Ear Plugs vs. Ear Muffs: Which is Best for Hearing Protection at the Range

Live-fire training is crucial for responsible, reliable handgun ownership. If you are going to carry a concealed weapon, you must maintain a steady routine of consistent training, which means you’ll need reliable ear protection for thousands of rounds.

For ear protection, you’ll essentially have two options, ear plugs or ear muffs. But which one is right for you?

Ear Plugs Appear (In General) to Deliver Better Protection

Although some assume that ear muffs would be better for ear protection, it appears that ear plugs are actually the stronger choice. This is because ear plugs provide a seal in the ear canal, significantly reducing the amount of noise that can reach the inner ear.

This theory is supported by a study conducted by researchers with Defence Research and Development Canada, which found that the threshold for ear muffs was 35-48 decibels, while the threshold for ear plugs was 40-55 decibels.

The best protection, however, comes from using both….

Double Up for Maximum Protection

The study cited above found that using both plugs and ear muffs delivers a significant boost in protection, with a threshold of 44-66 decibels. If ear protection is a serious concern (and it should be), consider wearing both plugs and muffs for maximum protection.

Look for “NRR”

Whenever you choose ear protection, be it ear plugs or ear muffs, look for the NRR, or Noise Reduction Rating, which is represented by a number. The higher the number, the better the protection. If you stick with this number as your guide and choose options in the high 20’s to mid 30’s, you will have quality protection, allowing your years to withstand a lifetime of target practice.

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