Hearing protection has come a long way — from stuffing cotton in your ears to plugging them with a couple of 9mm cartridges to advanced muffs and ear buds to now seemingly ubiquitous electronic options. Whatever you do, choose something: Hearing damage from the loud report of gunfire is still a real threat.
One of the latest and greatest innovations in hearing protection not only reduces the loud report of gunfire from entering your ear canals but also enhances your hearing when sounds around you are normal. And there’s more. Add the ability to listen to your favorite tunes from your mobile device and you’ll wonder why anyone would still opt for a couple 9mm’s stuffed in their ears…
Walker’s Razor XV bluetooth headset (retail $159.99) sports a NRR of 31dB to protect your hearing, employs Hi Gain omnidirectional microphones to enhance your hearing, and pumps the amplified normal noises and sounds — or your favorite music, podcast or other audio — into your ears via high definition speakers.
Here are the specs from the Walker’s website:
Retractable digital ear buds
Sound Activated Compression (SAC)
Powered by rechargeable LIPO battery 250mAH battery for 10 hours of use
Hi Gain omnidirectional microphones for clear sound enhancement
HD speakers in the ear buds for wide range audio quality
Includes 3 pairs of 12mm foam tips (S/M/L) and two pairs of 16mm coated foam tips (M/L)
Auto-Shut Off (low power mode) after 4 to 6 hours. Timer resets and unit wakes after any button is pressed.
Integrated Micro USB port
AC wall adapter with USB port and included 1 meter micro USB cord for charging
Storage case included
You wear the device around your neck. The earbuds reach your ears because they are on retractable wires that zip back into place with the press of a button. But when you’re wearing them, they’re light weight and the device is out of the way. They easily connect with your mobile device via Bluetooth and include a rechargeable battery and easy-to-use recharging system. Don’t worry if you leave them on by accident; they’ll shut off automatically after 4 to 6 hours.
As for protecting my hearing, gunshots from .22 Magnums up to .223’s were more than adequately stifled — better than traditional muffs, typical earbuds, or two 9mm’s.
As for enhancing my hearing, I can converse easily with buddies on the range (as long as they’re wearing electronic muffs, too; otherwise they tend to shout at me because they can’t hear themselves.) I like wearing them when I’m not shooting, too. Outside, just walking around, there’s plenty to hear in nature. And, of course, in a tree stand in early dawn the Walker’s pick up every snap of a twig from a squirrel to a whitetail. As for playing tunes or other audio, the sound quality is decent. These aren’t for the audiophile; they’re for the shooter.
By the way, if you still use a couple 9mm’s for your hearing protection, try these American Eagle 9mm Syntech — a new jacket technology featuring a polymer coating of the bullet. I don’t think anybody recommends these for your ears, but they are a bit smoother and expose you to less lead than a traditional cartridge. They’re much better for shooting than for protecting hearing, though.
Let us hear about your choices in hearing protection in the comments below. What do you use and why?
— Mark Kakkuri