SureFire’s Sonic Ear Defenders EP-3 hearing protection

SF’s EP3 sonic ear defenders. You can leave the channel open to hear what is going on around you or you can plug the channel for the best hearing protection. The case and retention cord are included.

I have been spending time this year using the Surefire’s hearing protection. Thus far, I’m pretty happy with them.

The EP-3 is the two-flange model with an opening that can be used either open or closed. The design is such that it assists in blocking noise over 85db. SF says they have a 24db reduction rating with the plug in place. The canal will accept earpiece tubes that work with most the portable radios in use with public safety and government. They also have a retention cord for hanging around your neck.

Using the EP3s while hunting this year.

Recently, I have been wearing them when hunting. With the opening un-plugged, my hearing is pretty much what it would be without them. I can hear movement from both game and those I hunt with, I can hear words spoken in in my direction – if they would be audible otherwise.  

I need to protect the hearing I’ve got left – so I’ll be using these from here on out.

They are available in black, clear or orange. Each set is listed at $13.95 retail.


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About Erick Gelhaus

Erick has been a Deputy Sheriff with a large northern California Sheriff’s office since 1990. Currently assigned to patrol, he is also a Senior Firearms Instructor and armorer. His prior assignments include gang violence suppression and narcotics investigations. Erick served in Iraq as an Infantry squad leader. He also teaches at Gunsite and has worked for Aimpoint.

18 thoughts on “SureFire’s Sonic Ear Defenders EP-3 hearing protection

  1. It is probably worth noting that these come in specific sizes, based on the size of one’s “concha bowl” (sounds like a football game in the Caribbean). There is sizing info on Surefire’s website.


  2. I have been using the same plugs for around a year. The only thing is they make my ear canal itch, if I wear them too long. Other that that they are good ear pro.

    • As far as itch in ear canal, try lubing with saline, or better yet, a Vitamin E oil, before insertion. Don’t recommend saliva (unless last resort) due to possibly introducing bacteria into the outer and eventually inner ear.

  3. The only ones I can get to fit in my ears are the slightly more expensive foam versions I’m finding at Walmart for about $20. And I absolutely love them.

  4. I’ve used EP5 (triple-flange, no brake), EP6 (EP3 analog) and EP7 Surefire hearing protection. Like them all, but prefer the EP5’s for simplicity. Wear ’em indoors, outdoors and at auto races. For the noise-braked plugs, I like the EP7’s best, the foam seals much better than the flanges. Word of caution, make sure you don’t jam the foam too deeply. The foam separated from the earpiece in my ear canal and it took someone else with tweezers to get it out. Operator error, didn’t impact the intended purpose.

  5. I’ve been wearing the EP5 Sonic Defender Max model under my MSA Sordin Supreme Pro Comm for over a year. With significant hearing loss, I have to protect what I have left around blasters, and other 80dB+ noise generators and these do an excellent job. The 5s are similar to the 3s, simply no removable plug. Since I can’t hear much without amplification, the 3s with the plug removed wouldn’t help hearing game sneaking up on me.

  6. Surefire does not recommend the product for an extended life. Check, but I think they recommend replacement 3-6 months. I rinse in alcohol or soap and water after use.

    • Roger that. FWIW the foam model comes with a spare set of foam sleeves and suggests they should be replaced at 6 months max.

  7. Unfortunately, these don’t work for my ears and I had high hopes. I’ve tried the EP3s and EP4s to no avail. Oh,well. A buddy uses them though with great success so it’s hard to predict who they’ll work for but when the work folks seem happy with them. I resort to an old set of Sonic II plugs.

    • That was my experience a year ago with the EP3 and 4. It was just this year I tried the EP7 and I was so shocked and excited they worked.

  8. I’ve used the EP4 (multi-flange) for several years now and couldn’t be happier. I usually buy several pairs and keep them anywhere they may come in handy (car, range bag, etc.)

    While Surefire recommends replacement at 3-6 month intervals, I have been using my current pair for more than a year with no discernible loss of protection. I would note that they are perhaps a bit more pliable as they begin to age, but still effective.

  9. I keep a set of ep3 in my everyday bag in case I forget my Howard Leights when I go to the range or impromptu range trips. My first set I had for a year and I was wondering why they wouldn’t stay on after long periods. Then I read about the recommended replacement interval (duh) but since I don’t use them all the time, I usually keep them for 8-10 months.

  10. I’ve been using a pair of EP4-M for more than a year now, and I love’m. My ear canals do not work well (as in “at all”) with regular ear plugs and Surefire EarPros are the first I’ve found that will actually stay put (thanks to the Concha Bowl D-ring.)

    I mostly shoot IPSC Rifle (with a 14,5″ AR fitted with a Henning Comp,) and as you all probably know there is a lot of obnoxiously loud (but effective) muzzle brakes used in the Open Division in which I compete whereby good earpro is a must. Though the EP4:s are enough for most cases, I often slip a pair of Peltor Comtacs on top of my EP4:s on stages where the noise is reflected back rather than absorbed by the surroundings.

    I also use the EP4:s when I go to concerts; standing right next to the stage underneath the speaker tower while Soundgarden was performing at SwedenRock last year was no problem at all with no degradation in sound quality (which of course is important when you pay to listen).

  11. I’ve used the EP3’s since they were introduced and the EP4’s as well. My first time out with them we shot an M240 requal on a semi-indoor range (2/3 covered) and I was the only shooter who could hear the rangemaster after the shooting stopped. I use mine these days for hunting primarily, and have electronics (Peltor Tac Sport) for normal range use, but for the money and their size, they’re far superior to the usual ‘foamies’. Took my initial pair of EP3s on deployment where aircraft noise was the primary problem and I recommend them for when electronics aren’t an option.

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