Gear, Parts and Accessories

Gizmos & Gadgets — Save Your Hearing and Your Wallet with Radians Custom-Molded Earplugs

If you are going to play with guns and ammo you’ll also need eyes and ears. We are talking protection of course. Eye protection varies by whether or not you normally wear glasses, like to see the world in yellow or prefer clear versus tint.

When it comes to ears I prefer two. No silly, not two ears—although that is a preference as well—two forms of hearing protection. Outside a quality pair of electronic muffs that lets me hear commands, line stoppages, emergencies, “Take ‘em! Hen, hen—No shot!” or potential safety hazards.

I also prefer a second barrier. As a gun writer, time in the military and plain genetics, I am already suffering some loss so a second layer of protection becomes even more important. I will use the foamy earplugs in a pinch, but foam plugs never seem to expand quickly enough. Inevitably, you get caught waiting for the plug to expand when Bang! you get your bell rung.

Personally, I prefer molded earplugs. A set will do the job on its own when electronic muffs are not available; the fit is custom and you get complete protection, immediately. A friend made a set for me years ago and I have been hooked ever since. With time marching on, my pair have become ripe for retirement. I was elated when I realized that a guy at a recent gun show had a table set up and was making them on the spot. My spirits quickly sagged as my wallet clammed up at the sight of the price. I just couldn’t bear the $100 price tag, so I passed.

…And am I ever glad I did. For about $15 you can buy the kit from Radians and do it yourself—it is incredibly easy and nontechnical, and only one phase of the process is difficult. When you open the package, there are two containers of putty. Open both containers and take half of the putty from each; then close the containers.

Next, you will knead the two halves together until the colors blend and it is streak free. Once mixed, you’ll push the putty into the ear canal. I did it in front of a mirror. That way I could see how it looked and visually check the fit. After that comes the hardest part of the whole process—keeping your mouth shut. Yep, at least 10 minutes—I would recommend 15.

Toward the end of the process I could feel it expanding and almost feeling like it was going to pop out of my ear. However, I checked with a mirror and everything was just fine, so don’t get spooked if it happens to you.

The putty needs time to set and moving your jaw would prevent a solid seal. After the first side is finished, just repeat for the second side. When done, I like to take a permanent marker and label each for right or left to make identification quick and easy in the field.

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 (10)

  1. I’m on my second pair of these and I must say I did a better job this time. When I wear muffs they make my ears hurt all over after some time. Add that to the sweating and it’s not a comfortable experience. With these plugs, I can wear them all day and though the inside of my ear is sensitive afterwards it’s a far cry from painful. USER HACK: With the neck cord I put the red screw in the right ear. Red for Right and don’t have to make up my plugs.

  2. I had the same problem, it never hardened enough and bits of it came apart in my ear and got stuck in my ear canal. I followed the instructions completely.

  3. Was given 2 pairs [kits] as a gift! My wife tried hers first, 1 [one] hour past & it never set up???? What’s wrong!!!??? Still soft 1 month later,any idea!


  4. before I order these I’m wondering if they would still ‘set up’ if I (and I hate to give away a good idea here)were to insert a fishing swivel into them to tie a bit of cord to, seems like this would make them easier to handle.

  5. Tried ’em, went back to the foam. Maybe I made them go to deep, but they were a bear to get back in right.

    Great concept, but everyone’s ear canal is different and may not like them.

  6. Great article and great suggestion. My hearing already messed up as shooting in the 70’s didn’t involve hearing protection. However, I’ve made sure my children NEVER, EVER shoot without hearing protection. I’ll add these to the arsenal of smart shooting equipment.

  7. Sorry to hear that ddk -ut. The direction did say to clean your ears first. I used q-tips and a bit of hydrogen peroxide and did not have a problem. I am sure a little isopropyl alcohol would have worked too. Try that next time.

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