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Marshal Hangtree

Moldable Ear Protection

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My wife absolutely despises foam or plastic ear plugs, and ear muffs get a little hot and don't fit her well either.  We'd both like to try out the DIY moldable ear plug route.  There are many brands available on line, so I thought that it would be prudent to ask our fellow shooters what brands work best for you.  Do the most popular brands (Radians, Decibulz, etc) mold well, last more than 1 or 2 uses, etc.?  I appreciate your input.  Thanks, y'all.

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I wore molded ear plugs the first 15 or so years that I shot. I was always pleased with their performance. Then one day I left them in a vest from a previous shoot and had no protection. Someone gave me some moldable silicon plugs designed for swimmers. They were more comfortable, sealed out more noise and were disposable. From that point on it was all I ever used. I purchased them from Walmart, Albertson's, Walgreen's, CVS, just about any well stocked store. They were actually large enough that I could take one, pinch it in half, roll it to a cylinder about 1/4 inch diameter and 3/4 inch long. I would then introduce it to the ear canal just slightly and mold it to my ear. After 5 minutes you didn't even know they were in there. These are the ones I used, as I said widely available.

 

https://www.macksearplugs.com/product/pillow-soft-silicone-earplugs/

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I bought a set of “do it yourself” mold at home about six  years ago at  Cabelas. Still have ‘em and use ‘em! Cost under $20. Don’t know the brand, all I can tell you is they’re blue lol.

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Marshal,

I use the Radians.....Have for years...Like them...

TR

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I have used several of the Radians DIY plug kits from Midway ($11.99).  I think they work every bit as well as the custom ones for $50+. I even took 1/2 a kit and made smaller, flush plugs that I use when I sleep in the RV in a truck stop or rest area.

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My husband uses the Radians that you mold yourself and really likes them. 

 

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I've tried just about everything including moldable and foam.  They won't hold in my right ear.  I finally settled on Walkers Silencers.  I'm using the R600 rechargeable.  THey come with different sized foam pads and I'm able to get it to hold in my right ear.  A bit pricey, but they work well.  They do offer veterans and LE discounts (including retirees), you just have to ask when you call them.

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All four shooters in our family use Decibullz.  Two of the sets are going on four years of use, while the other two are going on their second year.  As a family of four shooters, its nice to be able to have different color earplugs, plus as our boys have grown, we have been able to remold them as their ears grow.  They are a little pricey, but we have been more than pleased with them and their durability.  I have a pair of their original ones, that five years ago or so, I bought for work (air hammers, grinders, etc) and they still get use weekly.  One plus of the Decibullz is that you can add a foam or silicone ear bud, depending on your preference and they also make an add on lanyard to keep the two together. 

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Posted (edited)

I also use the Decibullz custom molded earplugs and have been very happy with the performance (noise reduction), fit and comfort.  

Edited by Bingo Montana
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The Silicone moldable plugs have a reduction rate of only 22, while most foam plugs claim up to 32.

    I have some custom made plugs that seem to block more sound than any of the roll up and expand type. Maybe because they always fit right, whereas with the others you have to get it right every time.

  I tried the DIY custom plugs but could never get it in my ear as far as the custom plugs, so they didn't work as well. The material just wasn't soft enough to flow well.

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IMHO I would not use them.  Having worked for a earmold company and having many sets of impressions made, I don’t know how anyone can get a good mold of their own ear.   I would guess the only way they got a nrr was by using the experimenter fit method.  That means the person who tested them made sure they fit and worked before performing the test.  This is the same way one foam manufacturer got really high ratings that no one else could duplicate.  Btw they got sued and lost.  If you look at test data where the test subject fit the NRR it is always lower.   The lab I worked for did that along with impact testing.  The difference between the two test for those custom plugs was 1 or 2 db.  Very good.  For foam plugs it’s usually around 15db, pretty bad considering a foam plug only offers about a 30 db protection.  
 

considering a shotgun is in the low 150db range, 15 db of protection barely gets you under the 140db threshold for instant hearing damage.  Your safe daily noise dose would be less than 5 shots with 15 db of protection.   
 

I would recommend going to an audiologists and having a set of custom plugs professionally made.  Make sure they do extra long impressions.   Then ask for them to be tested before you accept them.  It’s not hard and a good audiologist will either have a sound booth or a set of headphones for testing.   Most labs will remake them if they don’t work or fit correctly.  

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15 hours ago, Still hand Bill said:

IMHO I would not use them.  Having worked for a earmold company and having many sets of impressions made, I don’t know how anyone can get a good mold of their own ear.   I would guess the only way they got a nrr was by using the experimenter fit method.  That means the person who tested them made sure they fit and worked before performing the test.  This is the same way one foam manufacturer got really high ratings that no one else could duplicate.  Btw they got sued and lost.  If you look at test data where the test subject fit the NRR it is always lower.   The lab I worked for did that along with impact testing.  The difference between the two test for those custom plugs was 1 or 2 db.  Very good.  For foam plugs it’s usually around 15db, pretty bad considering a foam plug only offers about a 30 db protection.  
 

considering a shotgun is in the low 150db range, 15 db of protection barely gets you under the 140db threshold for instant hearing damage.  Your safe daily noise dose would be less than 5 shots with 15 db of protection.   
 

I would recommend going to an audiologists and having a set of custom plugs professionally made.  Make sure they do extra long impressions.   Then ask for them to be tested before you accept them.  It’s not hard and a good audiologist will either have a sound booth or a set of headphones for testing.   Most labs will remake them if they don’t work or fit correctly.  

What was the nrr of the custom fitted you mentioned, the ones you used to make? I don't see that data anywhere. And if I get what you are saying every set performed at this level before the customer left the facility?

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Posted (edited)
On 5/6/2020 at 8:09 AM, Goody, SASS #26190 said:

What was the nrr of the custom fitted you mentioned, the ones you used to make? I don't see that data anywhere. And if I get what you are saying every set performed at this level before the customer left the facility?

I don’t remember the exact number, but it was in the mid 20’s if I remember correctly.   It has been over 6 years since I worked there.
We did not test each customer, there were a few of us who wanted to get a program to certify protection, but never got buy in to make it happen.   What was done was to get data for user fit.  That means impressions were taken, ear protection made and given to the test subjects who then put them in their ears for the test.  I believe that is called method B data.   We used it to sell into industrial locations as the normal nrr is derated by a lot due to user fit issues.  Method B data is not derated as much since the user variability is already taken into account. 

best protection is always some sort of plug and ear muffs over the top.  That gets you close to 50db of protection when done right. 

let me say I am not an audiologist, but I did as much research as I could because impulse protection is important to me. I did many tests on myself using different plugs to see what worked.  Honestly for my ears, deeply inserted foam plugs work best.  I could get 30-32 db of protection.  By deeply inserted I mean so far in you almost need tweezers to get them out.  If I pulled them half way out, protection dropped to 15 db or less.  Solid plugs were in the mid to high 20’s for me and the longer the canal the better.  A well fitted plug should muffle voices enough that you can not clearly understand speech in a quiet environment. If they don’t you are not getting enough protection.   All plugs and protection are NOT the same.  Also ears are not the same, so it’s not a one solution for everyone.  I have seen people with ears that will push a foam plug out in under 5 min offering no protection.  
 
 

Edited by Still hand Bill
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My husband and I represent EAR, Inc and do the custom silicone ear protection. We make

them at matches we attend.  We are

factory trained by the owners of the company. We use medical grade silicone putty and insert it in the ear using a syringe - allows us to get deeper in the ear but still not to the ear drum. You can’t block out all noise because our bones conduct noise...granted, I sell these ear plugs however, I also use them every time I shoot (started shooting 2012) and I do not have any measurable or noticeable hearing loss.
 

Big hugs!

Scarlett 

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On 5/6/2020 at 10:40 AM, Still hand Bill said:

  All plugs and protection are NOT the same.  Also ears are not the same, so it’s not a one solution for everyone. 

This is very true!

 

Big hugs!

Scarlett

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