Ear Muffs Vs Ear Plugs– Which is the best hearing protection device for shooting?


Ear muffs and ear plugs work differently to protect the safety of your ears. Knowing their differences will help you decide the most appropriate choice for you. The following guide highlights the uses and differences of these two hearing devices.

Do you work in a loud environment or love shooting guns? If so, hearing protection devices are devices you will need to protect your ears from harmful noise. Excessive noise can cause serious damages such as permanent hearing loss. Other health effects from noise include tinnitus, hypertension and stress. There are two major hearing protection devices today: ear muffs and ear plugs. Each has their own unique features, pros and cons and this is why know their differences. This way you can pick the best suiteddevice for your needs.Here’s how the two devices differ.

What are the differences between Ear Muffs and Ear Plugs?

Ear Muffs
Ear Plugs
Worn outside, around the head
Placed inside the ear
Large and less portable
Small, easy to carry
Fit for all design
Needs to be custom fit
Battery powered only
Can be either battery powered or unpowered (don’t need power)
Discomfort in the ear canal
All reusable
Some are non-reusable
Howard Leight Impact Sport
Mpow 055A Ear Plugs

Ear Muffs vs Ear Plugs – How do these devices compare?


Perhaps the most important factor when comparing ear plugs and ear muffs is how comfortable they are. Note that you will be wearing this device for multiple hours in a day. Therefore, you should pick the most comfortable for you. Generally speaking ear muffs are more comfortable than ear plugs. This is mainly due to how they are worn. Ear muffs are worn outside, around the head – like music headphones while ear plugs are placed inside the ear canal. Additionally, ear plugs that aren’t custom made may fall out of the ear depending on your ear’s anatomy. Ear muffs on the other side have soft cushioning and wrap well around the head for the ultimate comfort experience.

Battery life

For battery life, we’ll compare electronic ear plugs with electronic ear muffs. Once again, ear muffs beat ear plugs when it comes to battery life. The reason for this is simply their size. Since ear muffs are large, they can accommodate larger batteries that in turn provide longer battery life. Electronic ear plugs also have batteries, but they’re usually smaller. Because of this, an average electronic ear muffs can last about 8 hours on a single full charge while a high end ear plug may offer up to 6 hours per charge.


Another important consideration is the product’s reusability. Here, ear muffs are better than ear plugs since they offer more reusability.There are different types of ear plugs and some are only meant to be used once. When you buy a pair of ear muffs however, you can use them for many years without needing replacement.

Size and Portability

If you’re constantly moving around especially during hunting, you need to use the lightest tools. Overall, ear plugs are smaller and easier to carry around than ear muffs. Ear plugs are small to be placed inside the ear. They can easily be carried in the pocket even if you place them in their cases. Ear muffs on the other hand are larger and difficult to carry making the cumbersome for workers and hunters.

Ear protection efficiency

Efficiency means how well the device protects you from the excessive noise. Here, the ear plugs do a better job at protecting your ears that ear muffs.The reason for this is simple: ear plugs fit better into the ear and fill up the remaining space, sealing the ear canal from noise exposure. This makes it a great choice for extremely loud environments such as lumberyards, metal works and industrial plants. Ear muffs are ‘loose’ and are not as efficient.

Ear Muffs vs Ear Plugs– A comparison Overview

Ear Muffs

Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff, Classic Green (R-01526)
  • Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands and other ambient sounds to a safe 82 dB,...
  • Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when ambient sound reaches 82 dB; Noise...
  • Features low profile earcups for firearm stock clearance; adjustable headband for secure fit; compact...
  • Includes AUX input and 3.5 mm connection cord for MP3 players and scanners. Integrated power/volume knob

Ear muffs are basically a headband with ear cups on each end that are worn like music headphones. The headband is stretchable to be able to grip onto your face properly. This seals the ears and reduces surrounding excessive noise. Today, there are three major types of ear muffs including: passive ear muffs, active electronic ear muffs and active noise reduction ear muffs. Passive ear muffs are the most basic hearing protection with no electronics or tech in functionality. It’s simply a headband with ear cups on each end. The cups are made from foam for comfort and to absorb incoming sound waves and reduce their amplitude.

Active electronic ear muffs are the most common today. They are battery powered and more effective in reducing noise levels than their passive counterparts. Powered by batteries, these devices need to be charged to power the tech used in noise reduction. They have microphones that allow you to communicate with others around you. Active ear muffs also allow come with volume controls for attenuation. Lastly, we have active noise cancellation ear muffs that use noise cancellation tech to reduce low frequency noise. It works in that the mic picks up noise and processes it. It then casts a noise signal that’s 180º out of phase with the original noise thus ‘cancelling’ it.


  • Easy to wear and remove
  • One size for all design
  • Comfortable and less invasive
  • Keep the ears warm
  • Great battery life


  • Heavy and less portable
  • Discomfort in humid and hot environments

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Ear Plugs

Mpow 055A Ear Plugs 60 Pairs, Super Soft Foam Ear Plugs 34dB SNR, Noise Reduction Hearing Protector, with Aluminum Carry Case, for Sleeping, Woodworking, Shooting, Travel, Loud Events-Green
  • Adequate 60 Pairs: widely applicable noise blocker in daily work and life, Provide you a quiet...
  • Handy Aluminum Case: Hygienic and practical little case for earplugs' Storage. Keep earplugs clean and...
  • Snug Fit: Made from non-toxic and Low-Pressure PU material, breathable and cause no hurt to the ear....
  • Effective Hearing Protector: SNR 34dB noise reduction, certified by CE and ANSI S3. 19, Protect ears...

Ear plugs are small tube-like devices that are placed inside the ear canal for protection against loud noise. They can either be disposable (used once) or made for reusability. Because of how they are worn, ear plugs tend to be more efficient in reducing noise levels. They fill up the ear and seal off surrounding noise better. Like ear muffs, there various types of ear plugs and they include: foam ear plugs, custom made earplugs, and electronic ear plugs. For shooting and industrial work, electronic ear plugs are recommended. They are built with to reduce loud noises more than sift ones. Electronic ear plugs also amplify softer sounds since they come with inbuilt microphones.

You may be wondering how electronic ear plugs work. When sound is at a safe level, the mic picks this up and amplifies it then passes it to the speaker. This is how you can hear you colleagues at work. When the sound levels become too high, amplification is turned off and your ears are protected.

In addition, foam ear plugs are designed for one time use to maintain good ear hygiene. They are cheap and often used by people in loud machinery environment. Foam earplugs are not custom fit and may fall off depending on your ear anatomy.


  • Small and easy to carry around
  • Efficient since the ear canal is properly sealed from noise
  • Generally cheaper than earmuffs
  • Comfortable in hot and humid environment


  • Causes discomfort inside the ear canal when worn for long

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Generally speaking, these devices do a great job at reducing noise levels around you. They are however different depending on your needs. Ear plugs are suitable for louder environments while ear muffs are better when working longer hours.

So which is better? Ear plugs or ear muffs?

Ear muffs are better than ear plugs for shooting since they are much more comfortable and offer longer battery life.The Impact Sport for instance is also more durable and versatile in their use making them a significantly better choice than the Mpow Ear Plugs.


  1. What material are ear plugs made from?

Molded ear plugs are made of silicone and rubber

  1. Are there ear muffs for children?

Yes. Some brands offer children ear muffs such as Peltor.


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