The Safariland Group is known for many products that many of us use on the daily. From duty holsters to body armor, they basically have a product to cover those of us in the Law Enforcement and Military field as well as competition shooters and more and more, civilian CCW end users.
They are a group of companies, and one of those companies under the Safariland umbrella is formerly known as TCI or Tactical Command Industries. TCI has an excellent reputation for quality electronic hearing protection and tactical headsets.
I had the fortunate opportunity several years ago to go on a tour of Safariland’s Ontario facility, where I was able to go behind the scenes to meet the minds that design the products as well as those who manufacture them. It was a fun experience to see all the work done by people who are passionate about making their customers safer and more effective at their jobs using their products.
Over the years, the Safariland Group has been focused on adding products for more practical use by those who are not in the tactical world but can be if needed. You can see that in the latest concealed carry holsters as well as their Liberator HP line of headsets.
The Liberator HP line was geared for civilian use as they were listen-only and non-communication sets that do not have mics or inputs.
The first-generation Liberator HP’s offered excellent hearing protection, multiple modes, and a lower price tag than comm-capable Liberator headsets. I will be honest. They are my least favorite headsets for a few drawbacks. The biggest issue was the horrendous battery life. They just didn’t last in the first-generation Liberator HPs. I would use them and leave them in my trunk, locker, or shelf until I needed them again, and they would be dead a few days or weeks later without being touched. Also, the battery door was not field-friendly. It required a small flathead screwdriver to open, and as often it ate batteries, the difficulty in swapping batteries made for a terrible combination. My expectation when I pulled them to use was that they’d be dead and I would be using them as unamplified ear muffs.
I voiced these issues to Safariland and I am happy to see that they listened. I am sure that I wasn’t the only one that mentioned similar complaints to them about it. With second-generation Liberator HPs, I believe that all of the shortcomings have been taken care of.
Liberator HP 2.0
I was sent a sample of the new Liberator HP 2.0s in Flat Dark Earth, with OTH or Over The Head Suspension. The Liberator HP 2.0 can be ordered with different suspensions: OTH headband (which is what the majority of headsets are); BTH (Behind The Head); and Direct Mounts to Helmets for ARC rails or Team Wendy. If I had thought about it ahead of time, I would have requested BTH. BTH is what I have on my DEHP headset, and that has been my favorite type of suspension because it works well under helmets and is comfortable on everything else, like ball caps and other headwear.
The 2.0s look similar to the 1.0s at first but then you immediately start to notice that the profile of the ear cups have a contour and have been slimmed down so that they would fit under a ballistic helmet with ears. The battery doors have been updated and are one of my favorite features on the 2.0s. They do not require a tool to open. They have a very unique and easy-to-use design. All you have to do is flip the battery cap cover away, put the batteries in (2 AAA or one CR123), and then flip it back to close. It uses tension to stay in place.
The changes are very welcoming. However, I am more concerned with how they perform. I have been running them ever since I got them in the mail months ago. I wanted to make sure that the sound quality, hearing protection, and battery life were all good to go.
Just like the 1.0, the 2.0 has multiple modes. You switch the modes by pressing both up and down volume buttons simultaneously. The 2.0 has female voice prompts, which tell you Power On, Off, and which mode you are in. It’s nice not having to guess which one you are currently in.
There are three modes:
Enhanced Mode: Blocks dangerous impulse noise and simultaneously enhances voices and audio.
Move Mode: Blocks all external noise.
Clarity Mode: Blocks all external noise and simultaneously enhances voices and audio.
As for the modes, I usually stay on Mode 1 or Enhanced Mode as I am able to hear everything I need to and stay well protected. Even when shooting indoors, I would prefer to stay on Mode 1. When shooting larger calibers or around a lot of gunfire, I might go to Mode 3 and then Mode 2 last because for what I use them for, it is important to be able to hear what people are saying to me.
Safariland HP Liberator Features and Specs
The Noise Reduction Rating or NRR is 26 decibels, which is good. Hearing protection goes from 0-30, the higher the number, the more effective they are. They also have High-definition speakers with enhanced electronics. The sound quality on these is excellent. You can hear every distinctive sound and will be able to determine which direction each is coming from; thanks to the High-sensitivity, dual ambient microphones that give you 360° situational awareness. It is really difficult to describe in writing.
Battery life is stated to have a runtime of 160-300 hours, depending on which mode is being used. I have yet to change the batteries since I got them, and they are still running strong. That is a huge improvement over the 1.0’s. When the batteries do run out, replacing them is quick and easy.
They also are MIL-STD 810G tested and certified by the United States Military Standards. The Liberator HP 2.0 passed the following tests:
Extreme cold -34.6° F
Extreme Heat 120.2° F
Immersed under 1 Meter of water for 30 Minutes
So they are extremely robust and durable, according to those standards. I did not abuse my set or any of my gear for that matter. However, I don’t baby them either. When not in use, I place them back in the soft carrying case and toss them in my bag or trunk. They still look as new as the day I got them.
The headset also comes standard with gel ear cups, which are usually a $50+ additional option. They make it comfortable to wear for long periods of time, whereas air-filled ear cups will deflate over time and will lose the cushion for your head, making it not fun to have a headset on.
While at the SHOT Show 2023 Industry Range Day, they performed very well in protecting my hearing as well as enhancing my hearing so I could have conversations with the vendors. When the rain came in the afternoon, I got soaked, and so did the Liberator HP 2.0’s. They weren’t bothered one bit by the weather.
I have worn the Liberator HP 2.0’s at every range session from the moment they arrived to make sure I had hours of varied experiences in different environments. From indoor to outdoor shooting ranges and shooting every type of firearm that I have or have had access to, they have done their job very well. I shot pistols, rifles, and shotguns; including some very loud ones: 10.5″ AR Pistols, SCAR 17S with a muzzle brake (as a shooter and standing next to the person shooting, which is way worse and more punishing). I felt confident in the headset and knew it would protect my hearing.
These are made for the professional end user, or for gun enthusiasts that frequently go to the range and want a high-quality headset with high-end electronics. This explains the price tag—MSRP starts at $349.99 and goes up to $499.99, depending on the options. That might be out of the budget for hearing protection for most end users, but you are getting what you pay for with these.
The sound quality in the Safariland HP Liberator 2.0, when compared to a $50 headset, is quickly apparent if you put them on one after the other. Although entry-level headsets will protect your hearing and will amplify sounds, the sound quality doesn’t even come close. You will notice a lot of static or background white noise in lower-quality sets. Not to say they’re bad or don’t work, but the Safariland HP Liberator 2.0s are just on a whole other playing field and are worth what they are sold for. They are not for everyone. If they fit your budget, I would highly recommend them. They have taken the place of my earlier TCI DEHP headsets as my favorite electronic headsets from Safariland.
Fifty Shades of FDE is a full-time LEO in California with about a decade's service in a very large metropolitan agency. He’s a husband, father, and firearms enthusiast. He is a supporter of the Second Amendment and a proponent of law-abiding citizens’ right to defend themselves with concealed carry permits. He runs his @fiftyshadesofFDE page on Instagram and writes gun/gear reviews on www.fiftyshadesoffde.com - when he's not writing for The Mag Life, of course.