Ear Plugs, 2018

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Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by mikemyers on 6/29/2018, 7:01 pm

Two years ago I wanted to buy ear plugs to wear under my Howard Leight muffs.  For both, I got the ones with the highest NRR rating.  I need to buy more ear plugs - has anything changed, and is there a brand superior to the Howard Leight ear plugs?  I'm not sure what the difference is between these two; they are both 33 NRR.  Is there now something better?
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by Sa-tevp on 6/29/2018, 8:14 pm

As a older jet mechanic who has had his hearing checked every year, 33 NRR is about the best you can get for ear plugs. If your google-fu is strong you can find US Navy research papers on hearing protection. The researchers found that how deep the foam earplugs were inserted and allowed to expand in the ear canal affected the noise reduction, deeper the better. Also, the researchers found that foam ear plugs and good headsets worked best. A 33 NRR ear plug and a 30 NRR headset gave about a 34 NRR reduction in noise, which was about the best one can achieve considering the skull structure and the sinus cavities were exposed to sound. The researchers found the foam ear plugs and the headsets filtered different areas of the noise and weakness in one system was covered by the other. Hearing protection will not prevent hearing damage from firearms but will slow it down.

Be skeptical of hearing protection products that do not provide lab documentation of product performance or data sheets. I have seen some shooting products that stay away from entering industrial safety markets.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by mikemyers on 6/29/2018, 8:24 pm

Thanks; a few years back, when I checked for muffs, there were two companies that were recommended in The Highroad Forum, and I went with Howard Leight.

Here's the muffs that I got to choose from; I went with the Leightning model.

By the way, neither the muffs or the plugs worked as well by itself as when I used both together.  I guess my plan is the 30 NRR muffs over 33 NRR plugs.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by mikemyers on 6/29/2018, 8:27 pm

By the way - *IF* it is true that using both plugs and muffs provides better protection than either by itself, why do I see so many people using only plugs?  Seems to me like a choice between convenience and protection.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by STEVE SAMELAK on 6/29/2018, 8:51 pm

Why do some bikers believe that a helmet will get them killed?
Why do some motorists still think that they will be thrown clear in an accident so refuse to wear seat belts?
Why do we keep messing with Darwin's law?
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by zanemoseley on 6/29/2018, 8:55 pm

Wearing both is best no questions asked. People wearing only plugs will get to invest in hearing aids sooner rather than later, not that I won't too if I shoot enough. 3M Peltor X series muffs are 31db reduction, I wear them with some decent foam plugs they give out at my club.

Good ear protection also helps reduce flinch even if just a bit. Recoil anticipation comes from aversion to recoil and report, can only do so much about recoil so might as well lower the report if possible,

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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by Aprilian on 6/29/2018, 9:00 pm

A lot depends on the shape of your ear canal.  I have tried around 30 plugs in the past as I need them for instructing at the track.   I like the Hearos xtreme (in blue) and find them the most comfortable.  I get 3-5 wearings out of a pair.   When they don't seat on the first attempt, I toss them and grab a new pair out my bag.
https://www.hearos.com/collections/all-consumer/products/xtreme-protection-series
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by mikemyers on 6/29/2018, 9:08 pm

For what it's worth, I read all these things a few years ago, which got me doing a lot of research.  People were saying what is posted here, that getting both is better than either one by itself.  Then, at the range, I got to try things out and make my own comparisons.  The "best" 33 NRR Howard Leight ear plugs reduced the noise to something reasonable.  Technically, the ear muffs were only 30 NRR, but they worked better than the plugs.  Wearing one over the other was noticeably quieter. The "loud" sounds were all muffled.

I also got a pair of Howard Leight electronic muffs, with a similar rating.  My thought at the time was to play relaxing music, to get my body to relax more, to avoid flinching.  Never really got to test this out though.  It did seem to work somewhat.  


30 years ago, I got what was supposed to be good muffs back then.  I've since thrown them out - it was that, or rebuild them.  

There are SO many people I see shooting with only plugs, both at the ranges I visit, and on YouTube.  I wonder how many of them realize that they could do better using both.....
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by Sa-tevp on 6/29/2018, 9:14 pm

Some people's children...

You can lead a horse to water, but sometimes you have to brick them.

It doesn't hurt if you keep your thumbs out of the way.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by john bickar on 6/29/2018, 9:33 pm

Huh?
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by Wobbley on 6/29/2018, 10:21 pm

Say again?
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by Sa-tevp on 6/29/2018, 10:39 pm

Ear plugs and headsets-muffs-defenders-Mickey Mouse Ears are a good thing together. Not everyone who goes to the range got the memo.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by Jack H on 6/29/2018, 11:44 pm

Consider plug size for small to large ear canals.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by tceva on 6/30/2018, 4:09 am

I wear the Howard Leight slim line electronics over Radian plugs.  I like to train with commands by plugging them into my I phone.  Last few sessions, static/noise seems to be getting louder.  Anyone else experience something similar?  Maybe I need to change the batteries.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by Ljohns on 6/30/2018, 8:45 am

I have worn hearing aids now for about 3 years.

I went back to may audiologist and asked him if he still had the wax impressions they used to make the ear canal inserts for my hearing aids. They still had them with my records.

He just sent those to the vendor and had a set of custom ear plugs made for me.

Now when I go to the range I take my hearing aids out and replace them with the custom ear plugs and wear the ear muffs over them. They fit perfect and are very comfortable. No different than wearing the hearing aides when I'm not at the range,

They cost considerably more than your common shooter supply ear plugs, about $150, but I feel what is left of my hearing is worth it.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by dronning on 6/30/2018, 9:22 am

My audiologist makes a great earplug for shooting, they have compression capability, I also use them under my muffs.  

I switched from Howard Leight (Impact Pro) to a set of Peltor Sport Tacticle 500's with Bluetooth.  I added Camelback gel rings for comfort and better fitting around my glasses.

My original intention was to use the 500's just during training so I could use the Bluetooth and listen to my phone commands, it works great for that.  I was going to switch back to the HL's for matches because they had a better NNR.  The 500's without the gel were rated at 26NRR while the HL's are 30NRR.  With the gels the 500's seem to work better than the HL's.  The HL's uses clipping technology while the 500's use compression.  Also the 500's you can increase the volume and it will only increase voices or bluetooth input, the gunshot is still compressed fully.  The HL's are now my backup's but they are a great muff too.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by Magload on 6/30/2018, 2:05 pm

I shot beside a man shooting a 50 cal Dessert Eagle and nothing helped.  The pressure wave could be felt on my whole body.  What a cool gun.  Don
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by mikemyers on 6/30/2018, 4:14 pm

I found someplace where the Howard Leight NRR 33 plugs were available at a CVS Pharmacy.  I will check it out tomorrow.  I'm down to my last pair.  

Don, I hope your shooting buddy doesn't come to my range.  On the other hand, people weren't so thrilled when I was shooting a 44 Magnum from one of the DH guns that made the gun famous - and I've also got the version with a 10 5/8" barrel, made for silhouette shooting.  I guess back in Michigan, they still did/do? that.  


Talking about people not thinking, I usually shop at Publix, and there is a young fellow there just getting into shooting.  I saw him a few weeks later, and his hearing was shot, literally.  He went to the range with the kind of headphones one is to listen to music with.  I'm serious.  His doctor told him not to expect too much of a recovery.  As for me, when he told me, I had no idea what to say.  I just shook my head.......  I forget what gun he bought, something plastic I think.  He used to give cooking lessons at Publix.  I haven't seen him in a year.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by Magload on 6/30/2018, 6:55 pm

Mike at the indoor range I shoot at there is a lot of AR15s and rifles up to 308s being shot a lot.  They are now leting them shoot shotguns if they pay a extra $5.  They tear up the cardboard fast.  I leave my hearing aids in and turn them off then put on my Howard Leight's.  Batteries been dead in them a long time I don't feel they work as well when turned on.

I feel for that young guy.  I worked at a video console in a EC 121 in Nam in the late 60s and we could not wear hearing protection because we had to communicate with the audio man and the others while we transmitted TV.  There was a APU running inside the back of the plane.  Think of a small jet engine in a box running in the passenger compartment.  Well I lost my hearing and flight status and they processed discharge papers.  Except the command said they couldn't do that i had to go to Naval Hospital Bethesda to see a Navy specialist.  He said it was a temperately lost and if I was assigned to a quite work area it would go away.  Now we know that is not true.  I spent 21.5 years till I retired and it never go better.  In fact now when I take out my hearing aids I can hear at all and with them I have a hard time understanding people.  That young man has a long time to live with his lost.  Don
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by Jack H on 6/30/2018, 7:33 pm

I had measles as a tiny kid according to Mother.  I have a loss all my life.  I do not think shooting and other noises have made it worse.  Perfect hearing to about 1000 cycles, then it drops off a cliff to the worst level of 80-90 db lower on the graph.  Because the range from good hearing to worst is so narrow, even 7000$ aids don't do that much good.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by mikemyers on 6/30/2018, 7:41 pm

I am more sorry for you than for him - he didn't have to do that, but he did it anyway.  You didn't have any choice.  

I wonder if nowadays the armed forces give people electronic ear muffs, which block out the dangerous sound, but let in voices, and so on.  

It's sad they can't do anything to help you.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by mikemyers on 6/30/2018, 7:42 pm

Jack, that's in both ears, or one?
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by Jack H on 7/1/2018, 12:50 am

mikemyers wrote:Jack, that's in both ears, or one?

Both.  There is a little difference each side.  But not much
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by Sa-tevp on 7/1/2018, 6:57 am

mikemyers wrote:
I wonder if nowadays the armed forces give people electronic ear muffs, which block out the dangerous sound, but let in voices, and so on.  

The research papers I mentioned found that active noise reduction was recommended in a continuous noise environment, such as in a helicopter. At the time of the research active noise reduction did not work well for firearms and other short fast sounds.

I'll get the titles of the papers tomorrow as they are saved on my work computer. Anyone who works on a carrier deck is guaranteed hearing loss even when wearing protection due to the high sound levels. The technology isn't able to get the sound levels below the damage threshold.
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Re: Ear Plugs, 2018

Post by SmokinNJokin on 7/1/2018, 6:59 am

I wear double just as you describe, Mike. My hearing has weird dead spots from APU noise and that awful screech from hydraulics systems, plus the impulse of shooting several million rounds of 7.62 from an M134 and M240. It is tough to pick out voices from a room at conversational volumes, and some noises are physically painful. I'm only 31, trying really hard to save what I have left. Those hair-like cells do not regenerate.

Helicopter and tank crews wear a earbud like insert that plugs into a comms system and a helmet over that with very good tight fitting over-the ear cups. They have about the best noise reduction humanly possible. Unfortunately, if you are shooting bigger guns like the M2 or a 30mm with a muzzle brake that throws a percussive blast it is best to keep your mouth open to avoid eardrum pain or rupture. That pretty much negates a lot of the protection and is why most of us are pretty deaf. I have a deeply ingrained habit of opening my mouth when pulling the trigger that I don't even notice I am doing.

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