Etymotic GunSport Pro-15 Electronic Earplugs, a Report

We’ve been working with some GunSport Pro-15 earplugs for a while. Here’s what we think so far.

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Photos by Muzzle Flash Media

Ear protection is an absolute must-have if you’re shooting firearms. That should be obvious, but take it from me, it isn’t always. I have permanent tinnitus in my left ear from being stupid many years ago, shooting my shotgun without earpro for a round of trap. The first shell fired made my ears ring and then after the round was over, I had a very difficult time hearing for over a week. My hearing came back but a constant ringing in my left ear remains, probably for the rest of my life.

 

Image of Etymotic GunSport Pro-15 Electronic Earplugs in use.
Fifty Shades of FDE using Etymotic GunSport Pro-15 Electronic Earplugs.

Nescience is no excuse when it comes to ear-pro; if you’re shooting, you need to wear it.

Grunts: nescience.

A hard lesson learned resulted in permanent tinnitus. Always have your ear pro on when shooting, at least if it’s possible.

Protect your ears or be prepared to suffer possible long-term complications.

I know if I get caught in a shootout at work, chances are I won’t have the time to get some on, but that’s something dictated by exigent circumstances. I will never again make the mistake of not having protection for my hearing at the range.

Fifty Shades on the range.
Earpro is as important as eyepro. Monitor it as deliberately as you do muzzle awareness.

Okay, so it’s important to have ear pro. There are many options available. The bare minimum and most basic is foam earplugs. Next, you have ear muffs or headsets, which are very effective in protecting you from harmful noise but make it difficult to hear anything else.

Fortunately, electronic hearing protection has vastly improved in the last decade, with numerous offerings from more and more companies. The electronic headsets are great and are my usual choice for the range. They do have a drawback, however: they’re a bit bulky, even with low profile designs. This makes it sometimes difficult to work in conjunction with helmets, and especially when shooting from awkward, unconventional shooting positions with a long gun. There are workarounds for those issues, but what if you could have electronic earplugs?

Digital earpro isn’t a new thing, but it is evolving quickly.

Electronic ear plugs?
Etymotic GunSport PRO-15 electronic earplugs

That is exactly what the Etymotic GunSport PRO-15s are — an evolved type of digital earpro. I was given a set from Jeff of Muzzle Flash Media to test, and was initially skeptical because his description sounded too good to be true. They came at the perfect time, however, as it was just before we met up with Freddy Osuna and former B-B-C contributors Tom Marshall and Dave Merrill at RECOIL Magazine’s Summit in the Sand event.

Once Jeff and I arrived at the site, Cowtown Range, I broke out the PRO-15 earpro; the box contained a carry case, adapters for different ear sizes, a lanyard, cleaning tool, batteries and a user manual.

Nice way to begin.

GunSport PRO; this is what's in the box.
Plugs, carry case, adapters, lanyard, and cleaning tool – though you should also clean out your ears, nasty.

Here’s a quick description from Etymotic:

“GSP•15 Electronic Earplugs are for gun sport enthusiasts who need protection from firearm blasts, but also need protection from loud continuous noise from vehicles, machinery or repeated gunfire from nearby shooters. Improves distance detection up to 5X.”

The GSP earplugs are tiny and don't have an on and off switch
The GSP earplugs are tiny and don’t have an on and off switch, probably due to their minute size.
Easy to turn on, nowhere near as cumbersome as regular over-the-noggin muffs.
To turn them on, you place the battery in each of the battery doors and simply close them. Turn them off by leaving the doors open.

There is a Dual Mode Switch that you can toggle up or down. Below are the descriptions of the modes, taken from the website.

Automatic Hearing Protection + Blast Protection Mode:

-Allows natural hearing

-Provides 15 dB of automatic hearing protection when noise exceeds safe levels

-Protects from blasts

Hearing Enhancement + Blast Protection Mode:

-Amplifies up to 5X

-Protects from blasts

Jeff and I put in our GSP-15 ear plugs and headed to the event, both keep the hard carry case in our pockets for when we didn’t need them. As it turned out, the carry case wasn’t particularly needed. Sound quality was excellent, so I left them on hearing enhancement mode pretty much the entire weekend.

Testing the earplugs on the range.
Etymotic GunSport PRO-15’s were well-suited for shooting the Sig Sauer MCX Virtus carbine with the Sig Electro-Optics Tango6 1-6x on top.

The first course of the day was the only shooting course of the four. We went with Dan Brokos of Lead Faucet Tactical to learn about scoped carbines. There (if you’re interested, and even if you’re not) we shot the Sig Sauer MCX Virtus carbine with the Sig Electro-Optics Tango6 1-6x on top. The GSP 15s were well suited for this course due to the weird shooting positions we were forced to take. Many students had issues with getting proper eye relief or cheek weld with their headsets. I had a much better experience than they did with the GSP earplugs. We shot the carbines at 90° while laying prone and kneeling behind barrels, sometimes in what felt like yoga-esque contortions.

Low-profile earplugs worked well for tougher positions.

Later, Dan taught us how to shoot in unconventional positions from kneeling to sitting, and again, low profile electronic earplugs stayed out of my way. I was able to hear Dan’s instructions clearly, without the distraction from gunfire.

Fifty Shades on the range.
I was able to hear Dan’s instructions clearly all day without the distraction of gunfire.

Throughout the rest of the day, I either wore them or kept them ready in the case since there were other classes going on.

Day Two was Competition Day. On this day the GSP 15s both helped and hindered me. Not through any fault of the earplugs, it was likely operator error on my part. The first stage of the day was Greenside Training’s Weaponize Your Senses, and having enhanced hearing gave me an advantage when I had to listen to a noise that directed me to a target simulating a threat. I heard a clicking sound to my left while on the trail and engaged the target.

On the second stage, I had to read a footprint with skills I learned from Freddy Osuna of Greenside Training, go to the correct shooting position, and engage two targets with a carbine while utilizing the 90° shooting positions. I read the footprint correctly and when it was time to engage, my left GSP 15 fell out. I paused to re-insert it, only for it to fall out again. I was able to get my hits in but unfortunately, the time never stopped and I went over the time limit, failing the shooting portion. What I did wrong was not rotating the GSP 15 a full 90° rearward into my ear, as this would’ve prevented them from falling out in the first place.

Again, user error and something to keep in mind — particularly if you’re potentially going to use something in a real life scenario. That’s a rule what applies to any piece of kit.

They fell out twice, but it was user error.
Rotating the GSP 15 a full 90° rearward into my ear would’ve prevented them from falling out.

I had them in for the rest of the day and they never fell out again, even after the final stage, which required a full fifty-yard sprint to the secondary firing position.

Weaponize the Senses training.
The final stage required a full fifty-yard sprint to the secondary firing position.

Since then, I store them in my EDC pack, have taken them on several more range trips and used them in during a fire alarm at work, all with the same set of batteries. They lasted a lot longer than I expected, but are now dead and need to be replaced. That’s one aspect to consider: in order to have a small low-profile set, the battery life is nowhere near as long as electronic headsets. As long as you have spare batteries on hand, you’re good to go.

Etymotic GunSport Pro-15 Electronic Earplugs retail for $299, which may sound pricey, but what you’re getting is a lightweight, compact, high-quality electronic hearing protection. If you go to the range often and/or take training courses, they’re right up your alley.

The batteries lasted longer than I expected.
I store Etymotic GunSport PRO-15’s in my EDC pack and have taken them on several more range trips all with the same set of batteries.

The GunSport PROs provide excellent electronic hearing protection and are well suited for the shooting and law enforcement community.

Learn more or purchase a pair on the Etymotic GunSport PRO-15 earpro web page. You can also find them (along with other Etymotic Research products) on Amazon, where they are eligible for Prime.

(Note: if you’re interested in less expensive, more traditional ear protection, take a look at Walker’s Razor Ear Pro.)

50SoFDE

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Fifty Shades of FDE

Fifty Shades of FDE is a full-time LEO in California with about a decade's service in a very large metropolitan agency. He’s a husband, father and firearms enthusiast. He is a supporter of the Second Amendment and a proponent of law abiding citizens’ right to defend themselves with concealed carry permits. He runs his @fiftyshadesofFDE page on Instagram and writes gun/gear reviews on www.fiftyshadesoffde.com - when he's not writing for Breach-Bang-Clear, of course.


Fifty Shades of FDE has 67 posts and counting. See all posts by Fifty Shades of FDE

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