Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or a newbie to the art, every hunter needs quality earplugs to protect them when they’re out shooting for practice or sport. Over time, your ears will be subjected to an awful lot of abuse if you’re passionate about hunting, which is why the importance of good earplugs should never be disregarded.
Sounds past a certain threshold have the potential to seriously injure a person’s ear drums over time, a fully preventable affliction given the variety of earplugs people nowadays have to choose from. With this in mind, let us find out what are the ten best earplugs for shooting at this point in time.
Best Earplugs for Shooting – Reviews
10Acu-Life Earplug – Shooter’s Hearing Protectors
Reusable foam earplugs are hard to come by, which is why the Acu-Life Earplug – Shooter’s Hearing Protectors are a special pick. These lightweight plugs are mostly made from silicone, which allows them to conform to the shape of the ear canal for maximum comfort and protection.
They’re also equipped with sound filters that block out loud noises while allowing soft, conversational and ambient sounds to filter through. They are capable of providing heavy duty protection from gun shots and are therefore quite effective at providing ear protection in indoor gun ranges.
9NoNoise Shoot New Generation Ear Plugs
Fitted with ceramic filters, these earplugs provide the best ear protection possible while still allowing softer noises to filter through easily. They are therefore suitable for use in places with plenty of ambient sounds such as outdoor ranges.
The plugs are made from hypoallergenic silicone-free thermoplastic materials that conform to the shape of the ear canal using the heat energy of the wearer’s body. They can be paired with earmuffs to provide additional protection from loud noises.
8SAS EarPro Safety Earplugs
Initially developed for military use, the SAS EarPro safety earplugs are well-accustomed to environments with random bursts of loud noises which can damage the unprotected ear. The plugs are ergonomically shaped and feature a multi-ribbed stem that provides a comfortable, leak-free fit.
They have an NRR of 24dB and are capable of protecting the ear from sounds louder than 85dB. The plugs also come in a robust clamshell package which includes a convenient carry case.
7Howard Leight Quiet Band Earplugs
The Howard Leight Earplugs feature a design that allows you to conveniently hang them around your neck when they’re not in use. The plugs are durably built and capable of blocking out noises of up to 25dB.
They are also light enough to carry with you everywhere (they only weigh 12.6 ounces) and are colored bright-orange to make them easier to spot when you misplace them. Each pair of plugs comes with free replacement pods.
6Howard Leight SmartFit Multiple-Use Corded Earplugs
If you’re looking for something a bit less conspicuous, these multiple-use earplugs from Howard Leight may be just what you need. The plugs are the first to incorporate the exclusive Conforming Material Technology which allows them to use heat energy from the wearer’s body to fit their ear canals perfectly, providing excellent comfort.
Despite having an NRR of 25dB like most other plugs, these SmartFit earplugs are exceptionally lightweight at 0.3 ounces. A detachable cord system allows users to hang them around the neck when they’re not in use.
5Mack’s Shooters Earplugs
Mack’s Shooters Earplugs are some of the most affordable ear protection plugs available on the market. The plugs are made from soft and very comfortable foam and have an NRR of 27dB, which is considerably higher than the rest.
The plugs are also attached to each other using durable string, which makes them harder to lose and easier to carry with you even when you’re not using them. They’re easy to clean, durable, and come with a carry box that keeps them protected.
43M PELTOR TEP-100 Digital Tactical Earplugs
The 3M PELTOR TEP-100 Tactical earplugs will cost you slightly more than you’d spend on other noise-canceling earplugs, but they’re certainly worth the extra money. The tactical earplugs are digital and are thus designed to facilitate better communication while delivering better protection from loud blasts.
Using technology that monitors the sound levels, the plugs are capable of switching instantly between modes and are therefore suitable for use in areas with sudden loud noises or intermittent blasts. They’re lightweight, compatible with a wide range of headgear, and come with waterproof rechargeable batteries and a portable charging case.
3Etymotic Research Pro Series HD Electronic Earplugs (GSP15)
This pair of award-winning earplugs were originally developed for the military and therefore, they’re capable of providing superior ear protection from loud sounds. The earplugs feature a dual-mode switch that protects users from loud blasts while allowing conversational noises and ambient sound to filter through clearly.
The plugs also come with an enhancement mode that can be toggled on and off using a switch to provide five times more amplification of natural and ambient sounds for clearer conversations. They have an NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) of 25dB, high-sensitivity microphones for ambient noise clarity, ACCU-fit ear tips, a neck cord, and a convenient carry case.
2Westone Defend Digital Ear Plugs
These earplugs are designed exclusively for use in shooting ranges or in combat environments. With an NRR of 30dB and amplification levels of up to 86dB, they are a clear head and shoulders above the competition, making them an excellent choice for professional shooters. Thanks to their unique digital amplification feature, the plugs allow conversational sounds to filter through in crystal clear quality while blocking out any potential ear-damaging noises.
Each plug is color-coded for easier identification. The package also includes a pair of spare wax guards, five foam tips of different sizes, a brush that has been fitted with a magnet, six non-rechargeable batteries, and a zip-up pouch for convenient storage and transportation.
1Surefire 4 – Sonic Defender Earplugs
These quality shooting plugs are suitable for people on a tight budget, which is surprising given the high standard you can expect when using them. They offer a modest yet decent NRR of 24dB and keep noises above 85dB out to protect your ears.
The plugs are made from hypoallergenic polymer and feature a triple-flange stem design that allows them to fit comfortably in larger ear canals. The tips are made of a comfortable, foamy material that is very lightweight. Thanks to their low-profile build, they can be incorporated easily into any headgear.
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Professional sportsman and hunters often spend a considerable amount of time researching and choosing the best equipment possible. They pour over all of the equipment—from their guns to the ammo they use to the type of safety goggles they may use—but it seems that few people spend a whole lot of time choosing their earplugs, which is a shame. After all, earplugs that are made for shooting are often the most important accessory to choose because it protects your most valuable asset: your hearing.
Loud noises, 85-decibels and louder, can be extremely dangerous to a person’s hearing, which means that hunters and shooters are always at risk of suffering some form of hearing damage if they don’t properly protect their hearing.
A gunshot can easily exceed 30-decibels, which is far in excess of a safe hearing range. Therefore, hunters and shooters should take every precaution when they’re shooting. This is usually done by choosing the best earplugs for shooting available.
However, not everyone agrees what makes for the best shooting earplugs. While we’ve included a list up above of the ones we feel are the best, the truth of the matter is that at least some people are going to want to choose ones that may not be on this list.
That’s why we’ve decided to go ahead and add this section, so readers can find out what we feel are the best criteria for choosing a pair of earplugs for hunting and shooting. Below are some of the things we feel you should look for when searching for a pair of earplugs.
NRR or Noise Reduction Rating
The first thing that you should check out on any pair of earplugs is the Noise Reduction Rating, otherwise known as the NRR. Hearing protection devices are regulated and must be thoroughly inspected before they are sold to the public, so testing is done to see how many decibels of sound they’re capable of reducing.
The higher the number of the earplugs, the better they will be at protecting the person’s hearing. If a pair of earplugs has an NRR of 30, then it can block out up to 30-decibels of sound.
Choose an Earplug Style
Another thing the hunter or shooter should decide upon is what type of earplug they want. Obviously, the foam ones are the cheapest and the simplest ones to use. And for some people, that may be good enough. There are also ones that are made from materials that can be molded to the ear and these ones are actually more effective because they seal the ear canal better.
This also makes them extremely comfortable to wear, too. Earplugs with built-in acoustic filters are often used by hunters because they don’t block out all sound, just really loud sounds. This allows the hunter to remain alert in their environment, while still protecting their hearing. New earplugs are also hitting the market all of the time. The earplugs which show the best promise are the electronic ones which can cancel sounds out on the fly.
While some people would insist that the color of the earplugs doesn’t really matter and in most instances, I would agree with them. However, some hunters either want a pair of earplugs that blend in with their environment or want a bright orange pair for safety reasons. It’s just something to think about when choosing a pair of plugs.
It’s also important for you to consider the size of the earplugs. While most earplugs will fit most ears on average, there are some models which are extremely small and others which are extremely large. Make sure that you buy a pair of earplugs that fit your ears properly, otherwise they’re useless.
Reusable or Disposable?
Whether you want to use reusable or disposable earplugs is up to you and is really dependent on a number of different things. Disposable models are lightweight and cheap, so when the hunter or shooter is done with them, they can simply toss them out.
Reusable ones cost a little more initially but since they can be washed and reused, they are cheaper over the long run. Reusable models also usually come with a strap so they can be worn around the neck when they’re not being used. Some hunters and shooters use a combination of disposable and reusable earplugs for different situations.
Protecting Your Hearing
Now that we’ve gone over the best earplugs for shooting, and have talked about what to look for when you’re buying a pair of plugs, it’s time to talk about using your new earplugs to protect your hearing. Since most hearing loss happens over time and not all at one time, it’s imperative that you use the best practices you have available to protect your hearing.
You simply can’t throw in a pair of earplugs without any planning or thought and expect them to just take care of your hearing for you. You’ll have to take your hearing in your own hands and do everything you can to protect it. Below are some tips that will help you achieve that goal.
Always Wear Ear Protection: You should never go to the shooting range or out hunting without at least one pair of earplugs, although more than a pair would be ideal. Either way, make sure that you have a pair available when you’re ready to fire your weapon.
Take Care of Your Earplugs: If you use disposable earplugs, then all you have to do is throw them out when you’re done with them. These type of earplugs shouldn’t be used more than once or twice before you toss them out. On the other hand, if you use reusable earplugs, then it’s extremely important that you clean them every time you use them to keep them in good shape.
Layer Your Hearing Protection: Some people prefer to layer their hearing protection for better results. What I mean is that they use earplugs along with over-the-ear hearing muffs. This allows them to protect themselves against louder, more aggressive noises.
Don’t Shoot in Enclosed Areas: And finally, make sure that you don’t fire your weapon in enclosed areas. This should be obvious, but I have known people who have tried hunting from the inside of their truck. Obviously, this is an extremely bad idea and should never be attempted,