Somewhere in the world, a range master or mom or handgun instructor just asked the question we’ve all heard countless times: “Got your ears on?”
Ear protection is the most important piece of safety equipment you can throw in your bag for next Saturday’s range trip. A tourniquet might save your life in an SHTF scenario, but you will guaranteed sustain hearing damage without proper protection.
Cheap-o foam plugs will get the job done in a pinch, but for all-day comfort and superior acoustics, I prefer electronic muffs. There are dozens of high-quality options these days, but Champion recently released a pair that caught my eye.
The Vanquish Pro Elite comes with all the bells and whistles. Two full dynamic range HD speakers and five omnidirectional mics mean you won’t miss a word of your buddy’s vacation stories (the speakers can also be turned off), and a <1ms sound refresh time means you won’t miss a ringing steel gong at 100 or 1000 yards. Sound compression technology provides a Noise Reduction Rating of 23db, and Bluetooth compatibility allows users to answer phone calls or listen to music.
The $249.95 price tag is steep, especially if you’re used to using foam plugs. But hearing protection is an investment in the future. If you use ear pro each time at the range, you’ll likely use the Vanquish Pro Elite more than any gun in your safe. Purchasing a high-quality set of muffs (to me, at least) seems worth it.
Plus, Champion also offers a stepped-down version—the Vanquish Pro—for $124.95. The Vanquish Pro comes with nearly all the same features as the Elite, except for the rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth compatibility.
» Safe Level Sound Compression Technology
» Acoustic Foam for All Day Comfort
» Sound Refresh Time <1ms
» 2 Full Dynamic Range High Definition Speakers
» 5 Omnidirectional Microphones
» 6x Amplification
» 12-Hour Runtime with Bluetooth, 100-Hour Runtime without Bluetooth Lithium Ion Rechargeable Batteries for Models 40982 and 40983
» 3 Hour Automatic Shut Off
» Noise Reduction Rating of 22 dB (without use of ANC) 23 dB (with use of ANC)
» Lithium Ion Rechargeable Batteries Included
» MSRP: $249.99
“So, Do You Like Them?“
The Vanquish Elite are comfy, and I don’t use that word lightly. The earmuffs and headband are lined with what Champion calls “acoustic foam,” which sounds gimmicky, but really works. The gel-like texture conforms around your ears to block sound waves without squeezing too tightly. Besides using the Vanquish Elite during all my range trips in the last three months, I also took the muffs on a whitetail trip here in central Texas and an NRL 22 rifle competition. Even after wearing the muffs continuously for hours on end, I never experienced any discomfort.
I also found that the foam helped maintain a sound-proof seal even while rifle shooting from a variety of positions. Especially when shooting a rifle with a low-mounted scope, maintaining a good cheek weld can push ear muffs away from the ear and allow the shot report to get through. I never ran into this problem while using the Vanquish Pro. The muffs were jostled and pushed while I worked my way through prone, kneeling, and standing positions, but the foam always kept a great seal.
The foam, combined with Champion’s sound suppression tech, keep your ears safe from shot reports, but the HD speakers and microphones make sure you don’t miss anything else – and that includes steel targets at medium-distance ranges. I wasn’t sure why Champion touted the Vanquish Elite’s <1ms “refresh time” until I compared the muffs to cheap-o electronic ear pro while shooting at 400-yard steel targets. The super-quick refresh time allows the Vanquish Elite to suppress a shot report and instantaneously switch the microphones back “on.” This means that users can shoot at metal targets at nearly any distance and still hear that oh-so-satisfying sound of ringing steel.
The sound quality from the microphones is great, and I especially appreciated the 6x amplification on my most recent hunt. I don’t usually wear earmuffs in the tree stand, but I wanted to take the Vanquish Elite in the woods to test their performance.
Do you know how every squirrel and bird rustling the leaves sounds like the biggest buck of your life? That’s usually one of my issues while waiting (and shivering) on a cold November morning. But the Vanquish Elite allowed me to better differentiate between the various woodland creatures and listening to deer make their way through the tree line definitely helps maintain patience.
Range conversations were generally clear, but wind was an issue. During one blustery day, I had trouble hearing what my fellow shooters were saying. Turning the microphone grates away from the wind helped, but that also meant turning my face away from the wind, which got awkward when I was speaking to someone standing upwind.
Despite some wind noise issues, Champion’s Vanquish Pro Elite is a great option if you’re looking to step up your ear pro game. The acoustic foam and sound suppression keep your ears comfortable all day, the speakers and microphones provide clear feedback about your surroundings, and the 6x amplification is handy in the tree stand. And I didn’t even mention the Bluetooth technology (which has worked flawlessly, though I’ve only been using it for a few months) or the 100-hour battery runtime (12 hours with Bluetooth enabled).
Bottom line: when it comes to your hearing, good ear pro is an investment in the future, and Champion’s new line is worth a look.