- Top Rated Shooting Safety Glasses
- The Importance of Eye Protection
- What Makes Shooting Glasses Effective?
- Understanding Eye Protection Standards
- Tips for Buying the Best Shooting Glasses
- Best Shooting Glasses Comparison Chart
- Bottom Line
Protective eyewear options for gun enthusiasts and shooters of all levels exist in abundance. Taking into account what makes the best shooting glasses, however, acceptable options become considerably narrowed down to just a few good ones. You obviously know that you need to protect your eyes while out on your shooting excursions, but where do you start with all the shooting glasses available at a very wide range of prices? What features are important and how do you know whether a certain pair of shooting glasses or brand will be effective? Will the pair you settle on and potentially spend a healthy sum on actually do its job of protecting you if and when it matters most? Below is a carefully selected collection of shooting glasses reviews by Shooting & Safety that aim to point you in the right direction in recommending premium protective eyewear that will give you the peace of mind you need. If you are hunting at night, have a look at our new post about the brightest flashlights in the market.
Top Rated Shooting Safety Glasses
- Smith Optics Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield Field Kit, Gray/Tan
- PRICE $$
- GLARE PROTECTION : Tapered Lens
- IMPACT PROTECTION : Uncompromising optics and coverage per ANSI Z87.1
- ESS Eyewear Crossbow Suppressor 2X Deluxe Kit, Black
- PRICE $$$
- GLARE PROTECTION : 100% UVA/UVB protection
- IMPACT PROTECTION : Complies with ANSI Impact Standards
- Wiley-X Saber Advanced Shooting Glasses
- PRICE $
- GLARE PROTECTION : All Wiley X lenses block 400 nanometers or 100% of the suns harmful UV rays
- IMPACT PROTECTION : N/A
Smith Optics Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield Field Kit, Gray/Tan
Featuring tapered lenses as a standard inclusion in what is expected of top-range shooting glasses, the Smiths Optics Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield Field Kit does well to correct any distortion that may arise. As expected further (for this price range), US MIL PRF-31013 standards are met, which translates into a pair of shooting glasses that does its job of protecting the shooters’ eyes well. Protection against impact is the main order of the day and every bit of the shooter’s eyes is covered well. A lot of innovation clearly went into the creation of this shooting eye protection kit, better referred to as an eye protection system. Shooters with average to large faces get a good range of sizes, ensuring a nice, comfortable and tight fit for use at the shooting range or for professional law enforcement deployment. The clear lenses work well for indoor shooting and they’re interchangeable with the tinted lenses for adequate outdoor brightness protection. The design of the carry case is great too, offering good protection for all the kit’s contents while in transition. These are protective shooting glasses that particularly work well for hunting because of the different protective options contained in the kit.
ESS Eyewear Crossbow Suppressor 2X Deluxe Kit, Black
This is another case of premium dollar buying you premium quality in shooting glasses, with the ESS Eyewear Crossbow Suppressor 2X Deluxe Kit striking a balance between wide-ranging fit (and the associated comfort) and genuine eye protection. You’d naturally expect to get the full UV A and UV B protection offered, but this pair of shooting glasses excels most notably in the physical protection it offers. The impressive array of standards it’s complicit with include U.S MIL-PRF 31013, CE EN 166, ANSI z87.1+ (naturally) and even U.S Federal OSHA requirements. In practice this means the shooting glasses will last long and will give your eyes some of the best protection currently available. Design principles have gone beyond attractive physical appearance with these ESS Crossbows however, because you can comfortably use them in conjunction with ear-cup type protective earmuffs. They were built for practical use in that way. Although offering a choice between three different lenses (Clear, High Definition Copper and Smoke Grey), the interchangeable smoke grey lenses aren’t polarized but are still effective at off-setting glare. The suppressor frame is also of a shorter length than its standard frame counterpart, but this only adds to the variety offered by what is an overall great pair of shooting glasses.
Wiley-X Saber Advanced Shooting Glasses
Adequate protection in shooting glasses doesn’t always have to come at a premium price. Case in point is the Wiley-X Saber Advanced pair of Shooting Glasses, which can be acquired for up to half of what other shooting glasses with same set of features offer. You get the durability that comes with shatterproof optics, which in itself is great protection against the potential permanent damage that could otherwise arise from high velocity object impact. No damaging fragments entering the eyes in case of breakage. Protection standards met include GL-PD 10-12 while MIL-PRF-31013 standards are superseded and physical eye protection and durability is reinforced by the nylon-based triloid frames. Vision protection is covered by the Wiley X guarantee of all their lenses blocking out 400 nanometers (100%) of the harmful Ultra-Violet rays of the sun. What’s good eye protection if it doesn’t fit, right? No fit and comfort issues with these Wileys, which also come with three different lenses, a strap as a possible replacement for the ear pieces and a case. Definitely what you’d call a bargain because you get everything a top-of-the-range pair of shooting glasses offers at a very nice price. The important consideration is adequate eye protection and that’s exactly what you get in the affordable shooting glasses price range.
- Oakley Radar Path Sunglasses
- PRICE $$$
- GLARE PROTECTION : 100% UV protection coating
- IMPACT PROTECTION : It meets ANSI Z87. 1 standard for both high mass and high-velocity impact resistance
- Smith Optics Hudson Tactical Sunglasses
- PRICE $$
- GLARE PROTECTION : Lenses provide 100% protection from harmful UVA/UVB/UVC
- IMPACT PROTECTION : Our Tactical Glasses meet US Military Spec MIL-PRF-31013,ANSI Z87.1
- Revision Military Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses
- PRICE $$
- GLARE PROTECTION : 100% protection from harmful UV-A, UV-B and UV-C rays100% of the suns harmful UV rays
- IMPACT PROTECTION : High-impact sunglasses exceeds ANSI Z87.1-2010 and meet U.S. military ballistic impact requirements for spectacles (MIL-PRF-31013, clause 184.108.40.206)
Oakley Radar Path Sunglasses
Oakley has long been known for their premium designs in eyewear, so much so that these Oakley Radar Path Sunglasses had the manufacturers quite reluctant to classify them exclusively as shooting glasses. These Radar Paths would do more than hold their own as pure protective shooting glasses, however, which is why the hefty price seems to baffle those consumers who don’t plan on using them as protective eyewear for shooting purposes. The fit is about as near-perfect as you get, comfortably embracing your eye-socket region while you move at speeds typically higher than those of someone engaged in shooting excursions would. From the point of view of a military man deployed in a real life situation, these Oakleys are very durable and offer great clarity. If you need more than that from a pair of shooting glasses, the standard lenses make these protective glasses great for everyday use while offering 100% harmful UV and blue light protection. Great protection from high-velocity and high-mass object impact as a result of the O-Matter frame design. The feature list goes on and on, but for shooting purposes this pair of Oakley’s fit, performance and design makes it great for prolonged shooting excursions, even though they’re not fully fogproof.
Smith Optics Hudson Tactical Sunglasses
Their fashionably good looks could have these Tactical Sunglasses by Smith Optics fit in with any contemporary outfit, but the keyword here is indeed ‘Tactical.’ Good looks are in no way a substitute for performance with these tactical sunglasses the manufacturers rightfully proclaim were specifically designed for law enforcement and military personnel. It doesn’t get all that much better than this as far as functional eye protection goes and you can rest assured your eyes are protected while you look good doing your job. For those who aren’t exactly employed in the military or law enforcement sectors, military grade protection is just about as good as it gets if you’re looking to protect your eyes during your shooting exploits. Lens tapering ensures you get optics that are free of any distortion while also benefiting from full protection from harmful UV-A, UV-B and UV-C rays. Perhaps most importantly though is the physical protection your eyes get as these tactical sunglasses satisfy the MIL-PRF-31010 US Military specification, which simply means they offer suitable impact resistance. Performance is aided by a good, comfortable fit as a result of the featherweight frame. If it’s good enough for military professionals, it’s probably good enough for you too.
Revision Military Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses
Any pair of ballistic sunglasses with the word ‘Military’ in their product name is worth taking a look at as possibly one of the best options in shooting glasses out there. These Revision Military Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses have the attractive appearance of any ordinary sunglasses a fashionista with a classic taste in style would be proud to wear, but what we’re concerned with is how they measure up as eye protection for shooters. You definitely get what you pay for with this pair, which in this case is a solid of (shooting) sunglasses. If you need some serious eye protection, these are the glasses for you as they also meet the US MIL-PRF-31013 (Military Ballistic Impact) standards. They’d then naturally exceed ANSI Z87.1-2010 standards, but the protection goes beyond providing ample cover for unexpected fragment impact, which is catered to by the complete eye-area cover design. 100% UV protection (UVA, UVB, and UVC) is taken care of by the polarized lenses, while the polycarbonate used in the 0.09 inch lenses ensures a very clear vision. These Revision Hellfly’s also offer an almost completely clear field of view with minimal to no obstructions to the shooter’s peripheral vision either. Very comfortable, functional, protective and durable shooting sunglasses.
The Importance of Eye Protection
There is no doubt about it, protecting your eyes while you’re out on your shooting excursions is crucial to preserving one of the most precious gifts of life, the gift of sight. At the very least you’d wear shooting glasses to prevent the slightest of eye injuries or irritations, but the best shooting glasses could go as far as saving your life, let alone your precious eye functionality. In the most extreme of shooting accident cases, good eye glasses can act as the last line of defense between something like a big metal chunk and its sharp edge penetrating your brains through your eye-sockets and very likely killing you. It’s a bit of a morbid picture to paint, but a very necessary one nonetheless because this highlights the sheer importance of eye protection. You need to protect your eyes at all times when handling firearms because accidents are often unexpected with dire, often irreversible consequences.
What Makes Shooting Glasses Effective?
It’s not enough to just buy a pair of shooting glasses and expect adequate protection in the event of an accident. Sure, you might feel that much more “protected” with a pair of cheap shooting glasses on, or any glasses for that matter, but all it takes is one accident to demonstrate to you just how ineffective your eye protection can be. That is not how you want to find out that your cheap pair of shooting glasses is ineffective, but what makes shooting glasses effective then?
Basically there are three things which come together to make any pair of shooting glasses effective and it all comes down to the protection they offer you, which include:
- Ballistics (Physical/Impact Protection)
- Elements (Environmental Factors)
- Fit & Comfort (Adequate Coverage)
The types of shooting accidents your protective glasses might have to protect you from typically include hazards such as blunt, sharp or fragmented objects flying at your face at velocities too high for your reflexes and instincts to protect you and so your shooting glasses should ultimately be effective in protecting you from the associated harm, or at the very least minimizing the injury and damage potentially suffered.
Physical (Ballistic) Protection
Ballistic protection is perhaps the most important aspect of what makes shooting glasses effective and it basically entails protection against the effects of impact. As mentioned earlier, shooting accidents or normal shooting events may result in high-velocity impact to the eye area, featuring hazardous objects such as fragmented flying pieces, solid pieces or a combination of both. So effective shooting glasses should be able to offer protection against such objects or at the very least limit the injury you might have suffered had you not have been wearing protective shooting glasses.
Elemental Protection (Environmental Conditions)
Good shooting glasses should go beyond ballistic protection and also offer your eyes and the surrounding eye area protection against the elements. Such environmental factors typically include harmful Ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun and perhaps the strain your eyes might take when required to see through the lenses of protective shooting glasses. Even if the you’re merely shooting at an indoor shooting range, your eyes would still need adequate protection from environmental factors such as dust particles, invisible and often overlooked and underestimated gun-powder residue, and perhaps even some liquid that could unexpectedly get sprayed in your eyes.
Fit & Comfort
Eye protection is only as good as when you actually have it on and so fit and comfort form a very important part of what makes shooting glasses effective. Comfortable-fitting shooting glasses are often a sign of shooting glasses which offer great cover and protection, so too ones that actually fit you properly and stay on in situation where you might have to run, jump, crawl, roll or move at higher speeds than someone who is shooting statically. Depending on the caliber of the gun you’re handling, the protection that comes with your shooting glasses can be compromised by the recoil, so you have to make sure they fit you well and stay on. Shooting glasses that are too tight might cause discomfort, skin irritation or even induce skin reactions, which isn’t a very pleasant forced reality to have to submit to in the name of ballistic and elemental protection.
Understanding Eye Protection Standards
Any gun enthusiast or shooter seeking protective shooting glasses can purchase them, but they have to be effective in actually providing the required protection. Ballistic protection is undoubtedly the most important consideration that goes into gauging the effectiveness of shooting glasses, as attested to by the standards required of shooting glasses used by the U.S. military. The need for effective shooting glasses probably doesn’t get better highlighted than through the practical deployment as per the U.S. military and other professional law enforcement fields. For this reason, certain standards have come into existence, which govern the type of quality required of shooting glasses to be considered for use by the military. This has resulted in the Army Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL), which simply lists eye protection products that have been tested to meet the ballistic protection requirements for use in the U.S. military. If you’re just a civilian gun enthusiast and want to make sure you get adequate and effective eye protection from any shooting glasses you’re considering buying, the APEL is a good place to start, but is by no means the be all and end all. There are essentially three quality standards which are used for the testing of the effectiveness of ballistic shooting glasses, namely:
- The S. MIL-PRF-31013 (Military Ballistic Impact) Standard
- ANSI Z87.1-2010 (U.S Civilian Standard), and
- EN166, 169, 170 & 172 (European) Standard
A lot of manufacturers of shooting glasses enthusiastically highlight their product’s compliance with the ANSI Z87.1 standard, but that’s not really a requirement for shooting glasses which offer adequate ballistic protection. Military standards (MIL-PRF-31013) are what’s required for what is effectively a good pair of shooting glasses that will give you the ballistic (physical) protection you’ll need.
Check out this manufacturer-specific video explaining the difference between standard ratings:
ANSI Z87.1 Standards
Shooting glasses that comply with ANSI 287.1 standards simply means they’ve been tested to offer impact or non-impact protection against hazardous objects such as fine dust particles, mist, optic radiation, liquid droplets and splashing. If the product is marked as being compliant with Z87+ ANSI standards, it has passed all the high-impact test requirements while “non-impact” ANSI tested products are marked only with the Z87 code (without the addition sign). So you can see why shooting glasses with only an ANSI rating may not be adequate to offer the required protection for your eyes.
U.S. MIL-PRF-31013 Standards
The minimum requirements of shooting glasses that meet U.S. military standards are such that the protective glasses must always be able to withstand a 5.8 grain, 0.15 caliber, projectile with a T37 shape, traveling at a velocity of between 639 and 661 feet per second. Additionally, for shooting glasses to satisfy the requirements of this standard they must offer adequate protection from the harmful UV rays of the sun and they must offer good fit, be resistant to chemical wear and must maintain their protective properties in the event that they’re exposed to varying temperatures and humidity levels. So MIL-PRF-31013 standards are essentially what you’ll be looking for in a decent pair of shooting glasses that will give you the required amount of physical, elemental and comfort protection.
For products aimed at the European market or indeed if the shooting glasses you’re thinking of buying were manufactured in Europe, EN166 Standards are a decent indicator of a good pair of shooting glasses that provide adequate cover and protection. EN166 standards test shooting glasses according to ballistic protection levels, including Increased Robustness, Low Energy Impact, Medium Energy Impact, and High Energy Impact. The highest protection levels under these EN166 standards are those against High Energy Impact and products which comply with these standards are marked with the letter “A.” This translates into the shooting glasses showing the ability to offer protection from a 0.86gram, 6mm steel ball hitting the glasses at a velocity of 190m/s, adequate protection by any stretch of the imagination.
Tips for Buying the Best Shooting Glasses
Physically testing the quality of any pair of shooting glasses you’re considering buying presents us with a conundrum because who is willing to be a guinea pig and risk injury or potential permanent damage, testing the glasses on themselves? Even if you were to put the shooting glasses on a mannequin or make-shift human head prop, putting them through their paces and pushing them to their limits might actually damage your expensive pair of shooting glasses to the point where you can’t use them further. The only attribute you can physically test before buying is the fit and comfort. Make sure the shooting glasses give you adequate cover and subsequent protection; there must be no opening which would allow any fragments or bigger-sized objects to reach your eyes unobstructed. Also, make sure that the shooting glasses are comfortable and don’t irritate the surface of your skin. If your shooting glasses fit you and are comfortable, you’ll never be discouraged to wear them at all times when you need protection. If you’re also planning on wearing ear protection, make sure the shooting glasses are designed in such a way that the simultaneous use of earmuffs doesn’t cause discomfort.
Keep in mind that your decision to buy a certain pair of shooting glasses must be based on practical considerations. Think about how they’d perform in a real shooting environment. Are you perhaps a rifle gun enthusiast and so would spend a lot of time out in the sun hunting? In this case, you’d have to consider how your prospective pair of shooting glasses fit in with other factors and gun accessories, like:
- How they handle the recoil of a high-caliber rifle (do they stay on properly)
- How they affect your view of the target if you also have look through a rifle scope or a red dot sight
- How (and if) they can be used over prescription glasses or contact lenses, or if perhaps they can adequately replace your prescription glasses while shooting
For the most important form of protection, however, which is ballistic (physical protection), you’d have to rely on practical user reviews and you also have to know how to interpret the information given by the manufacturers about the shooting glasses’ features and the standards they comply with. As mentioned before, the Army Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL) is a great place to start if you want to make sure you get ballistic protection deemed to be good enough for the U.S. military, but some protective eyewear products haven’t yet made the list and yet but still offer adequate protection. Be sure to check for either a MIL-PRF-31013 certification standard or an EN166 B or (preferably) “A” certification standard and you’re generally covered as far as adequate ballistic protection goes. That said, most (if not all) shooting glasses that meet these standards and subsequently offer good protection have a one-piece lens as opposed to two (co-detached) lenses. The impact protection extends to better impact force distribution (shock-absorption), as injury could otherwise also be caused by the force of impact to the areas surrounding the eyes (where the glasses make contact with your face). Try to avoid those shooting glasses (even one-piece glasses) that have a small or thin bridge (the area connecting the two lenses).
As far as elemental protection goes, this is another feature which you can’t really test physically before buying. Again, you’d have to rely on user reviews, but if you know how to interpret the manufacturer’s feature list you can ensure you get the required protection from environmental factors. UV protection is important if you’re going to be shooting outdoors, in the sun. Protection against fogging isn’t all that important because you can simply wipe down the shooting glasses when the need arises, but the glasses must be resistant against possible moisture damage or chemical damage, within reason.
To give yourself the best chance of choosing the safety glasses that will give you adequate protection, try and see if the protective eye wear product you’re considering can tick off as many requirements in this checklist as possible:
- Has a single-piece lens which covers both eyes (as opposed to two unattached lenses)
- Either meets U.S. MIL-PRF-31013 or European EN166 (A or B) standards, or both (if it doesn’t meet ANSI Z87 standards then it won’t meet MIL-PRF or EN standards)
- Has a thick lens-connector bridge (over the nose) or one which has been covered by a rubber piece
- Fits the contours of your eye-area comfortably and offers adequate cover for all areas which need protection
- Stays on when you make sudden movements
- Is classified to offer UV ray protection (UV-A and UV-B: UV-C is a bonus)
The following features can be considered as a bonus:
- Makes the U.S. Army APEL list
- Offers glare protection
- Interchangeable lenses (for indoor and outdoor use)
- Shooting glasses come as part of a protective eyewear kit
Remember that shooting glasses, like anything else in life don’t last forever. People usually consider investing more money to hunting binoculars. Their usefulness in offering protection declines with time, even in the case of the most expensive shooting glasses used by the military. Prolonged exposure to heat (such as direct sunlight) inevitably wears them down and so you should replace your shooting glasses as often as possible. Some manufacturers indicate their shooting glasses’ lifespan to be in the region of 6-12 months, but depending on how often you use yours and under what conditions, you can stretch this (in some cases) up to 18-24 months, but never longer than that. An older pair of shooting glasses would make for a great way to test the strength of that product, but be sure to keep in mind that the effectiveness inevitably decreases with time and continuous use.
Best Shooting Glasses Comparison Chart
|PRODUCT||PRICE||GLARE PROTECTION||IMPACT PROTECTION|
|Smith Optics Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield Field Kit||$$||Tapered Lens||Uncompromising optics and coverage per ANSI Z87.1|
|ESS Eyewear Crossbow Suppressor 2X Deluxe Kit||$$$||100% UVA/UVB protection||Complies with ANSI Impact Standards|
|Wiley-X Saber Advanced Shooting Glasses||$||All Wiley X lenses block 400 nanometers or 100% of the suns harmful UV rays||N/A|
|Oakley Radar Path Sunglasses||$$$||100% UV protection coating||It meets ANSI Z87. 1 standard for both high mass and high-velocity impact resistance|
|Smith Optics Hudson Tactical Sunglasses||$$||Lenses provide 100% protection from harmful UVA/UVB/UVC||Meet US Military Spec MIL-PRF-31013,ANSI Z87.1|
|Revision Military Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses||$$||100% protection from harmful UV-A, UV-B and UV-C rays100% of the suns harmful UV rays||High-impact sunglasses exceeds ANSI Z87.1-2010 and meet U.S. military ballistic impact requirements for spectacles|
Unlike with many other firearm accessories and even firearms themselves, choosing the best shooting glasses is not a matter of personal preference, unless its design and style is your only consideration. You want protective eyewear that will do a good job of protective your eyes from the very real dangers associated with shooting and hopefully these featured shooting glasses reviews will have served to highlight exactly what you need to consider when choosing your protective eye gear. Remember that you might have to spend a little to effectively ensure your safety, but ultimately there is no price for protecting your vision.