I’ve always had 3 problems with my muff style hearing protection. First, my cheek would always get pinched between the stock of my rifle and my hearing protection. Sometimes leaving a noticeable mark on my face. Second, if I wore them in combination with eye protection for a prolonged length of time, they would squish my ears onto the stems of my glasses which would really hurt after a couple hours. By then I would usually have to adjust the stems of my glasses to be higher than the top of my ear. Third, they took up so much room in my range bag. I had stumbled onto an Electronic Shooters Protection add, probably on one of the IDPA magazines that get sent to the house. A custom fit plug with amplified sound, pretty much a combination of a hearing aid, and ear plugs. I immediately wanted some, but the price of the ESP’s made the pinched cheek seem like something us poor people just have to live with.
As luck would have it, I got a chance to remove those 3 annoyances from my life, so I jumped on it. Last week, my new ESP hearing protection came in. Pictured below for size comparison.
I managed to make it over to the range yesterday to test out some Civil Defense ammo in a Boberg XR9-s and put the ESP’s through the paces to see how they work and feel.
The fit was very nice. But that should be expected from fitted plugs. I had to send them an impression of my ears which they used to mold these plugs. It is a nice touch that they labeled them with my name as well as a serial number.
The model I got is the Elite Classic, the analog “bottom of the line” model. As such the sound quality is pretty similar to the $60 muffs that I replaced. They are a bit tinny sounding, as if hearing everything through a soup can. And I found that they throw off my ability to sense the direction of a sound more-so than the muffs. All of that is the trade-off for something that fits well enough to be comfortable for extended periods of time, and not interfere with my eye protection or rifle stock.
All in all I like them. I like them for the reduced price I paid for them. I’m not sure I would have paid the $900 list price unless I had money to burn. I am a guy who participates in IDPA matches once a month, and tries to make it to the range every other week. To me, I think $450 would be a fair price.