8 Best Earplugs for Shooting (updated 2021)
Like being able to hear? Then if you’ve ever had your ears ring after firing a gun, you should know that sound is actually the final swan song of the little hair cells of your inner ear.
Once they’re damaged there is no going back since the force of strong percussive sounds often causes them to die, resulting in permanent hearing loss that can’t be reversed.
This situation is entirely preventable, though, as there are several options for adequate ear protection while shooting, which is exactly what you’ll want in order to avoid needing a hearing aid in the immediate future.
The best earplugs for shooting models also happen to provide excellent hearing protection without sacrificing the sound quality of ambient noises such as conversations.
If you don’t fancy being deaf for the rest of your days, then look no further than below for a complete list of the best earplugs for shooting currently available on the market.
Your auricular orifices will be secure in no time.
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Contents: Skip to section
- 8 Best Earplugs for Shooting (updated 2021)
- Why do you need good ear plugs?
- Key Feature 1: Snug Fit and Comfortability
- Key Feature 2: High NRR and Acoustic Filters
- Key Feature 3: Durability and Reusability
- Reviews of the Best Earplugs for Shooting
- 1. The FitLife Ultra Comfortable 23dB SNR High Fidelity Silicone Earplugs
- 2. 3M Peltor TEP-100 Tactical Earplug
- 3. Decibullz Custom Molded Earplug 31 dB NRR
- 4. Walker Silencer Earbuds
- 5. Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs
- 6. NoNoise Shoot New Generation Ear Plugs
- 7. Pinkies High Fidelity Earplugs
- 8. Etymotic Gunsport PRO - Electronic Shooting Ear Plug
- Customer impressions
Why do you need good ear plugs?
Firearms are incredibly loud, with small rifles able to produce noises around 140 decibels (dB), while larger rifles and pistols emit sounds over 175 dB per shot.
A decibel is a term used to label the power and density of a sound, and the longer you’re going to be exposed to higher-frequency sounds, the better hearing protection device that you’ll need to wear.
Several studies have found that prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 dB significantly increases the risk of irreparable hearing loss.
This effect is only compounded if the gun is fired indoors since sounds tend to reverberate, drastically amplifying their noise level and impact.
For those who consider themselves gun enthusiasts, it might be wise to find some suitable ear protection such as earplugs to keep deafening sounds from inadvertently damaging your eardrums.
Earplugs are also a less cumbersome option than earmuffs for shooters who plan to be more than stationary and can easily be combined with the other devices for optimal noise reduction.
We look into the key features when choosing the best earplugs for shooting next.
Key Feature 1: Snug Fit and Comfortability
It might seem intuitive but if an earplug doesn’t fit snugly into your ear canal, then the protection it offers is basically null and void.
Earplugs can be as equally effective as earmuffs without the added bulk but ones that are too large are bound to slip around, exposing your eardrum and leaving it susceptible to being damaged.
The best earplug models come with no slippage technology which “lock” the earplug into place inside the ear canal via several contact points.
Almost as important as the fit of the earplugs is the comfortability of wearing them, particularly for prolonged periods of time since they can feel quite invasive.
The last thing you want is to be irritated into constantly fidgeting with them, thereby ruining your entire shooting experience.
Some earplugs are self-molding and utilize otoplastic technology to provide the user’s ear canal with a perfect, custom fit.
This helps form a tight seal thus ensuring your hearing will remain sound right into your old age.
For those worried about having an allergic reaction to the material, many of the best earplugs are made from non-toxic thermoplastic and others from hypoallergenic silicone.
Even people with the most sensitive skin are likely to find the perfect set of earplugs and their perseverance will be worth the weight.
Key Feature 2: High NRR and Acoustic Filters
The best earplugs models out there at the moment offer a high noise reduction rating (NRR).
This is a measurement used to specify hearing protection devices’ abilities to reduce loud sounds, particularly ultra-damaging ones like rapid-fire shots.
This means that the best earplugs should easily block out sounds over 80 dB, including gunshots, and effectively keep sound waves from destroying ear cells.
The higher the NRR, the more the earplugs prevent sound penetration with top models often beginning at 30 dB though 20-25 dB is considered acceptable.
The golden number is ideally 40 db, which is the NRR at which even the loudest blasts wouldn’t wake a sleeping baby.
This rating isn’t just given to any old earplugs, either, as it’s a certification that is only allocated by the American National Standards Institute in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This requires all hearing protection devices to be tested and approved before being put on the market to grant users quality noise reduction.
However, a high NRR can also lead to the user being unable to hear anything else either, so earplugs with special acoustic filters are the ideal blend of ear protection and audibility in relation to non electronic earplugs.
These filters will allow you to hear conversations and even the soft sounds of nature without endangering your eardrums.
Electronic earplugs also offer enhanced hearing features due to their built-in microphones and are therefore more suitable than passive, non-electronic earplugs for this reason alone.
Key Feature 3: Durability and Reusability
It’s a fact that ears produce wax and oils that can cause earplugs to slip around if they are not properly maintained.
This makes washable models the perfect candidates for those who might become worried about their auricular hygiene but don’t want their earplugs to disintegrate upon cleaning.
These types of earplugs normally consist of rubber, silicone or foam and this makes them much less vulnerable to breaking with time.
This is significant as it gives earplugs a serious advantage over much more fragile earmuffs which have multiple parts that can accidentally snap off like twigs.
Earplugs are also less cumbersome than earmuffs, allowing for better stealth shooting.
On the flip side, earplugs are generally very small compared to earmuffs, making them susceptible to being lost if misplaced.
Models in bright colors will certainly be a sight for sore eyes for individuals who are afraid of losing out on their investment.
Nonetheless, sage shoppers would still do well to splurge a bit on higher-range earplug models since users will get more bang for their buck in the long run.
This applies to electronic and non-electronic earplugs alike.
Some high-end models begin at reasonable prices and most have reputations for long-lasting use, especially of the electronic variety.
Reviews of the Best Earplugs for Shooting
1. The FitLife Ultra Comfortable 23dB SNR High Fidelity Silicone Earplugs
These silicone-based earplugs come in an aluminium keychain that is bound to aid in their transportability when not in use.
These earplugs are actually made with triple-tiered tips, which helps them fit snugly inside ear canals, and their middles are hollow, allowing for the insertion of special acoustic filters.
This permits users to block out damaging sounds while still being able to maintain complete auditory awareness of their surroundings.
Gun lovers who are also frequent flyers will enjoy an added benefit from these earplugs as they can also help to equilibrate inner ear pressure at high altitudes.
2. 3M Peltor TEP-100 Tactical Earplug
These electronic earplugs are considered some of the best on the market for active hunters, law enforcement and patrons of shooting ranges.
They are expertly constructed to reduce high impact noises upon activation and the electronic earplugs can be powered by three AA alkaline batteries or via a portable USB charging station.
Though electronic, these earplugs are resistant to water damage and at 23 dB they help amplify ambient sounds while blocking out harmful volumes.
These earplugs were built for the optimal mixture of design and function and their manufacturer specializes in producing various military-grade safety equipment.
This makes this model one of the best out there without the hefty price tag of higher-range versions in the same product line.
Their chargeable lithium-ion batteries can also last up to sixteen hours on a single charge.
3. Decibullz Custom Molded Earplug 31 dB NRR
Undoubtedly some of the most comfortable earplugs available, these customizable versions mold to the user’s outer ear using otoplastic technology.
This function lets them change into nearly any shape as the earplugs can easily reshaped just by using hot water and manipulating the thermoplastic with your fingertips.
It might take a few tries to find the perfect fit but once the earplugs have become tailored to your ear shape, they’ll provide excellent noise isolation.
These earplugs are sold in several bright colors, making them harder to lose, and each pack typically contains three sets of triple-tiered tips as well as two ear molds.
For those looking for earplugs that are sure to be easy on the ears, search no further than this model as it’s the comfiest out there by far.
4. Walker Silencer Earbuds
Powered by four #10 zinc batteries, these electronic earplugs hold up to eight hours of battery life and were designed with omnidirectional microphones and full-range speakers built-in.
They may only have an NRR of 25dB but easily suppress sounds over 85 dB Sound Activated Compression (SAC) while amplifying lower sounds to allow the user to maintain situational awareness.
Each package holds three bud sizes to guarantee that users find the ideal fit and come accompanied with a carrying case.
For those who are able to splurge a bit more, we recommend the Bluetooth version since it provides the user with clear audio for phone calls and the ability to listen to music at any time.
5. Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs
Although these earplugs were originally built more with musicians and concert-goers in mind, for only having an NRR of 16 dB, they are extremely effective at blocking out even gunshots.
Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs come in an ergonomic aluminium case containing earplug shells in two sizes as well as a pair of attenuation filters that go right into the hollow middle of the shells.
These filters permit the user to maintain full-spectrum hearing while still protecting their ears, meaning these earplugs won’t merely muffle sounds the way foam versions do.
The earplugs are silicone-based and non-toxic, ensuring that users can enjoy prolonged use with complete comfortability.
The triple-tiered tips are comfortable to use and cater to almost everyone to give the best ear protection.
Their clear shells do make them a bit of a hassle to find once dropped, though.
6. NoNoise Shoot New Generation Ear Plugs
NoNoise Shoot New Generation Earplugs comes with integrated ceramic filters that provide hearing protection and great sound quality, allowing softer noises to filter through.
This is perfect for those who prefer shooting to the sounds of nature in a forest or at an outdoor range.
With an SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) of 21 dB, these earplugs readily block high-profile sounds.
The hypoallergenic, silicone-free material also conforms to the shape of the user’s ear canals as the thermoplastic warms, providing an even tighter seal.
Its patented Venturi-shaped inner channels additionally absorb sound waves better than earplugs with straight channels, offering quality ear protection.
7. Pinkies High Fidelity Earplugs
These practically clear earplugs are virtually invisible when worn and are therefore best suited for those who want their ear protection to keep a lower profile while still offering a comfortable fit.
Pinkies come with an NRR of 25 dB, placing them in the median of the other earplugs on this list.
Their aluminium case is small enough to attach to a keyring and comes with two different-sized sets of earbuds.
These are only available in pinkish, skin-tone hue for the utmost discretion, but be careful not to lose track of them.
8. Etymotic Gunsport PRO - Electronic Shooting Ear Plug
While carrying one the biggest price tags, the final set of earplugs on this list is admittedly the best for those who can afford them.
The earplugs were initially created for military use and have since won several awards for their high-tech features and superior hearing protection.
Etymotic electronic earplugs have an NRR of 25 dB and can automatically provide 15 dB of ear protection with noises of over 85 dB such as blasts.
These earplugs are also equipped with a dual-mode switch which features an enhanced hearing mode that allows up to five times more ambient sounds to be heard.
This stems from the various high-sensitivity microphones embedded in the earplugs along with the high-definition sound drivers that help boost signal conversion.
Their rugged, square case also comes with assorted earbuds, replacement filters, a filter removal tool, an earplug cleaning tool, a neck cord, and eight #10 zinc batteries, offering more perks than any other brand.
Overall, they’re a pretty penny that’s sure to be well spent.
Overall the clear favorite would be the Etymotic Electronic Shooting Ear Plugs as they provide the best range of features although they come with one of the steepest costs.
The runner-ups would be the also electronic 3M Peltor Tactical Earplug coming in at second and the electronic Walker Silencer Bluetooth Earplugs at third.
The Peltor Earplugs have lithium-ion batteries that can last for up to sixteen hours and are easy to recharge but the earplugs are nearly as costly as the winner of the list, if not more.
In comparison, the Walker Silencer Bluetooth Earplugs’ #10 zinc batteries can only hold up to eight hours of charge, causing these earplugs to be outpaced by their electronic competitors.
Nevertheless, the Peltor Earplugs were constructed to weather harsher environments than all the other earplugs listed here since they were designed for more covert operations.
They are perfectly apt for gun enthusiasts who love to get a little dirty thanks to the earplugs’ advantageous water-resistance and their AA batteries are much easier to replace compared to the zinc ones of the Etymotic Earplugs and Walker Earplugs.
Electronic earplugs will always trump passive models since the latter typically muffle sounds by blocking most of them.
The more technology-advanced versions have the advantage of microphones which can enhance even the quietest sounds and allow the user to fully retain situational awareness.
These often come at a great cost, however, and these earplugs are therefore more recommended for frequent range-visitors who wouldn’t mind investing in more reputable earplug brands with high durability.
After all, you get what you pay for.
Middle of the range
For those who don’t want to rub more than two nickels together and are more casual gun enthusiasts, there are still plenty of suitable earplugs that can provide nearly as effective ear protection as the luxury models.
The NoNoise Earplugs’ ceramic filters help transmit lower sounds to ear canals and the material is silicone-free, ensuring that they won’t become irritating with prolonged use.
On the other hand, the Decibullz moldable earplugs do offer the most comfortability at practically a fraction of the cost of electronic earplugs.
Its inventor is an Olympic-level gymnastics coach who developed the earplugs after consulting with audio engineers and material specialists on how to create a customizable earplug.
It might take a couple of attempts but reviewers do say that the earplugs eventually mold to their ears with adequate suction and provide the outer ear with a great seal.
Lower end of the budget
On the low-end side of earplugs for the truly budget-conscious shopper, our top picks would have to be the Pinkies High Fidelity Earplugs or the Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs. The Fitlife earplugs also come close, and is worth a look at this price point.
All three are highly-reviewed by users as being the best on the market for their price range.
The Pinkies Earplugs have a higher NRR at 25 dB compared to the Eargasm Earplugs’ NRR of just 16 dB.
Both earplugs are only available in transparent colors, however, meaning they may be quite difficult to find by those of us with butterfingers so brands with brighter colors might be more appropriate.
There are many earplugs for shooting available on the market that come in a wide range of colors, earbud sizes, added features and prices for any budget.
Electronic earplugs are generally top of the line and win hands-down over passive earplug models.
There are still plenty of passive earplugs that have integrable filters that make them almost worthy contenders.
Regardless of whether you choose electronic earplugs or passive ones, there are superior characteristics that nearly all the best earplugs share:
- NRR of at least 20 dB
- A hardy case
- Special acoustic filters (passive earplugs)
- Various earbud sizes for a perfect fit
- Comfortability over long periods of time
- Easily replaceable batteries (electronic earplugs)
- Bright colors which make them harder to lose
If you don’t want to imagine being hearing-impaired for the rest of your life, then a well-made set of earplugs aren’t merely optional but obligatory to ensure ear health while shooting.
All of the earplugs mentioned on this list are readily available on Amazon for a fraction of the price of local retailers and include product reviews from other users who have provided detailed feedback for all your questions and concerns.
The safety of your ear cells rests in your hands while out at the range so don’t hesitate to protect them the best you can before it’s too late.
Your peace of mind is just one click away.
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