Three best shooting earmuffs

Kailey Fralick

Some shooting earmuffs don’t list the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) on the packaging. In that case, check the manufacturer’s website or reach out to the company directly for this information.

You do your best to use your gun safely every time you go to the shooting range. But if you're not taking steps to protect your hearing, it could do some serious damage. A good pair of shooting earmuffs helps to reduce noise, so you can enjoy shooting in safety, but if you've ever tried shopping for them, you know that the sheer number of options can make it difficult to know which ones to choose. Here is a short guide to walk you through the process, so you can find the right shooting earmuffs for you.

Considerations when choosing shooting earmuffs

Passive or electronic

The first thing you have to consider when shopping is whether you want passive or electronic shooting earmuffs.

Passive: These earmuffs are pretty basic, using a combination of foam and plastic to help reduce all noise. Because of their simplicity, these earmuffs are much cheaper than electronic earmuffs. However, it can be difficult to have a conversation while you're wearing them because this noise is deadened as well.

Electronic: These earmuffs are more sophisticated. They can distinguish between soft and loud noises. They reduce loud noises, like gunshots, the way passive earmuffs do, but they also contain special microphones that amplify softer sounds, so you can still hear people talking. These earmuffs are battery powered, so you'll want to keep some extra batteries on hand so you can replace them as needed.


Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): The higher the NRR rating, the more the earmuffs reduce sound. You can figure out how many decibels the shooting earmuffs will cancel out by subtracting seven from the NRR rating (such as NRR21 or NRR32) and dividing by two. NRR21 earmuffs would reduce noise by seven decibels.

Fit: Shooting earmuffs should fit snugly without being too tight or loose. Many come with an adjustable headband, so you can select the right fit for you.

Comfort: A padded headband and ear cups will make wearing the shooting earmuffs more comfortable, especially for extended periods.

Weight: Heavy earmuffs can get uncomfortable, especially if you're wearing them for long periods of time.

Battery type: Pay attention to what type of batteries the electronic shooting earmuffs use. Most use standard batteries, but a few have a dedicated rechargeable battery that you charge via a USB cord.

Accessories: Some shooting earmuffs come with a headphone jack and built-in audio controls, so you can also use them as headphones.


Q. Do I really need to wear earmuffs when I shoot?

A. Yes. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), sounds as low as 85 decibels can cause hearing loss over time. Gunshots usually range from 145 to 190 decibels.

Q. Are electronic shooting earmuffs better than passive shooting earmuffs?

A. Not necessarily. Electronic earmuffs reduce loud sounds while amplifying quiet sounds, so you can still hear what's going on around you. Passive earmuffs don't do this, but they still do a good job of protecting your hearing. Plus, they're usually cheaper.


Best of the best: Howard Leight Honeywell Impact Sport Shooting Earmuffs
Our take: These electronic earmuffs are well made and versatile, so it's no wonder they're some of the most popular shooting earmuffs on the market.

What we like: These low-profile earmuffs come with a padded, adjustable headband, a cord, and integrated controls that enable them to double as headphones. The built-in directional microphones amplify ambient sounds, but this feature will automatically disable with sounds over 82 decibels.

What we dislike: While they work great at outdoor shooting ranges, some say they don't block out enough noise for comfortable use at indoor ranges.

Best bang for your buck: Walker's Game Ear EXT Range Shooting Earmuffs

Our take: These shooting earmuffs are pretty basic, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better value.

What we like: These lightweight earmuffs provide a surprising amount of noise reduction and come with a padded headband and ear cups for added comfort. When you're not using them, they fold up for compact storage.

What we dislike: If you have a larger head, these earmuffs might not adjust enough to fit you comfortably.

Choice 3: ClearArmor Shooters Shooting Earmuffs

Our take: This model lacks the bells and whistles of our top pick, but it provides excellent hearing protection and holds up well over time.

What we like: These shooting earmuffs come with a satisfaction guarantee, and they have a rating of NRR 31. The earmuffs themselves are padded and adjustable, and they can fold up when not in use.

What we dislike: These are bulkier than our other top picks.

Kailey Fralickis a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.