Etymotic (high definition) active ear plugs ain’t your daddy’s ear plugs. I finally got around to testing GunSport Pro GSP-15 plugs from Etymotic Reseasrch, Inc. of Elk Grove Village, IL. Each fitted with a teeny battery, the set comes with an assortment of Accu-Fit ™ shapes so you can find the one that best fits your own ears. For me, the LRG gave a superb fit, as if custom made for me.
I have been told by audiologists that a significant amount of the damaging sound waves that cause the cumulative high-range hearing loss known colloquially as “shooter’s ear” come in the form of vibrations through surrounding bone, which plugs alone can’t stop. Muffs are better in that regard, but the stems of requisite protective eyewear can break the seal of the muffs, and plugs are a very good fallback. Most of us “in the business” will “double up” and use plugs and muffs simultaneously when shooting high powered rifles or particularly loud handguns.
Active hearing protection isn’t just a luxury, it’s a safety thing. As an expert witness in weapons related court cases since 1979, I’ve run across a number of fatal or injury-producing accidents that could have been prevented if the instructor or range officer on the firing line could have heard, over the gunfire, the sounds of someone struggling with a jammed gun, or cursing under his breath, or something similar.
So, I tried the Etymotic plugs with muffs. Ordinary passive muffs – “dead muffs,” if you will – didn’t allow enough sound to get through for my already-somewhat-impaired ears to hear conversations on the firing line. I tried them next under active muffs from Walker, and got pretty much the same comforting attenuation of loud sounds but amplification of small ones that we buy active hearing protection for in the first place. No feedback was noticed by me or those around me when I shot with both Etymotic plugs and active muffs turned on simultaneously.
I appreciate the active hearing protection of this product with the convenience of tiny size and pocket carry. They’re also good for those who just can’t bear to wear muffs, or find that muffs interfere with their rifle or shotgun stock. Price is $299 MSRP. I can see a future for these as part of my personal shooting kit. Info at etymotic.com.
Etymotic wisely sells the plugs with a selection of buds to fit different ears. These are the ones that worked best for Mas.
The amplified plugs are adjustable for “HI” and “LO.”
I started with a .22, a Smith & Wesson Model 18 with the classic old Pro-Point red dot sight.
“Hey! These plugs work pretty darn well!”
Short barrel .38s like this J-frame S&W can be loud, but the Etymotics handled it well.
Tried them in tandem with muffs, too.
Muffs don’t fit in your shirt pocket. Etymotic plugs do.