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What Ear Protection Should I Use While Shooting?


Guns make a lot of noise, probably more than we realize. A decibel(dB) is a unit of measurement used to describe the intensity of a sound or the power level of a signal. Basically, a decibel is a degree of loudness. 

You can permanently damage your hearing by being exposed to noise greater than 140dB. Almost every firearm can create noise that is over that. A .22-caliber rifle produces a noise around 140dB. To give you an idea of how loud that is, an air raid siren or a jet engine taking off produces around 130dB. 140dB falls into the decibel category of serious injury. Even the small crisp crack of a plinker can cause serious damage to the unprotected ear. There isn't a safe amount of exposure to volumes in this range (115dB-140dB). Exposure to sounds above 115dB for any length of time without any protection, or even with improper ear protection, can cause permanent hearing loss. 

Right about now, you are probably thinking about your big bore rifle or pistol. If you really want to know, I will tell you. Big-bore rifles and pistols can produce a sound over 175dB on the decibel scale. A comparative example to 175dB is somewhere between a 7,000 horse-power engine revving up and one pound of TNT detonating 15 feet away from you. Believe it or not, 175dB falls into the "deadly" category on the decibel scale. At this level, the loud noise can start affecting not only your hearing, but also your body. Modification of a firearm, such as adding a muzzle brake or other accessories, can make your firearm even louder.

Shooting your firearm in a place where sounds can bounce off of walls or objects means that the shot reverberated. Reverberation adds an additional level of concern as it will make the sound even louder. 

Firearm owners who practice or go to the range regularly are more likely to develop hearing loss than those who don’t. High-frequency hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss suffered by avid shooters. This usually means that the shooter will have difficulty hearing sounds like "v", "s", and "th", as well as other high pitched sounds. Folks with high-frequency hearing loss can hear what is said, but the conversation is not clear and sounds like mumbling to them. Another symptom of hearing loss is a constant ringing in the ears. The ringing is called tinnitus, and just like hearing loss it can be permanent too.

You can protect your ears from firearms noise with a couple of items. The investment is small considering what you will be preserving. Many hunters don't like wearing hearing protection because they worry that they won’t be able to hear the game rustling. Some protective hearing devices do limit what a person can hear, but there are products available now that allow shooters to hear soft sounds and still protect themselves from loud or sharp sounds like a firearm. 

There are two types of protective hearing gear for shooting sports; non-linear and electronic. Non-linear devices are not electronic. This type of hearing protection is designed to let soft to moderate sounds be heard while still reducing loud sound. Earplugs or ear molds are types of non-linear protective hearing devices. Electronic hearing protection allows you to hear the soft sounds but will shut off when there is a loud or sharp noise. Earmuffs, earplugs, and custom-made devices are all examples of electronic hearing protection.

If it has been a while since you have purchased hearing protection for yourself, or if you are shopping for some, I am happy to make some suggestions. It is a small price to pay to preserve your hearing while still being able to enjoy what you love.


Walkers Game Pro-Tek Neckband Ear Plugs 25 dB 

Walker's Pro-Tek Neckband is a neck worn passive protection earplug and has an NRR of 27 dB. 

Walkers Pro-Tek Neckband Earplugs 25 dB Black/Orange

Walkers Game Ear Pro Low Profile Folding Earmuff

Walkers Game Ears Pro Low profile folding muff are ultra-lightweight and have soft PVC ear pads. It also has a padded headband for a comfortable fit and is Ansi S3.19 rated.

Walkers Pro Low Profile Folding Muff Earmuff 22 dB Pink Mossy Oak

Walkers Game Ear Passive Advanced Protection Earmuff 

Walker's Advanced Protection Passive Muffs feature colored contoured cups with black accents. Soft, PVC ear pads and a padded headband allow for a comfortable fit. These ultra-lightweight earmuffs have a compact, folding design. They are Ansi S3.19 Rated with a 26NRR. 

Walkers Passive Advanced Protection Earmuff 26 dB Black/Blue

Walkers Game Ear Xcel Digital Muff w/Bluetooth 

Walker's Xcel Muff Series was inspired by taking an unconventional approach to engineering the best electronic hearing protection muffs available. The patent-pending design moves the digital control panel and microphones off the muff cup to the headband, resulting in more air space inside the cup helping to deliver better protection. It utilizes an advanced digital circuit, dynamic sound suppression, Hi Gain Omni directional mics, and four (4) listening modes: universal, speech clarity, Hi frequency, and power boost. The Xcel Muff also features rubber bumpers on the lower cup, wind noise reduction, voice mode navigation, and auto shut off. It is powered by two (2) AAA batteries, which are included. This model has Bluetooth connectivity and a gray finish.

Walkers Xcel Digital Muff w/Bluetooth Electronic Gray

Walkers Game Ear Ultra Ear ITC Pair Electronic 

Walker's Ultra Ear ITC pair increases hearing and has a lightweight, compact in-the-ear design that can be used in either ear. It utilizes a mild compression circuit, on/off switch, and four (4) A312 zinc-air batteries. Included are six (6) tulip tips (small, medium and large), and a carrying pouch.

Walkers Ultra Ear ITC Pair Electronic Tan

These are great hearing protection devices that we carry right here at Classic Firearms. Take a minute to check out all of our Walker brand protective gear.


A person can suffer severe hearing loss with as little one shot from a firearm if conditions are right. Make hearing protection as important as other parts of your shooting gear. My personal preference is to double up on hearing protection. I use both earplugs and electronic muffs. Be considerate of friends and family that you take out shooting with you. Throw an extra pair of muffs and earplugs in your gear bag to protect them too.

Shop All Walkers Game Ear Hearing Protection

Shop All Hearing Protection