U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- For the longest time, I relied on the cheapest “tactical” style muff on the market, the Howard Leight Impact Sport, and had results that were less than encouraging. After a couple of years and several (six) pairs of failed muffs, I started searching for something that would hold up to the one to two full 10-hour days that I was spending at the range each week. Since the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X muffs had gained a pretty reliable reputation in the tactical community over the last several years, that seemed to be one of the better choices for my needs with the added benefit of looking tacti-cool.
Now a $250 pair of shooting muffs might not be for everyone, but after eating through so many muffs in such a short period of time, it was time to upgrade my hearing protection game to something a bit more durable. Even though the Howard Leight muffs had a pretty solid warranty, I really didn't like the idea of keeping a spare set around to use when I sent in a non-functioning pair for warranty.
Full disclosure: My wife purchased the MSA Supreme Pro X muffs for me as a birthday gift so I may be a bit more emotionally attached to them had I bought them myself or received them as a review unit.
Since the MSA Supreme Pro X muffs were a direct replacement for the Howard Leights it seems natural to use the outgoing muffs as a point of comparison. While the Impact Sport and the MSA Sordins have many of the same features like a single 3.5mm input jack, dual mic pickups, the need for 2 AAA batteries, and the all-important electronic amplification of hearing safe noises like conversation and wildlife, they are about as different as two things can be when you get down to the build quality and the durability of the muffs.
While the MSA Sodrins are a bit bulkier than the Impact Sports when folded, they are still reasonably packable and travel with me anytime I go to an industry event. The ridged over the top headband wouldn't be my first choice if I were to buy them again. They are not as comfortable as the model designed for use with a helmet in my opinion, but they are a touch more compact when folded. If space is a concern, this is the model for you.
Like previously mentioned, the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X has a single 3.5mm input jack to pipe in whatever your heart desires. Personally, I have never used it but could see the value if you wanted to listen to music when alone on the range all day or needed to pipe in a communications device for whatever reason. The model I purchased does not have a boom mic, but that option is available.
Controls on the MSA Supreme Pro X are simple and rather rugged. Instead of the wheel on the Impact Sports, the Sordins have three buttons, one for power, one for volume up, and one for volume down.
The two mics that pick up conversation and ambient noises have foam to manage wind noise as well as a rubber cage to protect the foam. The foam protection was a particularly nice selling point for me since the wind protection foam on my outgoing Impact Sports routinely got a bit torn up and sometimes became lost when rolling around in my range bag.
There are several headband cover options as well as some aftermarket solutions, I opted for the OG Woodland camo since I am a nostalgic sucker. The inside of the headband has some soft absorbent material and the whole cover is retained with hook and loop much like those wraps that used to come on entry level bicycles to protect your “bits” should you slip off the seat.
Two AAA batteries power the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X Muffs for over 600 hours according to MSA's specs. Practical battery life isn't easy to measure with the auto cut off feature, all I can tell you is I use two sets of batteries a year with an average of over 800 hours of use yearly. Installing the batteries is a bit of a pain in the rear, you have to insert one into the muff and shake it to the bottom then install the second battery and tighten the cap.
Thankfully it only has to happen once every 6 months or I might actually ding the muff of the battery compartment but it is probably the most rugged battery compartment solution that I can think of short of internal rechargeable batteries.
The ear cups on my particular muffs were the standard plastic covered foam but were replaced shortly after I got the muffs with the highly desirable gel type cups. Why did I spend extra cash on some fancy ear cups? The gel cup conforms to the temple pieces on my eye pro as well as the transition from my hat to the side of my head for slightly better noise reduction than with the standard part.
Out on the range, the muffs perform exceptionally well with both handguns as well as long guns. Unlike many other muffs on the market, the MSA Sordins do not come unsealed when shooting a shotgun with a high comb or a rifle with a high cheekpiece. The noise reduction offered by the Sordins isn't as high as some of the other ones on the market, but it is more than serviceable with the gel cups on an outdoor range.
Would they be my first choice if I primarily shot indoors? Not even for a second.
Are they serviceable outdoors? Yes, especially when paired with some foamies.
So what have I learned after owning the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X muffs over more than 2 years?
You shouldn't balk at the price when you are buying top end gear, always opt for the gel cups from the get-go, and never leave home without a set of spare batteries because there is no real warning when they are gonna die on you.
At the end of the day, I couldn't be more pleased with the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X muffs and am blown away that they work just as good today as they did over 2 years ago. As far as physical wear, they are handling it like a champ.
Still interested in the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X? They usually run for about $300 and are readily available on numerous sites. You can find more specs on the MSA website, but don't expect too much, the site is kinda rough.
About Patrick R.
Patrick is a firearms enthusiast that values the quest for not only the best possible gear setup, but also pragmatic ways to improve his shooting skills across a wide range of disciplines. He values truthful, honest information above all else and had committed to cutting through marketing fluff to deliver the truth. You can find the rest of his work on FirearmRack.com as well as on the YouTube channel Firearm Rack or Instagram at @thepatrickroberts.