SensGard ZEM hearing protection

   09.12.13

I use hearing and eye protection each and every single time I go to the range, even when I’m just shooting .22 rifles. On occasion hearing protection can be a bit inconvenient, especially when listening for range commands, in a tactical situation, or when just carrying on a conversation with someone at the range.

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Most non-electronic hearing protection simply mutes all sounds including conversations. When shooting rifles, the big ear muffs just get in the way, so many times we just stuff in disposable foam ear plugs and make due. SensGard has a solution to these problems with their simple, compact and effective SensGard ZEM Hearing Protection.

I tested the model SG31 ($32.99) and SG26 ($24.95) for this review. Let’s see how they fared.

How it works

According to ZEM, the SensGard hearing protection works by directing sound away from the ears. Sonically sealed chambers act as an extension of the ear canal, and they form a vacuum that pulls harmful sounds away from the sensitive ear anatomy.

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The chambers attached to the ear plugs absorb and cancel the concussive sound shock waves of harmful sounds. The length of the ZEM chamber is designed to be most effective in the middle range of sound frequencies. This particular configuration achieves over 32 decibels of noise reduction and does so evenly across all frequencies. In essence the ear, protection delivers non-electrical shock wave and noise cancellation.

The result is that with the ZEM SensGard, noise reduction is evenly delivered while speech communication is neither masked nor distorted.

Fit, feel, features, and function

The headphone style of SensGard hearing protection is a compromise between the small and lightweight ear plugs and full-sized ear muffs. They slip on easily, and they quickly adjust to a broad range of head sizes like earmuffs, but their small size doesn’t interfere with shooting.

I tested both the SG31 and SG26 models from SensGard and both worked almost identically, but the 31 provided more hearing protection and were more comfortable to use with larger calibers.

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The ZEMs fold compactly so you can always have them with you. I found that these stored nicely in a M16 ammo pouch and provided simple access when needed.

From a performance perspective, I believe these are some of the best outdoor firearm hearing protection options around for several reasons. First they work. Second, they’re light, comfortable, and unobtrusive, all of which means that people will actually wear them. These will work and will not leave your ears ringing after an indoor range session or tactical indoor shooting, but you will be far more protected and more comfortable with doubled up hearing protection on indoor ranges.

For home defense these are a good option to slip on quickly if time permits to maintain your auditory senses after a shot is fired indoors, but I would not recommend them for indoor range use regularly. Speech does sound a little muted, but natural.

Final thoughts

For a shooter, I would recommend the SG31 over the SG26 simply because of noise rating. If you want to hear a little more and are just shooting .22 or up to mid-sized handgun calibers or for hunting, the SG26 will allow you to hear more of what is going on.


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