There are a lot of electronic earmuffs and earplugs on the market, and most of ‘em are worth every penny you’ll spend on ‘em. The best ones are generally more expensive, but you don’t have to sell your first-born to get a good pair.
Electronic muffs are also known as active sound suppression. They’re active because they let the quieter sounds come through, but at a certain decibel level, they dampen the louder noises. That makes it possible to talk to your shooting partners without having to take off your ear protection.
The Walker’s Game Ear is one of the pioneers of the active sound suppression ear protection, and they can be pretty pricey. The nice thing is that they’re custom-molded to your ear, and since they’re earplug-style rather than muffs, you won’t hit ‘em with your gun stock. However, since they’re made for one ear, you have to buy two of ‘em to get the full effect of the hearing protection. You can spend anywhere from a hundred and fifty to four hundred dollars for each one.
SportEar makes some nice active earplugs, too. They’re priced by the pair, but you can still expect to pay four hundred fifty or eleven hundred dollars for SportEars, depending on the style you get.
Walker’s also makes muffs, as do Caldwell, Peltor, Radians and Pro Ears. The muffs are generally less expensive, but the bulkier models can get in the way of your stock. I have a pair of Pro Ears Stalker Gold muffs, and they’re tapered at the bottom so they are less likely to bonk into my shotgun butt. The trade-off is that they don’t dampen the sound as much as a bigger model would. The price was right on ‘em, though. They’re normally three hundred bucks, but I got mine for half that.
Grab a set of electronic muffs or earplugs before you go to the range. Your ears will thank you.