Peltor is the name everybody wants when it comes to shooting ear pro. The Comtac series of shooting muffs was made famous by the U.S military, who continue to wear these high-speed, sound-amplifying ear muffs on their high-cut helmets. But Peltor doesn't just make active hearing protection for the military. The Sport Tactical 500 muffs come with the same technology in a much more affordable package. Let's take a closer look.
3M's Peltor Sport Tactical 500 at a glance
The Sport Tac 500 is, in this writer's opinion, the commercial and more affordable equivalent to 3M's Peltor Comtac series of military hearing protection. The 500 muffs provide pass-through ambient noise and they offer Bluetooth connectivity for use with a smartphone or wireless music.
- NRR (Noise Reduction Rating): 26 dB
- Dynamic Suppression Time: Accommodates indoor / outdoor / echo
- Voice Tracking: Amplifies conversation against background ambient noise
- Power: (2) AA batteries or Alpha 1100 li-ion rechargeable pack
- Headband: Rubberized w/ adjustable-length steel wire frame
Active Hearing Protection
As "active" ear pro, the Sport Tac 500's utilize two recessed microphones, one placed at the front of each ear muff. Triangular foam keeps debris and dust from getting into the unit.
Power On / Off & Bluetooth
All controls and buttons are located on the right ear muff's outer shell. The center Bluetooth button can be pressed once to enter pairing mode. The unit's up and down arrows control the microphones' ambient volume. Bluetooth volume is controlled by the connected device. The triangular power button must be pressed and held for three seconds to power the unit on and off.
Battery Life & Replacement
Although the 500's AA battery life is not advertised, this writer has not yet had to change the batteries after approximately 4 hours of total use. When battery life is low, the headset will announce "low battery" every 10 minutes. Replacing the batteries requires popping open the left ear muff's plastic cover.
Audio Jack & USB Recharging
The Sport Tac 500 also comes with a standard audio jack. Sold separately, the Alpha 1100 rechargeable battery pack can be charged via the ear muff's built-in USB port. The jack and USB port are protected by a rubberized cover.
Noise Suppression & Comfort
The Peltor 500 provides good comfort for long periods of wear. This writer had no trouble donning these muffs for a little over two hours in the desert heat, while shooting on BLM land. We tested these muffs while firing 7.62x39, .308 Winchester, 300 BLK supersonics and subsonics, and 9mm supers.
We fired these rounds at outdoor and indoor ranges and found the "Dynamic Suppression Time" works well: The ear muffs are capable of accommodating these different environments and calibers, attenuating excess sound effectively in different environments.
The Dynamic Suppression works by measuring the sound energy produced by each gunshot. The onboard processor then applies a suppression time that reduces that excess sound. Suppression time is typically shorter for small calibers, and longer for rifle calibers and indoor echoes.
Ambient Sound & Comparison to the Peltor Comtac V
Any standard ear muff-type hearing protection can provide decent noise reduction. It's the active hearing component -- the ability to amplify conversation and provide crisp ambient noise for situational awareness -- that sets apart a good set of active ear pro from the rest.
So, how well does the Peltor Sport Tactical 500 (right) compare to the top-of-the-line Comtac V (left)? This writer owns both, and paid out of pocket for his Comtacs. I happily admit the Sport Tac 500's "clear voice tracking" and ambient noise is strikingly similar in quality, clarity, and volume to that of the Comtac V.
At maximum volume, the Comtac V's ambient volume is just barely louder. But that extra bit of volume simply isn't necessary. It's just nice to have in a tactical or "threat" environment. The 500 headset provides very crisp audio. I had no trouble having clear, quiet conversations will shooting indoors and outside.
Although the 500 muffs' cups (right) appear slightly larger, its overall construction and comfort are nearly identical to the Comtac V headset (left) when worn. The 500's ear cups and padding are also a bit larger, which may benefit shooters with bigger ears. The Comtac's rubber headband is a tad more pliable and can be more easily worn under a hat or helmet, but both muffs' headbands are comfortable enough for long-term wear.
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