Best Hearing Protection, Earmuffs Or Earplugs? ~ VIDEO

Jason gives us an update on the best hearing protection for shooters and wades into that age-old debate: earmuffs or earplugs?

U.S.A. –-( If you are new to shooting you might wonder what the best hearing protection for shooters is between earmuffs or earplugs. Multiple studies have found that between 70 to 80% of people who hunt never wear earplugs or earmuffs, and nearly half of all target shooters don’t consistently wear traditional hearing protection. Hunters become seventy percent more likely to experience high-frequency hearing loss since the average muzzle blast has a range from 165dB to 185dB.  Anything over 140dB can cause instant hearing loss. Usually, people don’t realize they are in trouble until it is too late.

With two hearing protection styles available; what is the best hearing saver for hunter & shooters: earmuffs or earplugs?

The main advantage of earplugs is the level of protection they provide since they fit directly into the ear canal. One problem with earplugs is that they can be difficult to fit because they rely on properly fitting the ear canal to ensure full protection. Proper fit can be difficult to guarantee. One of the main advantages of earmuffs is that they are easy to fit and do not need to be specifically prepared, and can simply be put over the head. Earmuffs are very easy to fit, but they normally offer less protection than earplugs since they only sit over the ears, rather than directly in the ear canal. The downside to earmuffs revolves around them being bulky and throwing off the ability to get down on your gun stock easily.

Here is our run-down of the best hearing protection for shooters.

(in no particular order)

Howard Leight: Go PRO for High Performance Hearing Protection
Howard Leight: Go PRO for High-Performance Hearing Protection

Caldwell Shooting Supplies E-Max Earmuffs

The Best Hearing Protection, Earmuffs Or Earplugs?
Caldwell Shooting Supplies E-Max Earmuffs

Buy Now Gun DealsConcerned with bulky earmuffs? The Caldwell E-Max provides lower profile electronic hearing protection for shooters. The E-Max muffs include new technology to amplify voices and ambient noises. By featuring dual microphones that amplify noises below 85 decibels the E-Max ear muffs by Caldwell while dampening gunshots to hearing-safe levels. These earmuffs run off of dual AAA batteries and are designed to keep a low-profile to reduce gun contact while aiming. Find the Caldwell E-Max earmuffs here for a great price.

Walkers Game Ear Rope Hearing Enhancer

Walkers Game Ear Rope Hearing Enhancer
Walkers Game Ear Rope Hearing Enhancer

Buy Now Gun DealsThe Walkers Game Ear Rope Hearing Enhancer is a flexible, compact and simple set of earbuds enhancing ambient noises and blocking the destructive octaves of gunfire. This set of earplugs features a high/low compression mode, sound-activated compression, and hi-gain omnidirectional microphones.

The Walkers Game Ear Rope Hearing Enhancer gives shooters 29 decibels of sound reduction and features an integrated lithium battery that is completely rechargeable. Three pairs of foam earbud tips are additionally included. The Rope Hearing Enhancer also ensures that you can comfortably mount your rifle or shotgun without muffs getting in the way. Take a closer look at the Walkers Rope Hearing Enhancer here on Brownells.

Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs

Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs w FREE S&H Deal
Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs w FREE S&H Deal

Buy Now Gun DealsThe hearing protection pros at Decibullz have a buy-two-get-FREE shipping deal on their price busting Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs at just $25.99 each. We call it price busting as up to now custom molded hearing protection has been $100s of dollars and taking weeks to build, plus a visit to an ear specialist for custom molds to be made.

Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs are easily and quickly fitted to the exact shape of your ear. Reusable and extremely comfortable, this creates a perfect fitting, low-profile earplug that will never hurt, never fall out and provide superior noise isolation.

SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders

SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders
SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders

Buy Now Gun DealsThe SureFire EP4 are earplugs that provide a significant step up from your basic foam plugs but without the cost of electronic protection. Made with medical-grade polymer, the SureFireEP4 Sonic Defenders lowers noise levels above 85 dB and provides EarLock retention rings to help keep them securely in place. As previously mentioned, the best hearing protection for shooters in regards to earplugs is that they fit directly into the ear canal. The EP4 Sonic Defenders have a triple-flanged stem design and fits larger ear canals while still allowing safe sound levels can pass through into the ear canal. The EP4 Sonic Defenders are an inexpensive option for keeping your hearing protected. Check out the SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders on

Howard Leight Impact Sport

Howard Leight Impact Sport Earmuffs
Howard Leight Impact Sport Earmuffs

Buy Now Gun DealsWhen looking for the best hearing protection for shooters, the Howard Leight brand is time-tested and trusted. The Howard Leight Impact Sport is an electronic earmuff and provide protection from gunfire and other noises over 82 dB.  These earmuffs are built with a ventilated inner headband to minimize pressure on the head and a durable outer headband to withstand the wear & tear of hunting and shooting. The Impact Sport earmuffs are loaded with additional features like snap-in ear cushions, and directional stereo microphones and the Quick-Click headband helps make the right adjustments to fit you. Take a look at the Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic earmuffs at

Otis Ear Shield Ear Plug Headset

Otis Ear Shield Ear Plug Headset
Otis Ear Shield Ear Plug Headset

Buy Now Gun DealsOtis Technology offers the Shield Earplug Headset which is a compact design that won’t get in the way of achieving the proper shooting technique.  Ear Shields from Otis technology provide shooters Sound Reduction Chamber Technology which shields your ears from high-decibel noise comfortably while hearing other sound frequencies, like speech, clearly without removing the earplugs.  While you are not shooting you can simply lay them around your neck for convenient carrying. Check out the Otis Ear Shield Ear Plug Headset for a great price on Natchez Shooting Supplies.

The best hearing protection for shooters will always be, something is better than nothing.  Each form of hearing protection has its own advantages and benefits and you should pick yours based on your wallet and your situation, but do make the choice to protect your loved ones and your hearing.

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Best way to protect your ears is an unconstitutionally regulated silencer

J Richardson

My audiologist recommended I wear foam plugs plus muffs when shooting indoors. Her rationale was that you have to protect from both the loud noise and the concussion.


When I started shooting and using explosives we never knew about nor used hearing protection, save for the occasional cigarette filter in the ears. Now, 55+ years later I have severe hearing loss in both ears, in the high decibel range and, with many people, including most women (no joking), have to read their lips in addition to hearing the sounds in order to understand what is being said. I also, now, wear ear plugs as well as muffs to deaden as much sound and concussion as possible and save what hearing I have.

Dr. Strangelove

I wear foam plugs as well as Howard Leight Pros.


I guess the best way is to wear them both to double down hearing protection. I have a pair of Big Ear custom earplugs and a Peltor and I believe they work well together.


Only one protection gives a rating of dB reduction! Every 3 points is a doubling increase or eeduction of protection. Many in ear plugs only say 20-22 dB reduction!

The article says 140 makes us hard of hearing- but the levels above 90 decibels starts the damage! Ask me how I know!

I use muffs Of 30 dB reduction, the most that I could find, because they also help to attenuate the noises coming through our bone structure around the ear! The article also misses that entirely!