Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuffs Reviewed
As a 3gunner, or participant of any action shooting sports, hearing protection is important. Equally important is the ability to effectively and clearly hear commands from the Range Officer. I’ve tried other brands of “cheap” electronic hearing protection but had been left unimpressed by both build quality and actual function of the electronics. That opinion changed greatly when I gave the Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs a chance.
- Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): 22
- Protects from noises above 82dB
- Up to 4x sound amplification
- Aux 1/8th inch audio input jack
- Adjustable volume/power controlled from same knob
- Slim profile to accommodate higher cheek weld
- Compact folding design for storage
The Impact Sport electronic earmuffs are full stereo sound. Each side of the earmuff has a mic that feeds directly into the speaker on the same side. This is great for situational awareness while shooting. The sound amplification works incredibly well, to the point of which conversation is still easily heard while wearing both earmuffs and plugs.
The sound cut off works just like it should when you are close to the source of gunshot. I have found it to not always cut out against a loud brake or comp when you are some distance away from the shooter, and also found the NRR of 22 to not be as much as I’d like when within smaller bays or close proximity to AR’s with louder muzzle devices. An easy remedy to that problem is to stand further away or be diligent about wearing plugs under the muffs.
I found the Howard Leight’s to be mostly comfortable during a full day of shooting, and the low profile has kept them out of the way of getting a proper cheek weld while shooting rifle and shotgun from many positions. As one would expect, they do not breathe and on hot days and it can get a bit uncomfortable with sweat. The plastic-like pad material leaves much to be desired in that area.
I have read complaints that these earmuffs do not feature a power LED to indicate when they are on, which could lead to replacing your batteries more than you’d like – but the 4 hour automatic shutoff has allowed me to run on the same set of batteries an entire season and I feel as though I’d pay no attention to the LED even if it was there.
These earmuffs have held up great, and I’ve not been shy about neglecting proper care or maintenance. The headband tension has not given way or loosened up, and where they connect into the individual muff cups has held solid. Other than the metal bracket wire coming loose from the clip on the headband (which was an easy fix, and completely my fault), I have had no issues with structural durability.
Not necessarily waterproof (and I haven’t seen them advertised as such), but somewhat water resistant. I have shot in the rain on may occasions and only after the headphones are saturated with water do I have problems with the electronics. At times one ear may cut out or off completely, but I’ve been able to bring them back to 100% operation by drying them out and using some contact cleaner when corrosion is present.
I’ve heard the saying plenty of times that you can’t put a price on your hearing and you should have no hesitation making a hefty investment in the proper ear protection, but I’d venture to argue that a more than sufficient hearing protection device can be had for probably less than $20. When you look at the $300 earmuffs, you’re really just paying for how well the advertised features work while maintaining proper noise reduction, and a little bit of comfort I’m sure.
The Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs come in at around $40 from most retailers, which in my book is more than a bargain for the level of protection they provide in addition to the ability to carry on casual conversation without having to remove them.