I think AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs are an essential piece of gear for those who want to protect and enhance their hearing at the shooting range and even while afield hunting. I explain why I feel this way in my AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muff review.
My dad either used very primitive ear protection (like cotton balls) or didn’t wear any hearing protection at all when he went shooting as a boy. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then and almost all shooters now agree that it’s a good idea to wear hearing protection at the shooting range. We also have access to much more technologically advanced forms of ear protection now than my dad did when he first started shooting, like AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs.
I’ve used all sorts of hearing protection over the years like plain old foam ear plugs, impulse ear plugs, over the ear muffs, electronic ear muffs, and even electronic ear buds with varying degrees of success. However, I discovered AXIL TRACKR BLU electronic ear muffs in 2021 and they’re now easily my favorite ear protection for use at the shooting range, and even for hunting sometimes.
I’ll get into the details here in a minute, but they have a few great features that set them apart from the competition.
First, AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs protect your hearing. Second, they provide audio enhancement and actually make quiet sounds easier to hear, but will still protect your ears from loud sounds like gunshots. Finally, they have 5.0 Bluetooth connectivity and can be paired with your phone to allow you to listen to podcasts and music or even take phone calls.
In this article, I’m going to explain what makes AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs different from most other ear protection products these days and go over the pros and cons of these ear muffs so you can make an informed decision regarding whether or not they make sense for you to use yourself.
Before we get started, I have two administrative notes:
First, the folks at AXIL sent me a set of AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs free of charge in exchange for an honest review and evaluation.
Second, some of the links below are affiliate links. This means I will earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase. This helps support the blog and allows me to continue to create free content that’s useful to people like you. Thanks for your support.
What Are AXIL TRACKR BLU Ear Muffs And How Do They Work?
The story of AXIL begins with the founding of the Harris Hearing Group. Based in the western United States, they have worked in the hearing aid industry since 1958 and dove into the sporting ear protection world in 2000 when they launched the SportEAR brand.
Founded in 2012, AXIL is a family owned business headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah that’s the final result of combining those two brands and all of their experience and expertise accumulated over the course of over 50 years in the hearing business.
Due to their history and experience in the hearing aid industry, the folks at AXIL took an approach with their hearing protection that’s slightly different from what some people may be used to with electronic ear protection.
Older electronic earmuffs and ear plugs (and some lower cost modern electronic ear protection) will simply turn off their microphones when they detect sound levels above a certain level and protect the user with regular passive hearing protection. After a certain period of time, the microphones turn back on.
The end result is that they’ll amplify quieter sounds under normal conditions, quickly turn off when detecting a louder noise, then turn back on when the dangerous noise is no longer present. That way of doing things generally worked pretty well and was a massive improvement over passive hearing protection by protecting hearing from dangerous sounds while providing hearing amplification the rest of the time.
However, that could get a little annoying when in certain really noisy environments. For instance, there may be almost continuous gunfire at a really busy shooting range.
Under those conditions, the amplification will be constantly cutting in and out, leaving the user with just the passive protection and no amplification. This isn’t dangerous, but it can be annoying, especially when trying to have a conversation.
The speed the amplifier turns on and off is called “attack time.” Well, more modern electronic hearing protection developed by the sporting goods industry have faster processors to decrease attack time to shorter and shorter intervals to reduce the “clipping” effect experienced with older electronic ear muffs.
More advanced models, like AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs, do things a little differently and use sound compression technology instead of simply turning off the amplifier when loud noises are detected. This allows the user to still hear all sounds in the environment around them, but reduces extremely loud noises to safe levels.
This completely eliminates that clipping effect experienced with other ear protection. However, it can be a little confusing to users used to having their electronic ear muffs shut off to block out gunshots. Indeed, a gunshot will still sound exactly like a gunshot with ear protection that uses sound compression technology.
It won’t be nearly as loud as it would be without ear protection though. This is great once you get used to it because they deliver a continuous stream of sound into your ears at a safe level without cutting in and out.
Like I mentioned earlier, this is how AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs protect hearing and they shut out sounds at 85 dB or higher. According to AXIL, they have a 27 dB noise reduction rating (27 dB SRR), which is towards the high end of normal for an NRR with hearing protection in that price range.
They also have a .02 second reaction time and will activate their autoblocker technology extremely rapidly.
Additionally, some firearms produce a pressure wave strong enough cause hearing loss by damaging the bones behind the ear. This can occur even if the ear canal is protected by an ear plug.
This is particularly true for people shooting indoors, those exposed to extremely loud gunshots like a .50 BMG, or those exposed to repeated shots from shotguns or rifles at close range (such as waterfowl hunters or hunting guides). While ear plugs are certainly better than nothing, electronic or even passive earmuffs are actually the most effective shooting and hunting ear protection you can wear.
Fortunately, AXIL TRACKR BLU electronic ear muffs also protect the bones of hearing behind your eardrum from damage caused by the pressure wave produced by gunshots.
They also provide advanced hearing enhancement.
AXIL TRACKR BLU slimline ear muffs have two volume control wheels. The larger wheel controls hearing amplification and the smaller wheel controls bluetooth volume.
To turn on hearing enhancement, spin the larger wheel upwards until it clicks. Hearing enhancement will activate at that point. Continuing the spin the wheel upwards will increase the volume. It’s a very simple and easy to use control system and you’ll be able to quickly and easily adjust the hearing enhancement volume to your preference.
AXIL advertises that TRACKR BLU ear muffs provide up to 40 dB gain or amplification (or up to 8x of clear hearing enhancement). So, they can offset mild or moderate hearing loss and even amplify normal hearing to better than average levels so the user can detect quieter sounds and/or noises at increased distance.
To turn on Bluetooth and pair with a device, turn on hearing enhancement first using the main volume wheel. Then, press and hold the Bluetooth button above and to the right of that wheel for a few seconds until you hear a couple of beeps in your headset. Finally, use the smaller volume wheel next to the hearing enhancement volume control to adjust the Bluetooth volume.
It’s important to understand that these features (what AXIL terms hearing enhancement & protection mode and bluetooth audio mode) can be used in combination with each other or independently. The two modes also have independent volume controls you can use to tune to your environment.
For instance, you probably don’t need hearing enhancement when working around loud, continuous noise sources like a generator or a lawn mower, but you might want to listen to music or a podcast while you work. You’ll need to turn the hearing enhancement on to use the Bluetooth, but you can leave it at the lowest possible level (which provides basically no sound enhancement).
The passive ear protection provided by wearing the AXIL TRACKR BLU will dampen the sound of those engine noises and you can listen to your favorite podcast via Bluetooth at a comfortable level while you work.
Likewise, you might want some amplified hearing to hear approaching game while you’re at the shooting range or out hunting, but not be distracted by music or a podcast. In that case, you can leave Bluetooth off, but turn up the hearing amplification a bit to hear sounds you might otherwise miss and still protect your ears when you shoot.
Finally, they use 2 standard AAA batteries to power those electronics (2 AAA batteries are included when you purchase a set). It’s very easy to switch out batteries by removing the battery door.
Note that using enhancement and Bluetooth together will deplete the battery much faster.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of the AXIL TRACKR BLU slimline earmuff, let’s talk about what I like and don’t like about them.
What I Like About Them
First, AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs are very good in their primary role of protecting hearing. Worn properly, they’re extremely effective and provide ear protection as good or better than just about any other ear plug or ear muff I’ve worn.
In fact, I’d say they’re hands down the absolute best form of hearing protection I’ve ever used since they protect the bones of hearing behind the ear and also provide electronic sound compression protection.
They’re also really easy to use: just slip them on over your ears.
As long as they completely cover both ears with no gaps, they’ll provide really good passive hearing protection. They incorporate a compact design and a comfortable headband, so they don’t take up too much space when not in use and are comfortable to wear.
Turning on the electronic hearing protection and/or Bluetooth sound will take things to the next level.
That brings me to my next point. AXIL TRACKR BLU headphones are also comfortable to wear for long periods of time. This is one of the things that really sets them apart from other ear protection models I’ve used. After all, ear protection doesn’t do you any good if you don’t wear it when you need it.
I live in Texas, so I spend a lot of time at the range (and even hunting) when it’s hot and humid. Regular ear muffs very quickly get hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable.
TRACKR BLU ear muffs are not immune from those shortcomings, but they’re also not as uncomfortable as other models I’ve used over the years. You’ll won’t forget you’re wearing them if it’s hot outside, but they’re not terrible to wear.
They’re also sweat and water resistant too.
AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs have and adjustable headband with a metal wire frame that will fit people with different sized heads and will even work with a baseball cap and shooting glasses. The overall fit of these muffs is very good and I have not had issues with my TRACKR BLU ear muffs sliding around or moving off my ears during a long and active day at the range or in the woods.
I’ve used these ear muffs pretty extensively at the shooting range and even while hunting. In both cases, comfort for hours of wear at a single stretch is very important.
I want something I can put on at the beginning of the hunt or the beginning of an hours long range session and not worry about until I’m done. The last thing I want to do is fiddle around trying to put something in my ears when I have a deer standing 50 yards away or have a headache after wearing for a couple of hours.
Fortunately, that’s not an issue with AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs. Providing good hearing protection and being comfortable to wear for hours at a time are both essential features in hunting ear protection and shooting ear protection.
So is hearing enhancement.
Luckily, AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs do a good job with that as well and I can actually hear better with them on than I can with nothing at all. While I cannot independently verify how much hearing enhancement they provide, they do indeed provide a noticeable boost to my hearing.
They’re also not bad in windy conditions. In fact, they’re one of the better electronic ear protection models I’ve ever used in the wind.
Yes, the wind can be loud in some cases (like a strong wind at exactly the right angle), but wind noise isn’t as big of an issue with the AXIL TRACKR BLU as I’ve experienced with other ear protection models.
I just turn the hearing enhancement off if the wind is too annoying though.
The fact that they’re earbuds instead of over the ear muffs is also a plus when shooting long guns as they do not affect my cheek weld.
I’ve also been pretty happy with the battery life for these bluetooth ear muffs.
I honestly don’t know how long the batteries last with these ear muffs. I’ve spent A LOT of time at the range with my TRACKR BLU over the past year and haven’t had to replace the batteries yet.
The sound quality of AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs is very good or excellent depending on the mode.
Their Bluetooth sound quality is absolutely outstanding and is almost indistinguishable from my Apple AirPods Pro Bluetooth earbuds (which are a much more expensive Bluetooth device and don’t provide ear protection).
They also work pretty well in Bluetooth mode while talking on the phone for hands-free communication. They aren’t my first choice for use in that role, but you can definitely take or make phone calls and carry on a conversation with somebody without trouble while wearing them.
Audio quality is a little lower, but still very good with the hearing amplification feature. It really does feel like you have “super ears” on while wearing them with the volume turned up and you’ll hear every little sound from your breathing to clothes rustling amplified to a high degree.
There’s a little distortion with the sound sometimes (which we’ll talk about more in a minute), but it’s not a major issue.
The sound compression features have worked as advertised for me though. Even when shooting at a very busy range with lots of other people shooting, sound quality remained excellent. As advertised, sound does not cut in and out and I have not had a single problem carrying on a conversation with another person while wearing TRACKR BLU muffs.
All things considered, I think AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs are outstanding choices for many shooting and even hunting applications. The same goes for those who want comfortable hearing protection with Bluetooth capability to use while operating heavy equipment, mowing the lawn, etc.
What I Don’t Like About Them
With all that said, there are a few things I don’t like about AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs that you should be aware of before purchasing a set.
First, they have a tiny, but constant hiss when the hearing amplification feature is turned on. For reference, my Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs have a comparable hiss. It doesn’t bother me much (and may be unavoidable), but it is something to be mindful of.
Next, they are sensitive to my voice and sound funny when I talk while the hearing amplification is turned up at high levels. This isn’t a major issue most of the time though because the times when I have the hearing amplification turned up the highest (when shooting or hunting) are also the times I’m least likely to be speaking.
Once again, this may be something that’s unavoidable.
Additionally, like all ear muffs, they might interfere with your cheek weld if you’re shooting a rifle or a shotgun. AXIL TRACKR BLU muffs do have a very slim profile, so this is not a major problem with me.
This might be more of an issue for some people and for some specific firearms, so definitely keep that in mind.
Finally, while they provide outstanding ear protection under normal conditions, I don’t think they’re enough for use in REALLY noisy environments. I’m very, very conservative and cautious with my hearing (probably much more so than the average person).
For this reason, I think you should double up on your ear protection with ear plugs as well just to be on the safe side if you’re shooting something like a .300 Win Mag with a muzzle brake, a short barreled AR-15 at an indoor range, or a Barrett .50 BMG.
That’s not something unique to AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs and I’d give that advice to anyone shooting under extremely loud circumstances like those regardless of the ear protection they’re using. It’s still something to keep in mind though.
AXIL TRACKR BLU Electronic Ear Muffs: Final Thoughts
All things considered, I think AXIL TRACKR BLU ear muffs are outstanding ear protection for use at the shooting range and even for hunters.
I also have a set of AXIL GS Extreme ear buds that also incorporate AXIL technology (learn more about them here) that I primarily use for hunting. Both models will work at the range and afield hunting, but I personally prefer the GS Extreme for hunting and the TRACKR BLU ear muffs for the range.
The TRACKR BLU muffs are very easy to use, they do an excellent job of protecting your hearing, they provide clear hearing amplification and Bluetooth connectivity, and they are very comfortable to wear for hours at a time.
I especially like how they work well with a minimum of fuss, how I can wear them for several hours without my head hurting, the fact that they provide serious hearing protection (including the bones of hearing behind the ear), how they help me maintain situational awareness, and how they can even be combined with ear plugs for use in extremely loud environments.
Bottom line, AXIL TRACKR BLU electronic ear muffs are a great piece of gear that are well worth the money for hearing protection at the range (especially for range officers), while hunting, working with power tools, doing yard work, auto racing, and basically almost any other indoor or outdoor activities that require ear protection.
I highly recommend picking up a set and adding them to your range bag.
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Endorsement Disclosure: Per the guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission, the product reviewed here is an endorsement and I received compensation by “in-kind” payment to review the product.