When selecting the best earmuffs for an indoor shooting range, you’re going to want to beef up the NRR and the muff. If you don’t, you could easily turn into one of the many people who complain about their ear protection at the range. All the muffs in this guide get the job done without doubling up unless you’re firing a magnum. Even then, you may find that several of the more sophisticated muffs in this guide dampen the sound well enough to avoid damaging your ears.
Before we get started with an overview of the muffs, let’s first consider the decibel levels at an indoor range and the recommended NRR to avoid hearing loss.
What decibel ear protection for indoor shooting?
According to the CDC, one study found decibel levels as high as 170dB at an indoor range, which was well beyond the recommended allowable 140dB in accordance with NIOSH’s SPL exposure guideline.
While this is an extreme example, it does go to show how loud the sounds can get at an indoor range. For this reason, high-decibel ear protection is the preferred choice for the indoor range. Anything below 25dB NRR is not ideal for an indoor range. The highest decibel ear muffs typically go up to 35dB max, and it’s important to consider that NRR is only a number.
Depending on how the earmuffs fit your head and the seal you get, you may or may not get the full protection of the listed NRR. That’s why doubling up with earplugs to get an extra 10-20dB reduction even with the highest decibel ear muffs is sometimes necessary when firing large caliber weapons.
|#1) 3M Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Electronic Hearing Protector|
|#2) Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Pro Sound Amplification Electronic Earmuff|
|#3) 3M Peltor X5A Over-the-Head Earmuffs|
|#4) 3M Peltor Sport Ultimate Hearing Protector|
|#5) Smith & Wesson Passive Range Muffs|
Reviews of the Best Earmuffs for Indoor Shooting Ranges
Depending on how high you want to go up the price ladder, there are muffs that amplify range commands & other ambient sounds down to simple muffs that you pop on and off. In the sections below, we share individual reviews of each of the muffs from the chart above along with the pros & cons of owning them.
Be sure to consider the pros & cons to get a clear idea of what to expect from each set of earmuffs before making your final decision.
#1) 3M Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Electronic Hearing Protector
Of the models in this guide, the Sport Tactical 500 muffs sport the most bells and whistles. These are some of the best all-around shooting earmuffs on the market for both indoor and outdoor ranges. Also, they’re excellent for hunting because of the proprietary 3M technologies. These “technologies” amplify low sounds and dampen loud sounds to safe levels on autopilot.
Each set of 2 AA batteries provides up to 42 hours of use with a low battery voice prompt. If you plan to use them often, investing in a set of rechargeable AA batteries is a wise decision. Another premium feature is the 3M voice tracking tech that seeks human voices within environmental noise. This feature alone makes these an excellent choice for indoor ranges to get automatic amplification of range commands. Plus, you won’t have to remove the headset when talking to friends or family at the range.
Several final highlights of the Tactical 500 headset are Bluetooth connectivity for making calls & listening to music, low-profile cups with cut-outs when firing rifles, and the vented headband that’s good for use with hats. Lastly, the muffs feature recessed microphones for wind and fan noise reduction. All in all, if you have the coin, these are the best earmuffs for an indoor shooting range.
- Clearly hear voices at the range without removing the muffs
- Comfort level is second to none
- Automatically amplify range commands
- Noise-canceling recessed microphones to reduce static sounds due to wind and fans
- Good for deer hunting
- Clear voice calls
- The ability to listen to music on Spotify, etc. via Bluetooth
- Lower NRR than the Howard Leight muffs
- Heavier than the Howard Leight muffs
- During voice calls, the receiver will hear gunshots
#2) Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Pro Sound Amplification Electronic Earmuff
If you want a lighter earmuff with a higher NRR and don’t mind skipping the Bluetooth, then you may find that the Impact Pro muff is a better value for the money. Similar to the Tactical 500 model, the Impact Pro muff amplifies ambient sounds such as range commands and people’s voices. The integrated directional microphones have the power to amplify ambient sounds up to 4X or 82 dB, which is quite nice in our humble opinion.
When gunshots and other loud sounds go beyond 82 dB, the Impact Pro microphones skip over these sounds automatically, so there’s no need to worry about loud sounds being amplified. Two clear advantages of the Impact Pro model over the Tactical 500 are the weight and battery life. Each set of 2 AAA batteries provides up to 350 hours of use, and the headset itself weighs several ounces less than the Tactical 500 model.
Lastly, the Impact Pro muffs do feature a 3.5mm AUX jack to connect your phone for listening to your music or to other devices such as a scanner, which also makes these good earmuffs for a NASCAR race. Overall, considering these cost about half the price (at the time of this writing) as the Tactical 500 muffs, you may find that these are a better purchase if Bluetooth isn’t your thing.
- Higher NRR and lighter than the Tactical 500 headset
- Automatic ambient noise amplification to hear voices and range commands up to 82dB
- Longer battery life than Tactical 500
- No need to yell when speaking to others at the range
- Significantly more affordable than the Tactical 500 muffs
- Very comfortable ear cushions
- Highly recommended for firing large caliber handguns at an indoor range
- No Bluetooth for wirelessly streaming music or making voice calls
- Might be difficult to get a good cheek weld with long guns
- Volume level might be too low for you when using the AUX input to listen to music
#3) 3M Peltor X5A Over-the-Head Earmuffs
If you’re in the market for a good affordable set of earmuffs for the indoor range, the X5A is currently our favorite model. Yes, you don’t get voice amplification or Bluetooth, but you do get an extremely comfortable pair of earmuffs with top-notch hearing protection. The NRR 31 dB CSA Class AL is one of the highest levels of attenuation offered by the 3M Peltor collection.
One thing we love about Peltor muffs is reliability. 3M lab tests its earmuffs to ensure an accurate NRR and to ensure that the muffs comply with both ANSI & OSHA safety standards. When it comes to hearing protection, it’s best to go with brands you can trust first to protect your hearing. You may see other lesser-known brands offering higher NRRs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their muffs provide better protection.
Other design highlights of the X5A muffs are oversized soft-foam ear cushions, ear cup tilting pivot points to reduce pressure on the head, and durable ABS plastic cups that hold up well in all environments. Lastly, the cushions and inserts are replaceable to ensure these muffs stand the test of time.
- Well-built with durable materials
- Highly recommended for use at indoor ranges without having to double up with earplugs
- Easily adjustable for all head sizes
- The earcups form a tight seal
- Very comfortable when worn for long hours
- Not as big in person as they look in photos
- Recommended for even the loudest indoor ranges
- No Bluetooth or AUX jack
- The need to remove them to speak with others
- They might feel too bulky
#4) 3M Peltor Sport Ultimate Hearing Protector
The final option by Peltor in our guide is the Sport Ultimate muff. Compared to the X5A muffs, they’re not as bulky and more affordable at the time of this writing. Currently, Peltor offers its Sport muff in 24, 27, and 30 NRR editions, with the Ultimate 30 NRR being the ideal choice for indoor shooting ranges. Despite being less bulky than the X5A muffs, they still weigh about the same at 12.3 oz.
In our experience, the Peltor Sport Ultimate muffs do an even better job of reducing noise at indoor ranges than the combination of electronic earmuffs and earplugs. Compared to the X5A muffs, you may find that the Sport Ultimate muffs are more comfortable to use when firing long guns.
Lastly, according to 3M, the Sport Ultimate model is the company’s “highest-NRR earmuff.” A couple of final highlights are the open headband design to reduce heat buildup & for comfort while wearing a cap, a fully-adjustable headband for all head sizes, and you may prefer the look of the Sport series over the X5A model.
- Not as bulky as the X5A model with about the same NRR
- Choose between 30, 27, and 24 NRR with lower-profile designs as you go down the ladder
- The cheapest Peltor earmuffs in our guide (and in our opinion that are good for indoor shooting ranges)
- Ample hearing protection for use with or near loud rifles
- The ability to speak with range officers without removing them
- Ultimate bang for your buck
- Very comfortable when worn for multiple hours
- The earcups may interfere too much with long guns
- No Bluetooth, AUX input, or sound amplification
#5) Smith & Wesson Passive Range Muffs
Last but not least is this sweet set of Smith & Wesson Passive Range Muffs with the highest NRR of the models in our guide. While we do like to see that mighty high NRR, we still feel confident that Peltor offers better hearing protection overall. Having said that, if you’re on the hunt for a cheap set of heavy-duty earmuffs for an indoor range, these should definitely be on your radar.
Of the five models in this guide, the Smith & Wesson muffs are currently the most affordable, but just by a hair compared to the Peltor Sport Ultimate model. The biggest advantage of choosing these over the other options – outside of the lower price – is their weight. Of the muffs in our guide, these are the lightest and least likely to feel heavy on your head when worn for multiple hours.
The final consideration is the old-school look of these muffs. Depending on how you feel about their appearance, you may or may not prefer their old-school charm. Additionally, the adjustable padded headband is nice to see, however, we wouldn’t put it on the same shelf of comfort as Peltor.
- The highest decibel earmuff for the money
- The lightest shooting earmuff in our Top 5
- A good choice for children as well as adults
- Recommended for use at indoor ranges
- High-quality materials
- The collapsible feature makes them easy to stow away and pack
- They might feel a bit tight on large heads
- It’s hard to hear voices with these on your head
- May still need to double up when firing magnums
When choosing the best earmuffs for an indoor shooting range, be sure to consider how much you value the convenience of being able to hear others and range officers without removing the muffs. Additionally, if you like to listen to music while you do your thing, the Peltor Tactical 500 Bluetooth feature is a true blessing. Remember, if you’re okay without Bluetooth, the Honeywell Impact Pro muffs offer about the same level of functionality for roughly half the price.
Once you venture outside of electronic earmuffs, Peltor is the first place to look for shooting at indoor ranges. For handguns, the X5A and Sport Ultimate muffs are hard to beat as far as hearing protection and comfort at the range. Finally, if you plan to fire long guns, the Tactical 500 muffs do feature cut-outs to avoid interference.