Once your hearing is damaged that's it. So always protect it out in the field.

Shooters of a certain age often have hearing issues because wearing ear defenders for shooting wasn’t much of a thing back in the day. We’ve all been out in the field with somebody who says: “Sorry, deaf as a post. Never wore any ear protection when I was younger.”

Just how noisy is a shoot day?

Thankfully we’re all much more aware of the need to protect ourself today and a shoot day can be very noisy. Most 12-bore gunshots produce a sound of around 150 to 160 decibels (db), while a .30-06 rifle with a 24in barrel produces around the same. Consistent exposure to sounds of more than 95db is bad, and noises of more than 120db can cause permanent damage to your hearing in seconds.

Deafness apart, if you neglect to wear ear defenders for shooting you could end up with the dreaded tinnitus, a miserable condition which gives the sufferer a constant ringing in the ears.

All in all, it’s much simple just to carry ear protection with you when you’re off shooting.

Ear defenders for shooting

Napier Pro 9 best ear defenders

1. Napier-PR09-Ear-defenders RRP £31.54

Entry level ear defenders that are light, portable and fold up to slip in a pocket. So there’s no excuse not to have them to hand. They are noise cancelling but you’ll still be able to listen to conversation. No batteries needed.

Napier Pro 9

2. Deben Slim Passive Ear Defenders £29.99

Folding ear defenders which softly cushion the ear and a padded headband which means they don’t dig in or slip. Useful noise protection tested to give a 24dB SNR. noise reduction.

Bisley Compact Hearing Protectors

3. Bisley Compact Hearing Protectors £14.95

Cheap, cheerful but effective. These ear defenders hug your ears comfortably, are lightweight, foldable and provide noise reduction of 22dB.


best ear defenders

4. Peltor Red Bulls Eye I Hearing Protector £25

Are you somebody who’s always forgetting where you put something. The bright red of these ear defenders will help you find them on a dull day. These are particularly good for rifle shooters – the ear protectors are shaped to work with a rifle butt.

Beretta Prevail Ear Defenders

5. Beretta Prevail Ear Defenders £29.95

These come with a useful neck strap and are available in green, blue or black. Lightweight, slimline and fold neatly into the pocket of your shooting jacket.

Peltor Optimise III earmuffs

6. Peltor Optime III earmuffs £40

These impressive ear protectors have been dubbed a ‘supermuff’ and were developed for use in extremely noisy environments. The protection is based on new technology with a double casing that minimises resonance. This results in maximum high-frequency muffing so you can be safe in the knowledge that your hearing will be sufficiently protected.

Electronic ear defenders

These have come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Years ago they cut the wearer off completely from the sound of their surroundings. However nowadays electronic ear defenders can be adjusted so the shooter can hear dogs, safety calls and other sounds.

You can also have “made to measure” electronic headphones that fit your ears like a glove (or whatever the audible equivalent is).

1. CENS from £99

If you’re not keen on overhead ear defenders then investigate CENS, which are really digital ear plugs. They are custom-made for your ear and popular due to being lightweight, compact and comfortable as well as effective at protecting hearing.

Users report that they often forget they are wearing them – which is an excellent recommendation. Suitable for clay days, gameshooting, rough shooting and walked-up days. Oh, and George Digweed wears them.

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro IV

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro IV

2. Sordin Pro IV RRP £175

The sound on these is amplified up to ten times so you will actually hear better, although your hearing will be protected at the same time. Clever.

  • Battery life: 600 hours of two AAA batteries
  • Weight: 300g
  • Automatic shut off: Yes
  • Foldable: Yes
  • Sound protection: 82db
  • Price: from £150
3M Peltor ProTac Shooter

3M Peltor electronic muffs

3. 3M Peltor ProTac III electronic muffs RRP £98.39

These are the choice of Matthew Clark, editor of Sporting Gun. You will be protected from the harmful sound of gunshot but you’ll be able to hear what’s going on around you.

  • Battery life: 100 hours of two AA batteries
  • Weight: 355g
  • Automatic shut off: Yes
  • Foldable: Yes
  • Waterproof: Weatherproof
  • Sound protection: Reduces harmful levels of sound to 32db
  • Price: RRP £98.39
  • Extra features: 3.5mm jack. A listen-only stereo input to connect to a mobile phone, radio, two-way radio or other external devices.
electronic ear defenders

Walkers Razor slim electronic muff

4. Walkers Razor Electronic Compact Muff RRP £59.99

  • Battery: 2 ‘AAA’ batteries
  • Foldable: Yes
  • Sound protection: Reduces harmful levels of sound to 22db
  • Price: from £59.99
  • Extra features:  Features Sound Activated Compression (SAC),  a special electronic circuitry that will compress gunshots and other loud noises down to a safe level, without completely shutting the noise off. This allows you to hear range commands or communicate with your hunting partners, even when shots are being fired around you. Particularly good for young Shots and smaller shooters.
electronic ear defenders

Caldwell E-Max electronic hearing protection

5. Caldwell E-Max Low Profile RRP £42.99

These amplify sounds below 85 decibels (normal communication range) but blocks off above 85 decibels.

    • Battery life: Untested, two AAA batteries
    • Weight: 408g
    • Automatic shut off: No
    • Foldable: Yes
    • Waterproof: Water resistant
    • Sound protection: Blocks sounds above 85db
    • Warranty: 12 Months
    • Price: £42.99
    • Extra features: Two microphones offer stereo sound; low-profile ear cup for ease of shooting.