THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT things to have with you when you’re shooting is proper eye and ear protection—when possible, you should also wear them when hunting.
Without ear and eye pro, a fun day at the range or in the field can go south fast and hearing can be permanently damaged from even one gunshot. Just ask any veteran hunter or shooter how important hearing protection is, but beware, they’ll probably ask you to repeat yourself a little louder.
At the same time, ear plugs, ear muffs, and glasses that fit you just right and provide all the features you want tough to find, but comfortable gear can make all the difference.
There are thousands of options out there for both forms of sensory protection, so there’s bound to be something in your budget and style that fits your other criteria. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the many options in each category.
Howard Leight by Honeywell Max Lite Low Pressure Disposable Foam Earplugs
An inexpensive option for ear protection are the Howard Leight by Honeywell Disposable Foam Earplugs. • MSRP: $15.52 for 200 pairs Howard Leight
Obviously, the most basic option out there are foam earplugs. From shooting to concerts to construction sites, these things are everywhere – and with good reason. They’re portable, lightweight, disposable, and affordable. For example, you can get 200 pairs for just $15.52, which is a whopping 8 cents per pair!
The earplug’s unique T-shape allows for easy gripping between thumb and forefinger for quick, no-fuss insertion and removal and delivers a superior Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 30 decibels.
Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs
Disposable foam plugs are great, but if you shoot a lot, it can be nice to have a custom molded reusable pair of earplugs. In the past, this option used to be time consuming and uncomfortable, waiting for some goo to dry in your ear. That problem is gone with this product.
Simply heat the Decibullz thermoplastic molds in boiling water, let them cool for a bit, and shape them to your ears. That’s it, and if you don’t get the perfect fit the first time, Decibullz are the only custom earplugs that are re-moldable.
They also offer an NRR of 31 decibels. I’ve had a couple pairs for the past few years and absolutely love them!
Decibullz Custom Molded Percussive Filters
Taking it a step beyond the regular Decibullz are their percussive filters. Developed for shooting and military use, the Decibullz Percussive Filters feature optimum protection from high level impulse and percussive sounds. The filters are ANSI IPIL certified up to 166 decibels. When no damaging noise is present, the Decibullz Filters provide a low attenuation, permitting voice and ambient noise to be heard.
This allows for situational awareness not provided by traditional hearing protection. I wore a pair in my own molded Decibullz at the SHOT Show Industry Day at the Range and they were really nice. I could carry on a conversation and was still protected from all the noise of gunfire.
Safariland In-Ear Impulse Hearing Protection
Another option for in-ear protection are these impulse plugs from Safariland. They utilize a filter like the ones in the previously mentioned Decibullz, but the filters fit into a more traditional uni-fit rubber earplugs. They provide 33 decibels of maximum protection for sudden loud noises that measures ~165 decibels, with a 13 decibels minimum continuous protection. This allows normal conversations to be heard while maintaining situational awareness.
I used a pair of these for three days at Gunsite and loved them. Plus, they come in their own keyring case so that you’ve always got ear protection with you!
Walker’s Silencer Digital Earbuds
Occupying the space between generic fitting earplugs and custom molded ones are the Walker’s Silencer Digital Earbuds. The pair has dedicated left & right units with sound activated compression so that any sounds over 85 decibels do not get amplified by the Walker’s Silencer, but instead get reduced by 25 decibels.
Independent volume control delivers digital hearing enhancement and protection. The coolest aspect of this product is that each unit has an independent volume control so that you can custom tune the sound to your preferences. They’re powered by #10 batteries with 4 included, and they can last up to 80 hours.
Walker’s Silencer Digital Earbuds – Rechargeable Bluetooth
If you want to take the Walker’s Silencer Digital Earbuds mentioned above to the next level, then this rechargeable model with built-in Bluetooth is the way to go. You can use the special Walker’s App to control the program settings, monitor battery levels, adjust volume levels, and change auto shut off time from mobile device.
Plus, with the Bluetooth, you can take phone calls or stream music while you shoot! The rechargeable battery lasts 14 hours, or 4 if you’re using Bluetooth nonstop.
Howard Leight by Honeywell Leightning L1 Shooting Earmuff
Howard Leight by Honeywell Leightning L1 Shooting Earmuffs provide a 25 decibel reduction in noise levels. • MSRP: $11.65 Howard Leight
You can never go wrong with a good, old-fashioned pair of earmuffs with passive hearing protection. The Leightning L1 offers an affordable earmuff with contemporary, low-profile design ideal for all-day use at the range. They provide a 25 decibel reduction in noise.
Caldwell E-Max Electronic Hearing Protection
These electronic earmuffs from Caldwell provide quality and value all in one. They offer a noise reduction rating of 25 decibels that amplifies low sounds (below 85dB) and compresses high noises (above 85dB) to create the perfect range experience. They run on 2 AAA Batteries (not included) and have an adjustable volume control and an audio jack for a phone or MP3 player. I’ve had a pair of these in my range bag for 3 years and have yet to need to replace the batteries!
If you’re a fan of ear plugs but you’d like the easy on/off of earmuffs, then the Otis EarShield is a good option. The EarShield combines the minimalism of ear plugs with 26 or 31 decibels of noise reduction (2 options; your choice) and a comfortable, adjustable headband for an almost universal fit.
With the EarShield, you can quickly go back and forth between protecting your hearing and hanging them around your neck away from the range.
Definitely the most interesting item on this list are the Pocket Plugs. While one benefit of earplugs is that they are small, that also means they can be easy to lose. The reusable Pocket Plugs are designed with an individual protective case that slides onto the arm of the eye protection of your choice. That way, as long as you’ve got your preferred pair of eye protection packed and ready to go, you’ll also have your ear protection ready without a second thought.
AmazonBasics Anti-Fog Shooting Safety Glasses Eye Protection
There’s really nothing special about these anti-fog polycarbonate shooting glasses except that they’re exceptionally light (0.96oz) and affordable. Grab a 3-pack (because shooting with friends is more fun) for just $16.99.
Oakley Men’s Ballistic M Frame 2.0 Shield Sunglasses
The Oakley Men’s Ballistic M Frame 2.0 line of glasses offer 100% UV filtering. • MSRP: $130 Oakley
Safety glasses can be fashionable, and if you’re one of those “name-brand” people, then these Oakleys might be just what you’re looking for. They weigh just over one ounce and their plutonite sunglasses lenses offer 100% UV protection filtering of all UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light up to 400mm. This makes them perfect if you’re shooting outdoors on a sunny day and standard clear lenses just won’t cut it.
Wiley X Saber Advanced Shooting Glasses
The ballistic impact protection lenses in the Wiley X Saber Advanced glasses provide excellent protection while on the range. The lenses are available in a variety of different colors and feature an easy “snap-in snap-out” design. If you don’t need/want a bunch of different lenses, you can buy a pair with just one single color lenses if you so choose.
Radians Shift Interchange Shooting Glasses
Radians’ Shift Interchange shooting glasses come with five interchangeable lenses to match the light conditions best suited to your environment for a more enjoyable range session.
Green mirror lens is best in bright sunlight, copper lens excels in medium light and enhances depth perception, orange lens reduces eye strain when shooting at orange targets, amber lens enhances visibility in low-light conditions, and clear is best for indoor and nighttime use. The soft, rubber-tipped temples and nose piece deliver a slip-resistant fit, and all five lenses block 99.9% of UVA and UVB rays.
Magpul has become synonymous with quality in the shooting community. Whether it’s magazines, pouches, bipods, or eyewear, you know it’s good stuff. With that in mind, Magpul offers five – yes, five – different glasses lines with ten – yes, ten – different lens options.
The Explorer is a casual design with a lightweight frame, low profile temples, and impact rated lens and frame combination are casual enough for everyday use, but also keep your eyes protected. The Explorer XL’s thicker frame, sculpted lines, and defined corners give it an edgier, more pronounced style than the standard Explorer, and its fit is optimized for medium and large faces.
The Terrain is well suited for those who require ballistic rated protection and maximum coverage in a lightweight, larger frame. The Summit’s design influence comes from its larger counterpart, the Terrain. Its design and swept lens shape provide maximum coverage and ballistic protection when you’re engaging in rigorous activities that would shake off other sunglasses.
The Radius has aggressive 8-base wrap and high-coverage temples to ensure protection from both the elements and debris, while the unique lens shape provides improved peripheral vision over other full coverage designs.
Radians RSG-3 Shotgunner Shooting Glasses
If you prefer the look of the larger, old-school shooting glasses, then the Shotgunner glasses from Radians are for you. The interchangeable lens design allows you to easily switch between clear, orange, or amber lenses in a frameless design that provides for a clear, wide field of vision.
Walker’s Sport Glasses
Walker’s adjustable sport glasses have interchangeable lenses made of a high-grade polycarbonate and are designed to allow air flowing more freely to prevent lens fog.
The lenses come in 4 colors (Smoke Gray, Amber, Yellow, and Clear) and allow for quick and easy lens replacement. They’ve got an improved design over their previous models that allows for greater coverage to keep your eyes protected and adapts to a broad range of facial sizes.
NoCry Over-Glasses Safety Glasses
If you wear prescription glasses, then you know the struggle that can ensue when trying to find a balance between protecting your vision and actually being able to see. The NoCry Over-Glasses provide that oh-so-needed balance.
Their strong and durable polycarbonate wraparound construction offers a high level of direct eye protection. The clear UV 400nm scratch-resistant lenses block 90-100% of harmful UV radiation, and they will comfortably and easily fit over most glasses (up to 5.7in wide, up to 1.37in high on the sides and 1.77in high in the center).
Phillips Safety Products Prescription Safety Reading Glasses
Don’t wear glasses all the time, but count on your readers for certain applications? Look no further than the Phillips Safety Products Prescription Safety readers! They weigh less than three ounces and are available in a variety of power levels from +1.00 up to +3.00 in +0.25 increments.
iLumen8 Clip-On Fit-Over Shooting Glasses
Carrying around multiple pairs of glasses, whether they be for shooting or otherwise, can be a pain and take up a lot of space. That problem is solved by the iLumen8 Clip-On Fit-Over shooting glasses. The glass in the lenses block 100% of UVA and UVB rays, and they are scratch and impact resistant.