Best Inexpensive Active Shooting Headphones

Howard Leight Impact Sport

Rightfully called «folk» in their homeland in the United States (Howard Leight is a subsidiary of Honeywell, specializing in protective equipment), in our country, headphones. True, China has traditionally had a hand in this: both on Aliexpress and in many online stores that are not distinguished by honesty, you can buy headphones that are painfully similar to the original, but differ in quality not for the better.

Among the serious advantages of the Impact Sport model is an acceptable weight (less than 400 g) and a small thickness that does not make it difficult to wear. Both headphones are interconnected, that is, you do not have to install your own batteries first in each separately, and then turn them on separately. The volume control (aka the power switch) is common to both headphones, recessed deep and does not protrude beyond the dimensions.

Convenience is good, but what about protection? The sound attenuation level declared by the manufacturer is 22 dB, the amplifier cutoff is 82 dB. This allows us to talk about really working protection. In the end, not only for the price, they became «popular».

But there are “buts”, of course. To begin with, let’s complain about the rubber-like ear pads, under which the ears seriously sweat. Auto-shutoff after 4 hours, which will put the headphones into passive mode, regardless of whether you are wearing them now or put them in your backpack a long time ago, can play against you on the hunt. And, finally, the inevitable hiss, well audible when the volume is turned up — the eternal companion of inexpensive shooting headphones, is also here. But for the money, be that as it may, this is still one of the best options for shooting headphones.

Main advantages:

  • Ease of storage and carrying (with a small caveat)
  • 3.5 mm input for player or headset
  • Good hearing protection
  • Using only two batteries and one regulator
Minuses:
  • Moderate water resistance
  • Amplifier hiss

9.7
/ ten
Rating

Reviews

For its price, a must-have, it is not for nothing that this model has such popularity. They don’t interfere and work as they should.

Peltor Range Guard

The Peltor brand belongs to an equally well-known American company — this time 3M. So they gave us not only scotch (the one that is glued, not drunk) and a tape. The Rangeguard model in the Peltor line is a «budget» model that plays in the same class as the Howard Leight Impact Sport. Structurally, both those and other headphones are also similar, and in terms of NRR level, Peltor is slightly inferior — 21 dB instead of 22 dB.

But here one unpleasant flaw of the competitor has been fixed — yes, the headphones will still turn off 4 hours after they are turned on no matter what, but they will give several beeps in advance — they say, owner, it’s time to extend the performance! But, unlike Howard Leight, here you can no longer turn the headphones off and on again, but simply move the volume control a little — this is enough to reset the auto-off timer.

What are the biggest differences between competitors? First of all, in the work of sound reinforcement. Howard Leight headphones are more «hunting» — they «catch» quiet sounds better and (purely subjective) give a better sense of the direction of the sound source. True, one’s own breathing, the rustling of clothes can be clearly heard at the same time. The Peltor headphones are more «shooting» — they have a clearer cutoff of loud sounds, they do not interfere with conversations or work with the timer. They hiss about the same, but Impact Sport will still go ahead by a small margin: there you can turn down the volume of the amplifier at the shooting range, but you won’t be able to turn it up to their Rangeguard level.

Main advantages:

  • Shot sound suppression efficiency
  • Good amplification path
  • Input 3.5mm
  • Ease of storage and carrying
Minuses:
  • Not the best waterproof

9.6
/ ten
Rating

Reviews

Inexpensive, but at the same time from a well-known brand, and the build quality is very pleasant. I take it to the shooting range all the time, there is no discomfort.

Allen Axion

These active headphones are again from an American brand, this time specializing specifically in accessories for hunting and fishing. But for the price, of course, it is clear in which country the Axions were released — yes, instead of «Made in USA» it says «Made in China». It’s okay — after all, both Peltor and Howard Leight are assembled there. But we are promised an NRR level of as much as 25 dB!

Worse, the reduction in price is immediately evident from the design — the headphones are massive and overall, in terms of convenience they cannot be compared with the same Rangeguard. Additionally, the picture is spoiled by separate «horns» of regulators sticking out from the outside of the cups — this is perhaps the worst adjustment option that you can think of. But in practice, separate gain control for the left and right ear is needed only with hearing asymmetry in order to compensate for the «tightness» of the right or left ear, that is, not for everyone. The “cutoff” threshold of the sound is also too big — 92 dB, that is, the headphone electronics will also amplify those sounds that, in theory, should already be muffled.

So, despite as many as four microphones and an attractive price, we still put these active headphones in last place in the ranking: the author would prefer to add money for a better and more convenient model, since they are.

Main advantages:

  • Effective suppression of the sound of a shot
  • Fairly comfortable ear pads
  • Possibility of separate volume control for hearing asymmetry
Minuses:
  • Dimensions and weight
  • Inconvenient battery replacement
  • Regulators protruding to the side

9.1
/ ten
Rating

Reviews

They stand like a fake «company» with Ali, but they work noticeably better. The dimensions of the cups, however, are too big, and the weight is felt.

Best top shooting headphones

MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X

Again, a brand that speaks for itself — its shooters do not need to be introduced, both to ordinary “shooters” and “wild geese”. The Swedish company Sordin, now owned by the American MSA Safety, offers really high-quality high-end active headphones. Let’s start at least with moisture protection — with the IP67 level, you can not be afraid not only of rain (and for cheap shooting headphones this can already become a problem), but even of an accidental drop of the headphones into the water. The cups are light and thin-profile (the manufacturer does not just hint at their compatibility with tactical helmets), while the level of protection is good (SNR 25dB, NRR 18dB).

The electronics are controlled by buttons on the side of the cup — separately turning on, separately adding or reducing the volume. The last entered setting is saved both during forced shutdown and auto-shutdown (after 4 hours, and you can cancel the auto-shutdown after a warning signal with any button). The amplifier is cut off smoothly, and not with the usual “Peltor” click. The sound can be amplified non-linearly, with an additional rise in weak levels — do not miss the right rustle on the hunt. There are also modifications with a built-in LED flashlight: you don’t have a “headband” with you, but do you need to shine? Headphones to the rescue!

But, in fairness, we will point out a flaw. You will encounter it immediately after purchase, inserting batteries — there are two of them, but they are inserted in turn through the same round hole. That is, first we insert one, observing the polarity, shake it so that it falls into its half of the compartment, then the second, and when replacing the batteries, the headphones will have to be shaken again. Fortunately, they “eat” electricity a little — two AAA batteries should last up to 600 hours of operation.

Main advantages:

  • Moisture protection
  • Wearing comfort
  • High-quality sound path with fast cutoff and shot echo cancellation
  • 5 years warranty
Minuses:
  • Not the highest (though sufficient) level of noise reduction — the costs of «thin profile»
  • The inconvenience of replacing batteries

9.8
/ ten
Rating

Reviews

At the current prices for Peltor ComTac I preferred «sordins», and I never regret it — both efficiency, convenience, and quality are at the level.

Peltor SportTac

Lightweight and comfortable headphones with fast damping of volume surges will be a very good purchase if you do not have maximum requirements for moisture protection and do not need to pull a helmet over your head (here you will have to look in the direction of MSA Sordin or the ComTac line from the same Peltor). SportTac headphones are not so sharpened for “tactics”, but for hunting or shooting range (IPSC, clay shooting, simple shooting) they will fit perfectly.

Their noise reduction is no less than 26 dB, the traditional “cut-off” level is 82 dB. Both sinks have interchangeable «shells», and a couple of spare ones are included — it is the latch of these «shells» on the outside that at first can be mistaken for a battery hatch. In fact, both AAA batteries are installed under the left «shell» after it is removed. The power and volume controls are push-button, like on the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X, although the buttons themselves are smaller and not as convenient.

The sound itself is of high quality, the work of automatic gain control is not felt. Some change in the “directional pattern” of hearing, of course, may require habit (headphones “hear” sounds best in the front hemisphere), but will not cause serious discomfort, especially when hunting, when you still have to turn your head.

Main advantages:

  • Quality
  • Shot sound suppression efficiency
  • Comfortable for extended wear
  • Economy (up to 600 hours on two batteries)
  • Button control
Minuses:
  • Average moisture protection

9.7
/ ten
Rating

Reviews

Excellent headphones for shooting in terms of price and quality, the price has not yet rushed into space, but both convenience and reliability have been “delivered”.

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