Electronic Hearing Protection Roundup.
What follows is the subjective impression of the objective performance of the electronic muffs I have.
From left to right the Howard Leight Impact Pro, Howard Leight Impact Sport, MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X, Peltor Tactical Sport, and Peltor Tactical Pro.
What you think of these depends on how they happen to fit on your head, your sensitivity to noise in the applicable range, your desire for quality ambient sound reproduction, and not least money.
MSA Sordins: best sound reproduction and handling of sound during gunfire. With gel cups, pretty comfortable. Ok noise protection – the thin cups limit what is possible here, IMO. Pain in the butt battery change.
Peltor Tactical Pro: pretty good sound reproduction. Better than Howard Leight; not as good as MSA. Noise protection is very good, clearly better than MSA Sordins. With real gel cups, pretty comfortable.
Peltor Tactical Sport: pretty good sound reproduction, like the other peltors it seems. Noise protection feels about like the Sordins. With real gel cups, pretty comfortable.
Howard Leight Impact Pro: Worst of the bunch sound reproduction. Best of the bunch noise protection, provided it gets a good fit. Really too bad they don’t have actual gel cups as an upgrade.
Howard Leight Impact Sport: Ok sound reproduction. Ok noise protection –a lot depends on how these happen to fit your head, plus they are pretty small cups. Again, too bad there is not a gel cup upgrade.
The overall winner to me is the Peltor Tactical Pro. Second most expensive (negative), second best hearing protection, and second best ambient noise reproduction. These meet the threshold I want for hearing protection which I judge highly important, but the better comfort and sound reproduction edge out the increased hearing protection of the Howard Leight Impact Pro.
Second would be the Peltor Tactical Sport. They are not as good as the MSA on ambient sound, but they are roughly half the cost and the sound reproduction is very good.
Third would be the Sordins. They are a quality product, comfortable, and sufficient if you double plug.
For handgun shooting where budget is very important and so is protecting your hearing, I’d recommend the Howard Leight Impact Pro. If budget is very important but also low profile and you are willing to use ear plugs for loud guns, then the Howard Leight Impact Sport will work.
Gel cups make a big difference. This is a long held opinion of mine going back to general aviation days. I find the same to be true for shooting hearing protection. The Sordins and Peltors I have are outfitted with gel cups. It is really too bad the Howard Leight models do not have this upgrade available as I'm sure their value proposition would increase to many people if they did.
More on the MSA Sordins
The MSA Sordins are highly touted on the internet, and while they are a quality product, much of the talk is in my opinion overblown. There is a lot of chatter on the internet that somehow the Sordins attenuate much more noise than their rating would indicate. Look at them. They are thin cups.
There is nothing magic inside them that destroys noise. They simply do not attenuate noise as well as larger cups (fit being equal). Nothing wrong with that if you know going in. With a set of in ear plugs to go with them, they are good. Without extra protection, around open guns say, you will be sorry. They do not stop noise as well as larger cup offerings.
Also, the Sordins have an inconvenient battery change scheme. Once the cap is off, you kind of have to knock the muffs to get the first one out and then basically gently pry the second one to get it into position to release. Not a dealer killer, and maybe necessary for the low profile they wanted to achieve, but it is a nuisance.
Compared to the Peltor Tactical Pro battery compartment.
They are great muffs, but there are cons that come with the pros.
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