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Can You Use Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones for Shooting?

Can You Use Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones for Shooting?

Bose noise-canceling headphones are outfitted with speakers that transmit sound and microphones for having conversations. Because earmuffs or some sort of ear protection is typically required anytime you visit a shooting range or want to block out the sound of your gun while hunting to avoid ear damage, you may be wondering if Bose headphones can be just as effective.

You cannot use Bose noise-canceling headphones for shooting. The soundwaves from the gunshots could impact the headphones’ hardware, making it impossible to use for music. And if it doesn’t harm your headphones right away, it could weaken the hardware, opening it up to damage in the future. 

Continue reading to learn more about why you shouldn’t use Bose’s noise-canceling headphones for shooting and which noise-canceling headphones you can use for this activity. Remember: just because something is labeled as “noise-canceling” does not mean it can withstand all sound.   

Are Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones Good for Shooting?

Noise-canceling headphones can only block out sounds that reach a certain threshold. Mid-tier Bose noise-canceling headphones generally can block out up to 22 decibels of sound. So, for the most part, they can filter out:

  • Light rain
  • Breathing
  • Rustling leaves
  • Box fans
  • Whispers
  • Library ambiance

A gunshot measures about 120 decibels, which is ten times more than what Bose noise-canceling headphones can block, so they are not ideal for shooting.

Not only would you hear the gunshot through your headphones, but as I mentioned earlier, the sound could damage your headphones’ internal hardware.

Noise-Masking vs. Noise-Canceling vs. Noise-Blocking

In the course of your research, you may have come across these phrases:

  • Noise-making
  • Noise-canceling
  • Noise-blocking

However, they do not mean the same thing. While looking for headphones that you can use for music and/or shooting, here’s what you need to know about the differences between the three:


Noise-blocking headphones filter out sound by:

  • Using thick padding around the ears
  • Supplying music that’s louder than external sounds
  • Create suction around the headphone and your ear

As noted, these headphones actively do nothing to block out sound. In fact, Bose notes that any garden-variety headphone can be considered noise-blocking since it creates a physical barrier around your ear and its surroundings.


Bose prides itself on having invented noise-canceling technology. Once its noise-canceling headphones detect noise above a certain decibel, it actively works to reduce the sound. It does this through its design, sensors, and other configurations.

Noise cancelation is widely regarded as a safe technology for general use under a certain decibel range, which is currently under the safe decibel range for shooting.


Everyone’s brain registers sound similarly. Noise-masking registers noise and then emits a signal that works with how your inner car detects sound. Bose notes that many of the headphones and earbuds it makes for sleeping utilize this technology.

So the question remains: which of these headphones are best for shooting? The answer is noise-canceling headphones. However, be sure to look at the specs before buying, as not all headphones are created equal.

Does Bose Make Headphones that Can Withstand Loud Noises?

Bose does make headphones that can withstand loud noises. However, keep in mind that these models are usually more expensive.

For instance, suppose that you have a long plane ride ahead of you, and you want to filter out the engine’s sound. In that instance, consider the following:

Type of HeadphonesDecibel Limit
Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones 700100 decibels to 112 decibels
Sony WH-1000XM4101 to 105 decibels
Bose QuietComfort 35 IIAbout 100 decibels

It’s important to know that no product on today’s market can completely eliminate sound. Also: just because these devices can block out most sound does not mean that you can use them for shooting. They can still suffer damage when a firearm discharges, invalidating the warranty and risking your safety.

What Headphones Are Good for Shooting?

You should play it safe and get headphones that are exclusively for shooting. These devices undergo months (if not years) of testing before they reach the market. Not only are they supposed to block out the sounds of gunshots, but more importantly, protect your ears.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association notes that the headphones you should use depend on the firearm. So, for instance, if you’re shooting a .22 pistol, that will create 140 decibels of sound–well above the recommended limit. Rifles, shotguns, and high-powered pistols can generate noise of up to 170 decibels–nearly as loud as a jet engine.

The following headphones are designed to reduce noise from firearms:

Walker’s Game Ear Razor Slim Electronic Muff

Walker’s Game Ear Razor Slim Electronic Muff uses noise-canceling technology. But how is that different from what Bose does? Simple; headphones made for shooting emit low-frequency sound waves that counteract incoming sound. That’s why many shooting headphones require batteries.

Headphones for music, however, are inherently noise-bocking because of their shape. That’s why garden-variety Bose headphones can withstand 20 decibels of sound, while the Walker’s Game Ear Razor Slim Electronic Muff can endure over 90 decibels—perfect for pistol users. It even reduces noise by 23 decibels, muffling otherwise harsh sounds.

Shooting Earmuff from Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact

Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff activates noise-canceling technology when it registers sound over 82 decibels. Like the product I listed above, it also reduces sound by 23 decibels, making it perfect for intense shooting with firearms such as rifles, shotguns, and high-powered pistols.

I also appreciate that it gets over 350 hours of battery life and comes with an aux port, so you can listen to music while you shoot. Unlike Bose headphones, you won’t risk breaking the device by shooting a few rounds.


For your safety, you should not use Bose noise-canceling headphones when shooting—even if you opted for a more expensive model. Not only could gunshots damage its internal mechanisms, but they could also permanently damage your ear. You’re better off using noise-canceling headphones designed for the sport.