Hunters and shooters know that they must take care of their hearing while they are using their firearms. A 12-guage shotgun being fired is 156 decibels (db), while anything over 85 db can cause hearing damage. It’s no wonder that shooters take their hearing protection so seriously.
The down side to hearing protection is that it doesn’t just block out the loud crack of a gunshot, it also blocks out non-harmful sounds such as voices. Fortunately, electronic hearing protection has been developed to fill this gap.
First and foremost to consider with any hearing protection is the noise level in the environment you expect to use them in. The noisier the environment, the more protection you will want to have.
The level of protection a product provides is known as Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). NRR is measured in db and is the amount it reduces noises reaching the ear. For instance, if you were standing next to a noisy machine that was 95db and were wearing hearing protection with an NRR of 20, then the noise level reaching your ears would be 75db.
The second criterion is design, both for comfort and maintainability. Hearing protection does you no good if you aren’t wearing it because it’s uncomfortable. As a result, comfort is key, as many times you will need to wear it for a half or full day. Similarly if the batteries or ear pads are difficult to replace this can impact the overall satisfaction with the product.
Price is a consideration as well. One thing to be careful of is that price does not necessarily indicate the amount of hearing protection you will be getting. Some low priced hearing protection provides an outstanding level of NRR, while higher priced protection may be designed for lower noise level activities and provide a lower level of NRR. It is important to determine your needs first and then look at products that meet those needs in your price range second.
With electronic hearing protection another factor to consider is the quality of sound reproduction. Wind noise in particular can create an issue for electronic hearing protection and in the worst circumstances can completely negate its effectiveness.
The Tactical 6s is the slim-line electronic earmuffs offering from Peltor. Competitors include the Impact Sport by Howard Leight and the Razor by Walker. Slimline earmuffs are designed to have a smaller profile that is more comfortable to wear while shooting. As a rule the tradeoff is in NRR provided and as a result they are most appropriate to wear for outdoor shooting and hunting, or everyday noisy activities such as mowing the lawn.
The Tactical 6s has an NRR of 19db. While this is enough for outdoor shooting activities, it is a low overall NRR and you definitely wouldn’t want to wear these at an indoor range.
For comparison purposes, the Impact Sport and Razor have an NRR of 22 and 23 respectively. NRRs of 20 to 25 are typical for this segment of the market so 19 is low, but adequate as long as it’s being used in the environments it was designed for.
The Tactical 6s is a very comfortable set of earmuffs, but there are design issues with changing the batteries. Replacing the batteries requires you to pop the earpiece into two pieces to access the battery compartment. Users report a lot of frustration and some scraped knuckles trying to swap out dead batteries.
This was a poor design choice by Peltor, but fortunately doesn’t affect the overall performance of the earmuffs. There are several Peltor Tactical 6s reviews on YouTube that can help you address this issue. Here’s a video that helps with battery changeover if you’d like to see the process.
The Tactical 6s is on the more expensive side. As of writing, they are on Amazon for $115. Competitors can have products that are below $50, which is a significant cost savings. That being said, Peltor does have the best reputation in the industry, which does account for some of the disparity.
Sound reproduction quality is very high on the 6s. It has two large external microphones to catch the smallest sounds, as well as foam coverings to ensure there are no issues with wind noise.
Let’s take a look at what there is to like about the Tactical 6s.
Sound quality: The sound reproduction quality on the Tactical 6s is great and the foam microphone covers prevent issues with wind noise.
Comfort: The Tactical 6s is comfortable for all day wear ensuring you’ll be well protected no how long you are on the shooting range.
Noise Reduction Rating: The Tactical 6s have a relatively low NRR. While still acceptable for most outdoor activities, it is still low when compared to other products in its market segment.
Battery compartment design: The battery changing process was poorly designed and can lead to some difficulty in swapping out batteries. With frequent use requiring regular battery changes this could be problematic for some users.
Price: At $115 the Tactical 6s is more expensive than other comparable earmuffs. It does come with the Peltor name, which is the best known in the industry, but without much in the way of additional functionality or performance it’s a matter of personal preference if that is enough to justify the additional cost.
If you are looking for a pair of electronic earmuffs for occasional outdoor hunting or shooting I think you’ll be very pleased with the Peltor Tactical 6s earmuffs. They are comfortable for long term wear and offer great sound reproduction quality.
If you are more frequent user that will change batteries frequently, or expect to be in louder noise environments, then you may find that the Tactical 6s isn’t adequate for your hearing protection needs.
Images sourced from Amazon.com