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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've been a fan of Howard Leight Impact Pro and Impact Sport Electronic Earmuffs, have a couple set of each. They do a great job of blocking the noise of gun fire, handgun, rifle and shotgun. One downside I experience with them is the limited protection they seem to provide for me when using a long gun. When getting the cheek weld, the muff on the stock side seems to lift up a bit and move away from the side of my head, compromising the sound attenuation provided. I've been looking for a better alternative to these and think I've come up with a good answer.

Enter the Etymotic GunsportPRO Earplugs, Electronic Hearing Protection Designed for Hunters, Shooters, and Gun Enthusiasts. I have seen a few reviews of these from some folks I trust and thought I'd give them a try. With the liberal return policy of Amazon, I saw it as a no risk proposition, not happy with them, they go back. The decision has been made, they are staying! (See post #11 in this thread, this status may now be changing! lol!)

They come with several earpieces, so achieving a good fit in your ear canal is quite easy. It took me a few trips to the range, trying a different earpiece each time, until I found the proper fit. They are extremely comfortable, actually feel like a set of really decent earbuds.

Attenuation of noise is very effective, Using them alone with handguns, even the louder calibers like 357 SIG and 10mm, makes for a very enjoyable shooting experience. The sound quality through them, when not attentuating, is extremely clear and accurate. There is a switch on each ear bud that allows you to adjust the volume of each unit to three different levels. I have heard a lot of complaints of feedback from users of earbuds, but there was no screeching heard from these while in use.

When shooting rifles, I'll continue using the Howard Leights in conjunction with The GunsportPRO Earplugs. Should one of the muffs loose a good seal, as I normally experience, I still have good protection. And in the case I am doubling up with both the GunsportPRO's and the Howard Leights, there is still no feedback being generated.

While these are not inexpensive, they are effective. Like I said, it took a bit to get the right fit, but I just got home from the range, ran 400 rounds of unsuppressed 9mm, using only the GunsportPRO's and I'm a happy camper with the results.

The only downside I have come up with for these is that they use standard hearing aid batteries. I don't understand the chemistry of these batteries, but I understand that once you remove the seal, they start reacting with air and there is no way to stop the reaction. The batteries seem to have about a 2 week life once the seal is removed. So you are replacing batteries regularly. But the batteries are not terribly expensive, so, in the bigger picture, not really that bad a downside.

If you are looking for some good hearing protection that doesn't get sweaty while you are out in a training class for an extended day in the hot sun, these really are a nice option. You don't get that clammy feel from the earmuffs when your ears get all hot and sweaty and don't need to find a place to hang them, like on your leg or perch on your head above your ears.
 

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I like those and I've been wanting something small like those for the reason you mentioned. But I don't have the moola at this time. But maybe in the future. It would be nice if they made it take a different battery but I don't know enough about those batteries. Those batteries don't seem to last very long!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Agreed, battery life is not good with this type battery. Self life is decent, but once activated, poof, they seem to be done! I just picked up a pack of Duracell batteries, the price was about $1 each. When I consider the costs associated with a trip to the range, $2 for batteries is just a small blip. I wouldn't (and didn't) let that sway my decision. But, yes, I agree completely, these earbuds are not inexpensive. But sooooo much more comfortable to wear for extended periods than any ear muffs I've tried. Sure, one can go with basic ear plugs for very cheap, but once you try hearing protection that still allows you to hear what is going on around you, it is hard to go back.

I'm not selling anything here, just trying to share my experience to this point with the product. Hopefully it will help someone that may be on the fence or even considering them make an informed decision based on one real world data point as to whether these are the right product or not for their application and needs.
 

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Have you tried these in an indoor shooting range with someone shooting something fairly loud, like a .357 Sig or 10MM?

Edited to add:

While checking these out on Amazon, I found these batteries and the reviews claim much longer battery life with them in hearing aids, so it stands to reason the same would be true in these attenuating ear buds. Have you tried them?

https://www.amazon.com/Hearing-Batt...rd_wg=lqXLh&psc=1&refRID=2PYR3Q3FDN52KS1HH03B
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Have you tried these in an indoor shooting range with someone shooting something fairly loud, like a .357 Sig or 10MM?

Edited to add:

While checking these out on Amazon, I found these batteries and the reviews claim much longer battery life with them in hearing aids, so it stands to reason the same would be true in these attenuating ear buds. Have you tried them?

https://www.amazon.com/Hearing-Batt...rd_wg=lqXLh&psc=1&refRID=2PYR3Q3FDN52KS1HH03B
Thanks for the link, those look priced just right! Gonna have to pick a box up!

The first time I used the earbuds, I had a couple of 1911's, one in 357 SIG and one in 10mm. They worked great, sound attenuation was excellent with these loud rounds. I rarely shoot indoors, but if I do, I'll post my findings here.
 

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I'd really like to hear (no pun intended) how well they work in an indoor range, as there's a huge difference in sound between indoors and out and I shoot indoors a lot in the summer.
 

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Good review thanks I was looking at these recently the cost and batteries were the stumbling blocks (i'm too lazy to replace things every 2 days). Had a quality pair of Etymotic in-ear headphones in the ipod days, good stuff.

Can you buy & test these while you're at it...

Walker Razor XV with Blue Tooth
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GUB2SMU/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_13?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

Specifically need something for INDOOR use (with 9/40/45/sig357). Except for sporting clays (foam only) I use presently use foam and
Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Pro Sound Amplification Electronic Earmuff (R-01902)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007BGSI5U/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Good review thanks I was looking at these recently the cost and batteries were the stumbling blocks (i'm too lazy to replace things every 2 days). Had a quality pair of Etymotic in-ear headphones in the ipod days, good stuff.

Can you buy & test these while you're at it...

Walker Razor XV with Blue Tooth
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GUB2SMU/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_13?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER
I will! Just ordered a set and will compare with the Etymotic earbuds. The winner of the evaluation stays, the loser goes back to Amazon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The Walker XV's arrived this morning. At this point, they are looking very promising. They came fitted out of the box with the small foam plugs, these seem to fit my ear canals better than any included with the Etymotics. Just standing in the kitchen, the Walkers seem to block out external noise a bit better. They come with three sets of foam plugs, small, medium and large. Not quite the variety offered with the Etymotics, but seem to fit me better. I will play around with different plugs that I have laying around the house to see if an even better fit can be achieved and better attenuation delivered.

Another plus is the rechargeable battery built into the unit. I have the unit charging right now, it uses a micro USB plug, the same as I use for my phone and a couple of other bluetooth devices I have, so having charging cords won't be a problem. With a 10 hour use, the batteries should last long enough for my needs prior to charge.

The volume control is more flexible with the Walkers, also. With the Etymotics, there were three levels. With the Walkers, quite a range of volume is available, not sure how many steps there are, but certainly more flexible than the Etymotics. Add in a second volume control for any bluetooth signals you may be listening to, you can really adjust the two volumes to what your needs may be.

Speaking of bluetooth, something the Etymotics doesn't have. Being able to listen to a signal from my phone, be it music, a podcast or what ever, might be a plus. The ability to take a phone call is definitely a big plus. Now, whether I take a call at the range is another story, but doesn't require removing the device from the ear canal to take a call, maybe a quick jaunt to the car to take the call, all set.

One downside I have noticed to this point is the fidelity of the sound. The sound seemed to be more accurate with the Etymotics than it is with the Walkers. Not a huge difference in sound quality, but there is a slight degradation with the Walkers. This will translate to less than pristine sound quality when listening to music using the bluetooth feature. These certainly are not as good sounding as some of my better earbuds. But that is not the principle use of these buds, just noting here.

Feedback with the Walkers seems to be non-existant at this point. I will be going to the range later today to test them out and will use a couple models of the Howard Leight powered ear muffs to see if there is a compatibility issue or not. I'll hit the rifle range with the set up, probably shoot some 308, so I should get a good sense of how well they attenuate rifle sound. My range is outdoors, but the rifle range has a roof over the shooting benches. This will probably come as close as I can hope, at least in the coming months, to trying these products out in an indoor setting. With the echoes created by the roof, I think it will come pretty close to an indoor environment.

A big plus leaning toward the Walkers is the price differential. At $300, the Etymotics are pretty steep, close to what a custom fit set of active earbuds would run. At $100, the Walkers are pretty darn reasonable in price. My initial reaction, at this point, is the Walkers are going to be staying and the Etymotics will be going back

I've got two bits that says Walker wins.
I think you might just be right. The Walkers fall short in a couple of aspects, but the $200 price difference is substantial. I have a feeling Amazon will be contacted later today with a return request for the Etymotics. Thanks for the tip, chinch!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Got to the range yesterday with the Walker Razor XV's. Took my PTR-91 chambered in 308 to test these out and compare with the Etymotics. The range I go to has a roof over the rifle shooting benches, the ceiling of the roof is about 8 feet high, so the space, from ground to ceiling is rather confined. I believe this environment gives a close approximation to how the earbuds will work at an indoor range. Also, ran some Gold Dot +P 38 Spec through the 640 to see how they performed.

First, I will note the fit of the Walkers seems to be better to my ear canals than any of the buds included with the Etymotics. When I inserted the Walkers at home prior to the range trip, the noise blocking seemed to be much better than offered by the Etymotics. The trip to the range confirmed this. When firing the PTR-91, there was almost no audible blast from the rifle with the Walkers. With the Etymotics, I did hear some, certainly attenuated to what I believe to be safe levels, but I could still hear some blast. The Walkers do a much better job, in my ears for my needs, than the Etymotics. Couple that with the substantial price difference, the Etymotics will be going back to Amazon for a refund.

Also, worth noting, there was no discernable feedback when I wore each of my Howard Leight amplified ear muffs over the Walkers. However, due to the effective attenuation of the Walkers, I doubt I will ever be using a set of muffs over them. Very nice for shooting rifles, my cheek weld seems to always disrupt the seal between the muff ear cushion and the side of my head.

A couple of notes I'd like to share. First, when the noise reduction circuitry engages, the Walkers emit a slight clicking noise, not loud, but present. The Etymotics did not do this, the noise reduction of the Etymotics was seemless. Another consideration with the Walkers one should be cautious with is the earbud retraction system utilized. The earbuds are each tethered to the main unit via a small, thin ribbon. If the earbuds are fully extended and you press the retraction button, the earbuds retract via a spring action with considerable force. I would be concerned repeated free retraction of the earbuds could damage this ribbon, rendering the earbud worthless as the signal is transmitted through this ribbon. When retracting the earbuds, I would recommend holding the earbud and gently guide it back to it's resting spot.

In all, there are several advantages to the Walker Razor XV's when compared to the Etymotics, IMHO. The Walkers will now become my go to for hearing protection when shooting firearms!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wow thanks for the review MC! Looks like I will pull the trigger on the XVs!
I see Amazon currently has a set of returns priced at $91.66. Had these been available when I purchased, these certainly would have been the units I purchased. I've had very good luck with these Amazon returns, always the first thing I look for when purchasing something from Amazon.
 

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Thx I picked up the Walker XVs from Amazon. They arrived too late to try with handgun but used them for sporting clays event this weekend. For those I use the foam tubes like this which stay in my ears & limit sound the best (the tapered don't work for me)

https://www.amazon.com/3M-Uncorded-...id=1491232044&sr=8-18&keywords=Ear+Plugs+Foam

I'll post back after trying indoors & outdoors with pistol & .223/5.56. Heavy rain has limited outdoor range time.

Some observations...

These work great!. I used the largest foam insert (will need more) which for me limited noise with the Walker XV powered off about the same as the above foamies. Our club had a steel event going on so in adjacent pits so i had to put the vol to near min to avoid magnification of the distant "steel" hits. I'm thinking these will be great shooting steel (i do) as you can hear the steel hit (not suppressed, can be amplified) but not the blast (suppressed).

I've never shot 12GA & 20GA with so much auditory comfort and ability to hear everything around you. There's a great benefit of being able to hear others others while not shooting where you must use hearing protection all times unless range is cold. I wish everyone had these to avoid the "repeat that" and "what" from others when talking.

I manned the throwers nearby the shooting station (and assisted a new shooter) and you can hear the active noise-suppression of each shotgun shot. Works very well.

Didn't use the Bluetooth (didn't want the distraction) yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanx for sharing, was wondering if you got some. Glad you like them, they seem to work very well and with the rechargeable battery, a great value. The small foams work best for me, but that's why they include a variety. I just couldn't get a good fit with the Etymotics, not like the Walkers. Thanx for the tip, chinch!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I'd be curious how they do indoors standing next to a rifle with a brake. I found they worked well shooting my PTR-91 in 308 on a bench under an 8 foot ceiling/roof, but this is a bit different than standing next to a brake.
 

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Shot 40 & 357Sig indoor wearing only the Walker XVs. Mix of 250 hand loads and factory at a 25yd range (low ceilings) with 1-2 other shooters in adjacent lanes.

This was the first time in months/years I've shot pistol more than a few rounds indoor without muffs over foamies so there was some noise adjustment necessary for certain. The fact that the XVs kept my ears safe is a testament to how well they work with the included foam.

I need to get used to the ergonomics including the vol controls. So far I've kept the volume at 0 when shooting then one click up when range is cold. Not sure why they have it so amplified seems unnecessary.

No ear fatigue or ringing after or 1-day later. I'll try them again then use with muffs to see if any difference in noise/flinch/startle/etc.

I expect these to be fantastic in & outdoors in the summer where muffs tend to sweat you up especially with humidity.
 
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