After leaving the Marine Corps, Noisefighters owner Neal Brace had more in mind than drinking a few beers and picking up some odd jobs. He set his sights on inventing and producing upgrades and improvements for a number of different products. From scope throw levers to improved AR charging handle designs, Neal’s had no shortage of good ideas it seems. While chatting with him about his charging handle (the Sintercore Tripwire), he asked me to take a look at his Noisefighter Sightlines. A quick look at what was advertised had me wanting to check these out myself.
So what exactly are Sightlines and why are they different? Sightlines are drop-in upgrades for your ear muffs. They aren’t just comfort upgrades or sound-deadening upgrades, they’re also meant to improve the ear-pro/eye-pro/skull relationship. The top of the gel cups have narrow channels for your sunglasses, shooting glasses or scrips to pass through. Normally, the part of your glasses that rests on your ears has three choices when you’re wearing earmuffs: rest on top of or under the ear cup, or be smashed between your head and ear pro. All options are uncomfortable. Both are known to cause headaches. The latter choices will break the seal on the ear muffs, negating a good portion of your hearing protection. Many shooters I’ve seen don’t wear eye protection unless forced to by an indoor shooting range (or of course, vision impairment).
Sightlines ear cups are constructed from silicone gel and memory foam before being wrapped in a polyurethane skin. Pulling the OEM ear cups out of my Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic ear pro, I felt how flimsy the foam used therein really was. By contrast, the Sightlines ear cups are 412% heavier and 20% thicker. Extra mass (and better materials used) translates into better sound absorption.
Installation took about 20 seconds. The Leight ear-pro uses cups that are held in by little plastic tabs. Other brands of earmuffs use different mounts, some with adhesive, matching whatever method the factory produced ear cups are attached with.
I replaced the foam cups with Sightlines about half an hour into my range day. Most of the day was spent testing optics on an unsuppressed AR with a Metallica live album blasting from my vehicle, so the noise was of adequate intensity and variation to gauge performance. The difference was impressive and immediately apparent. With the Sightlines cups installed and the electronics in the Leight ear muffs turned off, I could only hear the bass line on the music. OEM cups? Bass, treble, vocals… I could hear it all. Ambient noise was shut off with the Sightlines cups. It was only dampened with the OEM’s. Muzzle blast was far more comfortable with the Sightlines installed!
I don’t have access to advanced decibel measuring equipment. I do have a lot of experience with ear protection. From passive muffs to electronic circuitry provided by Peltor and Bose used in my capacities as an Airborne Ranger turned civilian helicopter pilot I can say this: inexpensive Howard Leight Impact Sport muffs upgraded with Sightlines can hang with the heavyweights.
So, this is where Sightlines is at. Recently (the beginning of December 2017) Noisefighters began a Kickstarter funding campaign to get these into full production for the many different models of ear pro these will be compatible with. They’re one week into the 4-week fundraising timeframe and are well over 50% funded. So, it looks like the fundraiser will be successful and these will see the free market in all their glory. While final MSRP will be around $40 (depending on model), kickstarter contributors can get a flat price as well as other bonuses. Check out their kickstarter here.