Many shooters have a tendency to neglect protecting their hearing while on the range or hunting. Whether this is because of being unable to hear range commands or the inability to hear movement while in a deer stand, duck blind, or other hunting activities.
Most of use passive hearing protection such as foam earplugs, rubber earplugs or earmuffs. All of these types certainly keep the damaging noise out but it’s like walking around with your head in a bucket.
Etymotic Company has an answer to these problems. This company makes electronic hearing protection for several uses. The Gun Sport Pro and EB15 I’m reviewing are the two models we as shooters are interested in. I’ll be covering the EB15 in this review.
The EB15 model is an active type. Quiet simply this model set on low allows the user to have normal hearing until a high decibel level sound is detected. When these units are set on high your hearing is amplified by a factor of five. This can be very handy for a hunter or in hearing range commands for instance. Even with the units set on high they react quickly and block high decibel sounds. The user doesn’t even realize the sound of gunfire has been blocked they adapt so quickly back to normal or enhanced hearing.
The change between low and high is done by flipping a vertical lever mounted on the exterior of the earplug. When this lever is set towards the battery it’s on low. When the lever is set away from the battery it’s set on high. The amount of battery drain is the same on either setting.
The EB15 model is primarily designed for law enforcement and military use. Even so the features of this model are ideal for shooters. I tend to leave mine on the high setting since I have some hearing loss from SRU team activities. We were not allowed to use hearing protection. Hearing protection at that time destroyed any situational awareness. I just wish these had been available then.
Speaking of batteries the EB15 uses zinc 312 air batteries. This is a hearing aid battery available in drug stores, Wal-Mart and many other retail stores. For those not familiar with “air batteries” they are activated when removed from the package and the cover removed from each individual battery. Once activated they are ready for use in your EB15’s. This type of battery never shuts down even if removed from the unit. According to Etymotic the battery life is between two and three weeks. I’ve found in mine they last closer to one month. In any event the batteries are inexpensive.
The graphs below show the levels of effective use on the low and hi setting.
The included accessories are seven sets of assorted size plugs for a semi custom fit. There are six sets of small filters that fit inside the primary plugs. These filter debris so your plugs and the units themselves stay clean much longer. A supplied metal cleaning rod with a brush on one end and a point on the other end that is used to fit the smaller filters for replacement. I’ve used these for well over a eight weeks without the need for any filter change. I’ve changed the batteries once and will change them again next time I go to the range. There is also a hard case for the carry of the EB15’s and extra batteries plus the cleaning tool.
Steve has a different model Etymotic that he’s used about two years. The new models are an overall improvement from the originals. His review is still available for you: Steve’s Review of the Gun Pro
I’ve been impressed with not only the effectiveness of the EB15’s but the comfort they provide with the interchangeable earplugs. They aren’t inexpensive but then again protecting your hearing and still being able to hear well and have the advantage of situational awareness is worth a good deal to me. Hopefully these will serve me well for years to come.