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10/30/2020 2:42:12 PM
Posted: 6/7/2003 2:39:56 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/7/2003 2:40:46 AM EST by Austrian]
Occasionally I do consulting for a foreign counter-terrorist unit as well as for a certain foreign military.  Often this takes the form of equipment review.

Recently I had the opportunity to review several of Peltor's "ComTac" electronic hearing protection units.  You can find their online description here: www.aearo.com/html/products/peltor/comtac.htm



Peltor claims these units can be worn under standard helmets and used seamlessly with radio communications gear.

The unit interested in electronic hearing protection has been new exploring hearing protection for entry teams who might employ rifles indoors during operations and therefore be subject to hearing damage if forced to discharge their weapons.  They are currently dissatisifed with their hearing protection solutions.

I acquired 4 of the units with PTT assembly (attached to the weapon pistol grip), and throat microphones.  I tested each one briefly before "borrowing" 3 members of an entry team to do some entry and tactical combat training tests.

The units take 2 "AA" batteries.  Peltor claims 250 hours of operation between battery changes.

Stereo microphones are intended to give the user directional hearing.

Auto cut-out is activated with any impact type sound that rises to levels that may cause hearing damage.  Peltor claims sub .01 second response time.

The ComTac units have a Noise Reduction Rating ("NRR") of 25 dB.

Audio input was from Motorola Saber ASTRO radios via the J22 jack built into the ComTacs.

Testing included running two entry courses, force on force exercises with weapons training simulators and one tactical carbine combat course at unit training facilities.  Weapons used included 14.5" M4 type weapons and Sig 551/552 rifles live for the entry courses and the combat course, modified for safe weapons simulation during the force on force exercise.  One team member ran the combat course with an AUG.  I don't know the barrel length that was used.

Assembly required only plugging in the audio jacks and attaching the PTT buttons to the individual weapons.  The ComTacs themselves worked with no effort aside from battery installation (which was simple) right out of the box.

All the testers observed that after an initial "get used to them" period the ComTacs were very comfortable to wear.  The ear cushions are soft and flexible and provide a good consistent seal around the ears- even with hair/face masks and protective goggles/glasses in place.

This was the first muff-type hearing protection unit that did not disrupt my cheek weld with the M4 or the Sig 551.  As Peltor claims, the units fit well under kevlar helmets.

The ComTac units actually AUGMENT hearing significantly.  Stereo sound is seamless and does not seem artificial.  Direction finding via hearing is intuitive and precise.  On several occasions I found myself checking to see if the unit was actually on because hearing was so true-to-life.  Hearing becomes alarmingly acute when using the units.

The tactical combat course is judged by several instructors who make ratings on use of cover and weapons handling.  It is their habit to chat verbally about the team members during and after each run.  The joke quickly became the oft heard call "I heard that" from the operators who could easily hear even the low-level or whispered voices of the judges from across the course.  The augmented hearing gave our team a SIGNIFICANT advantage in the force on force exercise as well.

Power on and power off switches are intuitive and easy to effect, as is the volume control.  The highest volume setting is, actually, too high and one team member was driven almost mad by the sound of a mosquito buzzing "right inside my ear muffs."  The insect proved to be 6 feet away.

Ambient sound is reduced 30 dB when radio audio is received.  This seemed initially a good feature but repeated radio chatter (as with entry drills) often seemed to reduce the level of situational awareness as a result.  It would be nice to be able to turn this feature off.  I suspect though that I have this opinion only after being spoiled by the superhuman hearing given by the ComTacs.  Other than this small consideration, radio integration was flawless.

The units proved quite durable.  We attempted to break one through duty-type abuse but succeeded only in breaking the chin strap of our team members helmet.  (And irritating the team member).  Dropping units repeatedly from 6 feet onto the ear cup resulted in minor cosmetic damage to the surface finish but no interruption in proper operation.

We tried some limited operations in water environments.  While complete emersion of the units in water appears a bad idea, heavy rain, spray or other environmental water encounters appear to be no issue for the ComTacs.

One unit appeared to have a "software lockup" on the second day of straight use and could not decide if it was on or off.  The problem was resolved and did not re-appear by removing and then immediately replacing the batteries.  (A Cold reboot?)

Battery replacement is accomplished by removing a large screw which holds the battery trap-door closed.  This screw can usually be easily tightened or (if too tight) loosened by hand or with the rim on a 5.56 casing.

Joke of the week (after last exercise of day 1, team members socializing, discussing where to go for after-action drinks):

Member #1 of Combat Team: "Hey [Member #2 of Combat Team], why do you still have those on?"
Member #2: [Bemused look]
Member #1: [Makes gesture to both ears]
Member #2: "Oh.  Wow.  I forgot I was wearing them."

Summary:  Peltor's ComTacs are outstanding electronic hearing protection.  They are slim and light and the only units I have worn that do not interfere with good cheekwelds on combat rifle buttstocks.  As Peltor claims they fit perfectly under standard kevlar helmets with no modification.  The stereo super-hearing properties you acquire by wearing the ComTacs are addictive.  Beware.

Damaging sound is immediately and seamlessly filtered out with no discomfort.  Radio features were outstanding, though the ambient noise cut-down seems slightly robust this is a small complaint.  Range instructions are clearly heard and team coordination was easily accomplished via radio.

9.5/10 (.5 deducted for over-robust cut-out of ambient sound when radio audio recieved).
Link Posted: 6/10/2003 5:28:07 AM EST
I agree. I have used a pair for about two yrs and feel that they are the best. I definitely understand the joke. I put mine on at the start of a class in the morning and only take them off for lunch. I have worn them solid for up to ten hrs and they felt great. The only negative is the high cost for civilians. The ability to add a mike and radio interface is great, but again very cost prohibitive for personal use. They are a durable quality product.
Link Posted: 6/10/2003 8:12:53 AM EST
Austrian,
Thanks for the great review!
Link Posted: 6/12/2003 7:29:45 PM EST
I have the Peltor Tac-7s and love them. However, looking at the pictures of the ComTac, I have a hard time believing that they would work well (cheekweld) with a CAR15 flat-top with Aimpoint.

I tried my Tac-7s with my pre-ban CAR15 flat-top with Aimpoint a few weeks ago and the banging and clanging along with not being able to "get down" where I could see through the Aimpoint led me to convert to plugs.

The ComTac look "fat" at the bottom (fatter looking than my Tac-7), leading me to assume that they would only work if you had a tall riser for the scope to mount on (or don't use a flat-top)!
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 4:35:21 AM EST
Originally Posted By LenS:
I have the Peltor Tac-7s and love them. However, looking at the pictures of the ComTac, I have a hard time believing that they would work well (cheekweld) with a CAR15 flat-top with Aimpoint.

I tried my Tac-7s with my pre-ban CAR15 flat-top with Aimpoint a few weeks ago and the banging and clanging along with not being able to "get down" where I could see through the Aimpoint led me to convert to plugs.

The ComTac look "fat" at the bottom (fatter looking than my Tac-7), leading me to assume that they would only work if you had a tall riser for the scope to mount on (or don't use a flat-top)!
View Quote

I used them with great effect with a Flattop AR with 3x24 Compact ACOG. I have the ACOG as far back on the weapon as it can go, nearly flush with the flip-up rear site. I index my cheek weld by putting my nose on the weapon's charging handle. These are the ONLY muff-style hearing protectors electronic or not that have not interfered with my cheekweld in this setup- including the other Peltors.
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 9:37:45 AM EST
Link Posted: 6/17/2003 5:48:18 AM EST
Excellent review. I'm afraid to ask.......How Much?
Link Posted: 6/17/2003 6:12:02 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/17/2003 6:49:41 AM EST by Corey]
I recently purchased a pair and have been extremely impressed with them.  I also wear them while mowing the lawn.  (EDITED to add: Does this make me a Lawn Ninja?  [:D])

Impressions:

- I never knew there were so many birds chirping at our range.

- I can hear a rattling piece of metal on the handle of my mower while mowing the lawn.  The reduced sound of the mower drowns out sounds from further away, though I haven't had anyone yell at me while mowing (I'll have to check on that as I'd like to be aware of kids/dogs/etc. around me when I mow).

- When I'm moving through the house with them on, not only can I hear people in the next room, I can also hear the refrigerator, dogs walking across the hardwood floor, etc.

- There are 4 volume levels and I often find myself turning it down as for general use the highest setting is fairly annoying, though for tactical use it would be extremely beneficial.

- Very well constructed.  The BMW of hearing protection.

- I could never get a good cheekweld with my rifles and muffs.  Usually I'd wear a plug in my right ear as the muff would get slightly pushed off by the stock.  I've never had this problem with the ComTacs, though I was skeptical about this at first.  I was very impressed with the cheekweld with irons, Aimpoint M2 and scope on an AR15.

- Cost is $200.  I got mine through Botach with prompt delivery and good service (I called and spoke with a rep. before ordering).

I recommend these highly for range work, IDPA and home defense (I figure if I have time to grab my rifle out of the safe, I should have time to throw the ComTac's on).  I will be getting my wife a pair very soon.

Great review Austrian!  You've obviously put these through their paces and have given me the confidence that if I ever need them in a tight situation, they're perform as advertised (or better).
Link Posted: 6/21/2003 6:54:45 PM EST
Originally Posted By Corey:
I recently purchased a pair and have been extremely impressed with them.  I also wear them while mowing the lawn.  (EDITED to add: Does this make me a Lawn Ninja?  [:D])
...
Great review Austrian!  You've obviously put these through their paces and have given me the confidence that if I ever need them in a tight situation, they're perform as advertised (or better).
View Quote

We beat on them pretty hard.  With the exception of the one "software (?)" error that was corrected by removing and replacing batteries they would just not give up the ghost.

I also got the first set from Botach (check to see if they are in stock first- I guess Botach will take orders that you have to wait on for months on occasion).  They arrived early.  I was surprised. ~$215 for the basic unit as I remember.  I played with them a bit before ordering more for full testing.
Link Posted: 6/24/2003 3:38:55 AM EST
i'd been interested in picking up a pair of these. Definitely sold on them now, thanks for the review. [beer]
Link Posted: 6/24/2003 10:30:15 AM EST
I have a pair of these and they are great! I'm waiting on the commo package from lightfighter.com. They don't fit under my PASGT helmet though. Other than that they are the S&it! I guess their are other helmets they do fit under.

mrf2
Link Posted: 6/24/2003 11:41:23 AM EST
Originally Posted By Mrf2:
I have a pair of these and they are great! I'm waiting on the commo package from lightfighter.com. They don't fit under my PASGT helmet though. Other than that they are the S&it! I guess their are other helmets they do fit under.

mrf2
View Quote


What's the "commo package" that Lightfighter will be offering?

I don't know much about radios, etc., but would like a few prepackaged options for hooking commo up to these.
Link Posted: 6/24/2003 5:35:55 PM EST
The commo hook up is a boom mic or thoat mic that hooks up to the headset and then to a PTT box/radio addapter. There are several styles of mic and at least two styles of PTT switches (waterproof and not). I got my boom mike from another source but I'm waiting on the PTT box/radio addapter from lightfighter.com. They come set up for most types of radios. The mics tend to cost about $50-100 depending and the PTT swiches seem to be under $200. The finished set up is really nifty becuase you can use your radio in addition to enjoying the benifts of amplified hearing protection. If the battries die in the com-tac you can still use the radio fuction as well.

mrf2
Link Posted: 7/3/2003 8:38:14 PM EST
Austrian,

Good review of an excellent product.  They definitely fit under the MICH and there are no problems with cheekweld on the 870/M4/Mk12/M14.
Link Posted: 7/6/2003 12:32:11 PM EST
Originally Posted By Austrian:
Originally Posted By LenS:
I have the Peltor Tac-7s and love them. However, looking at the pictures of the ComTac, I have a hard time believing that they would work well (cheekweld) with a CAR15 flat-top with Aimpoint.

I tried my Tac-7s with my pre-ban CAR15 flat-top with Aimpoint a few weeks ago and the banging and clanging along with not being able to "get down" where I could see through the Aimpoint led me to convert to plugs.

The ComTac look "fat" at the bottom (fatter looking than my Tac-7), leading me to assume that they would only work if you had a tall riser for the scope to mount on (or don't use a flat-top)!
View Quote

I used them with great effect with a Flattop AR with 3x24 Compact ACOG. I have the ACOG as far back on the weapon as it can go, nearly flush with the flip-up rear site. I index my cheek weld by putting my nose on the weapon's charging handle. These are the ONLY muff-style hearing protectors electronic or not that have not interfered with my cheekweld in this setup- including the other Peltors.
View Quote


Regarding CHEEKWELD: Do you feel they would be good candidates for the use on the bench sighting in hunting rifles? Or do you have any experience with same?  
Link Posted: 7/8/2003 12:58:26 AM EST
Originally Posted By DocGKR:
Austrian,

Good review of an excellent product.  They definitely fit under the MICH and there are no problems with cheekweld on the 870/M4/Mk12/M14.
View Quote




Good to see you around these parts, DocGKR!
Link Posted: 7/8/2003 4:51:25 AM EST
[Last Edit: 7/8/2003 4:52:07 AM EST by Lion_Dog]
Originally Posted By urbankaos04:
Originally Posted By DocGKR:
Austrian,

Good review of an excellent product.  They definitely fit under the MICH and there are no problems with cheekweld on the 870/M4/Mk12/M14.
View Quote




Good to see you around these parts, DocGKR!
View Quote


DOC - thanks, what is MICH? Can you recommend best/cheapest vendor?
Link Posted: 7/14/2003 9:21:40 AM EST
DOC - thanks, what is MICH? Can you recommend best/cheapest vendor?
View Quote

[url]http://www.lightfighter.com/item.html?PRID=1109960[/url]

[url]http://lightfighter.net/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&s=7336015661&f=9046084761&m=8466052012[/url]
Worth EVERY penny![shock]
Link Posted: 7/17/2003 2:51:20 AM EST
OK... I bought a pair and they are *cool*, light and when worn about the house (testing for familiarity) are GREAT. [wow].

I CAN'T wait to try them at the range!

Thank you [b]Austrian[/b] for the great review and direction.

L_D
Link Posted: 11/22/2003 6:44:38 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/22/2003 6:45:02 PM EST by billclo]
Has anyone run across problems with the low noise reduction rating (20DB)of these?  I have a pair of ProEar electronic muffs that only reduced 20DB, and during fun house work, didn't seem up to the task of keeping the blast down.  I also used these at work (running high speed stamping presses), and they simply didn't work as well as plugs. I had to stop using them, because I was still getting some ringing in the ears.

Are there any units out there that 1) reduce DB more than 20, 2) don't interfere with stock weld like the full-width units do, 3) attenuate the sound, instead of cutting out entirely?
Link Posted: 11/22/2003 6:59:29 PM EST
I was fine with mine outdoors w/ .45's and 5.56's.

Then I went to an indoor range and noticed everyone else had plugs under their standard (28 db) non-electronic muffs.

I put some plugs under mine (after an abusive hour), and the electronics still helped me hear with the muffs in.

Unfortunately, I think part of the low profile gig is giving up some db reduction.

I went from a cushy pair of Peltor's with 28 db reduction, for the ComTac's and don't regret my decision.  But I also realize that I'll probably need to supplement with plugs a bit sooner.
Link Posted: 11/23/2003 4:11:38 PM EST
Originally Posted By billclo:
Has anyone run across problems with the low noise reduction rating (20DB)of these?  I have a pair of ProEar electronic muffs that only reduced 20DB, and during fun house work, didn't seem up to the task of keeping the blast down.  I also used these at work (running high speed stamping presses), and they simply didn't work as well as plugs. I had to stop using them, because I was still getting some ringing in the ears.

Are there any units out there that 1) reduce DB more than 20, 2) don't interfere with stock weld like the full-width units do, 3) attenuate the sound, instead of cutting out entirely?
View Quote


Outdoors even with a fireteam with carbines: no problem.
Indoors: add the lowest NRR plugs under you can find and you will be fine and still get the benefit of the amplification.
Link Posted: 11/23/2003 6:55:02 PM EST
Thanks, Austrian, I'll try that.
Link Posted: 11/24/2003 6:57:28 AM EST
Originally Posted By billclo:
Thanks, Austrian, I'll try that.
View Quote


No problem at all.
Link Posted: 11/28/2003 8:14:02 PM EST
Guess I'm the dissenting voice here.  I have had my ComTac for over 2 years and found it only a hair above average.  I have used Peltor T6 and T7s as well as ProEars.  I would rate the ComTacs 2nd place behind the T6, which is what I use regularly.

The ComTac auto-shut off circutry is annoying.  After 2 hours of use, it will beep twice and turn itself off.  There is no work around unless you like to push the volume buttons while on the range.  When I first tested the unit we (tech support at Peltor) and I throught there were problems with the units (we went through three of them before an engineer told use the circuits were built to cut out at 2 hours).  For $200+, I expected better.

On the ComTacs you MUST make sure the cups seal properly around your ears.  I have never had to do this with the T6, T7 or ProEars.  Another irritation.

The wires on either side of the ear cups are annoying and seem more obtrusive than the T6/T7s (thicker cables?).

I don't like the cut off system, I prefer an attuenated sound suppression.  What this means is if you are having a conversation when the cutoff circuit kicks in, you can't hear ANYTHING.  In an attunated system, the loud noise would be reduced and allow you to hear other sounds.  ProEars have better electronics in this respect.

PLUS
It has a more comfortable headstrap.
Plastic sheet inside the ear cups protect components better.
I like the 2AA battery.
Battery life is impressive.

I reach for my T6s more than the ComTacs.  In shoot houses and indoors, when running ARs, I must run double plugs b/c none of the units offer enough protection.

In short, it is a lot of $$ to spend for moderate protection.
Link Posted: 11/28/2003 8:16:59 PM EST
One more comment.

Peltor has EXCELLENT customer service.  I have had to send several units back for service/repair over the years and they always handle things efficiently.
Link Posted: 11/28/2003 9:00:42 PM EST
What do you guys think about the Peltor TACTICALPro

http://www.aearo.com/pdf/comm/tacticalpro_full_rev8.pdf

I think it is the replacement for the ComTac. It has 26 dBA reduction.
Link Posted: 12/7/2003 12:03:32 PM EST
Link Posted: 12/13/2003 9:53:55 AM EST
Looks like an updated unit in a T7 form factor.

I think one would have a little trouble shooting a long gun with the bulk of the headset.
Link Posted: 1/1/2004 1:33:18 PM EST
Botach offers the peltor tactical 7s with a neck-band for hat wearing.  I want to hunt and practice in the snow with the electronic muffs
I buy.
Is the neck band version a good choice?  They might be kinda heavy and slip.






Link Posted: 1/2/2004 8:41:08 AM EST
Friend has one, slips off often.
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