“Huh? What?” Are you tired of saying that while at the range? I am, and it was time for some electronic amplified earmuffs to use around the homestead and while shooting.
I received the Peltor Tactical Sport electronic earmuffs rapidly after ordering them from Webyshops.com.
Upon opening the package, I noticed that the units had interchangeable side covers. The muffs shipped with tactical black covers, but included in the package were a set of Blaze Orange covers, along with a handy microfiber carrying case.
I popped the black side covers off to access the battery cover, and installed the supplied pair of AAA batteries. I decided that I liked the blaze orange covers better than the black, with the hope that Blaze Orange would be easier to locate when I set them down on a flat spot somewhere. I spend a lot of time looking for things I just had 10 minutes ago.
I was pleased to see that these earmuffs used conventional AAA batteries, as most all of us have spares handy, and if not, they are available most everywhere.
Here’s a look at the internals, the two AAA batteries are located under the outer cover of the left earmuff. It did take three or four attempts to get everything lined up right to get the covers back on and secure. Later attempts went easier as I was aware of the angled catch and the amount of force/preload needed against the cord to make everything line up right.
On the right side muff with the covers on, we can see the controls.
The controls are pretty simple and self explanatory. There is a power button with the universal symbol for ‘power button’ that we’ve all become accustomed to over the last ten years or so. To the rear of the power button is the volume increase button on top, with the volume decrease button below. It’s fairly intuitive…press the top button for louder, the bottom button for quieter. The power button requires you to press and hold the button for several seconds to turn the unit on and off, and a distinctive ‘beep’ confirms you held it long enough.
I stuck the set on George, my test dummy, for some photographs.
I use hearing protection for a lot of different work tasks around the place, in addition to shooting, so I decided to test the versatility of these as a working tool. A test of the muffs while operating a chainsaw, a leaf blower and a mover revealed that the amplification function of these muffs was of little or no value in a constant noise environment. The muffs amplified the noise to a ‘loud, but hearing safe’ level inside the earpieces. Verbal communication was not possible, as I was not able to pick up the voices of anyone through the amplified sound level. I ended up turning the Muffs ‘OFF’ shortly after firing up each piece of equipment, simply because it was much quieter with them off.
Intermittent, noisy work like using a nail gun, compound miter saw, or cross cutting with a table saw would be a good application for these muffs.
One feature that I really like about these muffs is that they actually clamp the volume of your own voice while speaking. It’s disconcerting and counterproductive to have your own voice amplified, as you instinctively talk quieter. These muffs reduce the volume of the wearers’ own voice to a perfect level.
After working, it was time for play. We headed to the woods with a .45 Kahr pistol and an AR-15 chambered in 5.56. It was raining and cold, so taking cover in my woodshed provided a perfect opportunity to test the muffs.
I don’t know if you’ve ever fired a handgun or a rifle inside a building without hearing protection, but I can guarantee that if you do it once, you’ll never want to do it again. The muzzle blast and report are reflected back and focused on the shooters’ ears like the ball end of a ball peen hammer.
Firing the .45 showed that we had found what these muffs excel at: Rapidly clamping the report of a firearm to a very safe, pleasant level, then rapidly unclamping so you can hear. The noise suppression of these muffs happened insanely quick, yet smooth, so it was unnoticeable when the suppression event was starting or stopping. The shooter could feel the report, feel the concussion of the muzzle blast inside the tin box of the woodshed, hear the muffled report as if you had quality earplugs in, and then clearly hear the amplified echo of the report as it came back from across the canyon.
Next, we took out the AR, and Eli burned some ammo and modeled the muffs. From a standing position the bottom edge of the muffs barely touched the buttstock of the AR, and there were no forces that compromised the seal between the muffs and the shooters’ head.
The foam earpieces were compliant enough to comply with unevenly shaped heads (Mine) or hatbands with no loss of seal.
The clamping tension of the headband was perfect, tight enough to maintain a good seal and keep the muffs in place, but not so tight that they became annoying to wear for extended periods of time.
Shooting the AR revealed the same perfect level of attenuation and transparently smooth transition between suppression and amplification that we had witnessed during handgun fire.
The forward facing microphones made directional sourcing of sounds easy, and the muffs produced no unwarranted static, hiss or squeal. The sound reproduction was very natural and balanced.
If I had one reservation about these muffs, it would be the power and volume controls. After testing a couple other brands, I came to like the individual knob style better. With individual volume/power knobs, it was quick and easy to feel, find and turn the knob up, down, or off. The individual sides could be adjusted if you had a noisy environment on one side, and were having a conversation on the other. This scenario is quite common at any shooting range. I found I had to fumble and feel for the buttons, and more often than not take these muffs off to power them up or down. The whole ‘push and wait’ method of powering up or down is also kind of annoying, as you’re never quite sure if you’re pressing the right button and it is by no means instantaneous.
That said, I think the controls will become more familiar with use, and this minor annoyance will be a thing of the past.
In summary, my issue with the controls aside, these are GREAT muffs for shooting. I recommend them, and as the ultimate endorsement, I’m going to buy these one and keep them.
Mark Spreadborough writes from his family homestead in Kalama, Washington, where he lives with his wife, son, daughter, dog and cat. When not writing, shooting, hunting, fishing or working on his property, he goes to his day job as a HVAC repair mechanic.