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.
The mood was upbeat at this next to last day of the SHOT Show as we awaited the January 20 inauguration of the most pro-gun President since maybe, oh, Theodore Roosevelt.
Interesting gun news: it was announced today that the Army will adopt as its new pistol the SIG P320. The announcement comes as a surprise to many. The Glock 9mm had been seen as the front-runner. After all, though, the contract was for an MHS – Modular Handgun System – and the P320 with convertibility in size and even caliber is as modular as the state of the art offers right now. The Army is also very big on manual safeties. That’s an option on the P320, and while this feature is not mentioned in the press releases thus far, photos accompanying the releases depict P320s with ambidextrous thumb safeties.
Lotsa new stuff this year. Some is good new stuff. Case in point: the MantisX Training System. It’s a module that slides onto your firearm’s accessory rail and coordinates with your Apple or Android device. Live fire or dry fire, aim at something and shoot. You’ll get a readout of how smooth and consistent your trigger pull was and, in the last instant, registers where even a “shot from an empty gun” would have hit. It tracks gun movement the whole time. The police department I serve IS gonna have one of these!
Some of the new stuff is…well…remember the classic gun book from 1955,“Firearms Curiosa” by Lewis Winant, with items like palm pistols and belt buckle guns? If Mr. Winant had been around to attend the 2017 SHOT Show, he would have found enough material for at least one new chapter.
There was a customized folding semiautomatic pistol in two variants, one of which when unfolded turned into a Glock with no trigger guard. There was an updated version of the pre-WWII Mossberg Brownie pistol with six barrels instead of four, which fires two .25 Auto barrels per pull of the trigger. The Evil Princess was particularly horrified by a holster that she and I figure can cost the shooter his or her life in at least three different ways. (1) The safety strap appears to be narrow enough to enter the trigger guard upon reholstering, causing the pistol to discharge as it is pushed the rest of the way into the scabbard. (2) That Velcro-closed strap, when secured on a holster designed to be worn inside the waistband, goes to the bottom of the holster requiring the shooter to reach so deeply down into his or her pants that they’re unlikely to be able to get a proper hold on it to pull it clear if they have to draw to save their life. (3) The holster is demonstrated with that safety strap going over the back of the grip panel, so with a proper drawing grasp, the web of the hand is likely to hold the strap against the gun and trap the pistol so it can’t be drawn readily in self-defense.
Overall, though, there was lots of good stuff, and a total “kid in the candy store” element for any gun enthusiast lucky enough to cruise the miles of aisles. Evil Princess logged five and a half miles on her FItBit at the Show today. I spent more than half the day in meetings and was spared some of that exercise. Lucky me.
SIG P320 with factory optional ambidextrous manual safety.
The compact MantisX training system is a stone cold bargain at around $150.
It has become a tradition that on the day before the SHOT Show officially opens, media can live fire with newly introduced guns and at noon, the range is opened so attending dealers can do the same. The host range was the Boulder City Rifle and Pistol Club.
The new shotgun that most got my attention was the Super Black Eagle, the old model enhanced with changes to the bolt mechanism to keep it from being knocked out of battery if the user accidentally bumps the operating handle rearward. The feedway to the magazine has been relieved to keep from catching fingertip or glove in the shell lifter. Extended bolt handle and bolt release also make things easier for cold, gloved hands in duck blinds. Finally, I like that the comb of the stock has a soft, cushiony cheekpiece. An excellent example of a manufacturer tailoring a product to needs the end user has determined in the field.
In rifles, the feature I liked most was the bolt operating handle located forward on the left side of the receiver of Savage’s first AR15 clone, the MSR, which in their catalog stands for Modern Savage Rifle instead of Modern Sporting Rifle. It’s somewhat like operating an FN FAL. Southpaws and righties alike will probably find it much more ergonomic than the rear-mounted T-handle on Stoner’s original and now ubiquitous AR15. I first saw this feature a few years ago on an Arizona-built AR15, the American Spirit brand. The feature hasn’t caught on as much is it deserves to; maybe Savage’s greater name recognition and advertising budget will help there.
Also, more long range tactical rifles on display than ever. Which, in this day and age, is a lot.
In handguns, the greatest interest seemed by be generated by the new Hudson pistol, a 1911-ish frame with very easy trigger sitting under a Glock-like striker fired barrel/slide assembly. With a low bore axis to begin with, muzzle jump is further reduced by burying the recoil spring and guide more deeply below the barrel. Looks funny, shoots great. I’ve ordered one for testing. The most interesting revolver by far is the first double-action six-shooter Colt has produced in many years. Dubbed the Cobra, it’s actually more like the old Cobra’s progenitor the Detective Special in that it’s all steel. Lockwork and overall appearance are somewhat similar to the last of the small frame Colts of the past, the SF/VI and Magnum carry. Available to start only in .38 Special, it comes with Hogue grips and interchangeable front sights (fiber optic to start, night sight module coming soon). The most significant design improvement is a trigger guard extended to the front to allow a gloved finger. On most double action revolvers, particularly these small-framed ones, the thickness of glove material often blocks the trigger’s forward return, and renders the five- or six-shot revolver a single shot. I tried the new Cobra with gloves and was pleased with how it worked that way. Got one of those coming too. Action is VERY nice. Manufacturers’ suggested retail prices are about $1149 for the 15-shot Hudson 9mm and $699 for the new Cobra revolver.
The Evil Princess demonstrates the controlability of the new Hudson 9mm pistol. Spent casing from last shot is airborne, muzzle already back on target.
Hudson looks funny, shoots sweet.
The new Benelli Super Black Eagles are up-featured for deep cold weather shotgunning…
…and this very soft cheekpiece on the comb of the stock is a welcome “face-saver” with heavy loads.
Lotsa new tactical precision rifles, including this DAN in .338 Lapua…
…from Israeli Weapon Industries.
New 6-shot Colt Cobra .38 is all stainless steel, full length ejection, sweet trigger pull, and extended trigger guard that is glove compatible.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s annual Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show begins officially this coming Tuesday. The SHOT show is the largest thing of its kind in the firearms industry. It’s the single biggest locus for new product introductions.
Today was the pre-SHOT SIG Day, sponsored by SIG-SAUER, at the wonderful Clark County shooting complex. No shotguns (not SIG’s thing), but many a cool rifle and pistol.
New on the pistol side will be the iconic SIG P210 target pistol, often called the Rolex of handguns, now manufactured in New Hampshire at a greatly reduced price point. The one I fired was a joy to shoot, with a practically telekinetic trigger. There’s a very sweet “Kyle Lamb Special” 9mm 1911, and a new X5 P320, essentially a souped-up version of their very popular polymer frame/striker fired pistol.
Among the rifles, my favorite was a suppressed .300 Blackout on SIG’s AR platform. Recoil and sound signature were both remarkably mild.
A co-sponsor was the Walker company. The Evil Princess and I shot with their new Razor XV BT active hearing protection. You can carry on a conversation behind the firing line with them plugged into your ears, and loud sounds are reduced rather than the disorienting sound cut-out we hear with some of the cheaper active ear pro. The BT stands for the fact that you can hook up with Bluetooth through them at the same time. Batteries are good for three to four hours. We found them very comfortable, and the Evil Princess was absolutely hooked on them. She was listening to podcasts through them while we stood in line awaiting our turn to shoot. They are plugs secured by a connector that can be worn around the neck whether the plugs are in your ears or not – extremely comfortable! I tried them under regular active muffs (some of us like to double up around the really loud stuff) and I found them comfortable and functional when used that way, as well.
Stay tuned for more…and bear in mind that there’s so much to see at SHOT, any reviewer can only hope to cover the tip of the iceberg.
New X5 version of SIG P320.
High speed/low drag describes this version of X5 P320.
Here I’m enjoying the soft recoil of the 9mm X5; Razor active ear plugs are doing their job nicely.
Shooting right to left, Evil Princess drop the first of 4 plates with 4 shots from carry version of new P320 variation. She loves the Razor XV BT.
US-made version of legendary P210 SIG will cost less than expected.
Muffs doubled up well with XV BT ear pro, both of which were superfluous with suppressed SIG carbine in .300 Blackout with Romeo 4 optic.
So there I was, teaching a class of 42 shooters with almost 20 training staff. I can about guarantee you that in a class like that, you’re going to find someone whose holster is simply unsafe, and a few or more than a few whose holsters are suboptimal. Ya can’t carry a giant box of loaner holsters for every possible handgun, particularly when you’re flying, like I was since the class was in Northern California.
Enter the Precision Holster Company. The guys who run it are graduates who were kind enough to come and assist as range safety officers. And, kinder still, they set up a small tent on the range to display and sell their wares.
Full size, full weight 1911 .45 carried comfortably in Precision IWB (inside waistband) holster.
Talk about service and convenience.
I taught the class with one of their inside the waistband holsters for my .45. It fit perfectly. These
guys do good work, whether your carry preference is appendix, cross draw, or strong side hip. You can order the degree of tilt you prefer, with or without sweat guard, left hand or right, etc.
Good people, good work, good product. Thanks, Precision Holster!