11 Best Hunting Ear Protection Options For Sportsmen In 2020

Here are the best choices for hunting ear protection that hunters can use to safeguard their hearing.

I think we can all agree that we’d love to keep our sense of hearing for our entire life. After all, I’m sure you know someone who has a tough time hearing and can barely carry on a conversation. There are many different things that can damage your ears, but if you do a lot of hunting with firearms, there’s one simple thing you can do to avoid hearing loss and make sure you don’t have to wear hearing aids later in life: wear hunting ear protection.

Any noise louder than 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. I cannot state this strongly enough: if it is loud enough, a single gunshot can cause immediate hearing damage. For reference, a gunshot is about 130-180 decibels (give or take).

While noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus are both permanent, the good news is that it’s also preventable.

The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of ear protection describes how effective it is. Basically, a higher NRR means that hearing protection does a better job reducing your exposure to really loud noises.

However, you should keep in mind that some firearms produce a pressure wave strong enough cause hearing loss by damaging the bones behind the ear, even if the ear canal is protected by an ear plug. This is particularly true for people shooting indoors or those exposed to repeated shots from shotguns or rifles (such as waterfowl hunters or hunting guides). While ear plugs are certainly better than nothing, ear muffs are actually the most effective shooting and hunting ear protection you can wear.

So, to avoid permanent damage to your hearing, it is important that you wear appropriate ear protection when shooting or when exposed to other noisy environments. Luckily, this task is much easier than many people assume and there are a lot more good quality options for hearing protection while hunting than there used to be.

In this post, I’m going go over some of the best hunting ear protection products that you should be wearing afield to safeguard your hearing.

Note: 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 hunters like yourself. Thanks for your support.

Howard Leight Impact Sport

best hunting ear protection electronic earmuffs

What’s the best hunting ear protection? Hands down, it’s Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic ear muffs. They block loud noises, amplify quiet noises, and protect the bones of hearing behind your eardrum from damage caused by the pressure wave produced by gunshots. They also have a slim profile that won’t affect your cheek weld when shooting a long gun.

They are slightly more expensive than ear plugs or regular ear muffs, but they are still pretty reasonably priced. Like other forms of electronic hearing protection, Impact Sport ear muffs provide excellent performance by blocking loud noises and amplifying all other sounds.

So, not only will they protect your hearing, but they actually improve it as well. Since they provide hearing enhancement, this makes them ideal choices for hunting ear muffs. Additionally, they are very easy and simple to properly use and have adjustable headband that will fit a wide range of users.

With a NRR of 22, they provide ample hearing protection under most circumstances, but they may also be combined with ear plugs for extra protection in extremely loud environments. This makes them an incredibly effective form of shooting or hunting ear protection.

At the range, electronic ear muffs protect the hearing of the shooter, but still allow him or her to hold a normal conversation with another person. While hunting, this allows the user to hear all the little sounds he or she needs to hear, like the snap of a twig made by an approaching deer. Additionally, since they are ear muffs, they also provide protection to the bones of hearing.

Some people do not like to use ear muffs when shooting a rifle or shotgun because they think they’ll get in the way. Personally, I have not had this problem with the Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs. They have a very low profile design that does not interfere with my cheek weld when I’m shooting rifles and shotguns. So, I use them for virtually all of my shooting and hunting trips (including both big game and waterfowl hunting).

All things considered, I consider the Impact Sport to be well worth the money as hunting ear muffs, especially considering the fact that they only cost a little more than a traditional pair of ear muffs.

Buy your own set of Impact Sport electronic ear muffs here.

Walker’s Razor

picture of best ear protection for hunters walker razor

Very similar to the Howard Leight Impact Sport, Walker’s Razor electronic ear muffs are another great choice for hunting hearing protection. They also amplify quiet noises, but shut off to block loud sounds above 85 decibels.

With a NRR of 23, they also provide ample electronic ear protection under most circumstances. You can also combine them with ear plugs for extra protection in extremely loud environments.

Just like the name says, the Walker ‘Razor’ shooting earmuffs have a very low profile to avoid interfering with cheek weld, but without compromising hearing protection. The Razor series also comes in a bunch of color options (including camo).

Buy your own set of Walker’s Razor electronic ear muffs here.

Howard Leight Quiet Band

picture of best hunting ear protection howard leight quiet bandDesigned to be worn around your neck when not in use, the Quiet Band is well suited for hunters: wear the band around your neck while you’re trying to find game, the just simply pop the plugs in your ears right before taking the shot. This gives you the best of both worlds by having full use of your hearing most of the time while still protecting your ears at the moment of truth.

Since it only protects the ear canal and not the bones of hearing behind the ear, the Quiet Band suffers from the same drawbacks as other ear plugs though. For this reason, I don’t advise using it for situations where you’ll be exposed to high levels of continuous gunfire for long periods of time (like waterfowl hunting or shooting at an indoor range). The design of the Quiet Band also prevents it from being used in conjunction with over the ear muffs like traditional foam plugs.

All that being said though, the Howard Leight Quiet Band is inexpensive, lightweight, easy to use, and will provide good hearing protection for most hunting situations. These characteristics make it a great choice for hunters on a budget. Yes, this is the same ear protection Hickock45 wears in his YouTube videos.

For what it’s worth, Peltor also makes a very similar product called the Peltor Banded Hearing Protector that works very well too.

Buy your own Howard Leight Quiet Band here.

Impulse Ear Plugs

best hunting ear protection combat ear plugs

Impulse ear plugs are a significant step up in capability when compared to traditional foam ear plugs, but still go for a reasonable price. I have a set of Rooth C&P High Fidelity Ear Plugs that work well for me. These plugs are reversible: the yellow end provides noise activated protection against impulse noise (like gunfire) and the grey end provides passive protection for constant noise (like heavy machinery).

Unlike the Howard Leight Quiet Band, impulse plugs are designed to be worn all the time. The big advantage to these plugs is that they allow the user to hear ambient noise relatively well while still providing protection against gunfire and explosions when they’re used in the noise activated mode.

That is why they are issued to Soldiers in combat zones.

Since impulse ear plugs allow you to hear the much of the noise present in the environment around you, this also makes them good choices for hunting ear plugs.

While they are a good product, impulse ear plugs do not provide a very high level of protection overall (Noise Reduction Rating of 25 for passive protection, slightly less for noise activated protection). With that in mind, they aren’t the best form of hunting ear protection if you’ll be spending a lot of time at an indoor shooting range or shooting short barreled rifles.

However, they are a pretty good choice for protecting your hearing while hunting if you’re on a budget.

Buy your own Impulse Ear Plugs here.

In addition to the ones made by Rooth, Earmonyx, Safariland, and Surefire also make similar impulse ear plugs.

Howard Leight Impact Pro

best hunting ear protection electronic earmuffs pro

For those that want to spend a little more money for a significant increase in performance in a set of hunting ear protection, you should really consider a set of top of the line over-the-head electronic ear muffs. In addition to the Impact Sport model previously discussed, the same company also produces the Impact Pro.

The Impact Sport model is great, but the Impact Pro headset has a higher noise reduction rating noise reduction rating of 30, which makes them a better choice for hearing protection in really loud environments. At the same time, they are a little larger and bulkier than the Impact Sport electronic muffs.

Buy your own set of Impact Pro electronic ear muffs here.

The two Howard Leight ear muffs models are by far the best value choices for hunting ear protection. The Impact Sport muffs also made cut for my 2018 holiday gift recommendations. To see what other stuff is on the list, check out the following article:

101 Best Gifts For Hunters In 2019

Electronic Ear Plugs

best hunting ear protection game ear

For those that want the performance of electronic ear muffs in a smaller package, there are several different types of electronic ear plugs on the market today that are very good choices for use as hunting ear protection. Etymotic Gunsport Pro electronic ear plugs are one really good choice. The same goes for Walker’s Game Ears and Walker’s Silencer Digital Earbuds (which are the least expensive of the group).

Like electronic ear muffs, they block loud noises and amplify all other sounds. However, since they are similar in size to old school hearing aids (or even smaller in the case of the Gunsport Pro), they are much smaller and more portable than electronic ear muffs.

8 Best Hunting Ear Protection gunsport pro

Since they are ear plugs, they do not protect the outside of your ears. As a result, they are designed more for hunters than for shooters (though they may be used for both). On the other hand, they have the advantage of not getting in the way of a rifle or shotgun and they can be worn with any headgear. I have\ a pair of Walker’s HD Pro Elite plugs and I’ve used them pretty successfully on multiple hunting trips.

Walker’s Game Ears, Walker’s Silencer Digital Earbuds, and Etymotic Gunsport Pro earbuds are all great choices for hunting ear plugs. You’ll probably find that one of those models fits you a little better and is more comfortable to wear than the others though.

Once I got them adjusted properly, the Walker’s Game Ears were comfortable to wear for hours at a time (even when wearing shooting glasses or headgear) and did a good job of amplifying and blocking the proper noises. While they are very good choices for hearing protection while hunting, electronic ear plugs have two significant drawbacks: their cost (they are by far the most expensive option for protecting your hearing while hunting) and the fact that they do not protect the bones of hearing.

The price is a bit steep for a casual hunter or shooter but they are well worth the money for a serious hunter who will frequently use them and take advantage of their awesome features.

Buy your own set of Walker’s HD Pro Elite electronic ear plugs here, a set of Etymotic Gunsport Pro electronic ear plugs here., or a set of Walker’s Silencer Digital Earbuds here.

I hope that you’ve found this article on the best hunting ear protection choices both helpful and informative. As long as you take the right precautions, it is possible preserve your sense of hearing despite exposure to noisy environments. Trust me, you will be glad that you wore proper hunting ear protection many years from now.

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5 thoughts on “11 Best Hunting Ear Protection Options For Sportsmen In 2020”

  1. I have a pair of the tactical black ones with the cute little box as well. I started out with a green pair that my guests now use. I’ve purchased pairs for all 4 other shooters in my family as well. Virtually everyone of the instructors at Gunsite had them when I went there, so I took that as a recommendation.

  2. The electronic earmuff you mention in this article is Howard Leight Impact Sport , it is good for hunting as its streamlined design very suitable for hunting trip. Howard leight has other type of electronic earmuff , its impact pro. It has 30db NRR and very god for indoor shooting, i’ve been using it for years now.

    • I use Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs while hunting with a muzzle brake. I like them because I can wear them continuously in case I need to take a quick shot. They instantly shut off when the gun goes “BOOM.” I can hear great with them otherwise. Once the elk is down, I simply take them off and put them in a backpack. Wearing ear protection at the range, and then shooting in the field with out ear protection, causes flinching and hearing damage. Ear plugs tend to become dislodged throughout the day, which can be problematic when it comes time to shoot. I normally wear my ear muffs over my hat and under my hood when needed. Whether you use a muzzle brake or not, wear hearing protection while gun hunting. Stay safe out there!

  3. I am also sold on the Howard Leight Impact Sport. I was using military grade Peltors in the field for a while, but the arc of the headband contacted my large melon in a way that gave me a headache by the end of the day. Not so for the Impact Sport – very comfortable. They offer the functionality I needed in the Peltors (gunshot cut off, not the mil spec comms plug ins) at a much cheaper price. The materials feel a bit cheaper, but the muffs have held up. I tried the Walker Game Ears more recently. Nice feel, but the headbands are more uncomfortable than the Peltors. They fit my kids fine, though. The bottom line is I don’t hunt without ear protection.

  4. For many years I have just used regular ear muffs and I hated wearing them so I stopped and the last time I shot a shotgun while hunting I did not wear them. After the shot I could not hear for 2 hours. I went to a doctor to get it checked out and he suggested using ear plugs instead. So, after all that I purchased a set of Howard Leight Quiet Band and I love them.


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