If you’re like a lot of shooters out there, you probably own a pair of Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs, and for a couple very simple reasons: they work pretty darn well, and they have a very attractive price tag.
The electronic hearing protection earmuffs are slimmer and generally less bulky than similar products on the market, and include built-in directional microphones that allow you to hear range commands and other ambient sounds. If any sound spikes above 82 decibels, the earmuffs automatically shut down the amplification and reduces any noise by 22 decibels. Plenty of hunters also wear them in the field.
The bargain earmuffs include a 3.5mm auxiliary connection for MP3 players, cell phones, or anything else you might need to hear while on the range.
A lot of similar products on the market have these attributes, but few sell on Amazon for $35 like the Impact Sport earmuffs do.
It’s difficult to go to a range and not see at least a couple shooters wearing Howard Leight Sport Impact electronic earmuffs. mfg photo
But, that isn’t to say they couldn’t be a bit better.
The standard ear pads on the Impact Sport are adequate and fairly comfortable, but they can get pretty warm during extended range sessions, and they have a tendency, like most earmuffs, to pinch the top of your ears against the arms of your shooting glasses and your skull creating hot spots.
It sounds like a minor issue, but after a couple hours in the sun and throw the brim of a hat into the mix and it all adds up to being pretty damn annoying. If you have to wear them for a few days in a row, it can get downright painful. Plus, all that pinching can give you a headache and, if they aren’t positioned just right, you could have a bad seal around your ears, reducing your hearing protection’s effectiveness.
Enter the SightLines ear cushions, made especially for the Howard Leight line of earmuffs.
The SightLine pads allow you to take off your sunglasses / eye pro and put them back on without adjusting your earmuffs or opening the seal around your ear. mfg photo
The replacement pads include a relief cut at the top of the cushion to provide a gap for the arms of shooting glasses, while allowing the seal around the ear to remain intact. It also allows you to remove your glasses and put them back on without having to adjust your muffs or knock them out of place—imagine that.
It’s an obvious solution to an annoying problem, and once you try them, you’ll wonder why all earmuffs aren’t all made this way.
Additionally, the “horseshoe ring design” helps air circulate around your ears and is made of a mixture of silicone gel and memory foam. This makes for a softer overall cushion and distributes the pressure of the earmuffs more evenly than a foam-like cushion. And, I found, they are generally cooler than the standard pads on the Impact Sport.
The SightLine pads are wrapped in a thin sheet of rugged polymer skin that’s soft to the touch and resistant to UV rays. It also has anti-fungal properties—plus it doesn’t absorb moisture, which means these pads won’t start falling apart and stinking after a lot of use or if they get left in a hot car one too many times.
As you can see from these folded Impact Sport earmuffs, the standard pads don’t leave much room. mfg photo
For the sake of honesty, I didn’t get a pair of these in the mail for free to try out—I legit stumbled across them in the wee hours of the morning looking through pages of gun gear and thought, “Hey, there’s a fix for a problem I didn’t know I had…”
More often than not, these kinds of purchases result in the printing of a return label, but not this time.
There’s only one drawback…the price. All those fancy materials mean the pads (which are dirt simple to install) cost about as much as a brand new set of Impact Sport earmuffs.
As you can see, the gap provides room for the arms of sunglasses while remaining sealed around the ear. mfg photo
They’re available on safetyglassesusa.com for $34.99, which may be a little steep, but if Howard Leight muffs are the ear pro you use most often, then the upgrade is definitely worth it, especially if you can find them cheaper elsewhere.
The SightLine replacement pads will fit the Howard Leight Impact Pro, Leightning, Sync, and Viking models in addition to the Impact Sport.