Best Hearing Protection for Shooting
After over 60 hours of research and review, we have concluded that these are the 12 best hearing protection muffs for shooting currently on the market. Each one of these top-rated hearing protection earmuffs has been evaluated based on the following criteria: noise cancellation effectiveness, ease of use, noise reduction rating, customer satisfaction, and more. We also looked at add on features including Bluetooth sync and MP3 streaming. As hunting season approaches, an extensive range of choices for hearing protection is available. If you've grown accustomed to ordinary foam plugs, the benefits of opting for a new pair of quality ear protection muff, along with their affordable price points, may take you by surprise. Keep on reading for the latest hearing protection products from industry leaders such as Sordin, Howard Leight, and Peltor—featuring fully digital sound, gel-cushioned ear pads, and omnidirectional microphones for easily locating prey. OUR #1 OVERALL BEST PICK MSA Sordin DIGITAL SUPREME PRO X Headband Leather MSA Sordin DIGITAL SUPREME PRO X Headband Leather Splash-proof microphones Over 600 hour battery life Digital sound compression Check Price On Amazon >> BEST VALUE Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff, Teal (R-02521) Slim profile design 22 dB noise reduction rating Over 350 hour battery life Check Price On Amazon >> Read on for the best picks for rugged performance, comfort, and durability, from tactical military-grade options to affordable noise-canceling electronic earmuffs. 12 Best Hearing Protection Muffs for Shooting #1 MSA Sordin DIGITAL SUPREME PRO X Headband Leather MSA Sordin DIGITAL SUPREME PRO X Headband Leather Upgrade from foam earmuffs to the MSA Sordin DIGITAL SUPREME PRO X Headband Leather electronic hearing protectors that reproduce the natural sound quality of your environment with digital amplification. Featuring gel-padded ear cuffs, the Sordin Supreme Pro X exceeds expectations in both comfort and performance, offering superior sound quality free of distractions and disruptive input. Constructed with dual controlled microphones, the headset is designed to reproduce ambient sound without the choppy interference present with lesser quality alternatives, safeguarding your hearing by muting loud incoming noise to eighteen decibels while amplifying muted ambient sound from the surrounding environment. Built for rugged performance, the Sordin Supreme Pro X features steel components and splash-free microphone construction, yielding durable performance while standing up to the elements with ease. Bottom Line MSA Sordin DIGITAL SUPREME PRO X Headband Leather offers an upgrade to standard foam earmuffs with a premium gel-padded design and ergonomically contoured neckband. Featuring fully digitized technology, the headset effectively compresses input, muting loud incoming noises while amplifying ambient sound from the surrounding environment. Among verified buyers, MSA Sordin DIGITAL SUPREME PRO X Headband Leather receives five-star ratings for its gel-padded ear cuffs, top-notch sound quality, and simple keypad. Check Price On Amazon >>> Key Features Splash-proof microphones amplify ambient sound while muting loud incoming noises Over 600-hour battery life Designed with digital technology that compresses sound without choppy interference All electronic functions accessible with a slim three-button keypad Our Rating #2 Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff, Teal (R-02521) Featuring a low profile design and hazardous noise-blocking technology, Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff is built for safety and protection while offering a range of convenient features including MP3 plugin and compatibility with handheld devices. Designed with shooters in mind, the Howard Leight's low profile allows for proper aim, featuring slim fit padded ear cuffs and a compact, lightweight design. Featuring digitized noise cancellation technology, the earmuffs lower incoming sound levels to a safe eighty-two decibels while amplifying ambient surrounding noise. To block hazardous gunshot noise, the headset automatically blocks sound levels above 82 dB. In conjunction with the Howard Leight's slim profile, a fully adjustable, telescopic headband allows for a personalized fit that holds securely in place without slipping to ensure maximum safety. Bottom Line Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff is designed with shooting mind, featuring a low profile configuration and slim build with automatic hazardous noise-blocking technology. Thanks to its compact and personalized fit, the headset is easily adjustable and offers a range of convenient features including MP3 audio input, easy storage, and extended 350-hour battery life. Among verified buyers, Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff receives five-star ratings for its intuitive and comfortable design, durable construction, and superior noise cancellation. Check Price On Amazon >>> Key Features Slim low profile design with built-in directional microphones that automatically block noise levels over 82 dB 22 dB noise reduction rating Promotes safety while ensuring protection Includes audio input jack for MP3 player and smartphone Features 350-hour battery life with two AAA batteries included Our Rating #3 Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector for shooting & hunting Featuring Bluetooth sync for streaming music and calls along with superior audio quality, Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector delivers dynamic sound suppression while amplifying speech commands and ambient noise quality. Thanks to crisp voice tracking capability, human speech is separated and amplified from incoming noise from the surrounding environment—allowing for ease of communication and full situational awareness. Like the Howard Leight, Peltor Sport Tactical 500 features a low profile design that allows for clear aim, along with a compact and lightweight build that folds away for easy storage. Bottom Line Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector delivers superior audio quality with Bluetooth sync, dynamic sound suppression, and clear voice-tracking technology. For clear aim and a personalized fit, the headset features a low profile design that fits snugly over hats and other headgear, along with compact easy fold storage. Among verified buyers, Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector receives five-star ratings for its superb noise reduction, high-frequency sound amplification, and seamless Bluetooth sync. Check Price On Amazon >>> Key Features 26 dB noise reduction rating Bluetooth capability for taking calls and streaming music Utilizes smart technology and dynamic sound suppression Features clear voice tracking for full situational awareness Durable recessed microphone design for wind resistance Our Rating #4 3M Peltor X5A Over-the-Head EarMuffs 3M PELTOR X5A Over-the-Head Ear Muffs, Noise Protection, NRR 31 dB, Construction, Manufacturing, Maintenance, Automotive, Woodworking, Heavy Engineering, Mining Next up on our list is an option designed to protect your hearing with a thirty-one dB noise reduction rating, 3M PELTOR X5A Over-the-Head EarMuffs. Utilizing insulated lined ear cuffs in conjunction with high attenuation technology, the headset blocks hazardous noises while disrupting damaging sound frequencies-safely dispersing and lowering soundwaves to a comfortable thirty-one dB. Cushioned with premium comfort foam and featuring a wide set design that fully encompasses the ear, 3M Peltor X5A Over-the-Head EarMuff offers increased protection while accommodating a wide range of ear and head sizes. To reduce heat buildup and ensure extended comfort, 3M Peltor X5A Over-the-Head EarMuffs features a twin headband and stainless steel internal components. Bottom Line 3M Peltor X5A Over-the-Head EarMuffs safeguard hearing in hazardous environments with advanced high attenuation technology and a noise reduction rating of thirty-one decibels. Designed to disrupt damaging sound frequencies and lower incoming noise to a safe 31 dB, the headset features foam-lined ear muffs along with a wide set design that accommodates a range of ear and head sizes. For added protection, 3M Peltor X5A Over-the-Head EarMuffs includes internal steel components along with a dielectric insulation headband. Among verified buyers, 3M Peltor X5A Over-the-Head EarMuffs receive five-star ratings for insulated hearing protection, comfort, and easy fold-up storage. Check Price On Amazon >>> Key Features High attenuation earmuffs with 31 dB noise reduction rating Wide foam padded ear cuffs accommodate a range of ear and head sizes Twin headband and internal steel components for heat regulation and comfort Durable ABS ear cuffs made to withstand tough environments Electrically insulated dielectric headband Our Rating #5 Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector, Ear Protection, NRR 22 dB, Ideal for Shooting and Hunting Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector offers advanced protection with a range of sound suppression and adaptive frequency response technologies. Like the Peltor Sport Tactical 500, Peltor Sport Tactical 100 is designed with a focus on clear voice tracking, suppressing gunshot sounds while amplifying the human voice to allow for full situational awareness. Along with these features, the Sport Tactical 100 utilizes variable suppression technology to fully optimize audio experience by reducing echo feedback. With an adjustable, padded headband and wide set foam-lined ear cuffs, Peltor Sport Tactical 100 delivers extended comfort and a secure, personalized fit. Bottom Line Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector incorporates advanced sound suppression and adaptive response technology to safeguard hearing with a noise reduction rating of 22 dB. In addition to clear voice tracking and reduced echo feedback, the headset features wide set cuffs and an adjustable padded headband. Among verified buyers, Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector receives five-star ratings for fully sealed ear cuffs, excellent sound suppression, and echo reduction. Check Price On Amazon >>> Key Features 22 dB noise reduction rating Incorporates variable suppression time to reduce echo feedback Utilizes adaptive frequency response to reduce background noise and amplify conversation Durable recessed microphone design with adjustable padded headband Our Rating #6 Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Pro Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Pro High Noise Reduction Rating Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff for Indoor and Covered Ranges or Other Extremely Loud Shooting Environments (R-01902) Ideal for handgun and pistol shooters, Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Pro Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff offers a noise reduction rating of 30 dB and automatically blocks sound over 82 dB to safeguard your hearing on the range. Featuring built-in directional microphones and active listening technology, the headset allows for full situational awareness by raising ambient noise and speech sounds to a safe 82db. Built for comfort in addition to performance, Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Pro Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff features a fully padded adjustable headband along with rubberized pressure points for a secure grip. Bottom Line Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Pro Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff is designed specifically for handgun and pistol shooters, offering a noise reduction rating of 30 dB and automatically blocking hazardous sound levels. With built-in directional microphones and active listening technology, the headset allows for full situational awareness both indoors and out on the field—making it an ideal choice for the shooting range. Among verified buyers, Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Pro Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff receives five-star ratings for voice and ambient sound amplification, stellar performance in indoor shooting ranges, and comfortable grip. Check Price On Amazon >>> Key Features Designed for handgun and pistol shooters with 30 dB noise reduction rating Amplifies ambient noise up to four times while automatically blocking sounds levels over 82 dB Adjustable padded headband with rubberized grip and telescopic height for a secure fit Included cord and headphone jack for MP3 or other audio input Our Rating #7 Walker's Razor Slim Electronic Muff Walker's Razor Slim Electronic Muff, Black Fans of contemporary electronics will appreciate the Walker's Razor Slim Electronic Muff ultra-sleek design, among the most lightweight and slim-fitting options available with a noise reduction rating of 23 dB and dynamic range HD speakers. Built for comfort and convenience without compromising on hearing protection, the Razor incorporates sound activated compression, omnidirectional microphones, and fast 0.2 second response time to safeguard hearing in both indoor and outdoor environments, without the interference of buky alternatives. Along with its ultra-slim profile, Walker's Razor Slim Electronic Muff features a convenient fold-away design for easy storage. Bottom Line Walker's Razor Slim Electronic Muff features an ultra-sleek profile and rubberized, razor-thin ear cuffs that don't compromise on protection—with a noise reduction rating of 23 dB and ultra-quick 0.02-second response time. Among verified buyers, Walker's Razor Slim Electronic Muff receives five-star ratings for its non-interfering low profile design, long battery life, and consistent voice amplification. Check Price On Amazon >>> Key Features Slim profile with ultra-thin rubberized cups Two omnidirectional microphones 23 dB noise reduction rating Blocks sound over 89 dB with 0.02 reaction time Our Rating #8 Decibel Defense Professional Safety Ear Muffs Professional Safety Ear Muffs by Decibel Defense - 37dB NRR - The HIGHEST Rated & MOST COMFORTABLE Ear Protection for Shooting & Industrial Use - THE BEST HEARING PROTECTION...GUARANTEED Offering the highest degree of hearing protection available, Decibel Defense Professional Safety Ear Muffs feature a noise reduction rating of up to thirty-seven decibels with a smooth, padded design that's ideal for adults and kids. Designed to fit securely to the head and fully encompass ears for maximum protection, hazards noises are blocked from entering thanks to its wide cuffs and high noise reduction rating. With an ultra-compact build, the headset is ideal for use with safety glasses and fits easily inside of gun totes and storage bags. Bottom Line Decibel Defense Professional Safety Ear Muffs deliver a noise reduction rating of 37 dB, among the highest in the industry. Built for protection and comfort, the headset features an ultra-padded, compact design that folds away for easy storage in totes and gun bags when not in use. Among verified buyers, Decibel Defense Professional Safety Ear Muffs receive five-star ratings for comfort and adjustable fit, plush foam lining, and superior noise reduction. Check Price On Amazon >>> Key Features Ultra padded ear cuff and headband with up to 37 dB noise reduction rating Durable and compact design with sturdy components Ideal for children and adults Our Rating #9 Peltor ComTac III Hearing Defender Electronic Earmuffs Peltor MT17H682FB-09 FG Comtac III Hearing Defender, Foliage Green A top of the line choice designed for military drills and operations, Peltor ComTac III Hearing Defender Electronic Earmuffs are an ideal option for shooters who must actively listen for voice commands—excellent for use in indoor and outdoor ranges. With a twenty-decibel noise reduction rating and level dependant surround sound, the ComTac III is designed specifically to allow for clear communication while blocking hazards noise levels. Built for extended wear, the ComTac III is fully adjustable and fits comfortably when worn with hats and ballistics helmets. Bottom Line Peltor ComTac III Hearing Defender Electronic Earmuffs feature a 20 dB noise reduction rating and level-dependent surround sound to allow for clear communication and full situational awareness. The headset's fully adjustable fit accommodates most users and is comfortably worn with caps and ballistics helmets. Among verified buyers, Peltor ComTac III Hearing Defender Electronic Earmuffs receive five-star ratings for superior audio quality, quick response time, and crisp ambient sound amplification. Check Price On Amazon >>> Key Features Tactical headset designed for military operations 20 dB noise reduction rating Adjustable size accommodates most users and fits comfortably with headgear Our Rating #10 Walkers Game Ear Alpha Quad with NXT Camo Walkers Game Ear Alpha Quad with NXT Camo Featuring two high-frequency stereo microphones with independent volume controls and sound-activated compression, Walkers Game Ear Alpha Quad deliver clear audio with five times hearing enhancement. Equipped with dual wind-resistant, multi-directional ear cuffs, the headset muffles hazardous gunshot sounds while amplifying ambient noise from the surrounding environment, with a noise reduction rating of twenty-four decibels. Thanks to its advanced clarity, the Walkers Game Ear Alpha Quad allows for crisp audio and clear communication, along with antimicrobial earpieces that protect against moisture and bacteria. Bottom Line Walkers Game Ear Alpha Quad deliver crisp audio and clear communication with two independently controlled wind-resistant microphones and noise reduction rating of 24 dB. To guard against moisture and bacteria, the headset features antimicrobial earpads, ideal for extended wear and use in warm climates. Among verified buyers, Walkers Game Ear Alpha Quad receive five-star ratings for effectively muffing sharp gunshot sounds, clear audio quality, and comfortable wear. Check Price On Amazon >>> Key Features Top of the line sound-reducing earmuffs with a 24 dB noise reduction rating Two wind-resistant multi-directional microphones with independent volume controls Fast response sound-activated compression Antimicrobial ear pads protect against moisture Our Rating #11 Caldwell E-Max Low Profile Electronic Hearing Protection Caldwell E-Max Low Profile Electronic 23 NRR Hearing Protection with Sound Amplification and Adjustable Earmuffs for Shooting, Hunting and Range, Green Next up is an ultra-comfortable option featuring a cushioned headband and premium padded ear cuffs, Caldwell E-Max Low Profile Electronic Hearing Protection. Built for comfort and performance, the padded, sealed ear cuff design allows for complete noise cancellation while fitting snugly to the ear, while the headset's low profile won't interfere with rifle aim. With a twenty-three-decibel noise reduction rating, Caldwell E-Max Low Profile Electronic Hearing Protection effectively muffles gunshot noise while automatically blocking all sound over eighty-two decibels. In addition to its ultra-comfortable, low profile design, the set features compact fold-away storage and fits easily inside of gun totes. Bottom Line Caldwell E-Max Low Profile Electronic Hearing Protection delivers complete noise cancellation with an ultra-comfortable, padded ear cuff design and 23 dB noise reduction rating. For protection against sudden gunshot sounds, the headset automatically blocks all input over 82 dB and includes an audio jack for use with MP3 and smartphones. Among verified buyers, Caldwell E-Max Low Profile Electronic Hearing Protection receives five-star ratings for stellar hearing protection, extended battery life, and lightweight design. Check Price On Amazon >>> Key Features Ultra-comfortable design features padded headband with adjustable ear cuffs 23 dB noise reduction rating Lightweight and compact Includes audio input jack Our Rating #12 ACT FIRE Shooting Ear Protection Electronic Shooting Earmuffs Shooting Ear Protection Electronic Shooting Earmuffs Ultimate Combat Design Wrapping up our list is an affordable option developed with hunters in mind, ACT FIRE Shooting Ear Protection Electronic Shooting Earmuffs—offering six times sound amplification and omnidirectional microphones for locating prey with ease. Equipped with a twenty five-decibel noise reduction rating, the earmuffs effectively amplify ambient noise and vocal commands for clear communication while automatically blocking sound levels over eighty-two decibels for full situational awareness. In addition to stellar performance, ACT FIRE Shooting Ear Protection Electronic Shooting Earmuffs is built for comfort, featuring a padded headband and cuffs that are suitable for extended wear. For use with audio input and other electronics, ACT FIRE Shooting Ear Protection Electronic Shooting Earmuffs includes an AUX input jack and 3.5-millimeter connection cord. Bottom Line ACT FIRE Shooting Ear Protection Electronic Shooting Earmuffs delivers a rich audio experience designed with hunters in mind, featuring a 25 dB noise reduction rating and omnidirectional microphones. Built for comfort and performance the headset features a padded headband and ear cuffs, along with an input source for MP3 and other electronics. Among verified buyers, ACT FIRE Shooting Ear Protection Electronic Shooting Earmuffs receives five-star ratings for quick response sound amplification, clear MP3 audio, and excellent noise reduction. Check Price On Amazon >>> Key Features Professional hunting and shooting headset with omnidirectional microphones and 25 dB noise reduction rating 6x amplification of ambient noise and voice commands Designed in the USA Ultra-comfortable design with padded headband and ear cuffs AUX audio input jack with 3.5 millimeter cord Our Rating Hearing Protection Buyer's Guide and FAQ's By now we hope you realize that protecting your hearing while shooting isn’t just a precaution but a health necessity. Don’t go hunting or visit the shooting range without a great pair of protective ear muffs. Any one of the above 12 best hearing protection muffs for shooting are a great option and each one features their own unique benefits and will be critical to the longevity of your hearing. The bottom line is you should never go shooting without hearing protection and we highly encourage you to use this information to make a well-informed purchase. The above recommendations are the perfect place to get started, but be sure to do your own research for your own needs. If you’re going to invest in rifles, handguns, shotguns, or any form of fun that makes ear piercing sounds, it’s definitely in your best interest to invest in proper sound protection. Be Sure To Check the NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) NRR is a piece of protective gear’s Noise Reduction Rating. The higher the number, the more ear protection you’re getting while shooting, hunting, or during other loud activities that can impact your eardrums. Many people wear both earplugs and ear muffs when shooting. This will afford you an even higher level of protection. It’s difficult to put an exact NRR number on this type of combination, but wearing earplugs along with shooting ear muffs that have an NRR of at least 23 should be adequate for most people. (If you already have hearing issues, ask your doctor.) A higher NRR (30 or above) means that for many situations, you may be able to go without the ear plugs. There’s also the convenience of only having to remember to bring the ear muffs. If you’re looking for the convenience factor, choose hearing protection with a high NRR. Consider Your Hearing Protection Gear Budget Ear muffs that protect the wearer’s ears during shooting are an extremely popular selling category. That’s good news for you, the buyer, since it means manufacturers compete to offer great value at a low cost. With that said, don’t necessarily go for the least expensive choice. Pricing can vary quite a bit in this category, particularly if you’re choosing electronic gear (see below). If this is your first pair of ear muffs for the shooting range or hunting, we recommend that you start out on the lower price end. You may find this is the only pair you need, or you may wish to try more advanced versions later. Electronic v. Passive Hearing Protection: Which Type Should You Choose? The best hearing protection for shooting will usually come in one of two varieties: electronic or passive. Electronic is preferred by many users, but some are able to get adequate ear protection with passive muffs (in other words, a set that simply covers the ears). Ultimately that choice will be up to your own needs and preferences. Be aware that electronic ear muffs often come with some very cool features. According to verified users, they’re your best bet, so do consider models that are electronic. They can include any of the following: iPhone and MP3 player hookup capability Directional microphones so you can still hear important ambient sounds while protecting your ears from louder, sudden noises Automatic noise shut-out when sounds exceed a certain dB level Affordable batteries (generally, AAA) and/or convenient USB recharge These aren’t must-haves, but they can go that extra mile toward both protection and convenience. On the other hand, passive (non-electronic; ear-covering) ear muffs often have the attractive feature of a lower price point. Whichever type of model you choose, make sure the basics are covered: protection at certain decibel levels, and comfort during wear. Fit is Important Part of what protects your ears when wearing ear muffs is that they form a good, comfortable seal around the ear area. If the gear is too large, harmful ambient sound may still get in. If it’s too small, you may be uncomfortable, or the ear cups may not go down far enough to completely cover your ears. Whether electronic or passive, most protective ear muffs will have the same general shapes to choose from. You may find you prefer one shape over the other, but usually, you’ll want rounded edges and a size that’s a bit longer than it is wide. Sure, trendy shapes look cool, but your priority when shooting or hunting is making sure your hearing stays sharp for years to come, and an “ear-shaped” cup accomplishes that. Another aspect to the fit of your hearing-protective gear is how the headband portion sits on your head. If you have a very large or small head compared to the average, you may need to try a few pairs before you find the perfect gear. The headband should be adjustable to a length that brings the ear cups down an inch below your earlobes at minimum, and to mid-neck at the maximum. Additional Features to Look For When Buying Hearing Protection for Shooting Both electronic and passive ear muffs have loads of bells and whistles nowadays. Of course, this depends upon the exact model you choose; all you really need are the basics (protection and fit). But if you’re like many users, you’ll want additional features. Today’s ear protection gear may offer any of the following: Auto-shutoff in order to protect battery life Lightweight materials so you can comfortably wear them for long periods of time Resistance against damage due to sweat/atmospheric moisture Hearing enhancement for conversations Ergonomic cuff design so there’s no rubbing against your stock Built-in microphone Stereo volume control (adjust each ear individually) Antimicrobial materials, since the gear will be against your ears/skin/scalp Advanced ear pad shapes and materials for superior comfort What Are Verified Users Saying? This one is important. Manufacturers –– even when they have impeccable reputations –– want to sell you their product. Non-sponsored consumers, on the other hand, don’t have any motivation except to inform. So go right to the source and see how the hearing protection you’re looking at performs in real situations. Our research revealed top choices for performance, reliability, comfort and verified customer reviews. Based on our findings, the picks above are superior in all these categories. Always make sure you purchase protective ear muffs that come with a returns policy just in case. Everyone is different, and you may find one style or set of features is better for you than another. Hearing Protection FAQ’s Today, a wide range of ear protection designed for hunting and shooting is available, so there's no excuse not to protect your hearing. With a number of risks including tinnitus and permanent hearing loss at just 140 decibels (the equivalent of repeated exposure to a small-caliber rifle) facing shooters in both indoor ranges and out on the field, choosing an effective form of ear protection is essential. Now that we've shared our top picks, let's take a look at the key selection criteria that went into our choices by answering a few of the most frequently asked questions surrounding ear protection for hunting and shooting. What is Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)? Noise reduction rating is an industry classification used for earplugs, earmuffs, and other forms of hearing protection. It is used to measure and help identify which ear muffs or earplugs are doing their job. While the formula that determines noise reduction rating in relation to rifle and gunshot sound is complex, it's wise to opt for protection around 30 decibels (dB) with the absolute minimum level of protection available at 15 dB. For perspective, consider that 140 dB is the average noise rating for a rifle shot, with certain handguns producing a louder impact. By reducing surrounding decibels (dB), your ears will have a chance to last longer and ultimately save you from more costly investments, such as hearing aids. What Types of Hearing Protection is Best? As mentioned, several forms of hearing protection developed especially for hunters and shooters are available, with the two most popular being earplugs and earmuffs. While earplugs are an effective form of protection rated up to 30 dB that are available at a low price point and come in disposable options, they often fall victim to poor fit, comfort, and are limited in their ability to filter loud gunshot sounds from ambient noise and vocal commands—a must for clear communication. Earmuffs, typically greater in cost but offering a higher degree of protection due to their ear encompassing design and greater noise reduction rating, are available in both passive and electronic forms. Earmuffs yield a range of benefits including effective filtering, Bluetooth sync, and full situational awareness, thanks to clear discrimination between gunshot sounds and ambient noise. What's the Difference Between Passive and Electronic Hearing Protection? Another decision factor shooters must take into consideration is whether to opt for passive or active (electronic) hearing protection. Forms of passive hearing protection include foam earplugs and earmuffs, both of which offer a minimum level of protection, with foam earmuffs offering a slightly higher noise reduction rating. While passive earplugs and earmuffs are generally lower in cost than electronic hearing protection, spending those few extra dollars on an affordable pair of electronic earmuffs yields a greater level of protection and noise reduction. In addition to greater noise reduction, electronic hearing protection offers the ability to filter hazardous gunshot sounds from ambient noise and human speech, an essential safety consideration that allows for full situational awareness both out on the field and when used indoors. Should Hunters and Shooters opt for Electronic Hearing Protection? By and large, electronic ear muffs are the most frequently used form of hearing protection among shooters that offer the greatest degree of protection. Along with noise cancellation properties, electronic earmuffs allow clear filtering between hazardous gunshot sounds and ambient noise—a must for hunters and indoor shooters alike.