Ear protection is incredibly important in airsoft, but sometimes airsoft players forget that.
Even the ones who wear all the other safety equipment can sometimes neglect airsoft ear protectors.
Sometimes it’s because they don’t care, but more often than not it’s just negligence. After all, nobody likes having their hearing compromised, even temporarily.
But what sorts of ear protection work well for airsoft battles? That’s what we are going to discuss in this article.
We’ll start out by learning what ear protection needs to be effective, discuss some reasons protecting your ears is important, types of protection that other airsoft players use, and finally end the article with some reviews of the best ear protection on the market.
Why Protect Your Ears?
The answer may seem obvious to you. Protecting your ears prevents hearing loss caused by loud noises on the airsoft field such as having your mates shoot off their weapons close to your ear.
However, that is not the only reason.
Pellets do not always go where they are supposed to. They can easily ricochet far off course, possibly striking someone in the ear.
Ears are very sensitive places on the body. Being hit by a pellet in the ear is really painful and pellets can draw blood.
Furthermore, it’s possible for a pellet to go straight down your ear canal, rupturing your ear drum and causing possibly permanent damage or needing to be removed surgically.
Neither of those are consequences you would want.
So What Do Other People Use For Hearing Protection?
There are several options for ear protection. Some people use helmets with built-in ear protection. Others tend to use thin caps or other headgear that goes down over the ears.
Yet another option is mesh masks. These tend to go over the ears as well. The advantage here is that you can trim and snip the mask to better fit your face, allowing for customization.
If you have a fast helmet, a type of helm which doesn’t go over your ears, you can also attach ear/cheek shields. These are mounted onto the helmet’s accessory rails.
If you want something more specific, you could try a pair of low-profile shooting muffs. or hearing protectors used by people with actual firearms.
They fit nicely under your gear, and provide other advantages besides protection as well. For example, some muffs feature hearing adjustments.
You can crank up the volume to hear people walking in the brush far away or turn it down to normal volume and forget you have them on.
Advantages of Different Types of Ear Protection
It may seem like there are a lot of protection options out there, and that’s true. Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed. How will you ever decide which kind of protection is best for you?
The first step in any decision, including this one, is to weigh the pros and cons. Balaclava and shemaghs are the most basic form of ear protection.
They won’t stop the impact of a pellet shot at you. However, they will keep that same pellet from going into your ear and causing damage.
The next type of ear protection are ear and cheek shields that clip onto your helmet’s accessory rails. Full face masks also fall into this category.
These stop the impact as well as keeping the pellet out of your ear. However, they don’t deafen the sounds of thunder grenades or flashbangs, which can still lead to ear damage.
The final type of airsoft ear protection consists of the hard ear coverings such as headsets or shooter’s ear muffs.
These are generally the most effective. They not only block the impact of pellets and keep them out of your ears but they also generally have some sort of noise-canceling and sometimes noise-amplifying functions for those times when you need to hear where the enemy is.
These are generally the kind of protection people using actual firearms tend to choose.
Check the Field Rules
Got all that straight?
Now it’s time to move on to the next step, checking your field’s rules. Some places will allow you to get by with a balaclava or shemagh.
Others require full face masks. Still others make you use hard ear protections such as headsets.
Does it Fit Your Gear?
The next thing to check before choosing an ear protection method is whether or not it fits with your gear, and I mean in more ways than just aesthetics though that’s important too.
Before you get to the aesthetics part of fitting your gear, let’s talk about literal fit.
The ear protection you choose needs to fit under your helmet, or to mesh in with your current headgear.
For example, if you are using a fast helmet, you’ll probably want cheek/ear shields to attach to the accessory rails, though you could also use ear muffs with this type of helmet.
Shooter’s ear muffs are made to be rather low-profile, meaning they’ll fit perfectly under most types of headgear.
In some cases, such as full face masks, the extra gear can also protect other areas of your face and not just your ears, so it serves a double purpose.
As far as aesthetics, the protection you choose needs to match your style of play and in some cases your time period if you are doing Milsim and aspiring to some period look.
There are a lot of ways to make your ear protection fit, everything from spray painting it camouflage to actually researching what sorts of ear protection were available during that time period.
If all else fails, you can simply make sure it’s tucked away, hidden under the rest of your gear.
Airsoft Ear Protection Gear Reviewed
Now that you know a bit more about ear protection, it is time to take the next step. It is time for you to go out and buy some ear protection for yourself.
However, you don’t have to do it alone. We have scoured the Internet and returned with the best protection on the market for your ears.
Kick back and read these reviews. They should give you an idea of what protection you will need.
Shooting muffs can be especially useful on the airsoft field. However, this pair is especially nice.
They come in a classic green color, definitely designed to fit with most gear. But it isn’t just the color. These amazing shooters’ ear muffs come with a ton of useful features.
When you are out on the field or in the woods, it sometimes becomes advantageous to amplify sounds.
For example, if an enemy is in the brush, you need to be able to tell that. The Howard Leight shooting muffs have you covered.
These earmuffs offer a nice range of volume controls for amplifying the ambient noise around you, allowing you to hear the enemy team’s conversations, or the sounds of them sneaking around in the brush from quite far away, thus allowing you to discover their plans and take them out.
Automatic Noise Blocking
Even though the Howard Leight earmuffs can amplify noise, they will automatically block sounds above 82 decibels.
Imagine you’re on the field and someone fires a flashbang or thunder grenade. You definitely don’t want to hear it.
While your teammates are standing there stunned by the very loud sound, you can keep on blissfully firing because your earmuffs block out all that noise, leaving you with undamaged hearing and capable of taking out the person who fired the grenade.
Ultra-Slim Ear cups
Have you ever tried to fit a regular set of earmuffs under your airsoft helmet? If you have, you know what a pain in the pants it can be.
The folks at Honeywell know that, too. That’s why they designed these shooters’ muffs with really slim ear cups.
They will fit under your gear or under your helmet. But the benefits of ultra slim ear cups go beyond how well they will fit under things.
Nobody wants to wear bulky earmuffs. They make your ears sweat, and can make you feel like you’ve stuck your head in a vise, especially if they’re super heavy.
They are definitely not something you’d want to wear at the field if you’re planning on playing airsoft for several hours.
The slim ear cups on these Howard Leight shooters’ muffs mean that they are light and compact and you might forget you have them on.
There is only one downside to these excellent muffs. If the battery dies as you are in the field, they will lose the sound amplification/blocking features.
However, even then they retain the ability to protect your ears like regular muffs.
A balaclava is not nearly as advanced as the protection given you by shooters’ muffs. However, sometimes you don’t need that much protection.
Sometimes, all you need is something that will cover your face and that is where a balaclava truly helps.
This piece of headgear will protect your face from rain, snow, polution and sun, as well as keeping airsoft pellets out of your ears.
This full face mask is made of lycra, which makes it versatile and comfortable. In summer, it will absorb sweat, while keeping your face cool.
In winter, it will protect you from snow and wind. Unlike other face masks, the breathable material means you won’t be panting every time you take a breath.
It’s even machine washable. Just put it in the dryer or hang it up to air dry.
For what it does, this mask is amazing. The only downside is that it won’t block out the noise of flashbangs or other grenades, and it will sting a bit if you get shot.
Finding protection for your lower face and ears can sometimes be flat-out difficult. You could attach something to the rails of your helmet, if you have them, but not all helmets have rails.
So what are you to do? The answer is simpler than you might think.
This half mask covers only the lower part of your face, your ears and your neck. The mesh fabric makes it super breathable, so you won’t become a sweat monster while wearing it.
You might be thinking that mesh isn’t likely to keep you from dealing with incoming projectiles. However, this mesh is special.
Not only are the holes tiny, but it is made of steel and nylon. No projectile is going to burst through that mask.
If you have a particularly large or small head, never fear. This mask can be molded to your face. You can even cut or trim it to fit if desired.
To secure it, there are Velcro top and back straps.
There is only one downside to this mask. Since the mesh is made of steel, it will bend. The mask can become quite uncomfortable if it gets bent into your face.
Ear protection is very important for airsoft skirmishers, as it is possible for a pellet to be launched accidentally into your ear, leading to possible hearing loss or other damage.
There are a number of different types of protection on the market, and it is important to pick the one that is right for you.
To do this, start by thinking about what sort of protection you want. Then think of your field’s rules. Do they allow you to get by with only a simple balaclava, or do they require hard ear protection?
If you are doing Milsim, it’s also important to make sure your ear protection fits with the theme or period you’re working in.
It’s a good idea to research what sorts of headgear soldiers wore, if any, and which of those could be used as protection.
Failing that, you could always paint modern ear protection to fit the camouflage you’re going for, or wear something that will be unseen under other gear.
No matter which protection method you choose, it’s important to use it every time you play. That way, you’ll be able to hear the sweet sounds of victory for a long time to come.