Best hearing protection?

Best hearing protection?

This is a discussion on Best hearing protection? within the Off Topic Discussion forums, part of the Off Topic category; What do you use for hearing protection? I've researched a number of different devices, items, etc. and the products that seem to provide the best ...

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  1. #1
    Senior Member kingfhb's Avatar
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    Best hearing protection?

    What do you use for hearing protection?
    I've researched a number of different devices, items, etc. and the products that seem to provide the best noise reduction level are the foam ear inserts... rating up to a 33 NRR in most cases, though the "High-Tech" devices like the MSA Electronic Earmuffs only provide a NRR of 19 and cost almost $500.

    So... I think they're broken down into five types of hearing protection devices...

    • Foam inserts - up to a 33 NRR -
      These are your foam plugs that have to be rolled between your fingers and then inserted into your ear, where they expand to fit.
      Bone Collector & S&W M&P are best value in my opinion. Two sets attached with lanyard and a storage case for a little over $3. It goes up from there based on the number of plugs included in the purchase or the name brand of the product.
    • Plastic inserts - up to a 27 NRR -
      These are your plastic pre-molded or designed inserts that are attached to a lanyard (most of the time). They usually come with a storage case at the least. Name brands like Peltor make a three flanged set and come in sets of 3 for upwards of $7 in most cases.
    • Headband attached plastic Earplugs (Hearing Band) - up to a 23 NRR (31 in most electronic versions)-
      These hearing protection products are usually a lightweight plastic and have soft gel-like pre-molded earplugs affixed to a headband style structure. These items normally run between $5 to $10 depending on name brand, style and accessories included. They go even higher in price ($30 to $60) with an electronic version that is a noise cancelling system.
    • Ear cup headset - up to a 26 - 29 NRR -
      These are your basic earmuff headpieces. They simply fit over your ears to provide the hearing protection needed. The ear cups are usually filled with a sound dampening material or foam. They can run anywhere from $10 to $70 depending on name brand and style... some fold for better storage.
    • Electronic Ear cup headset - up to 20 - 24 NRR -
      The electronic devices are considered by some to be the best out there for several reasons (I do not agree). These devices allow you to wear your hearing protection and use electronic Noise Reduction technology to suppress the frequencies emitted by the firing of a weapon using microphones mounted to the unit while still allowing you to hear everything else... for instance, if you're at the range and everyone around you is shooting... you can literally carry on a conversation with the person next to you and be able to hear them very well. I do like how they function and the added convenience, however, with a price tag ranging from $40 to $500, they also provide the least amount of decibel reduction of any hearing protection product for the HIGHEST price.


    What do I use at the range? Well, as I said, I've used all of these devices over the years... Howard Leight powered earmuffs, S&W and Glock basic earmuffs, the headband style, flanged inserts and foam inserts... I actually prefer the Smith & Wesson M&P Foam earplugs that are attached by a lanyard and include two sets with a storage case. They're very inexpensive, long lasting and, as long as you're the only one using them, can be used over again. They are actually very close to the earplugs we wore in the Military and secondary hearing protection in addition to our earmuff cups. Of course, if you decide you just want the earplugs themselves, S&W also makes the exact same M&P earplugs with a storage case that includes five sets for the same price as the lanyard two pack. The foam earplugs provide the highest Noise Reduction Rating of any hearing protection out there.

    PLEASE NOTE: I am aware there are some other products out there... but this was meant for the recreational shooter who is an AVERAGE person making average money. Of course I would love to have a pair of ETYMOTIC ear plugs... but they only have a NRR of 25 and they cost more than $500 a set.

    So... what do you use and why?
    I respect all opinions and I expect everyone else to do the same. No bashing products or anyone who likes a specific product please.

    What kind of safety glasses to I wear? That's a review for another thread! I will say though, I prefer glasses that meet ANSI Z87.1 impact safety and MILSPEC ballistic standards for combat eye protection requirements.

    I hope you get some good info here and enjoyed the post.
    Last edited by kingfhb; 10-30-2013 at 10:34 AM.

  2. #2
    Junior Member disgustipated's Avatar
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    Thank you for posting this. I am very concerned about my hearing as well as I love music. I don't care for any electronic ear protection, I would just like to find the product that will protect my hearing the best. I have some older Winchester ear muffs that I purchased from Walmart some time ago. During a recent visit to the range, I felt as though they really were not blocking sound very well. I believe that they have a 28 rating, but I could not find anything else with a significantly higher rating. What I have decided to do is to use foam plugs and my muffs from now on. If someone has a better solution, I would love to hear it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jordanjf86's Avatar
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    I've found the best for me so far has been some disposable foam plugs that can be found in the walmart pharmacy section. They are rated at 33 or 34 I believe. The are purple in color and are cheaper than buying the kind sold in the sorting goods section and have a higher noise reduction rating. If anyone is interested I can pull the box out of my range box and post a pic of the box they come in.
    “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
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  5. #4
    Senior Member barstoolguru's Avatar
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    I like foam plugs and ear muffs over them; between the two you can't hear nothing
    the difference between wisdom and intellect, wisdom foresees the dangers in life, and intellect studies the aftermath

  6. #5
    Senior Member Jordanjf86's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barstoolguru View Post
    I like foam plugs and ear muffs over them; between the two you can't hear nothing
    This is probably the best idea. In case you get set up beside somebody with a cannon at the range, like being a few feet to the right of a guy sighting in a 300 win mag.
    “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
    Proverbs‬ 15:1‬

  7. #6
    Senior Member lineman475's Avatar
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    I agree with the above two. Indoor foam inserts under jell ear muffs. Outdoor (usually) just inserts.

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  8. #7
    Senior Member barstoolguru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jordanjf86 View Post
    This is probably the best idea. In case you get set up beside somebody with a cannon at the range, like being a few feet to the right of a guy sighting in a 300 win mag.
    what I learned is you can remove one ear muff to the side and talk but still have protection. there are very expensive electronic muffs out there that will do this but on my budge I find this works very well
    the difference between wisdom and intellect, wisdom foresees the dangers in life, and intellect studies the aftermath

  9. #8
    Member shiloh228's Avatar
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    Another opinion, from an audio engineer:

    Howard Leight R-01526 : simply the BEST! - YouTube
    "Get yourself a Glock and lose that chrome plated sissy pistol!"

  10. #9
    Senior Member kingfhb's Avatar
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    With my work on the flight deck while in the Navy I found that NOTHING beats the foam plugs with cans over the ears. The 33 to 35 NRR of the foam combined with the 22 to 26 NRR of the cans is unmatched for safe hearing protection. As I said above, I've tried a number of these different products and found that my past experience in the Military wins out... though, our foam plugs were cheap, and we ended up using disposable plugs for months at a time instead of once... then our cans were cheap and VERY basic. With the options you have today, you can't go wrong.

    I have a pair of the Howard Leight R-01526's... they are an amazing headset, however, they just don't provide the protection that a simple pair of foam insert plugs do. They are very cool though!

    When I hit the range, I usually just use the foam inserts... they provide the best hearing protection of any device overall. I may add outer cans depending on how I'm feeling that day. Basically, the NRR speaks for itself.

  11. #10
    Senior Member LightSaber's Avatar
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    The Howard Leight R01902 has a db rating of 30. The 01526 has a rating of only 22.
    Anyone have the 01902?
    Your mileage may vary. Batteries not included.
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