If you’ve ever been shooting before, you appreciate the importance of having good hearing protection. If you haven’t, let’s be as clear as possible. Guns are loud. Very loud.
Those action movies where the heroes get into a gunfight in a big echoey warehouse and immediately have a normal conversation afterwards? Totally fictional. In reality, Bruce Willis and his sidekick would be temporarily deaf and their ears would be ringing for hours, if not days.
When you go to the range, it’s important to have the best shooting ear protection you can get your hands on. At the same time, you want something that’s comfortable, durable, and easy to pack up when you’re done shooting.
You also want something that’s appropriate to the noise level at hand. If you’re blasting away with a .50 BMG or .308 deer hunting rifle, that means a big pair of heavy-duty Mickey Mouse ears. If you’re plinking with a .22 long rifle, simple foam earplugs will do the trick, and you’ll be able to talk to your buddies without shouting.
We’ve reviewed fifteen of the most popular ear protection rigs online. There’s a wide range of performance, comfort, durability and price in our selection, so there’s something here for everybody.
Best Shooting Ear Protection Available Online
The Ear Buddy
- BLOCK OUT THE NOISE, PROTECT YOUR HEARING, AND ENJOY A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP OR YOUR MONEY BACK! Our Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs Are Perfect for Sleeping, Construction, Concerts, Hunting, Shooting Ear Protection, Snoring, and General Hearing Protection From All Types Of Loud Activity
- SAY GOOD BYE TO CHEAP IMITATORS THAT CONSTANTLY FALL OUT OF YOUR EARS AND GIVE YOU HORRIFIC DISCOMFORT AND PAIN: When Wearing Our Premium Foam Earplugs You Can Expect Incredible Results Without The Earaches & Discomfort
- **VERY IMPORTANT** For Optimum Results Ear Plugs Must Be Inserted EXACTLY As Directed; Follow The Simple Instructions As They Are Stated On Product Package To Experience OUTSTANDING Results!
- VERY HIGH NOISE REDUCTION RATING OF 32 DECIBELS PROTECTS YOUR HEARING AND PROVIDES PEACE AND QUIET!
- 60 DAY 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE; There’s a reason we offer the STRONGEST GUARANTEE industry-wide!
Ear Buddy Foam Earplugs are bright orange foam earplugs that keep you protected without taking up a tone of space in your range bag. As basic as they look, they’re actually pretty powerful; they provide 32 decibels of noise reduction, as much as some high-quality over-the-ear protection.
These earplugs are latex-free, so they’re hypoallergenic for the vast majority of people. 50 pairs come in a single affordable jar. Of course, like all earplugs, they wear out and collect bacteria over time, so you should only use each pair a few times. They’re also a bit big for small ears, so if you’re taking your kids shooting, bring some traditional ear muffs for them.
- 32dB of noise reduction
- 50 pairs to a jar
- Limited use
- Not good for small ears
Why it’s recommended: Basic earplugs are the best shooting ear protection for small caliber firearms. Ear Buddy Foam Earplugs are as basic as they get, and they’re high quality.
3M Peltor Earmuff
$26.70 in stock
- Noise Reduction Rating of 30dB
- Superior comfort, fit, and hearing protection
- Patented twin-cup design
- Recommended for extremely loud conditions
3M Peltor Optime Ear Muffs are over-the-head ear muffs that provide 30 decibels of noise reduction. This is sufficient for most firearms, although you’ll want something beefier if you’re shooting a high-caliber rifle. They have a sturdy, drop-proof shell, and they’re very comfortable.
However, they’re not adjustable. Because of this, they may be less comfortable for people with large or small heads. The plastic sheathing on the ear covers also wears off quickly, exposing the foam underneath. Since these are an inexpensive pair, we’re still going to consider them a good investment.
- 30dB of noise reduction
- Sturdy, drop-proof shell
- Not adjustable
- Plastic sheathing wears off in about a year
Why it’s recommended: The 3M Peltor Optime is a budget set of ear muffs that provides enough hearing protection for medium caliber and rimfire firearms.
Peltor Sport Hearing Protector
- Low profile, cut-away cup design for rifle and shotgun use
- Adjustable headband and lightweight design for a comfortable fit
- Folds for compact storage and portability
- Comfortable foam ear cushions
- Contains 1-Earmuff
3M Peltor Shotgunner Ear Muffs are a slimmer version of 3M’s classic X-Series ear muffs. This low profile makes them very comfortable for shooting air rifles or a turkey shotgun. Unfortunately, they only provide 24 decibels of noise reduction, so they’re not good for a 12 gauge, or for most hunting rifles.
These ear muffs have an adjustable head band, but are sized for people with smaller heads. This makes them perfect for young shooters who are learning with a 10/22. The foam cushions are soft and comfortable, and there’s even a hole in the top so the head band won’t press down on your ball cap button.
- Low profile
- Adjustable headband
- Comfortable foam cushions
- Opening in the top for your hat button
- Only 24dB of noise reduction
- Relatively small size
Why it’s recommended: 3M Peltor Shotgunner Ear Muffs are ideal for youth shooters, or for adults with small heads.
Honeywell Impact Sport Sound
- Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands and other ambient sounds to a safe 82 dB, providing more natural listening and enhanced communication
- Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when ambient sound reaches 82 dB; Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): 22
- Features low profile earcups for firearm stock clearance; adjustable headband for secure fit; compact folding design for convenient storage; classic green color
- Includes AUX input and 3.5 mm connection cord for MP3 players and scanners. Integrated power/volume knob
- Includes 2 AAA batteries; automatic shut-off feature after 4 hours increases battery life; approximately 350 hours of battery life; works well and long with Polaroid AAA Batteries
Howard Leight Impact Sport Sound Amplification Ear Muffs are designed specifically for shooting. They have a low profile for easy rifle shooting. That said, they only provide 22 decibels of noise reduction, so they’re only really useful for smaller to medium calibers. Needless to say, these are for outdoor shooting only, not for the louder environment of an indoor range.
The headband is generously padded, and is adjustable enough to fit almost any head size. These ear muffs provide amplification for any sound under 82 decibels, so you can talk between shots without taking them off. The AAA batteries have up to 350 hours of battery life.
- Low profile
- Padded, adjustable headband
- Provides amplification under 82dB
- 350 hours of battery life
- Only 22dB of noise reduction
Why it’s recommended: These are a good pair of ear muffs for plinking or light target shooting, particularly if you want to chat with your friends between shots.
Honeywell Impact Pro Sound
$51.93 in stock
1 used from $44.40
- HIGH NOISE REDUCTION RATING (30 NRR): Designed for handgun and pistol shooters looking for high NRR; perfect for indoor ranges, covered ranges or other extremely loud shooting environments
- AMPLIFIES AMBIENT NOISE UP TO 4X: Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands and other ambient sounds to a safe 82 dB, providing more natural listening and enhanced communication
- BLOCKS HAZARDOUS NOISE: Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when ambient sound reaches 82 dB; passively blocks out noise at 30 dB
- COMFORTABLE, SECURE FIT: Rubberized pressure points prevent gunstock scratching; super deluxe padded headband features telescopic height adjustment for a secure and comfortable fit
- INCLUDES: 3.5mm connection cord for MP3 players and scanners; includes 2 AAA batteries; automatic shut-off feature engages after 4 hours to help save battery life; approx. 350 hours battery life
Howard Leight Impact Pro Sound Amplification Ear Muffs are a beefed-up version of the Impact Sport design. They’re full-sized, not low profile, but the extra bulk allows them to provide 30 decibels of noise reduction. Like the Impact Sport, they also amplify anything quieter than 82 decibels. They also have rubber bumpers on the shell to keep it from scratching your rifle stock.
These ear muffs are sensitive to some cell phones, which can cause them to hiss constantly. Try them out as soon as you get them to make sure your phone isn’t a problem. The battery life is excellent – 350 hours – and they take AAA batteries. They’re also reasonably priced for the quality.
- 30dB of noise reduction
- Amplifies anything quieter than 82dB
- Padded, adjustable headband
- Rubberized shell prevents scratching
- 350 hours of battery life
- Great value
- Sensitive to electromagnetic interference
Why it’s recommended: The Howard Leight Impact Pro aren’t the best ear muffs on our list, but they’re by far the best shooting ear muffs for the money.
Pro Ears Hearing Protection
- Ear Muffs: Provides noise protection with Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 28 - The most protection available on the market today. Battery life is up to 250 hours with normal use
- Hearing Protection: Features Pro Form Leather ultra-comfortable viscoelastic ears seals & padded, adjustable headband for impact sport shooting
- Ear Muffs with Headphone Jack: Features 3.5mm input jacks for connecting phones & music devices. Gold connectors for premium sound quality. Has an industry-leading attack time of 1.5 milliseconds. Automatically shuts off after 4 hours of inactivity
- Hearing Amplification: The electronic hearing protection has 2 military grade circuit boards for greater adjustability. Features exclusive DLSC Compression Technology for improved situational awareness
- Shooting Ear Protection: The hearing protection features an 8-bit microprocessor controls self-diagnostics test, ensuring that the device works properly. (4 Lithium 123) Batteries Included
Pro Ears Pro Tac Slim Gold Shooting Ear Muffs have a slim profile, and amplify softer sounds in your environment. The decibel level is set with a dial, so you control the level of amplification. There’s even a high gain setting for hunters, so you can hear sounds you’d otherwise miss.
These ear muffs only provide 28 decibels of noise reduction, but they’re useful for more than just shooting. Thanks to the aux jack, you can plug your iPhone into them and use them while you’re mowing the lawn. They accept AAA batteries, and have a battery life up to 250 hours.
- Built-in amplification
- High gain option for hunters
- 250 hours of battery life
- Aux jack for iPhones or MP3 players
- Only 28dB of noise reduction
Why it’s recommended: Pro Ears Pro Tac Slim Gold Shooting Ear Muffs are a good choice for pretty much any activity, from hunting to everyday chores.
MSA Sordin Electric Earmuff
$257.00 in stock
- Equipped with the MSA Sordin Supreme GEL Comfort Earseals
- MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X - US military grade earwear
- Dampens harmful noise to 82dB. Amplifies safe noise four times
- Foldable and slim design of cups suitable for both left and right-handed shooters
- Very low battery consumption: 600 hours of battery life
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Electronic Ear Muffs are noise canceling ear muffs that also boost the volume of quieter sounds. As a result, everything comes in at a nice even 82 decibels, whether you’re blasting away with a 12 gauge or stalking a deer in the woods.
The padded headband is adjustable to fit most people, and the AAA batteries provide a whopping 600 hours of use before you need to change them. There’s also an aux jack, so you can listen to your favorite tunes if you’re using them in the shop. The only drawback is the extremely high price, but you get what you pay for.
- Noise cancelling
- Amplifies quieter sounds to 82dB
- Padded, adjustable headband
- 600 hours of battery life
- Has an aux jack
Why it’s recommended: The MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Electronic Ear Muffs are ideal for anyone who wants maximum performance and doesn’t mind paying for it.
Mpow Noise Reduction Ear Muffs
- NRR Sound Technology: designed with 2 layers of professional noise dampening foam, high sealing solid cup and the unique double-shell, the ear muffs offer a high SNR of 34dB for noise cancelling.
- Ansi S3. 19 & CE en352-1 Certified: lab tested and certified to us and European standards. Professional ear defenders for hunting season or shooting at the gun range.
- Adjustable Headband Design: Designed with retractable stainless steel at the end of headband, The ear muffs can be adjusted to fit all sizes.
- Compact and Portable: Our lightweight ear muffs feature a foldable style as the ear cups collapse into the headband. Travel drawstring bag included for ease of packing them or to neatly store away
- Silence Your World: ideal for shooting, hunting, sports events, concerts, festivals, studying and operating machinery to protect hearing, especially suitable for work in construction and landscaping work.
Mpow 035 Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs are a big set of ear muffs that provide big time noise reduction. With 34 decibels of noise reduction, they’re useful for shooting virtually any type of firearm. To get this level of reduction, you’ll need a good fit. In that regard, they’re not good for people with smaller heads, since they have a large band.
That said, the headband is adjustable for medium to large sizes, and is well padded for comfort. This pair of ear muffs is fairly bulky, like the pair of Mickey Mouse ears you see on airport workers, but Mpow makes up for that by including a carrying case. They’re also very inexpensive.
- 34dB noise reduction
- Adjustable, padded headband
- Comes with a carrying case
- Very inexpensive
- Doesn’t fit smaller heads
Why it’s recommended: The Mpow 035 Noise Reduction Safety Ear Muffs are huge, but they’re cheap and effective.
Pro For Sho Ear Protection
3 used from $15.15
- 34dB – Highest Hearing Protection Ratio Earmuffs Help Silence Your World “ In A Snap ”
- SOLID, LIGHTWEIGHT – Specifically resigned to address the limitations of conventional ear muffs
- COMPACT & EASILY CARRIED – Perfect for carrying in bags without weight or bulk
- Industrial Grade Ear Muffs Protect Your Hearing During Shooting, Hunting, Woodworking and Study
- ✭ SMALL SIZE: Young Child through Average Adult, LARGE SIZE: Average Teen to Large Adult | Looking for large size? Search " ProForSho Large Ear Protection " on Amazon ✭ - THE PRO FOR SHO PROMISE - 90 DAYS NO RISK MONEY BACK GUARANTEE and LIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY
The Pro For Sho 34dB Shooting Ear Protection is a pair of ear muffs that are designed specifically for range use. They provide an impressive 34 decibels of noise reduction, and have a curved profile to keep them from getting in the way of your gun. They’re also collapsible, and will fit easily in your range bag.
These inexpensive ear muffs have a padded headband for plenty of comfort. However, the headband isn’t adjustable, and doesn’t reach far enough for larger heads.
- 34dB noise reduction
- Padded headband
- Collapsible for easy storage
- Good profile for shooting
- Doesn’t fit larger heads
- Not adjustable
Why it’s recommended: Pro For Sho 34dB Shooting Ear Protection is a quality pair of ear muffs that comes at a low price.
Mpow Electronic Ear Muffs
- Rechargeable battery&30-hour long use: USB rechargeable design and built-in 500mAh battery allows the ear muff to work for 30 hours. (In full charged) enjoy your full day activity without worrying about power off.
- Efficient shooting-range noise reduction: double-shell sealing technology and new thickened materials offer SNR 26dB noise reduction. Mow professional noise reduction ear muff effectively filters low noise and increases stereo effect. The noise over 82dB will be automatically reduced to protect your ear, providing optimal noise reduction across all frequencies on power on mode.
- Distortion-free sound amplification: Mow two Omni-directional microphones amplify range commands and other ambient sounds to a safe 82 dB, providing more natural listening and enhanced communication.
- Ultra-thin outlook & snug fit: Mow electronic shooting ear protection adopts the Classic low profile ear cups design with padded ear cushion and headband, which gives you an upgraded comfortable wearing experience while enhancing noise Blocking ability. Mow noise reduction ear muff is ANSI S3. 19 & CE en352-1 certified, which prevents from irritating and allows durability for safe and constant use.
- Headphone functionally & Life-time: Mow shooting ear protection Includes aux input and equipped with 3. 5mm audio port and Cable, just connect your Mow ear muff as a headset to your phone, external MP3 player or other audio devices. Designed for shooting and hunting, Mow professional noise reduction ear muff is also great for indoor gun range, racing, reading, concert, studying and operating machinery; Mow 094 shooting earmuffs enjoy a life-time.
Mpow 094 Electronic Shooting Ear Muffs have a built-in amplifier which boosts quiet sounds to 82 decibels, which is a huge help when you’re stalking game in the woods. At the same time, they reduce gunshots and other loud sounds by 26 decibels. The battery lasts 30 hours, and charges via USB.
The padded headband is adjustable and very comfortable to wear. There’s also an aux jack for connecting your iPhone or MP3 player while you’re doing everyday chores. Mpow offers a lifetime warranty, so you can be confident in your investment.
- Boosts quieter sounds to 82dB
- Rechargeable battery
- Adjustable, padded headband
- Aux jack for iPhones or MP3 players
- Lifetime warranty
- Only 26dB of noise reduction
Why it’s recommended: Mpow 094 Electronic Shooting Ear Muffs are useful for most firearms, and double as a pair of headphones.
Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs
- CUSTOM MOLDED EARPLUGS: Easily and quickly fitted to the exact shape of your ear. This creates a perfect fitting earplug that will never hurt, never fall out and provide superior noise isolation.
- EASY SHAPE SYSTEM: Simply heat the Decibullz thermoplastic molds in boiling water, let them cool for a bit, and shape them to your ears. That's it, and If you don't get the perfect fit the first time Decibullz are the only custom earplugs that are re-moldable.
- PERFECT FOR ANY SITUATION: Decibullz are perfect for safety, traveling, swimming, loud concerts, and musicians.
- INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE: Two Decibullz Thermoplastic Custom Molds, Three Sets of Triple Flange Tips S, M, L, One Set of Max Protect MEDIUM Foam Tips, Earplug Carrying Pouch with Decibullz Logo
- OUR STORY: Kyle Kirkpatrick is a Olympic level gymnastics coach, extreme athlete and a tech nerd. But he was fed up with headphones because they wouldn't stay in, sounded awful or hurt his ears. Kyle consulted audio engineers, material specialists and high-level athletes to develop and test hundreds of designs, formulas and prototypes in order to create an easy and affordable custom molded earphone. In February 2012 Kyle created the worlds first thermo-fit custom earphone and Decibullz was born.
Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs are made to fit virtually any ear. They have a two part design: an outer plastic shell that sits in your outer ear, and washable silicon plugs that go into your ear canal. The silicon plugs come in three different sizes. To fit the outer shells, you boil them in water, then press them into your ear while they’re still warm.
Unfortunately, the hard plastic part doesn’t “stick” to your outer ear, so you’ll need to rely on the silicon plugs to keep them in. They’re still very comfortable, though, and provide an impressive 31 decibels of noise reduction.
- 31dB of noise reduction
- Will custom fit to almost any ear
- Three sets of washable silicon tips
- Doesn’t stick to your ears
Why it’s recommended: Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs are some of the most comfortable earplugs on the market, and reduce noise significantly.
ClearArmor Shooting Ear Muffs
- SonicSeal - ClearArmor's exclusive sound technology provides better protection to save your hearing.
- Comfortable, premium quality, lightweight, super soft ear ring foam for maximum long wear comfort.
- Padded head band adjusts to fit most head sizes . . . Industrial grade. . . Engineered to last
- Compact folding design for efficient storage. . . Snug reliable fit to keep our muffs on your head.
- 2 Pack - ANSI S3.19 & CE 352-1 Tested Certified. . . Over head ear muff, perfect fit swivel cup design
ClearArmor 2-Pack Safety Shooting Ear Muffs are full-profile ear muffs that provide 31.5 decibels of noise reduction. They have a padded headband that adjusts to fit most people’s heads, and they’re very reasonably priced. They also come in a 2-pack, as the name implies, which makes them ideal for couples who spend time together at the range.
That said, these ear muffs don’t work well with glasses. The padding just isn’t flexible enough to provide a good seal around glasses frames. They also have small ear wells, so they don’t fit well if you have large ears.
- 31.5dB of noise reduction
- Padded adjustable headband
- Comes in a 2-pack
- Very affordable
- Doesn’t work well with glasses
- Small ear wells
Why it’s recommended: ClearArmor 2-Pack Safety Shooting Ear Muffs are perfect for couples who like to go shooting together.
Howard Leight by Sperian
- Country of Origin: Mexico
Howard Leight Banded Earplugs are a pair of rubber earplugs that are joined by a semi-rigid plastic band. Because they’re rubber instead of foam, these plugs are washable. When they eventually wear out, Howard Leight sells replacement plugs.
These are convenient if you like earplugs but don’t want to risk losing one. The band keeps them together as a pair. That said, they only offer 25 decibels of noise reduction, so they’re only well-suited for shooting smaller caliber guns. The band is also a bit tight for people with larger heads.
- Washable rubber plugs
- Band keeps you from losing plugs
- Replacement plugs available
- Very inexpensive
- Only 25dB of noise reduction
- Not well-fitted for larger heads
Why it’s recommended: Howard Leight Banded Earplugs are a solid budget choice for people who shoot smaller caliber firearms.
- EAR PROTECTION MEETS SOUND CLARITY: Decrease damaging noise levels without decreasing sound quality. Differing from common noise reduction earplugs that have a decibel reduction rating of just 15 dB or foam earplugs that muffles the sound, Meteli earplugs lead the competition with an optimal NRR of 26dB and filters that attenuate sound in high fidelity. This provides you a pleasant acoustic experience while protecting your hearing.
- COMFORTABLE BY DESIGN: In our opinion rocking noise reducing earplugs should not be painful. Our silicone earplugs make long-term use pleasant and easy, are non-toxic to keep away irritations, and are precisely molded to fit in most ear canals. Our set included a pair of reusable earbuds with a universal size that fit most men, women and kids.
- COMPACT & PORTABLE: Be able to escape high noise levels whenever and wherever needed with the sleek high-quality carrying case. No fragile plastic cases for storage here only sturdy and shiny metal. Our carrying case has a heavy-duty and light aluminum construction, which is waterproof and air tight to ensure no moisture or dirt gets inside the case.
- USER FRIENDLY DESIGN: With transparent material and a low profile, Meteli HiFi earplugs keep things stealthy and stylish. We have a discreet pull tab which is combined with the filter to make sure easy installation and removal. Wearer comfort has also been improved by ventilation channels to keep air flowing inside the ear canal
- 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEED: Experiencing any issues? Please contact us and we will do all we can to help you out. If you take your hearing and listening experience seriously please feel free to CLICK ‘Add to Cart’ knowing that we have got your back!
Meteli HiFi Earplugs are designed for musicians, and reduce noise equally at all frequencies so you don’t experience a drop in quality. Of course, they’re also a great choice for shooters, thanks to the fact that they’re designed to be used on a daily basis and can take a beating. The silicon plugs have a comfortable fit, and can be washed by hand.
These earplugs have a rubber band that connects them, making them harder to lose. They also come with a small carrying case, making them convenient to throw in your range bag. That said, they’re a bit on the expensive side for earplugs, but you should get plenty of use out of them.
- Comfortable and washable
- Very durable
- Includes a connecting band and carrying case
- Full frequency noise reduction
- Only 26dB of noise reduction
Why it’s recommended: Meteli HiFi Earplugs are great for shooting smaller firearms, as well as for everyday activities.
Walker's Electronic Muff
$35.34 in stock
5 used from $31.44
- Razor" ultra-thin rubberized cups
- Two Omni directional microphones
- Provides sound activated protection over 89 dB at 0.02 reaction time
- Noise reduction rating of 23dB.
- Operates on 2 'AAA' batteries- Included
Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Ear Muffs provide noise cancelling protection, but only reduce noise by 23 decibels. Consider these for hunting protection, but not for use at the range. They have an adjustable amplification knob for boosting ambient sounds. There’s also an aux jack for listening to music while you perform everyday tasks.
The padded headband is very comfortable, but is not adjustable. People with large heads may have some trouble fitting them. People with large ears will also have trouble, since the ear wells are particularly small. On the other hand, they have a slim profile that won’t interfere with your aim while you’re drawing a bead on that prize buck.
- Slim profile
- Padded headband
- Adjustable amplification
- Aux jack for playing music
- Only 23dB of sound protection
- Small ear wells
- Not adjustable
Why it’s recommended: Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Ear Muffs are a good choice if you need an affordable pair of hunting ear muffs.
Key Considerations When Choosing Shooting Ear Protection
If this is your first time buying ear protection, you probably have some questions about what’s good, what’s not, and what decibel ratings are all about. Let us enlighten you.
What Are the Best Ear Muffs For Shooting?
The best ear muffs, bare none, are noise cancelling models designed specifically for cancelling out loud noises. These devices work similar to cheaper noise-canceling headphones and earbuds you might already use for listening to music.
Since sound travels in a wave, the ear muffs can effectively eliminate the noise altogether by transmitting a wave that’s exactly the opposite. This works because waves are added to each other when they’re moving through the same place. If we imagine that waves are numbers, let’s pretend the crack of your rifle is a 40. A noise cancelling headphone will play an identical crack that’s at -40. The end result? Sweet silence.
Of course, these kinds of ear muffs can get expensive. They’re a good idea if you’re shooting a very large gun, or shooting a medium gun for a long period of time. But this kind of protection isn’t always necessary.
If you’re shooting a .22, for example, you’ll only need some cheap foam earplugs to keep your ears safe.
Most people are going to want something somewhere in between. Standard ear muffs are effective for most handguns and rifles, and won’t break the bank like a pricey pair of noise canceling ear muffs.
If you own a high-powered rifle and don’t want to spend a small fortune on high-performance noise canceling earmuffs, a good technique is to combine foam earplugs with a set of standard earmuffs. They’ll work together to reduce noise by a much larger amount.
What is an NRR Rating, and What is a Good Rating For Shooting Ear Muffs?
NRR stands for Noise Reduction Rating, and it’s a measure of how many decibels it will reduce sound by. The higher the rating, the more noise it will reduce. But what do decibels mean in real life terms? Here are some examples of everyday sounds:
- 40dB – A quiet room
- 50 dB – Moderate rainfall
- 60 dB – Normal conversation
- 70 dB – Vacuum cleaner
- 80 dB – A busy road
- 90 dB – A lawnmower
- 100 dB – A chainsaw
- 110 dB – Heavy construction equipment
- 120 dB – A jet aircraft
- 130 dB – A Jackhammer
- 140 dB – An air raid siren
- 150 dB – The loudest part of a heavy metal concert
OSHA recommends ear protection for extended exposure to anything louder than 90dB. The louder the noise, the faster it can damage your hearing. For example, a company can be fined if their workers are exposed to 110dB of sound for more than 30 minutes a day without ear protection.
How do some common firearms stack up? Let’s take a look:
- Ruger 10/22 – 140dB
- 12 gauge shotgun – 160dB
- Glock 17 9mm – 162dB
- AR-15 – 165dB
- Remington 700 in .308 – 167dB
- Glock 17 in .45 ACP – 167dB
Now, we’re obviously not going to get any of these firearms to sound lower than 90dB, even with very good earmuffs. Thankfully, gunshots are very short, so you have limited total exposure to the noise. Instead, most safety experts recommend using ear protection that keeps the sound below the “pain threshold”, which is about 140dB. That’s a bare minimum. For a longer shooting session, 130dB is a better goal.
So what’s a good NRR rating for shooting ear muffs? Whatever will get your firearm to sound quieter than 130dB. Exactly what that is will depend on the gun you’re shooting. If you’re plinking with your 10/22, a 10dB NRR will lower that 140dB crack to 130dB, which is safe. On the other hand, if you’re shooting a .308, you’ll need an NRR of 37 to get the same result.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with having more protection than you need. If you have multiple firearms, get a set of ear muffs that works with the most powerful one. No need to have a whole bag full of different levels of ear protection.
How Long Should Ear Muffs Last?
Ear muff durability is going to depend on a number of factors, and not all of these are under your control.
For example, foam earplugs should only be used a few times before you throw them out. While they may technically be effective far longer than this, they can harbor bacteria, so you want to change them out before this becomes a problem. Higher-end earplugs are made of ribbed plastic, and can be washed. Make sure to follow your manufacturer’s recommendations on the proper cleaning solution.
Standard ear muffs should last you for years, provided they’re not subjected to extreme temperatures. The same goes for noise cancelling ear muffs, although you’ll need to change the batteries from time to time.
As we hope we’ve made clear, there’s no single “best” ear protection for shooting. There are a variety of factors that go into choosing the best ear protection.
To begin with, you’ll need to choose ear protection that’s sufficient for the firearm you’re shooting. Anyone who’s ever heard a .22 go off at the same time as a .45 ACP knows that you can’t even hear the .22 over the sound of the .45. The louder your gun, the stronger protection you’re going to need to keep your ears safe.
You’ll also need to choose ear muffs that are comfortable, easy to transport, and that fits your budget. If you don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on a high-end noise canceling system, there are some very nice standard ear muffs that come at a fraction of the price.
That said, it’s essential to keep yourself under the 140dB “pain threshold”. Sounds above that volume can do permanent damage to your ears, and leave you with permanent ringing in your ears if you’re repeatedly exposed to them.
We love shooting, but safety is paramount, whether you’re on the range or in the woods. Stay safe when you’re shooting, and you’ll continue to have fun with your gun for many years to come.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide. We tried to review as broad a selection of ear muffs as possible, and we believe that there’s something on our list for everybody. That said, everyone has their own unique needs. If you decided to go a different direction, we hope at least our guide helped point you in the right direction. Happy shooting!
Best Shooting Ear Protection
Before you make a purchase, read through our reviews of the best shooting ear protection available on the market today.
- The Ear Buddy
- 3M Peltor Earmuff
- Peltor Sport Hearing Protector
- Honeywell Impact Sport Sound
- Honeywell Impact Pro Sound
- Pro Ears Hearing Protection
- MSA Sordin Electric Earmuff
- Mpow Noise Reduction Ear Muffs
- Pro For Sho Ear Protection
- Mpow Electronic Ear Muffs
- Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs
- ClearArmor Shooting Ear Muffs
- Howard Leight by Sperian
- METELI EARPLUGS
- Walker's Electronic Muff