Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Walker's Razor X Is On The Cutting Edge of Hearing Protection

Hearing is something many people take for granted and probably don't spend much time thinking about until their ability to hear starts to decline. Eva Shockey, spokesperson for Walker's, explains how hearing damage accumulates over time and even small caliber firearm reports can contribute to hearing damage and subsequent hearing loss. The video is short (45 seconds) and very much to the point.  I encourage you to watch it.      


I've had more than my fair share of hearing problems throughout my life. As a child I was prone to ear infections and ended up as a teenager with a perforated eardrum and significant hearing loss in one ear. As an adult, I went through two surgical procedures to improve my hearing. My hearing did improve, but it will never be as good as someone that didn't have issues with their ears as a child. Because of all this, I have always been very sensitive about protecting my hearing. I've always used hearing protection around power tools, while mowing the lawn, and most importantly when using firearms.

I've been a ear plugs and ear muffs person since the time I started recreational shooting. Doubling down on my hearing protection just seemed like a good idea. If ear plugs are good and ear muffs are good, then the two used together should be even better. My audiologist agreed.  Unfortunately, it can can be a challenge to find ear muffs that can be worn while shooting shotguns and rifles.  I usually have to ditch the muffs when shooting long guns.

Over the last few weeks, I have the chance to test out the Razor X hearing protection system from Walker's.  The Razor X combines high noise reduction rated ear plugs (31dB) with digital ear buds that block out damaging loud noises while enhancing/amplifying non-harmful sounds.  The system is worn around the neck with the ear buds tethered to the neckband via retractable cables.  The Razor X has a MSRP of $119.99, but can be found for less than $100 from many on-line retailers.

The Razor X system is powered by an internal rechargeable battery that provides up to 8 hours of run time on a single charge.  Walker's includes a wall outlet charging block and micro USB charging cable with the Razor X.  A carry pouch and 5 sets of foam ear plugs in assorted sizes are also included with the system.  At time of publication, pricing and availability of replacement foam ear plugs was not available.

The Razor X includes everything shown above.

Prior to using the Razor X, I was using disposable foam ear plugs in conjunction with active electronic ear muffs.  This combination worked well for blocking out harmful noises and the active muffs could be volume adjusted to amplify bullet strikes on steel plates or casual conversation on the range.  This worked for pistol shooting, but I found that I couldn't use the muffs while shooting rifles so the advantage of active amplification of steel target hits was lost.  The over the head muffs were also annoying to wear in the summer heat.

With the Razor X, I had a solution that would work for both rifle and pistol shooting. The system blocked out the loud sounds like foam ear plugs, but could also enhance non-harmful sounds such as bullet strikes on steel targets and casual range conversation. The Razor X works on both indoor and outdoor shooting ranges and has a generous amount of volume adjustment. I can certainly see myself using the Razor X while hunting to enhance the sound of game movement in my surrounding area.

The rechargeable Razor X has an LED charging indicator next to the charging port.
Earbud cables retract into the housing when not in use.

I range tested the Razor X several times during the evaluation period.  I used both the indoor and outdoor range settings in conjunction with the volume levels to custom tailor the best settings for my needs.  There were enough adjustments to meet my needs without being overly complex to operate. It's important to note that the Razor X always provides passive hearing protection, of up to 31dB, as long as the plugs are in your ears. Even when the electronics are switched off. Using the longest and largest foam plugs, that are comfortable for the user, provides the highest level of passive hearing protection. Turning the Razor X on allows for active enhancement of quiet sounds while blocking or cancelling enhancement of loud and damaging sounds.

Improper angled cheek weld on stock due to muff interference. 
Perfect cheek weld on stock using Razor X.
My final Razor X evaluation was done at a Steel Challenge match with multiple competitors shooting both rimfire and centerfire firearms.  I competed with both pistol and rifle during the match and wore the Razor X exclusively.  As the hours passed, I really started to appreciate that I wasn't wearing ear muffs and getting the usual case of sweaty ears caused by the vinyl covered foam ear cups.  Also I wasn't experiencing any discomfort where the muff ear cups press on the temple tips of my shooting glasses.  I was cooler and more comfortable.  For that alone Razor X was a winner.  When it was my turn to shoot, I could clearly hear all range commands, the timer, and every bullet strike on the steel plates.  For me, the Razor X is a prefect fit with my competition hearing protection needs.

Staying cool and Razor X protected in the Summer heat at a Steel Challenge match.

Protecting our eyes and ears are critically important parts of safely enjoying any firearm related activity.  Our senses of sight and hearing are priceless and irreplaceable once they are gone.  The Razor X allows me to protect my hearing without interfering with the stock of my rifle or my choice of eye protection.  It also allows me to stay cooler and more comfortable while I enjoy my shooting activities.  As a newly introduced product, it might cost a little more than a set of active ear muffs, but I think the additional cost is more than justified. Eva Shockey, I promise and swear to never go afield in pursuit of game without my Walker's Razor X hearing protection system. #Protectitorloseit

Like muffs, the Razor X folds for convenient storage in the included travel pouch.

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