Initially I purchased the SportTac headset to make life easier on the range. I am a little hard of hearing due to many years of unprotected noise exposure in the Marine Corps. When I put in ear plugs it compounds this and makes it hard for me to hear other shooters or range commands. This can be mildly annoying at the least and a possible safety hazard.
This was my first set of electronic ears, so I wasn't expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised. The SportTac uses one set of buttons to control power and volume to both sides of the set. Since both sides are always at the same level and the microphones are spaced apart on their respective ears your directional hearing is retained. If someone outside of my peripheral vision begins talking to me I can tell where they are standing. This is continent on the range, but absolutely mandatory in a tactical environment.
Once I got used to the SportTac headset in a training environment I began to wear them on live callouts. On several warrant services I was clearly able to hear teammates and determine their direction from me. The fit of the SportTac allowed me to wear them under my PASGT ballistic helmet and to still wear my earpiece for my radio. These may not fit under all helmets. If my head was just slightly wider I would not be able to make this work. Since I started using these, several other teammates have tried or purchased them. Only a couple were not able to comfortably wear them under their helmets.
Noise suppression (NRR) is rated at 20dB. In practice this is sufficient for pistol fire on an indoor range or rifle fire on an outdoor range. During our normal carbine training I have never had an issue with the noise suppression. Several times I have worn the headset in an indoor "shoot house" with ballistic walls. I did not notice any discomfort, however due to the nature of this training it's difficult to tell. Your perception of noise changes when teammates are firing live rounds in close proximity to you. The SportTacs are sufficient to protect from the concussion of "flashbang" type distraction devices. I have had a flashbang go off in the same room with me and had no ringing or other ill effects.
I have only experienced two areas where I have found the SportTacs to be insufficient. The first was during extended firing on a metal covered firing line with concrete benches to my left and right. If I am not careful to get the muzzle as far forward as possible I will notice quite a bit of fatigue after a few hours. I don't believe the exposure levels are enough to cause hearing damage, but it does take a toll.
The other issue that I have had is when a fellow shooter at a match was shooting a 20" .308 rifle with a JP Brake. He was directly to my right and the noise and concussion of the brake was enough to cause concern. In this instance, earplugs under the headset would have been prudent.
There are two learning points that should be heeded for new users. First, when using the headset, resist the urge to turn them up too loud. While I am not sure you can turn them up high enough to do damage, you can turn them up loud enough to increase fatigue and cause a headache. I noticed this after a particularly windy day on the range. Secondly, when extremely loud impulse noises are present, it is a good idea to use a set of foam earplugs under the SportTacs then turn the volume up a little higher. This will allow you to better hear range commands, but increase your protection against the impulse noise (gunshots).
Power is provided by a pair of AAA batteries. Battery life is rated at 500 hours. I cannot say if this is true or not. After two years of operation I have only replaced the batteries once. That was a precautionary replacement before an operation. Battery replacement is accomplished by sliding a latch and popping off the ear cover. Placing the batteries on the outside of the unit prevents contamination by sweat. This is an issue I have seen others have with other electronic ear protection.
I have only tested the water resistance in light rain. These do not have any listed water resistance rating and to this point I have not desired to test it. When worn with a helmet, they are partially shielded from a downpour. When worn with a soft cover there isn't anything preventing water from infiltrating the battery compartment. I have worn them with a soft cover in the light rain, but when it really comes down I switch to a set of passive earplugs.
After two years of weekly use I have found these to be an extremely good buy. I find them comfortable for hours of wear. When approaching eight hours of solid use I sometimes notice some discomfort. I believe this is due to the small volume of the ear cups just lightly pressing on my ears. It is only apparent after long hours of wear. The cuts in the side of the cups are adequate for me to get a high cheek weld without contact on a precision rifle stock.
Overall I would rate these as an excellent buy.