At SHOT Show 2015, Otis Technology was displaying a new partner company that makes “custom” hearing protection. Branded FLUGZ, it works in the same way as the molded mouth guards I used to wear when I was young and playing sports.
They come in a container that acts as a case as well as a “steamer” that you fill with water and then place in the microwave for 40 seconds. From there the Flugz can be fit and molded to your specific ear so you get a custom fit without paying a custom price with an advertised Noise Reduction Rate of 21. They will retail for $24.99 and are expected to be released around April 2015. I got a pair at SHOT Show and have been testing them out.
Getting the Right Fit
It took three tries on the right ear and just one try on the left to get a good fit. The pair that I received had a red and a black ear piece to help you keep them going in the correct ear–just remember that “RED IS RIGHT” and then you’ll remember to put the red piece in the right ear and the black piece in the left ear. Their website shows two ear pieces that are both red, so I’m not sure which style will actually ship when they are released. The first two times I formed the earpiece in my right ear I didn’t get a good seal and it wasn’t blocking out any noise. One nice thing about the Flugz is that they can be molded as many times as you want, so if you fit it poorly like I did the first time you can just start over and try again. I found that as I inserted them into my ear it helped to twist them back slightly and push moderately hard on the center plastic piece at the same time as I pushed around the moldable portion to fit into my ear. I left it in my ear still pressing on the middle piece for a couple of minutes even after I finished molding it to my ear as it firmed up, and when I did remove it I ran it under cold water to solidify the shape.
Flugz at the Range
After I got them molded correctly, inserting and removing them required a slight twist back to get them to insert correctly. They seal very well now and I’ve taken them out a few times for testing. They were comfortable and offered good hearing protection, even indoors. I could wear them for long periods of time without wanting to rip my ears off. However, one of the things I like to have when I’m at the range with other people is electronic hearing protection so I can talk with others more easily. Wearing the Flugz by themselves doesn’t allow for very easy conversation. For about half of one trip to an indoor range shooting handguns I wore them all by themselves. For the other half of that trip and a couple others since then (all outdoors shooting handguns, rifles, and shotguns) I wore them underneath a pair of Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic ear protection. The ear muffs amplified noises as expected but with double the hearing protection as well. They didn’t fit great over the Flugz initially, but I’ve seemed to find a good fit with both and plan on continuing the practice while shooting. It’s also nice if I take my ears off to adjust them or while the range is cold and forget to put them back on I’ve still got adequate ear protection on.
They also make a great solution for non-shooting applications if you like to wear hearing protection at loud events like concerts, motor sports, or doing farm or yard work. They even suggest using them in the lake or ocean to keep water out. Overall I’ve been pleased with the Flugz. They fit great and offer good protection. And when combined with an over the ear electronic ear muff you have a good solution for much less than most custom ear protection solutions.