If you’re like me, the cheap foamy ear buds don’t even come remotely close to fitting in your ears. If they do fit, you still likely find yourself asking your shooting mates to repeat themselves all the time because you have little to no idea what they are saying. There are a multitude of different types of hearing protection available on the market that are designed to fit different needs and budgets. Some more than others truly do follow the “you get what you pay for” motto when it comes to noise blocking, comfort and reliability. As you gathered from above statement, I was looking for something more. As 3M is a well know name in the industrial safety, the tactical PELTOR line quickly caught my interests. From here I researched what the options were for what price and came down to two models. I picked the higher of the two based on available features and future compatibilities.
The PELTOR Tactical Sport model boasts a noise cancelling capability of up to 20db, the very interesting way that this particular set does this is what made the deal for me. Instead of common active ear protections which will block all sound when it detects a gunshot, the Tactical Sport line instead will just reduce the sound in the peaking frequencies. Basically, you can carry out a conversation with your shooting mate and not miss a single bit of the conversation. The other benefit to this style of active headset is that it will amplify the quieter noises as well. This means that I can hear the action of my firearm clearly enough to tell if it is feeding properly, as well as hear things like target gongs clear as day. If you don’t what to hear everything around you, don’t worry, there is an adjustable volume control to lower the outside volume. In this matter, I can honestly say that my shooting experience is now significantly better.
The technology that creates the effect of these headphones is similar to a pair of active noise cancelling headphones that you would use on an airplane. Active circuitry listens for a certain range of frequencies at or above a certain volume. When it hears these frequencies, it reacts by outputting the opposite frequency into your ear. In effect this makes it so that you do not hear the sound. In this specific case it does it in moderation so that you can still hear everything going on around you while shooting as opposed to simply cutting all sound as the lower level models do.
Rated at 600 hours on two AAA batteries makes the worry about running out of batteries near non existent. The manual states that the battery life will vary based on the amount and level of noise it is exposed to and the volume of low level amplification you set your headset at. For portability and storage, the headset folds down into itself to maintain a small profile in your range bag. It even comes with a microfiber case to keep them shiny and pretty. The only other included accessories were a spare set of blaze orange ear covers to use while hunting. After my description of the sound amplification above, you can understand the value of hunting with this headset as well.
Expandability was one of the major deciding factors for me. The Tactical Sport headsets all offer an expandable audio port. What this does is offers you a connection to either convert your hearing protection into a 2-way radio headset with a boom mic (costs about $200 for the parts) or simply add a 3.5mm audio jack to connect as a listen only system to listen to music or connect to your shoulder/throat mic with an audio out connection. The 3.5mm audio cable retails for about $35 and will work perfectly with my IASUS throat mic, big bonus! The only annoying thing I found about this was that it is listed nowhere that you actually need to purchase this cable, 90% of the descriptions I read stated that the headset had its own 3.5mm jack. Luckily the amazing people over at SRS Tactical (where I purchased my headset) helped me get a hold of the cable in a jiffy. You can also exchange the vinyl wrapped foam ear pads for either a set of gel pads or open foam depending on what you find most comfortable.
That being said, I was a little surprised that the $30 accessory audio cable wasn’t of a higher standard of build. It lacks any form of lock in device and could accidentally be removed during action. On top of this it is a simple hard rubber coated cable that could be prone to easy wear over time. Even renowned high price cable companies like MonsterCable would cover a cable like this in a protective mesh at this price range. Not to say that the cable is garbage, I just figured that they would have put a little more effort into the construction aspect. Overall, it doesn’t do the build quality of the whole device any justice
When it comes to fit and finish, the headset fit quite comfortably for about 3 hours of shooting and with the sound amplification there was no reason to take them off. The temperature was about 25* Celsius and there was definitely some visible sweat on the headset after I removed them, but I didn’t feel as if I was getting too hot wearing them. To save space, the headset compacts down into a little ball saving space in your range bag for more things that go bang. All of the parts are made from soft durable rubbers, hard plastics or metal. Short of stomping on them or dropping them in a lake, I don’t see much that will make this headset fail.
For third party accessories there are lots of options from companies like OC Tactical and Tareinco many of which I have enroute for testing. I’ll also post some more feedback in the next few months after I have some more time to beat them up. For more info on the 3M Peltor line of headsets, check out www.http://peltorcomms.3m.com or www.srstactical.ca.
Category: Hard Goods
About the Author (Author Profile)I offer my insights with over a decade of camping and outdoors survival skills. I am well versed in first aid and construction methods based on available supplies and terrain as well as proper methods of usage and design of tools for these purposes. I offer a no fluff, no B.S. opinion on everything I see, do and use.
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