Hearing protection is a part of life if you shoot: you need quality hearing protection to function well on the range and maintain your ear health. But it’s such a wide ranging product mix, from manufacturers not necessarily focused on the shooting industry. Who better than to provide a solution to your hearing protection needs than a company poised as one of the top accessories and shooting specific companies in the world? SureFire is a well respected and product specific development company that has teams of people uniquely well suited to building the best products. It’s rare that a SureFire product comes to market and gets removed. By the time a SureFire product gets marketed, it’s already one of the best options available.
The Surefire Earpro EP3 Sonic Defender is the mainstream offering in the line and it’s a pretty good solution. As far as hearing protection goes for shooting these are amongst the most comfortable items in the bloated market; they just so happen to be one of the most cost effective options as well. Now, bear in mind, that these are made for easier conversation and high decibel filtering only. They are not a comprehensive solution to your hearing protection needs for extensive shooting of high powered cartridges. Let me explain…
The decibel rating on this set of hearing protection is about 16 NRR, so they will be allowing much more sound into the ear canal. Where these are in their sweet spot is when you are shooting with a friend in between reloads or where background shots are your primary concern. They are also incredibly good for smaller caliber cartridges like the .22LR. They allow you to hear normal voice conversation while wearing the earpieces and yet, not have to worry about hearing damage from the guy shooting a .44 Magnum a few booths down. For those with extremely sensitive hearing, these won’t provide complete hearing protection; similarly they may not suffice for very large or loud cartridges you will be shooting yourself. My suggestion is to also utilize a low profile high NRR (25+) ear muff for when you are over the stock of your .338 Lapuas or when you have a .500 S&W in your hands.
The real beauty of this product is the conversational capabilities it allows, especially on a crowded range, where you will want to have SOME protection on anyway. They are comfortable, inexpensive and easy to adjust; they fit easily inside anyone’s ears, under other protection, and without strain. You can even use a cell phone with the piece; not that your call recipient will want to hear the gunshots in the background.
The polymer used in the earpieces is comfortable to wear all day long, and they last up to about 9 months, though Surefire recommends changing them out between 60-180 days depending on usage and cleaning regimen. I have had mine for 9 months and they are in perfect condition, I could see them lasting another 9 months, but I take very good care of mine and am not constantly smashing them in my pocket or throwing them around. I have worn this hearing protection for the better part of an 8 hour day at times and I wasn’t aching later on at home. My ears are incredibly sensitive, and I must admit I use another muff on the outside of ear when I am actually close to the action. These are perfect for trainers, those in a class or military professionals, because there is no need to remove them for hours at a time. They’re THAT comfortable.
Inexpensive Hearing Protection
$15 is a paltry price to pay for continued hearing protection which fits the need of almost every shooter on the planet. The background noise filtering and the voice sensitivity are what make this hearing protection amazing. The hidden benefit that puts these over the top is the fact that when you are shooting in Arizona, Nevada, Florida, California, or any other hot or humid area, it’s much more comfortable to have plugs than muffs, and this hearing protection is superior.