We have visitors to the range from time to time who do not shoot often, or ever. Invariably, they come out expecting to shoot a little bit and go home with their ears ringing. Those who do not shoot often almost never have their own hearing protection. As a tinnitus victim, I know how things really work, and I do my best not to let the tinnitus spread. At my backyard range, earpro is required. Age doesn’t matter, existing hearing damage does not matter. So, we like to keep some extra on hand, just in case.
And of course, it came up last week when my brother in law and his son came out to shoot. The brother in law, Scott, is a wickedly intelligent man. However, his experience with guns is very limited. His only real practice came years ago with his late Uncle Bill. When Bill passed, Scott inherited his daily carry: A Colt Lightweight Commander. After about 14 months of excuses, he finally came out to break himself in with it. And no, he had no earpro.
My wife, on our last trip to Gander Mountain, picked up a handful of plugs to toss in the “just in case” basket we keep on the back porch. I didn’t think much about them, as I usually wear my own muffs. But as I mentioned earlier, we had a younger one with us, so I handed over my personal muffs to the kid, and grabbed a pair of plugs. Kids ears are still developing and are more prone to damage. Remember that.
I had never bought these plugs before, never heard of the company. But Scott and I ripped open two packages, and went walking out to the range. We had a couple of 45s, his Commander and a Rock Island 6 incher I have on loan, my G19, and a 12 gauge. Plenty of variation to judge the plugs with. But it turns out we didn’t need that many.
The plugs are a jelly-like material. This means that they squish, but try to return to shape in a way that makes them press their way out of your ear canal. And, as a bonus, the jelly-like material transfers sound surprisingly well. The 45 was reduced a bit, but the 45 is a subsonic round. The 9mm and 12 gauge, are not. The plugs took the sharpest of the bang out. Just, rounded it off a bit. This is the minimum I look for in a foam plug, and these are not foam.
Foam can be compressed and expands to fit. Silicone jelly does not do this. There is no air within, so it does not compress, it squeezes. Instead of compressing and slipping into the ear, you have to shove it in there. The cord also helpfully pops right out.
You know what happens when you seal your ear canal with a flexy, squishy polymer then yank it out suddenly? Pop goes the ear drum. This is a very slim possibility with flanged or foam plugs, of course, but much more likely with a solid jelly plug. To me, this is the opposite of hearing protection.
The price on these is in the same range as superior offerings from Mack’s, Peltor, Howard Leight, and others. They aren’t meant to be a high-end product, just something that works and is inexpensive. However, nearly every other plug I have ever used, is better.
Now, I don’t have the fancy equipment needed to accurately measure the decibel reduction in an inner ear situation. I just have my ears. Radians claims a 28db reduction, and this is difficult to measure by ear. Peltor Sports have a 26db rating. Mack’s have a 27db rating. Both are miles, and I do mean miles, beyond what the Radians product does.
With so many other, better products available, I don’t recommend the Radians Snug Plug. The material might work in a different design, and the design may work with a different material. In my opinion, however, they have simply chosen poorly by combining the two. So, do I recommend the Radians Jelli Snug Plug?