Combat Arms Earplugs Review

Posted: May 15, 2014 in Product Reviews
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caeThis is a brief review of the Combat Arms gen-4 corded earplugs with dual-mode NRR 7/23 noise reduction.  I was fitted for a pair at SHOT Show 2014 and it has taken a while to do a thorough review as I normally wear only a single pair of earplugs when shooting outdoors.  Weather has made it quite difficult to arrange a sufficient number of outdoor sessions for a thorough review since early January.

I also have a pair of custom-fitted plugs with a impulse filter.  These cost in excess of $100, so I thought it would be interesting to see how the CA product at under $20 retail compares.

In terms of fit, of course, there is no comparison.  CA plugs are available in three sizes and the small was the most comfortable fit for me.  There is no online sizing chart, so you take a small risk when ordering.  My best advice is that you need a deep fit to be effective, so go for the smaller size if you are not sure.

The CA plugs employ a dual mode of operation and were designed for military use by personnel who have regular contact with high-decibel machinery and intermittent (unexpected) contact with high-impulse noises including small arms fire.

In constant-protection mode, the plugs provide steady NRR 23 noise reduction.  In open mode, the plugs provide constant NRR 7 with impulse protection through the internal filter.  Modes are easily switched by pressing the toggle valve at the end of the plugs.

I actually found it easier to understand people talking with me at the range with the CA plugs than my custom-molded earplugs with embedded filter.  The CA plugs did an adequate job over multiple outdoor sessions in either mode of operation.  I do tend to prefer my custom plugs when there are multiple larger-caliber rifles nearby.  I really noticed the difference in the extra protection from my custom plugs when standing off to the side while someone fired my Sig 716 with SJC Titan compensator.

Replacement tips are available online in the event of unexpected damage or in the event the fit becomes less tight over time.  In five separate sessions, the CA plugs have performed equally well for me.  Although I always recommend both plugs and muffs for indoor shooting, I keep the CA plugs in my car as a backup in case I cover an outdoor shooting event and accidentally forget to take my range bag that contains my custom-fitted plugs.

For the price, if you can get your hands on a pair, the CA plugs are an excellent value for the dollar.

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