Affordable Hearing Protection: Top 5 Budget-Friendly Choices

Finding the right hearing protection isn’t any easier than finding the right gun, optic, or tactical light. Like everything else in the firearms world, prices range from dirt cheap to price tags that hurt your eyes. But the good thing is there are plenty of options to choose from. What works best for you all depends on what you need it for and how long you plan to use it. Plinking around in the backyard a few times a year doesn’t require $400 earmuffs. But range training on a regular basis may call for something more comfortable and convenient.

Electronic hearing protection and noise cancelation technologies have become standard features with most hearing protection today. This means it’s more affordable, which is good for us. I train law enforcement members and teach CCW classes regularly, so I wear hearing protection quite often. In the early days, I would grab any earmuffs I could find and never think twice about it. Aching ears and heads were just part of the job, or so I thought. I was amazed at the difference once I wore a good pair of earmuffs. Now I notice very quickly if a pair is comfortable or not.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but a list of five of my personal favorites. I’ll give a quick rundown of each pair, and maybe it will help you decide what pair you need for the range.

Peltor Shotgunner

Even though electronic earmuffs are better than they used to be, sometimes some old-school passive earmuffs are all you need. Several years ago, I bought these Peltor Shotgunner earmuffs for $20, and they still work great. There’s nothing fancy about them, but that’s the point. This is the pair I can leave in the car, garage, or anywhere else without worrying about dead batteries or anything else, really. They get the job done, no matter what.

Peltor Earmuffs.
Peltor Shotgunner earmuffs are simple and cheap. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
I use them a lot for mowing, but they also work great on a busy range. Even some noise-canceling earmuffs have trouble keeping up if you are on a range with constant gunfire. I can drown out all sounds with this pair and enjoy the quiet. Granted, the head strap has no cushion, but I wear this pair over my ball cap, so it doesn’t bother me. The ear cushions are comfortable and about as thin as they make them. These passive Peltor earmuffs are an excellent choice if you want cheap and simple.

Axil XCOR Bluetooth Ear Buds

What can I say? These Bluetooth earbuds are awesome! They come with a little case that fits in your front pocket and charges them, too. Once the case is fully charged, it will recharge the earbuds three times. You can keep them in your pocket, car, range bag, or backpack, and they’re always ready to go.

And, because they are earbuds, they won’t mess up your hair or hurt your head if you’re worried about that.

AXIL XCOR ear buds.
When you open the case/charging dock, the earbuds will connect to your phone automatically after the initial setup. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Put the earbuds in your ears, and you’re ready to go. They auto-connect to your phone when you take them out of the case. The sides are touch-sensitive, so a quick touch on the side turns them on/off. With these little earbuds, you can talk on your phone, listen to music, hear people speak, and cancel loud noises. A second case comes with the XCOR that holds the charging pod and a tray of extra earpieces. It’s hard to find any hearing protection more convenient than this. The Axil XCOR retail for $229.00


The AXIL TRACKR Blu provides the same features as the XCOR earbuds but in an earmuff platform instead. Two separate rotation dials adjust the blue-tooth connection sound and electronic pick-up volume. This is nice because you can turn the music up or down without disturbing the volume of conversations around you. I like to play music in the background and leave the pick-up volume loud enough to hear the range instructor. A radio jack is available to connect a walkie-talkie or radio.

AXIL Trackr Blu earmuffs.
AXIL TRACKR Bluetooth earmuffs are great on the range, and you can talk on the phone with them. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Like the XCOR earbuds, you can talk on your phone with the TRACKR earmuffs. I had to turn the blue-tooth volume up most of the way to hear clearly, but the sound was excellent. This feature is handy when you are on the range and don’t want to drop everything to answer the phone. This is another great feature for hunters, allowing them to keep both hands free. The ear cushions are soft and comfy, and the headband is on the thin side but surprisingly comfortable as well. These run about $100.

Walker’s Razor

It’s hard to beat Walker’s Razor hearing protection for the price. I have several pairs of these, and they have always worked great. The noise cancelation and electronic hearing technologies are top-notch, and the muffs are comfortable to boot. The only downside to these is not knowing where the sound is coming from. You can hear a cricket chirp with these things, but the sound just plays over the internal speaker, so there’s no directional tracking. As long as this isn’t an issue, these things are awesome.

Walker Razor earmuffs with Razor Walkie Talkie.
Walker Razor earmuffs with Razor Walkie Talkie. This is a great all-in-one setup. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
One knob quickly turns the headset on/off and adjusts the volume. An external radio jack is available for communications, but Walker’s covers that, too. You can purchase the Razor Walkie-Talkie and clip it to the side of the earmuff for two-way communication with anyone on the same channel. While the earmuffs are great at their foundation, the walkie-talkie feature helps them stand apart from other earmuffs, especially at this price point. Earmuffs retail for $45, and the walkie-talkie attachment sells for $60.

Safariland Liberator HP 2.0

Though the Liberator muffs are on the higher end of this list, they’re still very affordable. If I’m going to be on the range all day, this is the pair I choose. They feature a gel-filled ear pad that’s far more comfortable than standard earpads. An external battery compartment allows the battery to be changed without removing a cover on the outside. You can use two AAA or one CR123 battery to power the set for up to 300 hours.

Liberator HP 2.0 hearing protection.
Safariland Liberator HP 2.0 Electonic hearing protection. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
A voice confirms each setting or function when using the control buttons on the side. There are three function modes to choose from, depending on your environment. The most significant feature, however, is the built-in 360-degree electronic sound amplification technology, which allows you to determine where sounds are coming from. You can tell if a sound is coming from behind you, to the side, or in front of you, which is a big deal if you’re in a tactical environment. The only downside with this model is there is no radio jack from the factory. You can send them to Safariland to have one installed for a custom setup, but that’s not a factory option. The Liberator HP 2.0 earmuffs retail for around $330.

Which pair do you need?

Finding the right hearing protection for you really depends on what you need them for and how much you want to spend. My $20 pair works great for some tasks, but I also wear the Liberators during other events. It’s hard to beat Walker’s Razor earmuffs for $45 for an all-purpose set that doesn’t break the bank. You can always add the radio attachment if desired. I even converted a pair of Walker’s Razor earmuffs to work with a pair of Peltor ARC helmet attachments.

AXIL is leading the pack with hi-tech features for those who want access to their phone or music, and they also work great on the range. I’m sure you will be happy with whatever pair you select. Some are cheap enough that you may want to pick up more than one pair. Have a set for yourself and a pair for your friends to borrow on the range.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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