When I’m shooting, I like to keep things light and cool. That means avoiding large, heavy over-the-ear muffs whenever possible. Not only are they hot, but they can also interfere with a good cheek weld on some long guns.
A pair of 10 cent foam plugs work OK for some applications, but once you experience good electronic hearing protection, you don’t want to go back. AXIL’s GS Extreme electronic ear buds perform three functions in one affordable headset.
The GS Extreme comes with a range of both silicone and foam tips in a couple of sizes. The foam tips block outside sound better, with a noise reduction rating of 29dB vs 19dB for the silicone tips.
The plugs are very comfortable and can easily be worn all day without discomfort. The first three inches of lanyard extending from each plug bends to go around your ear and retains its shape.
The real selling point here is that the GS Extremes do three things and let you choose what features to use and when. First, there’s the standard stuff-your-ears with a couple of plugs on a lanyard hearing protection you’re already familiar with.
Feature number two is audio enhancement. On one side of the GS Extreme lanyard are the controls for the electronic noise protection and enhancement. Slide the switch on and you can hear what’s going on around you, making these ideal for hunting or use at an outdoor range. One gripe…the GS Extreme seems to magnify the sound of wind which can be annoying in some conditions.
You can raise or lower the volume to enhance your hearing and pick up ambient sounds or voices. The electronics then sense the surge of a gunshot and shut down to protect your hearing.
On the other side of the lanyard are the Bluetooth controls. The unit is easy to pair with your phone (or any other device) letting you use the GS Extremes to listen to music, podcasts or take phone calls.
The center Bluetooth multifunction button is used to pair the headset you your phone (a one-time process). Then when in use, it can answer calls, hang up, call the last number back, or even activate Siri.
The best feature of the AXIL GS Extremes are that these functions are separate. You can just stuff them in your ears and shoot, if you want. You can turn on the electronic protection to talk to others on the range, or hear game moving through the brush…or not. You can link to your phone with Bluetooth…or you can stay blissfully disconnected.
Both electronic features are independently controlled. You can use one, both, or none of them as you wish.
As for power, the GS Extremes have a lithium battery and charge with a standard micro USB cable. The headset is rated for 120 hours of standby time or 12 hours hearing protection continuous use. I’ve gotten it up to eight hours of use without the power running down.
I use these daily, most often to listen to podcasts while walking the dogs, listening to music…whatever. At an outdoor range, they’re great and protect your ears well in just about any circumstances. The only shooting circumstance where I won’t use them is at an indoor range. In those enclosed situations where someone with a muzzle braked AK might be down the line, I want the added protection of an over the ear muff.
That said, the AXIL GS Extreme’s are a great option. They perform all the functions of more expensive Bluetooth-enabled electronic sets at a pretty reasonable price ($139.99). And they do it while keeping you comfortable a cool.
Things That Don’t Suck: AXIL GS Extreme Bluetooth Electronic Ear Protection is written by Dan Zimmerman for www.thetruthaboutguns.com