Consumer Information

5 Best Ear Protection Options for Shooters

Man shooting rifle with ear protection

Firearms are loud. They’re so loud, in fact, that they can permanently damage your hearing with a single shot.

However, only 20% to 30% of hunters use ear protection, and half of all target shooters don’t wear anything to protect their eardrums, ear bones or ear canals.

Unfortunately, their poor decisions can cause a host of issues down the road.

Luckily, protecting your hearing is as easy as using earmuffs and earplugs.

Here are a few of the best options for shooters, hunters and gun-lovers alike:

1. Walker’s Game Ear Razor Patriot Series Slim

Many hunters worry that ear protection will block their ability to hear their prey walking around in the wild.

After all, the sounds of breaking sticks and rustling leaves are relatively quiet.

However, the Walker’s Game Ear Razor electronic muffs provide high-quality protection without sacrificing sound quality.

While they deliver a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 23 decibels, these muffs won’t interfere with your ability to hear clearly because they feature frequency tuning for natural sound clarity.

These Walker’s Game muffs also feature activated compression, which will start after a 0.02-second reaction time.

Speakers and an audio input jack provide clear, balanced sound, and the rubberized coating ensures a comfortable, secure fit. Plus, their folding design makes these muffs an easy addition to any hunter’s equipment pack.

Product details:

  • MSRP: $79.99
  • Type: Over the ear
  • Key feature: Electronic noise suppression
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Walker's Game Ear Razor Patriot Slim

2. Safariland Impulse Passive Ear Plugs

Any earplug or muff with a 20 or higher NRR will likely provide enough protection for your ears.

However, if your ears are more sensitive or you’re training a young hunter, you may want something with a higher rating.

That’s where the Safariland Impulse Passive earplugs come in handy.

These noise-blocking buds have an NRR of 33 decibels to provide superior performance for less than $20.

Safariland’s plugs feature passive hearing protection that still allows for ambient noise and normal conversation.

State-of-the-art materials and an enhanced contoured shape make these plugs easy to insert and comfortable enough to wear for countless hours of tracking and hunting.

Plus, most sellers include two sets of ear inserts and a storage case to maximize convenience and comfort.

Product details:

  • MSRP: $19.99
  • Type: In the ear
  • Key features: Comfortable; compact
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
woman shooting rifle with ear protection

3. TYR Ergo Flex Ear Plugs

Hunters that post up in a deer blind or shrub for hours or days on end often encounter inclement weather that can render their muffs or earplugs useless.

As rain and snow seep into their ears, the moisture can break the airtight seal between the insert and their ear canal.

This scenario can cause hunters to confidently shoot their guns, only to recoil in pain and lose sight of their target.

Therefore, if you’re heading out to hunt in a rainstorm or blizzard, you should probably bring some water-resistant earplugs like the TYR Ergo Flex plugs.

The TYRs use a flex system and triple-flange design to provide you with a customizable fit that’s often good to pair with headphones.

Once they’re securely in your ears, they’ll prevent water from breaking the sound barrier so your eardrums stay safe.

The best part is they’re one of the cheapest and most durable options out there.

Product details:

  • MSRP: $5.99
  • Type: In the ear
  • Key features: Affordable; waterproof
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Man shooting rifle with ear protection

4. Howard Leight Quiet Band

The Howard Leight Quiet Band is also ideal for hunters. Wear the band around your neck while you track big game.

Then, simply pop in the plugs before taking your shot.

With an NRR of 25, they’re sure to protect your ears from the deafening sounds of your rifle.

Plus, they allow you to stay completely in tune with your surroundings until you need to take aim and fire.

As convenient as the Quiet Band is, it’s only effective at protecting your ear canal, not the bones behind your ear.

Subsequently, it can’t adequately shield you from high levels of continuous gunfire for long periods of time.

Therefore, if you’ll be hunting waterfowl or unloading multiple rounds at an indoor range, it’s best to invest in more capable earplugs or muffs.

Product details:

  • MSRP: $8
  • Type: In the ear
  • Defining feature: Easy transport
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Howard Leight Quiet Band

5. SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders

Like the TYR Ergo Flex plugs, the SureFire EP3 Sonic Defenders use flanges to provide superior protection for your ears.

They also feature retention rings that utilize seven contact points to lock the earpieces in place.

This way, hunters can wear them all day without worrying about losing them in the brush.

A low-profile design also allows you to wear them under hats, helmets, headphones or supplemental hearing muffs.

The Defenders provide a 24-decibel NRR while still allowing safe sound levels to pass through into the ear canal.

However, you may choose to attach the filter cap to muffle lower-level sounds like snoring, airplane engines and fans.

This way, you don’t have to worry about ambient noise when you’re focused on your prey.

Product details:

  • MSRP: $13.95
  • Type: In the ear
  • Key feature: Customizability
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Woman with ear protection and safety glasses shooting

Conclusion: Best Ear Protection

Of course, you don’t have to use earplugs or muffs if you have a silencer or firearm suppressor, as these gadgets lower the sound signature and mitigate potentially dangerous noise.

However, these solutions can be costly, and some may still require you to wear additional protective gear, especially if you’re sensitive to loud noises.

When it comes to preserving your hearing and scoring big game, your best bet is to wear quality plugs or muffs.

Besides, they’re often the most convenient and affordable option, especially if you only go hunting a few times per year.

What type of ear protection do you use? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Oscar Collins

Oscar Collins is the managing editor at Modded where he writes about gear, the outdoors, survivalism and more. Whether you're interested in ice fishing, building a rooftop tent or the best hiking trails, Oscar has you covered. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates!
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (3)

  1. I fired my friend’s 30-06 with muzzle brake while wearing my my Walker’s electronic muffs and it was amazing how good they are

  2. I have always used hearing protection at both outdoor and indoor ranges. Even a .22LR fired outdoors is loud enough to damage your hearing. After firing an AR-15, .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum wearing both ear plugs and headphones and hearing how loud they are even with the protection both plugs and headphones give, I’d shutter to think exactly how loud they would be without hearing protection. I hope I never have to find out. What gets me is seeing people on TV and movies firing fully automatic weapons indoors without hearing protection and they react as if they were firing air guns and no damage has been done. Well, that’s Hollywood for you.

  3. Browning muffs with 33dB reduction,plus EAR foam plugs with 30dB protection
    Wearing prescription glasses prevents complete seal,so doubling the protection is necessaryThe foam plugs must be carefully inserted.

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