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In my previous article I did an overview of Peltor’s Tactical Line of hearing protectors. Today I’m going to take a deeper look at Peltor’s tactical 6S hearing protector. In my experience, too many gun owners are negligent when it comes to ear safety. All too often I have met folks who only began using proper hearing protective devices (HPD’s) after damage to their hearing triggered a wake-up call. At that point, it is usually too late as the damage has already been done. Even after coming to this realization, too many gun owners opt for weak or ineffective ear plugs that block out all noise rather than amplifying the soft sounds that hunters in particular are so afraid of missing when wearing a headset. If only more gun owners familiarized themselves with Peltor’s line of hearing protective devices, like the Tactical 6S Active.
Tactical 6S Hearing Protector Review
Peltor’s Tactical 6S Active Volume Hearing Protector is, in a word, effective. One of the most well-known of Peltor’s highly regarded line of hearing protective devices, the 6S was, at its time of release in 2003, a revolutionary device. Boasting the capability to reduce hazardous noises to safe levels within 5 milliseconds, the 6S has to be experienced to be believed; the headset neutralizes harmful noises instantly, while raising the volume of ambient sounds in just as little time. Although the model does fall short of excellence in terms of some peripherals and features, it makes for a safe, effective choice in an HPD, and one that will protect your ears without compromising your hearing. This is a versatile headset that is good for all kinds of gun use, from recreational shooting to hunting, and would serve any kind of shooter well, from novice to expert.
I have had the pleasure of using the 6S model under most kinds of circumstances imaginable; indoors and outdoors, with handguns, shotguns, and rifles, in the rain or snow, at the range or in open spaces, etc. The headset has been around for long enough and has been popular enough that not only was it a mainstay in my gear kit for some time, I often found that it was available for use at a number of ranges that I had visited. Never once did any of the 6S models that I used fail on me in terms of noise reduction. The instant elimination of dangerous noise and enhancement of softer noises is absolutely ideal for any kind of shooter, and the feature works like a dream.
In my experience, when using the headset indoors, softer noises perhaps had a little more trouble being enhanced, but I believe this to be an industry-wide problem as opposed to a Tactical 6S problem – almost all headsets I have sampled are at least a little less effective indoors than they are outdoors. Specifically, the headset boasts that it can limit amplified sounds up to 82 dBA within 5 milliseconds. I have found that this seems to be accurate measurement.
Sound Amplification and Features
As a hunter, sound amplification is extremely important to me in a hearing protective device. I’ve seen my fair share of HPD’s that claimed to enhance ambient sounds, only to fall short on that promise. They’d usually enhance medium-level noise, as opposed to softer, subtler noise that is so important when tracking game. The 6S does a great job of enhancing the truly softer noises. I found that when wearing the device, my tracking abilities were not compromised at all – I was hearing sounds that I wouldn’t have thought possible given that a headset was covering my ears. The description of the 6S claims that it can provide distortion-free amplification of low-level sounds up to 19 dBA, a claim that I have no trouble believing given the success that I have had using the headset.
Unfortunately, there are features on this headset where it falls just a little short. The battery replacement process is a frustrating and tedious one, as each ear cup takes two AAA batteries (not included), and the battery compartments can only be accessed after removing the ear cushion as well as the grey foam inside of it. The process of removing these parts is not a simple one, as the stubborn parts seem to have no interest in being removed, and this is all made even worse by the fact that the whole ordeal needs to be carried out twice – once for each ear. Most quality electronic headsets take just two batteries, as opposed to four for the 6S. This would be a bit more palatable if the four batteries provided an impressive amount of battery life, but the 6S boasts a solid yet unspectacular 200-hours of use out of a set of batteries.
The model also lacks an auto-turn off feature, meaning if you forget to turn off the headset, your batteries will be drained quickly. This is a problem that I have suffered from, and represents one of the few serious shortcomings with this model. The 6S comes with individual microphones and volume controls for each ear, which are in the form of two knobs that protrude just a little too much, hurting the aesthetic of the device. It’s also unfortunate that there is no LED or indicator to tell you whether or not the volume/microphone has been turned off, as it is possible to turn one ear on/off but not the other, leading to battery drains and imbalances. Overall, in spite of its effectiveness when ‘in action’, the 6S model could use some work.
Quality and Build
At just 8-ounces, the headset is extremely lightweight, which makes for a comfortable wear. However, it does also give the device a bit of a cheaper feel, as the 6S feels kind of insubstantial when held in hand. After several hours of use, the ear cups and ear pads, which seal really well, can cause a bit of a sweat build up. Nothing too terrible, but it is something that you’re likely to encounter if using the 6S for extended periods of time. The low-profile and adjustable headband fits well under hats and accommodates the use of safety glasses without a hitch. It is a comfortable headband, but like the rest of the model is made primarily of a plastic material, which gives it an inexpensive look and feel. Overall, the 6S holds up well over time (I’ve owned a pair for years that saw no significant wear or damage), and is comfortable to wear, but doesn’t exactly scream ‘quality’ when looked at or held in hand.
The Peltor 6S Active is a hearing protective device that set new standards in noise reduction and sound amplification in the gun community and is still a solid option today if you’re looking for a inexpensive choice in a gun safety headset. However, the model is not without its flaws, and it has been surpassed by newer models that can offer features such as an auto-turnoff safety, easily accessed battery compartments, a single/low-profile knob that controls the entire headset, sweat-proof headbands and ear cups, etc. Ultimately, the 6S active can serve you well, but in 2016 there isn’t much reason to settle for an inferior hearing protection device.