Etymotic (high definition) active ear plugs ain’t your daddy’s ear plugs.  I finally got around to testing GunSport Pro GSP-15 plugs from Etymotic Reseasrch, Inc. of Elk Grove Village, IL. Each fitted with a teeny battery, the set comes with an assortment of Accu-Fit ™ shapes so you can find the one that best fits your own ears.  For me, the LRG gave a superb fit, as if custom made for me.


I have been told by audiologists that a significant amount of the damaging sound waves that cause the cumulative high-range hearing loss known colloquially as “shooter’s ear” come in the form of vibrations through surrounding bone, which plugs alone can’t stop. Muffs are better in that regard, but the stems of requisite protective eyewear can break the seal of the muffs, and plugs are a very good fallback.  Most of us “in the business” will “double up” and use plugs and muffs simultaneously when shooting high powered rifles or particularly loud handguns.


Active hearing protection isn’t just a luxury, it’s a safety thing. As an expert witness in weapons related court cases since 1979, I’ve run across a number of fatal or injury-producing accidents that could have been prevented if the instructor or range officer on the firing line could have heard, over the gunfire, the sounds of someone struggling with a jammed gun, or cursing under his breath, or something similar.

So, I tried the Etymotic plugs with muffs. Ordinary passive muffs – “dead muffs,” if you will – didn’t allow enough sound to get through for my already-somewhat-impaired ears to hear conversations on the firing line.  I tried them next under active muffs from Walker, and got pretty much the same comforting attenuation of loud sounds but amplification of small ones that we buy active hearing protection for in the first place. No feedback was noticed by me or those around me when I shot with both Etymotic plugs and active muffs turned on simultaneously.

I appreciate the active hearing protection of this product with the convenience of tiny size and pocket carry. They’re also good for those who just can’t bear to wear muffs, or find that muffs interfere with their rifle or shotgun stock.  Price is $299 MSRP.  I can see a future for these as part of my personal shooting kit.  Info at

The product:

Etymotic wisely sells the plugs with a selection of buds to fit different ears. These are the ones that worked best for Mas.

The amplified plugs are adjustable for “HI” and “LO.”

I started with a .22, a Smith & Wesson Model 18 with the classic old Pro-Point red dot sight.

“Hey! These plugs work pretty darn well!”


Short barrel .38s like this J-frame S&W can be loud, but the Etymotics handled it well.

Tried them in tandem with muffs, too.

Muffs don’t fit in your shirt pocket. Etymotic plugs do.


  1. Have been using the attenuation muffs for some time, and considering the plugs. Appreciate the range report Mas, looks like it’s time for me to pull the trigger.

  2. Like most long time shooters, my hearing started deteriorating a long time ago. Too many shots wearing no hearing protection at all as an adolescent, then in the military. I never even thought of wearing protection while hunting. I’m paying for this now as a bono fide geezer.

    Young folks need to pay attention to this thread and avoid a condition that is avoidable.

  3. I have long been interested in products such as this, both for general/range use for the very same reasons described in this article as well as for Hunting purposes. That said, I am one who doesn’t typically tend to trust most electronic technology.
    As such, I have yet to purchase any of these amplifying ear protection devices as I am unclear on what, if anything, stops these kinds of things from malfunctioning in such a way as to amplify already loud sounds into a permanently deafening and most painful noise?

  4. Thank you, Mas…Been considering picking up a pair of these, as my hearing is already terrible. Looking forward to your Mag-80 class in Sacramento this coming Fall! See you then!

  5. Great Product! Thank you for the info-and thanks for the ear muff recommendations-got the earmuffs you recommended-my ears thank you!

  6. Note the battery chemistry means the batteries will die within a week, even if they re not used or even if removed from the buds. Have lots of spares. I consider this a serious con…

  7. Pat Viebey,

    “Note the battery chemistry means the batteries will die within a week, even if they re not used or even if removed from the buds. Have lots of spares. I consider this a serious con…”

    You are correct in your observation. If I may make another observation, these are the same batteries necessary to operate the $5,000.00 hearing aids one will be wearing later in life if they fail to protect their hearing early on.

    Cost for batteries? 27 cents/10 days or 2.7 pennies per day

  8. Sounds great, though a bit pricey for us mere mortals, lol! I have had excellent results with regular foam plugs with Hiward Lieght electronic muff over top. The amplification of the muffs allow me to hear through the plugs but clamp down immediately upon any sound intensity above a hand clap.

    As a remider from someone who has lost 1 /3 rd of his hearing in one ear from a single blast (and all the damage leading up to that moment. Think straw and camel’s back, for all you fellow hearing abusers) do NOT risk it even one time. The results can be immediate, profound, and permanent. Always protect your hearing!

  9. Good article! I’ve always been careful about my hearing, especially as a private pilot (those little planes are LOUD!) and shooting, so I still have excellent hearing at 61. Your suggestions are appreciated as I ponder keeping my hearing in the years ahead.

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