An Evolution in Hearing Protection

The Axil TRACKR BLU represents the latest in hearing protection technology — just what range enthusiasts are looking for.

An Evolution in Hearing Protection

The units were used extensively by writers at a Bergara event not long ago and received rave reviews.

Gather a group of firearm enthusiasts around an evening table and it doesn’t take long for conversations to cover everything from a favorite gun’s performance, pet cartridges, longest shots and more. The gear and experiences discussed will vary widely, even escalating into debate, but mentions of the two mandatory safety items on every firing line are unicorn-scarce. 

Eye protection has been known to surface, but only because today’s ANSI Z87+-rated shades are Joe Cool good-looking, both at the range and out on the town. Hearing protection, on the other hand, is the ugly stepchild. 

The inventories found at many tactical retailers reflect that fact. Experienced shooters rarely shop or upgrade hearing protection once they find something they can afford that works for them. It’s not a big seller that demands lots of shelf space and merchandising effort. That’s changing, though, and it could be quicker than you expect. 

Sea Change

Hearing protection’s primary mission is to prevent potentially damaging levels of sound from reaching the wearer’s ears. Those foamies, muffs, plugs and buds do yeoman’s work, but it’s not glamorous duty. The headlines were even short-lived when the advanced electronics to clip harmful noise without compromising the ability to hear range commands and conversation first arrived years ago. 

Despite the relative lack of attention, manufacturers never abandoned their search for improved performance, better noise protection and reduced size. High-tech features are commonplace now, getting better by the year and available at prices considered modest for the same features only a few years ago. 

The face of shooting sports has changed dramatically, though, and the industry is at a historic crossroad. Millions purchased their first firearm in 2020 and 2021, and many of those new owners are shopping again, eager to add cutting-edge accessories. It’s an all-new demographic that includes many who grew up in an era when upgrading electronics annually was almost mandatory. Pique their interest in higher-performance hearing protection and it could pay dividends at the cash register. 

Understanding the advances and advantages are key. A look at the features squeezed into Axil’s TRACKR BLU provides a solid snapshot of the performance available today, and why it may be time to rethink your hearing protection inventory.

Electronics First

There’s impressive wizardry in TRACKR BLU’s circuitry, backed by solid mechanics. Noises detected by its dual microphones — one in each earpiece — above 82 decibels compress to safe levels in 0.02 seconds. 

The engineers didn’t forget one of the most critical physical components, either. Loud sound can outflank electronics by seeping through and around any earpiece’s seal. To minimize that risk, these units have supple cushions that measure a generous .47 inch in height. In testing, they provided a comfortable seal, even during long range sessions. 

At home, with the circuitry turned off, the dog’s painfully loud barking was barely audible. Combined with a tight seal that lacks a cheek-puckering, vice-like grip, it’s a refreshing change. 

To activate the unit, simply turn the generous-sized rotary switch, found toward the rear on the left headphone housing. It produces an audible and palpable click when the electronics launch. Turning it further adjusts volume of external sound in both speakers.

The switch is situated in a recessed groove, another nice touch to minimize inadvertent adjustment. Only a small bit of the knob rises above the earcup housing.

Forward of that switch is a thinner adjustment dial. It lacks that familiar on/off position, but it also rotates to adjust volume from another source — Bluetooth.

A pair of AAA batteries supply power for the TRACKR BLU. Rechargeables were used in testing, and they ran without a problem.
A pair of AAA batteries supply power for the TRACKR BLU. Rechargeables were used in testing, and they ran without a problem.


The TRACKR BLU features a Bluetooth 5.0 receiver. To launch it, simply depress and hold the small button on the rear of the left ear cup. Release after one second and an adjacent blue LED will start to blink, indicating it’s discoverable and ready for pairing. A light audible “beep” also emits from the headphones. Naturally, the earmuffs must be on before beginning the operation. 

Setting it up with an Apple iPhone was crazy fast and headache free. Music came through clearly and volume adjusted with ease. The fidelity sounded great to these untrained ears. 

Phone calls did likewise, something this all-new generation of shooters will undoubtedly appreciate. Testing did not include all the features of Bluetooth, but they include a long list of shortcuts. For example, a short press of that activation button will pause or restart music. 

The same fast tap answers incoming calls. If you want to end a call or reject one, hold the button down for a longer period. Call waiting and hold are also at your fingertips with the earmuffs. 

Added Versatility

A 3.5 mm phono jack is also located on the same side of the hearing protection. It allows connection to non-Bluetooth devices, including radios and other electronics.

That, of course, adds an external wire to the setup. If your store has a range, you might consider its two-way-radio application, despite that added bulk. 

RSOs need to know instantly if the range needs to go cold or announce to the staff when it goes hot. Cell phones are slow, even when texting or using speed dial. Radios are a good option, especially in locations with multiple firing lines and distance between. 

Today’s two-way radios are technological wonders that deliver cutting-edge performance. It’s rare, however, to find budget-friendly versions with Bluetooth. The decent ones rarely lack a headphone jack. 

Power Supply

A pair of AAA batteries supply power for TRACKR BLUs. They hide in a compartment high on the right-hand speaker exterior. 

Naturally, alkaline batteries provide the maximum output at that voltage, but two lower-capacity AAA Duracell NiMH cells went in for testing. There were no problems encountered. It’s a nice advantage for those who prefer the reusable approach.

Leaving the test unit on for 24 hours didn’t kill the batteries, either. Considering the rechargeables store fewer milliamp hours and I couldn’t find any mention of an auto-off circuit, it’s obvious these things sip energy with enviable efficiency. 

Supple and comfortable seals at the speakers measured .47 inch, uncompressed, and provided a tight seal in testing.
Supple and comfortable seals at the speakers measured .47 inch, uncompressed, and provided a tight seal in testing.

Other Uses

There’s no shortage of more routine uses for TRACKR BLUs around the house. For example, they provide ideal hearing protection when riding the lawn tractor without surrendering the ability for family members to punch a message through should an emergency arise. Add the occasional need to chain saw or use other noisy power equipment and it’s a value-added bonus for customers.

That’s not where these things really shine, though. They are designed for range use, even abuse, and provide the kind of comfort, performance and versatility that’ll catch the attention of today’s new generation of enthusiasts. 

Uncompromising Construction

Let’s face facts. Most earmuffs that fit an adult occupy a lot of real estate in a range bag. TRACKR BLUs fold down to 4.5x4.75x3.5 inches. 

They also weigh only 10.13 ounces, without batteries. That, coupled with generous padding on the headband, ensures comfortable, all-day wear. They are also sweat- and water-resistant. 

Part of that weight shavings is in the earcups. Polymer keeps them lightweight, but it’s thicker than most models on the market and seems to be extremely durable. Despite dozens of range sessions the test versions survived in 12 months, scratching is minimal.

They’re fully adjustable and the wire frame ensures longevity. The slim profile didn’t compromise cheek weld during testing, which is a very unusual asset for earmuffs capable of 27 decibels of noise reduction. 

Final Thoughts

The only complaint found in testing is the effort required to remove the battery compartment lid. Axil wisely reinforced a wire that runs nearby, but that added padding requires taking the cover off carefully. That’s nitpicky, especially considering battery life. 

The TRACKR BLU performed flawlessly in testing. It’s comfortable on the range and allows conversations to be heard clearly—even in wind. It’s an ideal option for all those new gun owners finally shopping for upgrades. 

Veteran enthusiasts who don’t take a close look at them are missing out on a versatile approach to maintaining hearing health while adding convenience and versatility. These and many of the other cutting-edge models available today might be a smart addition to a tactical retailer’s inventory. If for no other reason, it allows your customers to check comfort, cheek weld and fit — all the things they can’t do if they order online. 


Manufacturer: Axil

Model: Axil TRACKR BLU

Hearing Protection: 27 DB (SNR)

Weight: 10.13 ounces (without batteries)

Compressed size: 4.5x4.75x3.5 inches

Response Time: .02 seconds

Power Source: Two AAA Batteries (included)

Other: Bluetooth 5.0. 3.5 mm auxiliary jack, wire frame

MSRP: $159.99



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