Howard Leight Impact Sport OD Electronic Earmuff Shooting Hearing Protection Review

DJ: What song would you like me to play? Stubborn hunter: (Yelling) I don’t care, just play it LOUD! *Updated July 2016 I know a lot of folks that skip the ear […]

Howard_Leight_Impact_Sport_Electric_hearing_protection (1)DJ: What song would you like me to play?
Stubborn hunter: (Yelling) I don’t care, just play it LOUD!

*Updated July 2016

I know a lot of folks that skip the ear protection when they hunt to better hear what is going on around them. I spent too much time around jets in the Air Force and can’t afford to lose any more hearing. So, I HAD to find a headset that would provide hearing protection while shooting AND let me hear the ambient sounds around me. Being budget focused, I had a hard time sorting through all of the options, but eventually found these little gems from Howard Leight. The Impact Sport Electric Earmuffs have worked out way better than I expected. As of writing this article, they are on sale at Amazon for $40.99 (list for $74.69). Here is the link:    Or for $79 you can get 2 pair (click HERE)   Heck, you can even get a protective case to carry them: Caseling Hard Case for Howard Leight Impact Sport OD Electric Earmuff.

These headsets actually amplify the sound around me so I hear the animals better, but protect my hearing from gunshot sound levels by shutting off the amplified sound when the noise level is above 82 db.Howard_Leight_Impact_Sport_Electric_hearing_protection (8)

How do they work in the field?

The first time I wore the Howard Leight Impact Sport OD Electric Earmuffs in the deer stand two deer walked by about 60 yards from the stand. The headset amplified them so much that I SWORE they were right under me. It look me 10 minutes before I finally looked far enough out to find them, as I just KNEW they were right under my stand, but for some reason I couldn’t see them. I have since adjusted to the Howard Leight Impact Sport headset and can tell by sound how far away most noises are.

The amplified headset also has a volume control, so you can make ambient noises louder, or keep them at normal levels. I am not sure why a shooting headset has an external input jack for an MP3 player (or Walkman, if you are old school), but it does.

The pleather covered part that goes over your head to connect the ear cups is comfortable enough, while remaining slim enough that the whole headset can be folded in on itself rather compactly. Some headsets pinch the user’s head too tightly and cause headaches. I have had no such issues with the Howard Leight Impact Sport shooting ear protection, although on some of the longer days in the deer stand, after 3 or 4 hours it is helpful to take them off for a minute and let my ears decompress a bit.

Sadly, they also amplify “tree bucks”… or as some people call them… squirrels. However, that is just the ambient sound amplification function. The main purpose of wearing ear pro is to protect your hearing.

How much protection do the Impact Sport Earmuffs offer?

 The Howard Leight Impact Sport OD Electric Earmuffs provide a respectable Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 22. This is similar to the NRR of the $15 3M Peltor Bull’s Eye 9 Hearing Protector, which is a basic, passive (no electronics) headset for hearing protection while shooting. While offering less noise reduction than the passive $22 3M Peltor H10A Optime 105 Earmuff (NRR 30). I have found that for shooting handguns and smaller centerfire rifles, up to about .223 and 7.62×39, the Howard Leight Impact Sports do a great job and I have no ringing in my ears after shooting. However, when shooting louder guns like the WMD Guns WMD-10 AR10 in .308 Win or a 12 gauge shotgun, I have learned that it may be best to use foam earplugs (link to 20 pack for $7) under the Howard Leight Impact Sport headset for extra hearing protection.

Howard_Leight_Impact_Sport_Electric_hearing_protection (5)What about at the range?

While I wanted amplified hearing protection for hunting, the bigger benefit has been the ability to maintain conversations at the range without screaming. This is a nice benefit in general, but is also a big safety plus because the amplified headset makes it MUCH easier to hear Range Officer safety instructions and other shooters while still protecting my hearing from loud gunshots. I actually find myself somewhat annoyed when I shoot with anyone that does not have amplified hearing protection, as they yell everything and I have to yell back for them to hear me. It is so nice to be able to have a nice conversational volume discussion with someone when we are both wearing Howard Leight Impact Sport headsets instead of screaming at each other.

As you can see in the pictures, the Howard Leight Impact Sport headset is rather thin. This helps a LOT when shooting rifles where a normal, bulky headset hits the stock and prevents a tight cheek weld. Thin as it is, I still have a couple of rifles with stock shapes such that I have to be careful not to knock the headset loose when I shoulder the rifle and bring it up to the sighting position. Howard_Leight_Impact_Sport_Electric_hearing_protection (9)

 Just do it, already!

We review a LOT of gear and it is rare that we run across something that we feel silly for not adding to our shooting gear sooner. This is one of those rare items that we really wish we would have bought a few years sooner. Seriously folks, do yourself and everyone you shoot with a favor and just get yourself some electronic hearing protection for shooting… Here is the link:

I am not the only one on the Gear Report team to adopt the Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic earmuffs. Brain says “I’ve started using these, and they work very well!

Specs from Amazon’s listing for the Howard Leight Impact Sport OD Electric Earmuff:

  • Howard_Leight_Impact_Sport_Electric_hearing_protection (15)Howard_Leight_Impact_Sport_Electric_hearing_protection (14)Amplifies sounds 3x
  • Provides protection from noises over 82 dB
  • Equipped with an audio input jack cord for your MP3 player
  • External audio input connects to MP3 players and scanners
  • Amplifies conversation and commands with one single volume control knob
  • Automatic 4 hour shut-off increases battery life
  • Automatically blocks noise above 82 dB, noise reduction rating: NRR 22
  • Adjustable design folds for easy storage
Technical Details

Howard_Leight_Impact_Sport_Electric_hearing_protection (13)

Part Number R-01526
Item Weight 1.1 pounds
Product Dimensions 1 x 1 x 1 inches
Origin China
Item model number R-01526
Batteries: 2 AAA batteries required. (included)
Size Pack of 1
Color Hunter Green
Style Impact S
Item Package Quantity 1
Usage Stereo
Batteries Included? Yes
Batteries Required? Yes
Average Battery Life 350 hours


Gear Score
Best value we have found in amplified hearing protection for shooting


Gallery of Howard Leight Impact Sport pictures:

About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits. A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management. Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.