    736
    ep7-clr_1.png
    https://www.surefire.com/ep7-sonic-defenders-ultra.html

    I'm a firm believer in these as being the best between foam and full custom plugs. I've worn them for several hours straight with no discomfort. Only downside I've encountered is with some muffs their internals can touch the end of the plug, causing it to rub. I only need to double up indoors though. I have sizes for myself and for my kid.
     
    Cokeman likes this.
  21. bbqreloader
    • Contributing Member

    bbqreloader Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2016
    Messages:
    720
    Location:
    Colorado
    If they are made correctly, yes. However as someone noted, cannot hear range commands. When I go to the range with a friend I usually use the foams with electronic ear muffs so I can still hear commands or conversations.
     
  22. Cokeman

    Cokeman Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2007
    Messages:
    1,096
    Location:
    Utah
    I like these a lot.
     
  23. uofaengr

    uofaengr Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2019
    Messages:
    44
    Location:
    AL
    I have quite the collection of those same plugs (I go in many different facilities and I just accumulate them), and they work very well for me and much more comfortable than wearing muffs for hours. I always get a headache after awhile from muffs pressing into sunglasses. Most people I give plugs to or see wearing plugs don't know how to properly use them, and yeah if you're just barely stuffing it in your ear, there's gonna be gaps and they're gonna come out.

    I will sometimes double up electronic muffs and plugs when shooting rifle because of loudness and I can hear others just enough if I crank the volume (downside is hearing the ones that just want to be social the whole time), plus when the muffs start to hurt or get hot I can take them off for a minute and still be protected. I haven't been to an indoor range in years, but would always double up there too.
     
    Olon likes this.
  24. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    24,700
    A good many years ago, I got a pair of the "custom molded in place at the shooting match" silicone plugs.
    They were neither quiet nor comfortable.
    A few years later, I tried again with a different vendor.
    Results were no better.
    Maybe methods and materials have improved since then. Maybe. But prices are a lot higher, too.

    I wear foam plugs for rifle and shotgun, never found a muff that the comb of the stock would not dislodge. Guess my head is shaped wrong.
    The plugs they pass out at CMP Talladega are good, otherwise the orange foam. I like to get the strung plugs and then cut the string off to leave an inch or so of "handle" so I can get them out when pushed in to meet in the middle.

    I wear mostly high NRR passive muffs for pistol shooting. I have a pair of medium priced electronic muffs for training situations.
     
  25. brennok

    brennok Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2018
    Messages:
    8
    I really want to need to look into getting the custom ones. I find the foam ones irritate my ear canal, but I have never liked sticking things in my ears. I don't even like the earbuds that go in the canal compared to the ones that just rest outside it. I only shoot indoors so I double up, but while the foam work they get annoying quickly.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice