Last Updated on June 8, 2021
Firearms have been around for a very long time. People can have a lot of different feelings about them. Some think they are a necessity for self-defense. Others refuse to even touch them. But at the end of the day, firearms are just a tool. How they are used is determined by the wielder.
You can be fascinated by guns or you can be scared of them. However, knowing your way around firearms can be a very useful skill that may come in handy one day even if you’re not planning to ever use one. That’s why putting in some time to master it can be beneficial for virtually anyone. Firearms are perfectly safe when used properly – you just have to make sure you use them the proper way. It’s not as easy as pointing and squeezing. You need practice with the safe operation of firearms.
One of the core aspects of effective practice is using the correct gear. Primarily, this comes down to protecting your vision and hearing. There are many options available for shooters today. Let’s have a look at some of the best eye and ear protection equipment you can get your hands on.
Your eyes are the most vulnerable spot on your head. Going the extra mile to protect them is always a good idea. Now, safety goggles or glasses won’t stop a bullet. But there are plenty of other reasons to wear eye protection. Most models will save you from shrapnel, birdshot, loose debris, or an unfortunate ricochet and will stop the excess gunpowder from burning your eyes in case of a gun malfunction. It can also enhance your eyesight and improve accuracy.
There is a difference between safety glasses and ballistic glasses. Regular civilian safety glasses are widely used in all sorts of industrial workplaces. They won’t offer as much protection as ballistic glasses. But that doesn’t mean you should discard them right away.
All ANSI safety glasses need to pass rigorous standards and are very good at what they do. You can absolutely use them on the shooting range. In fact, some models are specifically created for this purpose. A proper pair of ANSI safety glasses should have a Z87+ marking on them.
As high as ANSI safety standard is, military-grade ballistic goggles take it to a whole nother level. They are designed to account not just for accidents but for full-on combat. In a situation where your target is trying to shoot you back, be sure to go for ballistic eyewear.
Both of these types of protective eyewear will do for your average target practice or hunting trip. At the end of the day, it depends on your personal needs, preferences, and budget. Now, let’s take a look at some of the options available on the market today.
Allen Over Shooting & Safety Glasses
When we talk about budget options, your best bet is Allen glasses. There is absolutely nothing fancy about them. They are as basic as it gets. Z87 ANSI rating combined with Mirror Smoke lenses and UV protection stuck on top of that – what else do you need?
- Large size to fit over prescription glasses
- Mirror Smoke lenses for bright lighting conditions
- Wrap around frames for extra protection & coverage
- Ansi Z87 impact resistant
- Metallic coating on lenses with 100% UV protection
Well, a better design would be nice actually. But apart from that one thing, it’s a very functional and cheap model that will serve you well. It’s also universal and will fit any scenario. Also, you can wear it over prescription glasses which is great.
On the opposite side of the price spectrum is the Oakley Radar model. It is quite pricey but pretty much the best option out there provided you can afford it.
Yellow lenses crank up the contrast helping you improve your accuracy. The price is really the only drawback. So if you have $200 to spend and can take your range buddies making fun of you due to how much money you spent on tacticool glasses, go ahead and live your best life.
And if you need something even more durable, you’ll need to look towards safety goggles. In this scenario, your first stop would be the ESS Influx goggles. They are sturdy, comfortable, and easy to wear with a helmet. In addition, they feature anti-fog and anti-scratch lenses – an operator’s dream.
- The ESS Influx goggle incles one clear lens installed, one grey lens with protctive sleeve, and nylong carry case.
- Includes Clear and Smoke Grey lens
- Includes nylon carry case
- Frame color: Terrain Tan
- Meets Mil-PRF-32432
The foam padding feels nice. It’s not as durable as rubber and can get soaked very quickly if you are training in the heat. But you can always try to switch it out.
Now, why would these cost half as much as a pair of Oakley safeties? That’s a good question, especially considering that, unlike Oakleys, they don’t make you look like a grandstander.
Whether you are shooting on a closed range or out in the wild, the sound of exploding gunpowder has a devastating effect on your ears. An hour or two of marksmanship won’t do you much harm. But if you are a regular shooter, you should always use ear protection to avoid permanent damage to your eardrums.
Of course, some people don’t think it’s necessary to use ear protection on the range. After all, you are better off getting used to the sound of gunfire sooner rather than later. Well, that’s not exactly how that works. You can’t get used to the sound of gunfire. If you think you are starting to – you’re not, you’re simply going deaf.
Luckily, it’s relatively easy to protect your eardrums. It doesn’t take much more than any sort of cover be it earplugs, protective earmuffs, or even your regular vacuum earbuds. Of course, dedicated hearing protective gear would be preferable. Yet, if you are on short notice, make sure to cover your ears with something at least.
3M PELTOR Optime
The 3M Peltor Optime earmuffs are one of the most common ones out there. You can find them in almost any shooting range or heavy-duty industrial workplace. And there’s a good reason. They are pretty good at what they do. They are efficient, relatively cheap, and very comfortable.
- Recommended for very high noise level environments
- Noise reduction rating of 27 dB
- Excellent attenuation at low and high frequencies
- Two low mounting points provide great comfort
- Simple and easy height adjustment
You’ll be able to wear them for hours at a time with no problems whatsoever. They are also a great choice for a first-timer as well. The notable drawback of any earmuffs is that they reduce your awareness by muffling the sounds around you.
So if you need to hear everything that’s happening around you and protect your eardrums at the same time – there’s an easy solution. Sound amplification headphones are a simple yet very useful piece of technology. It uses microphones to take in the surrounding sounds and output them back into your ears after equalizing them.
Loud noises are made quieter, thus preventing you from damaging your hearing. Quiet ones are made louder so that you wouldn’t miss anything happening around you. Another great thing about sound amplification headphones is that they are not nearly as pricey as you’d expect them to be.
Mil-Tec Ear Protection Active
If you need to get a cheap set of sound amplification headphones on a budget, Mil-Tec has got you covered. Mil-Tec Ear Protection Active is almost as cheap as it gets. The deal will cost you just over $30 which is almost two times less than any average model out there.
Of course, the price reduction has its side effects. First of all, the sound it provides isn’t as good. It’s probably not the most important factor but there are better ways to listen to your playlist.
- Mil-Tec Brand
- Electronic amplification mechanism that clarifies low pitch sounds but shuts down within milliseconds when sounds above 85dB
- Powered by 4 AAA Batteries (NOT included)
- Infinitely Variable Power Soundproofing
- Ability to Conduct a Conversation While Keeping Noise Function
Secondly, this model isn’t as comfortable as you’d like it to be. The materials are cheap, it can be awkward to wear under a helmet, and it probably won’t survive a fall. If you want these headphones to serve you long – you will have to take extra care of them.
Yet, there is also an advantage to this simplicity. The electronics within these headphones are nothing but absolute basics and easily accessible. Should anything break – a persistent amateur techie will probably be able to fix that for you for a can of beans and some pocket change. This sort of maintenance isn’t very reliable, but it costs much less than a new pair of headphones.
All in all, the drawbacks of this model aren’t as critical as they seem. At the end of the day, it depends on your goals. If you are planning to use it for occasional range practice, absolutely go for it, save your money. On the other hand, if you are planning a covert hostage rescue, you can probably afford something more high-end.
Howard Leigh sound amplification electronic earmuffs are probably the best thing you can find out there in terms of cost-value ratio. They do their job well, they provide a great sound, they are comfortable and reliable.
- Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands and other ambient sounds to a safe 82 dB, providing more natural listening and enhanced communication
- Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when ambient sound reaches 82 dB; Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): 22
- Features low profile earcups for firearm stock clearance; adjustable headband for secure fit; compact folding design for convenient storage; classic green color
- Includes AUX input and 3.5 mm connection cord for MP3 players and scanners. Integrated power/volume knob
- Includes 2 AAA batteries; automatic shut-off feature after 4 hours increases battery life; approximately 350 hours of battery life; works well and long with Polaroid AAA Batteries
These earmuffs are designed specifically for shooting. So, they feature low-profile ear cups to allow for firearm stock clearance. A brand new battery can last you for over 300 hours. You won’t have to cut your average gun range trip short. Just don’t forget to charge it beforehand.
All in all, these will cost you just about $50 on Amazon. And while this may seem a bit too pricey, the investment is well worth it if you are an avid shooter.
Safety gear is not a stylish accessory. You should be very thorough when picking it. Do your research and make sure you choose the equipment that matches your goals. The setups of a hunter and a police officer will probably differ. So make sure you cover all your needs without going overboard with tacticool stuff.
David Hy is a professional writer and a gun-lover. He takes his hobby very seriously and is always happy to share his experience with others. You can buy college essays from him at EssayHub – his current workplace.