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Warbird Intrepid BT – Upgraded Ear Protection for Pros

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In the modern land of electronic ear protection there’s really three camps: the entry-level protection for casual shooters, the mid-level items for heavier volume shooters and the premium-priced, top-of-the line gear for professionals and those who closely guard their health. While the entry level will always be dominated by the least expensive options, WarBird has opted to provide a higher quality product aimed at the more serious shooter who needs a higher level of protection and functionality. Does the Intrepid BT achieve the standard needed to fight for market space? Read on..

Tech Specs:

  • Bluetooth Enabled
  • NRR 23dB
  • Two Omnidirectional Microphones
  • Full Dynamic Range HD Speakers for Clear, Balanced Sound (40mm, 20 ohm)
  • High-Definition Sound Effects
  • Low Frequency Tuned for Natural Sound Clarity
  • Sound Dampening Composite Housing
  • Sound Active Compression – 0.01 Second Reaction Time
  • HiFi Audio Input Jack – 3.5mm
  • Positive Response Power, Volume and Select Buttons
  • TPU Covered Gel Ear Pad
  • Comfort Headband with Metal Frame
  • USB Charging Port (Rechargeable)
  • Semi-Rigid Case Included

Let’s dissect the specs a little. The total Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 23dB places the Intrepid BT ahead of the popular Howard Leight (HL) Impact Sport ear pro and a little behind the Peltor 500. NRR isn’t the whole story though, so let’s keep going.

The Intrepid BT comes standard with gel ear cups, which is so often not included on ear pro, that a whole secondary market selling upgrades has popped up. These ear cups are pretty comfortable, fitting my head well. A tiny break in the seal can ruin your ear pro’s NRR, so this is pretty damn important. As an added bonus, this is the least sweat-inducing set of gel cups I’ve worn, keeping me from getting swampy during a 95° F range day. Furthermore, these cups work better with shooting glasses than most, keeping a seal despite the legs of the glasses intruding.

The Intrepid BT uses digital compression circuitry with a really fast response time. While I do prefer analogue circuitry for sound quality, the Intrepid BT gives far less white noise and tinny sound quality than the HL Impact Sport Bolt digital set I’ve used for years.

WarBird’s ear pro has a rechargeable battery that does indeed last the ~8 hours between recharges, which is done through a micro-usb and achieved in under two hours. I may prefer a usb-c port, but this is a system done well.

The feature that really sets the Intrepid BT apart from the entry-level options is the BT, for Bluetooth. Yep, you can listen to music while you’re shooting or working. You can take a hands-free phone call as you’re walking down to check targets. This is an option I’ve increasingly come to enjoy having. That really kicks off the “hands-on” section.

As a gun writer and homesteader, I have long days alone on the property, whether I’m shooting a series of guns, using the chainsaw and log splitter, or running the tractor for hours at a time. Having good protection for my remaining hearing, and also having Axl Rose and crew keep me company while I’m working, has made the days go by faster and more enjoyably.

WarBird Intrepid BTWarBird Intrepid BT

That is why for the last couple years I’ve had the Peltor 500’s on so often. These 500’s (more than the Walker’s and Howard Leight’s of the world) are what I see as the main competition to the WarBird BT. Peltor comes in about $40 more expensive, and with a few decibels better NRR. So why would I choose the Intrepid BT over the Peltor 500 now that I have both (along with many others)?

The answer is comfort. Besides working better with eye pro, the Intrepid BT is more comfortable. The best protection is the one you’ll actually wear. I didn’t realize it until I was three hours deep into a range session, but I hadn’t taken the Intrepid BT off, even when I was walking down to check targets. My head wasn’t squished, and my jaw wasn’t hurting.  It was kind of weird to be without the burgeoning discomfort in my skull.

Choices, Choices.

The electronic ear protection market is rife with options. Besides the major players mentioned above, there’s countless lesser-known options springing up every day. It can take a lot for a company without an established brand name and market recognition to break in. I really think WarBird is making a strong salient into the fray with the Intrepid BT.

While $149 is going to turn off the casual shooters and the “good enough” crowd, those who need a higher quality of product would do well to check these out. Losing your hearing is one mistake you want to avoid, and good ear protection is worth the cost. And it’s definitely cheaper than hearing aids!

Warbird’s Intrepid BT sells for $149 on their website. They also offer eye protection and body armor. Check em out!

Jens “Rex Nanorum” Hammer

@Rexnanorum

 



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