Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Top Five Reasons to Carry a Revolver
- Top Five Keychain Tools for EDC
- Shooting in the Dark? The Top Five Low Light Fixes
- Top Five Pocket Carry Holsters
- Top Five Fixed-Blade Knives
Hearing protection? What? Why bother when you can shove cotton in your ears … or your pinky fingers … or a couple of 9mm cartridges? (And why is there no 9 vs. .40 vs. .45 debate on this issue?)
I sure hope you’re doing your hearing a favor and using protection better than those methods. There’s really no good reason not to these days. In fact, we have more hearing protection options than ever. In fact, three sets of electronic ear muffs, one set of electronic ear buds and one set of custom molded ear plugs demonstrate how much hearing protection has improved in a short time and why you should consider one of my top five modern ways to protect your hearing.
1. Decibullz Custom Molded Ear Plugs, $25.99
At the low end of the technology spectrum but at the high end of effectiveness, Decibullz Custom Molded Ear Plugs offer a custom fit for your ears — something that used to be considered more professional or high-end. Thankfully, for a retail price of $25.99 you can get made-in-the-USA custom molded ear plugs to fit your ears and your ears alone. So, one immediate benefit is these can’t be shared. But better than the fact that no one else can use them (at least not as well as you), Decibullz ear plugs are customized to your ears by you, in your own home. And if your ears change shape, you can re-customize them to your ears again and again. The customization process involves immersing the ear plugs in boiling water, letting them cool and then shaping them to your very own ears. The part that you customize sits mostly outside your ear canal; the part that goes into your ear canal is a foam tip. And Decibullz ships multiple-sized tips to you for a superior fit. Thanks to the custom fit and other design features, Decibullz have an NRR of 31, the highest rating you can buy.
Best feature: Custom!
Buy here: Make sure to shop the Decibullz website for these custom molded ear plugs.
2. Sport Ear M-4 Electronic Ear Muffs, $129.99
From ear plugs with no tech on board except a malleable, form-fitting substance offering a custom fit, we now turn to electronic muffs that not only protect your ears from loud noises (anything over 85 dB) but also enhance your hearing of normal noises around you. Sport Ear muffs have a power-on switch, adjustable volume control and microphones in the front and back to help you better know where sounds are coming from. These are comfortable, effective muffs, offering 25 dB of noise reduction. Even more: Want to play and hear your own tunes while wearing these? Plug your smartphone’s auxiliary wire into the 3.5mm port and jam on. Here’s a good idea for how to use these (and other) electronic ear muffs: Besides using them for range duty, consider keeping a set by your bed. If you are awakened by a strange noise you fear could be an intruder, put on the electronic muffs and turn up the volume. You’ll be able to hear any noise in your house much better and you’re hearing will be protected if you have to discharge your gun.
Best feature: Clear sound from hearing enhancement feature.
Buy here: Check out the Sport Ear website to learn more or to make a purchase.
3. Walker’s Razor XV, $159.99
If electronic muffs don’t feel good or perhaps interfere with your use of a weapon, consider a hearing protection solution like Walker’s Razor XV. Most of the device sits around your neck while retractable earbuds do the job of protecting your hearing. Similar to other electronic hearing protection devices, these too enhance normal sounds around you, making it easier to hear. Bluetooth-equipped, Walker’s Razor XV allows you to hear your smartphone sounds, including your tunes, all wirelessly. You can even listen to your smartphone through the ear buds but still hear the other sounds around you. Also, a built-in mic allows you to handle a phone call without engaging your phone directly. Other good features include two different styles of foam tips to get a great fit in your ear, it’s easy to charge via AC or USB and an auto shut-off after four to six hours.
Best feature: Out of the way and Bluetooth equipped.
Buy here: To pick up your Walker’s Razor, visit the GSM Outdoors website.
4. Howard Leight Impact Sport, less than $50
Similar to the Sport Ear M-4 Electronic Ear Muffs, the Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs protect hearing from dangerous noises, enhance hearing of non-dangerous nearby sounds and allow you to plug in your phone or MP3 player. Another key feature is the low-profile ear cup design, which allows you to bring a rifle or shotgun stock to your cheek with no interference. Thoughtful! These are great muffs. They’re very reliable and it’s easy to change the two AAA batteries on board. They’re also very comfortable and water-resistant.
Best feature: Designed to stay out of the way when aiming and shooting a rifle or shotgun.
Buy here: Shop the Howard Leight website to make a purchase.
5. 3M PELTOR SoundTrap Tactical 6-S Headset, around $50
Finally, the 3M Peltor SoundTrap does virtually all the same things as the other muffs but also allows for two-way communication between workers or users wearing the same set. Also of interest, according to the 3M website: “Separate microphone, receiver, amplifier and volume control in each ear cup gives true stereophonic sound.” It’s not the true stereophonic sound that interests me — although that is a great feature — but the fact that each ear cup has its own mic, receiver, amp and volume control.
Best feature: Maximized user control and terrific versatility.
Buy here: Visit the 3m website to learn more or make a purchase.
One last thought: Human heads and ears come in all variety of shapes and sizes, so remember (with the exception of the custom Decibullz) it’s important to try these on to ensure proper fit and function. And keep in mind the best features of each and your specific needs as a shooter.
For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.