As much as I love my silencers, I still end up wearing some sort of hearing protection when shooting. Without rehashing a topic we’ve discussed multiple times in the past, hearing-safe doesn’t always mean no hearing protection required. As a general rule, using subsonic ammo in many hosts can mean dropping the muffs or plugs. Supersonic ammo, on the other hand almost always requires additional protection – much like a trip to Bangkok in the 80’s. Today, we will take a look at the M31 EARMOR electronic hearing protection from OPSMEN.
The debate over ‘plugs vs muffs’ has been around for years. And while some research shows that earplugs can be more effective than muffs in reducing damaging noises, combining the two gives you the benefit of an added safety net during training. Most electronic hearing protection I have experience with can be used in conjunction with foam or silicone earplugs.
The OPSMEN M31 EARMOR comes neatly packaged in a cardboard retail box. My unit came shipped directly from its country of origin: China. Some buyers may take issue with Chinese-made products, however, keep in mind the iPhone or Android device that is likely in your hand or pocket was made and assembled in the same country.
The M31 is made from think polycarbonate plastics and seems generally well made. My test unit had a small spot of glue left from the manufacturing process attached to the outside of the shell. It wiped away cleanly with just the pad of my thumb.
The controls on the M31 are intuitive and large enough for manipulation with gloved hands. The middle button is power on/off, the forward button decreases the amplification and the rear button increases amplification. Pushing the buttons results in an audible beep in the headset, which I thought was a nice touch at this price point.
The battery compartments open with a quarter turn counterclockwise; the unit uses two AAA batteries. It is recommended that the batteries be removed when the unit is not in use which is common with devices like night vision and optics where the risk of damage due to corrosive batteries exists.
The battery port doors and the retention straps seem a little light for being an integral part of the unit. But a few months of range time will determine its overall durability – I’ll keep you posted. The head strap is pushed on to the muffs and held by friction nubs (Friction Nubs is a registered trademark of Pete @ TFB) which could be a failure point, but the overall construction of the M31 is stout, so I’m not sure that I am concerned. Again, hopefully, I’ll be able to come back at the end of spring with a longer-term review.
II. OPERATION AND USE
After the batteries are installed, everything else is pretty straightforward: press the ‘+’ button to increase amplification; press the ‘-‘ to decrease amplification. The power button turns the unit on and off.
OPSMEN has included an aux-in jack and cable allowing for the addition of outside audio sources. There is no dedicated mic, however, so if you are planning on narrating your 3-Gun match on Snapchat look elsewhere. OPSMEN does have another model that incorporates a headset mic if you need radio comms.
The foam insert is comfortable as is the rings that fit around the ear self. The head strap form-fits to the head and I didn’t sense any impeding fatigue. Besides shooting, I used the M31’s while using standard garage power tools without issue.
The M31 touts “360-degree” hearing amplification and voice isolation. Without sensitive measurement devices, I’m not sure how to quantify its performance. I did feel that the amplification was more than adequate on normal levels with some background noise.in my opinion, this unit on par with other electronic hearing protection I have owned that costs twice as much as the M31 EARMOR.
Although I have only fielded the OPSMEN M31 EARMOR for a few weeks, I will be following up with a longer-term review as the shooting season progresses. Right now, I feel that the M31 is a low-risk, high reward investment – for $40 you really can’t go wrong if it continues to perform at a level that my test unit has displayed.
Additional details, specifications, links, and pricing can be found below.
- Low profile cup design
- Noise reduction rating + NRR22
- Amplifies low-level sounds
- Suppresses harmful noise above 82 dB
- EMI/RFI shielding increased RF immunity for EMI environment
- Conformable ear cushions for tight seal
- 3mm thick high-impact resistant polycarbonate shell
- Comes with 3.5mm AUX audio input cable for media devices
- Dynamic voice tracking, improve speech intelligibility
- Foldable for storage and protection
- IPX-5 water resistant
- Runs on 2 x 1.5V AAA batteries, approx. 350 hours of operation
- 4 hours auto shut-off mechanism
- Tested and approved in accordance with CE/RoSH/ANSI S3.19-1974Standards/EN352-1:2002/EN352-4:2001/A1:2005/EN352-5:2002/A1:2005/EN352-6:2002/FCC