If you like being able to see where you’re shooting and hear that beautiful “ping” sound when your bullets hit a steel target read on. Eye and ear protection cannot be stressed enough. Oftentimes, we’ll get anxious when we see newcomers at the range using normal eye glasses or unsafe sunglasses like aviators that don’t really protect you from much when shooting.
We recognize that there’s also a culture of not wearing ear pro when shooting smaller calibers like .22LR, .17HMR or when even hunting with 12 gauge shotguns. Tinnitus much?
Today, we’ve gathered our favorite quality options for our eyes and ears. Remember, safety first!
Whether you’re shooting or milling out an 80% lower receiver, when it comes to eye protection, the key is to make sure you pick a pair that is as closely sealed to your face as possible to prevent hot casings or metal shavings from hitting your eye — but it’s also important to know the basic ballistic eyewear standards. There are three main standards to be aware of:
US Civilian: ANSI Z87.1
US Military: MIL-PRF-31013
So the next time you’re in the market for some eyewear, make sure to see if they’re rated above or below the standards above.
You’ll never go wrong with a pair of Oakley’s. Their products are known for their polarized and PRIZM lenses which let you see the world in beautiful, contrasted colors making it easier to see your targets whether they’re paper, steel, or flying clays regardless of weather or lighting conditions. We’d recommend taking a look at the following lines:
- Oakley SI Ballistic M Frame 2.0 or 3.0
- Oakley SI Tombstone Spoil or Reap
- Oakley Radar EV Path
*Note: look for the polarized and PRIZM models specifically for best visual experience.
Smith Optics actually has multiple lines of shooting glasses as they are a big brand for several outdoor sports like skiing, snowboarding, fishing, cycling, and more. They even have a larger selection of glasses compared to Oakley for frames you can choose from based on the shape of your face. For this brand we really liked the following products:
- Smith Optics PivLock Echo Elite
- Smith Optics Arena Elite
- Smith Optics Aegis Arc Series (Compact, Asia Fit, Arc II, Echo II)
Ear Pro – Electronic Headsets
Look it’s 2021, we just don’t see any reason you should be wearing headsets that aren’t electronic with noise amplification and automatic sound reduction. It’s a particularly handy tool for communicating with others so you’re not shouting “WHAT?” on the range all the time — and it’s good to be aware of your surroundings. #situationalawareness
Howard Leights Impact Sport – Noise Reduction Rating 22
Probably one of the most common headset you’ll see out on the range is this model and for good reason. It’s affordable, relatively comfortable, and comes in 10 different colors. Besides its electronic capabilities of actively listening and shutting off noise amplification when it detects sound over 82 decibels, it also has an AUX input and 3.5mm connection cord for listening to music or scanners. (We don’t recommend listening to music while you shoot)
Pro tip: buy aftermarket gel cups to improve comfort, suction around the ears and reduce discomfort with eyewear i.e. Vallholl Gear Replacement Gel Cups
Average Price: $48.00
Walker’s Razor Slim Muffs – Noise Reduction Rating 23
An increasingly popular model in stores and online now, the Walker’s Razor Slim Muffs comes in more fun colorways than what the Howard Leights Impact offers, is lighter, and definitely more comfortable on the ears without the need for changing out the gel cups with aftermarket options.
Average Price: $40.00
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X – Noise Reduction Rating 25
By far the most expensive option on our list, the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X is a popular choice for military and law enforcement for its comfort and high quality in sound reproduction through two waterproof microphones. The headset is made in Sweden and comes with a 5 year manufacturer warranty.
Average Price: $250.00
Ear Pro – Plugs
While we prefer headsets, we won’t discount the convenient use of straight up plugs. If you’re working in a loud environment, or shooting in an area not expecting to be around many other people the concern for having an audible conversation isn’t really there. Or, if you’re building an 80% firearm you probably won’t be talking to anyone while using your power tools.
Howard Leight Max-1 NRR33
These little red-orange guys are life savers when in a pinch which is why we have a few laying around literally everywhere. They’re incredibly cheap, and more than affordable as they can be bought in bulk conveniently on Amazon.
Moldex Pura-Fit 6800 NRR33
If you’re wanting to use disposable ear plugs though, these are hands down the best option in noise reduction and comfort. Compared to Howard Leight Max’s, the Pura-Fits don’t expand in your ear canal as aggressively and use a noticeably softer material allowing you to keep them in for hours at a time if necessary. Workers in the aerospace industry use these as well so you know they’re good quality.
Decibullz – Custom Molded NRR31
We’ve got enough trash on this planet as it is so if you’re looking for a more sustainable and personalized option consider Decibullz. They offer a custom molded ear plug that once you set in shape to your ear, is such a tight fit it arguably blocks out even more sound than the Pura-Fits to the point that you won’t be able to have a conversation at all with people next to you even if you shout.