Okay, time for some hard-truth time. Hearing protection, while absolutely necessary for shooting sports, is one of those things like helmets or life insurance. We all know they’re good things, we all know we should be making the most use of them, we’re familiar with the various tiers and levels (and, quite often, know we could be getting a superior product with not too much money) and, quite frankly, we just don’t think about it all that much. Sure, when we hit the range we grab a pair of “foamies” or an inexpensive pair of muffs, but we’re aware there are better options out there.
In the case of the Axil Ghost Stryke Extreme hearing protection, this actually is one of the better options out there. Designed by a company with over half a century of protecting hearing, the Ghost Stryke Extreme isn’t simple hearing protection. It’s an all-in-one system that lets you listen to your music, take phone calls, amplifies external sounds and still provides the same level of hearing protection as a good pair of ear muffs. Taken individually, each of these functions are useful and needed; bundled together into one device, though, really brings it to a new level.
We preach the gospel of situational awareness here at Shooting Illustrated, from our own Sheriff Jim Wilson to various Handbook columns and tips & tricks. One of the most ubiquitous devices in our modern world is the smartphone, and with it the omnipresent earbuds that pipe in our music -- while shutting out the rest of the world. But, what if it didn’t have to be that way? One of the many features the Ghost Stryke Extreme earbuds offer is the ability to amplify external sounds while simultaneously connecting to your phone. Rather than shut out the outside world, you can actually increase your awareness with up to 6X amplification.
Let’s look at this from another standpoint. The Ghost Stryke Extreme offers Bluetooth connectivity with hands-free communication; that alone is worth the price ($199). There’s plenty of other Bluetooth headsets out there that don’t amplify external noises or provide hearing protection for the same amount of money (or more). Sure, spending a couple hundred bucks on hearing protection is more than some want to spend - but factor in everything else the Ghost Stryke Extreme can do, and all of a sudden that’s not as extravagant a purchase.
I’ve used the Ghost Stryke Extreme on our indoor range for episodes of “I Carry,” and found the noise reduction to be surprisingly good on our indoor range (I say “surprisingly” because quite often our small indoor range needs “double plugging” - muffs and foam earplugs - to bring noise levels down to reasonable). I found I had to experiment with the positioning of the unit for the best fit - and, naturally, it was 180 degrees opposite the way the model on the Axil website was wearing the unit! But, the electronic part worked quite well, cutting off the gunshots seamlessly throughout use. For what it’s worth, too, there’s a lot less of the “hiss” common to electronic hearing protection than in other units I’ve tested.
I understand it’s difficult to test hearing protection - a good deal of it is subjective, and the part that isn’t (prevention of hearing loss) won’t show up for a long time. I’ve had several discussions with one of the principals at Axil, and have been consistently impressed with how dedicated the company is to hearing protection. This isn’t just a part of their business; protecting hearing and providing devices for those who have already suffered hearing loss is their business. For under $200, the Ghost Stryke Extreme offers excellent hearing protection, Bluetooth compatibility for your smartphone and amplification of external noise when needed. That’s a lot of utility in “just hearing protection.”