When you get into firearms, hunting, and spending time at shooting ranges, you immediately realize just how much goes into this hobby. It’s about more than just picking out the best gun for you. You also have to consider types of ammo, storage, cleaning methods, and, maybe most importantly, safety gear. While operating a firearm, you are going to want to wear the two most important gear, hearing protection and protective eyewear.
Between the possibility of damaging and potentially fatal injuries to the potential likelihood of minor eye irritation from residues, you’re going to want to make sure your eyes are protected every time you operate a firearm.
Finding the best pair of protective glasses is about more than just finding a style that appeals to you. You want to make sure they have features that are beneficial to you, they’re comfortable, and that they, at the very least, meet the American National Standards Institute’s Z87.1 – Standard for Safety Glasses at Work. The following top 8 protective glasses either meet or exceed that standard while remaining stylish and effective for even the most avid shooter.
These moderately priced ballistic sunglasses will go a long way when it comes to keeping your eyes protected from unexpected and unwanted particles. The durable build exceeds ANSI Z87.1 and meets U.S. military ballistic impact requirements, making these glasses an incredibly reliable wear no matter what caliber or type of firearm you’re shooting.
Wearing the Revision Military Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses will provide 100% protection from UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C rays, making them vital to have on your person on those bright and sunny days. While they may look like an ordinary pair of stylish sunglasses, they’ll go a long way when it comes to protecting your eyes thanks to the .09” lenses. To make sure you can see what you’re aiming at, each lens is made from a polycarbonate, which keeps them clear during use. Though your eyes are completely covered, you’ll still have an impeccable field of view, so no obstructions will hinder your aim.
If you’re looking for a pair of shooting glasses that will keep your eyes fortified, the Hellfly Ballistics are a great choice that will go a long way.
- Durable and Reliable: You’ll experience protection from the harmful UV rays of the sun along with complete coverage for your eyes.
- Exceeds Standards: Revision’s Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses exceed eye protection standards, leaving you with the comfort of knowing you can fire off your firearm without concern.
- Tight Fit: If you have prescription glasses, chances are you won’t be able to fit them under the Hellfire Sunglasses due to their tight fit.
- Frequent Fogging: The polycarbonate lenses may be clear, but they can fog easily, requiring anti-fog solution to be applied
You’ll wind up paying a premium Oakley price for these stylish sunglasses, but it does come in an attractive design while still providing ample protection for your eyes. These Oakley Radar Path Sunglasses meet ANSI Z87.1 standard, are designed with MIL-PRF3243 for added protection, and also provide 100% UV protection thanks to a clear coating. Though they carry the Oakley name, these glasses are purely meant for protection while still ensuring you look good while wearing them.
The ear socks and nose pads are made from unobtanium for ample grip, so they won’t slide off your face in the middle of aiming or firing. For added clarity, they’re coated in an anti-fog coating. Regardless of the environment, you won’t have to struggle with a fogged-up pair. The PRIZM TR22 lens is great for light conditions while the TR45 will benefit better from darker lighting.
As expected with Oakley, the Radar Path Sunglasses with PRIZM are a quality design and build that will last through many years of use, even for shooters that are a little rougher on their accessories. Radar Path sunglasses are optimized for shooting, is smudge free, come with interchangeable nose pads for a customizable look, and is designed with O-matter technology for ample durability.
- PRIZM: The lenses of Oakley’s Radar Path Sunglasses are designed with PRIZM, which helps them adjust to low and high-light situations for perfect clarity.
- No-Slip Wear: Unobtanium ear socks and nose pads provide a no-slip grip, even in wet environments.
- Enhanced Durability: O-matter technology used to build these sunglasses provide extra durability.
- Cost: As expected with the brand, these shooter sunglasses come at a considerably high cost, making them inaccessible to many shooters.
The classic and simple design of these Ranger Classic Shooting Glasses may not look like much, but when it comes to protection for shooters, they’re top notch. The first thing you’ll likely notice is how the band wraps around your ears, ensuring a snug and comfortable fit of these lightweight frames while also guaranteeing your eye safety with reduced slip. The lenses are designed for anti-fogging thanks to the offsetting nose pads and are manufactured to be polarized for optimal use in brighter environments.
Ranger Classic Shooting Glasses are all about providing options and this model comes with a possibility of 14 different lenses to choose from. Depending on your typical lighting situation and whether you’re hunting with them in a sunny environment, you’ll want to make sure you have the best lens for your purposes. Available lens tints include pale yellow, yellow, orange, sunset orange, brown, vermillion, light purple, dark purple, and copper polarized.
These Ranger Classic Shooting Glasses don’t aim to look like anything but what they’re intended for, and that lends to their ample eye protection. For better visibility over previous models and other shooting glasses, the distance between the lenses has been reduced.
- Versatile: Ranger Classic Shooting Glasses are a versatile pair of glasses thanks to the 14 different lenses they come with. Usable in a multitude of lighting situations, they’re great for hunting and target practice.
- Simple Design: The no-frills design is simple and clean without sacrificing quality or appeal.
- Tight Fitting: A tight fit is complimented by offset nose pads to prevent fogging during use.
- Higher Cost: Ranger Classic Shooting Glasses come with a lot of options, but that also means they are on the higher end of the price spectrum.
They may not be the most attractive pair of shooting glasses on the market, but that doesn’t take away from their ability to keep your eyes safe while firing off round-after-round at the shooting range. Designed specifically for tactical performance, the Pilla Magneto is often touted as a great pair of glasses by shotgun owners, and it likely has something to do with the titanium frame and high-quality lens.
The large lens may not look like much, but it’s a durable option that’s manufactured with the sole intent of keeping your eyes from unwanted debris. The Magneto 2 may be rather expensive, but that cost is well worth the peace of mind in knowing that your sight is protected even during any unexpected mishaps.
Pilla’s Magneto 2 Shooting Glasses are known for their customization options. Four sets of interchangeable temple arms let you decide what’s best for you. The Neodymium magnets keep everything locked securely without requiring a lot of fuss to change the arms out. Where things get complicated is with the variety of kits available.
The Progressive Lens Kit comes with four vision lenses capable of adapting to light and dark lighting. The Enhanced Def Kit is packaged with three lenses made for ample clarity of the world around you. The last two kits, Kita B and Kita A, deliver a small variety in lenses with the former providing three different lenses known for sharpening contrast during the day or creating a better field of view at night.
- Strong Build: Made from Titanium and Surgical Steel, the Magneto 2 won’t crack under the pressure, even after prolonged use.
- Multiple Kits: You decide what kind of lens kit you want by choosing between the four available kits, each packed with unique lenses designed for different lighting and clarity.
- Compatible with Corrective Lenses: Magneto 2 glasses were designed to allow for space for corrective lenses to accommodate a greater range of shooters.
- Expensive: You’re going to have to shell out quite a lot for the Magneto 2 as they’re one of the most expensive pairs on the market.
If you’re going to go for any sort of firearm accessory, you might as well make sure it’s from a manufacturer that knows firearms. Beretta has been around for quite some time and has become a trusted name in the field, so you know you’re getting a top-quality product when you purchase the Beretta Trident Shooting Glasses.
Beyond the 100% UV and UVB protection, the Trident Glasses are incredibly lightweight which lends for a more comfortable wear, especially over time. The frameless design increases the field of view while eliminating the band of many sunglasses that impede peripheral vision. The wrap-around design delivers a clear view as an adjustable nose piece increases comfort while reducing slip.
The best part of these shooter sunglasses is the ability to change the lens with the three included interchangeable lenses. Depending on your lighting situation, you may need to swap out one lens for another. For instance, the black lend is perfect for all types of weather while the red lens helps out on those brighter days. The yellow lens helps you see better in low-light and darker conditions.
- Interchangeable Lenses: For a multitude of lighting conditions, Beretta’s Trident Glasses come with three different lenses, perfect for low light, bright, and everyday use.
- Unobstructed View: The lack of frames provides a full field of view, allowing you to see out of your peripheral without any obstruction.
- Poor Nose Piece Design: Though comfortable, the nose piece tends to get in the way of swapping out the lenses.
Welcome to the pinnacle of shooter eyewear delivered by a company known for its high-quality design and impeccable standard. Oakley’s SI Tombstone Spoil glasses come with PRIZM technology, which provides a level of lens quality that remains unmatched in the market. Of course, this level of protection comes at a somewhat higher cost, though not entirely unmanageable.
The oversized lens extends the field of view to a full 120-degrees while also providing an extended peripheral. The large lens is designed with PRIZM technology, with further enhances the shooter’s vision. The level of clarity delivered by PRIZM is consistent across multiple lighting scenarios and the interchangeable PRIZM lenses only further enhance the ability to shoot in low-light and brighter environments. When it comes to changing out lenses, the Switchlock Quick Lens Exchange makes it possible to swap out different PRIZM lenses without leaving fingerprints all over them.
For maximum comfort, the nose pad is made from unobtanium, a material that provides a no-slip grip even when wet. Have a set of earmuffs you’d like to wear with the SI Tombstone Spoil? The Thin Stem technology allows these sleek glasses to be compatible with over-ear hearing protection.
- PRIZM: Delivering on the utmost in clarity and quality, PRIZM lenses allow shooters to see in a variety of different lighting situations without sacrificing the impressively clear view.
- 120-Degree View: With no frame and because of its unique design, the SI Tombstone Spoil provides a 120-degree field of vision, which especially comes in handy while hunting.
- Over-Ear Protection Compatibility: The Thin Stem technology allows you to wear your hearing protection while still enjoying the clarity and comfort of these glasses.
- Price: As expected with anything from Oakley, the SI Tombstone Spoil is more on the expensive side.
If you want to look good while still providing ample protection for your eyes, the Wiley X Saber Advanced pair of shooting glasses is probably a good start. At an affordable price, you get a sleek pair of protective glasses that can deliver on everything you need to keep your eyes safe while shooting, including 100% UV protection.
A foam brow bar is a comfortable fit, as is the padded nosepiece. Both also ensure these glasses won’t slip off your face while you’re in the middle of shooting. Keeping your lenses clear from obstruction is a T-Shell coating, which resists surface scratching, even from high-speed projectiles. An adjustable temple lets you wear the X Saber Advanced in whatever way is most comfortable for you while still providing the maximum comfort and safety.
Designed after military special force specs, the Wiley X are lightweight and provide an impressive amount of protection. Available in three different lens varieties, you can cater your eyewear to the lighting environment you plan to be shooting in. While the black lenses are the slickest and are best for everyday use, the red and yellow lenses deliver in low-light and bright conditions. Each lens is made from a Shatterproof Selenite Polycarbonate that meets the standards of OSHA, EN 166 FT, ANSI Z87, and MIL-PRF-32432.
- Cost: Despite being a high-quality design and build, the X Saber Advanced comes at a reasonable and affordable price.
- Anti-Scratch: Don’t worry about solids hitting your lenses. The anti-scratch coating keeps them smooth and clear regardless of how often they’re used.
- Possible Image Distortion: Despite the high quality, some lenses may cause image distortion for some users.
The tapered lens of this moderately priced pair of shooting glasses corrects distortion, ensuring that you have a clear and accurate view of what you’re aiming at. More than just perfecting your aim, Smith Optics Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield also provides top-of-the-line protection that meets multiple safety standards, including ANSI Z87.1 and EN 166.
The Field Kit ensures that the glasses fit best for your head size, cutting down on discomfort over prolonged periods of wear. Though comfortable, they’re also tight to keep them from slipping off of your face while shooting. The nose piece and megol temples are designed to provide added comfort without sacrificing the eyeshield’s ability to stay in place.
The clear lenses may not do much in the way of protecting from the sun’s brightness, but the included tinted lens winds up cutting down on the brightness when it starts to hinder accuracy and ability to aim. It’s a simple pair of shooting glasses that won’t cost you a lot but will still perform as intended and keep your eyes protected from debris.
- Tapered Lens: There’s no need to worry about image distortion thanks to the tapered lens.
- Comfortable and Tight Fit: This eyeshield is designed to prevent slippage, ensuring it doesn’t fall from the user’s face while operating firearms.
- Clarity and Durability: Smith Optics was able to combine the best of durability and clarity into one impressive package while meeting within necessary safety standards.
- No Variety in Lens Types: You’ll either wear it as a clear lens or use the tinted attachment. There are no additional lenses that help in a variety of lighting conditions.
Shoot Glasses Buyer’s Guide
Why Do I Need Protective Glasses?
This is tantamount to asking: “Why do I need my eyes?” Without protective glasses, you risk damaging the very things that you use to aim and line-up your firearm with. Protective sunglasses and regular glasses are a vital addition to any accessory stash, so much so that they should be purchased with the firearm just to make sure you buy them before using your new gun.
Whether it’s the first time you’ve picked up a firearm or you’re an avid shooter that could clean your firearm with your eyes closed, there are unavoidable circumstances that can be out of your control. It’s in these moments that you’ll want your protective glasses on. Sometimes, fragments fire back and threaten to embed themselves in your eyes. It’s definitely not a scenario you want to find yourself as it can lead to permanent sight loss or even death.
Protective glasses do more than just protect from projectiles, however. They also help balance otherwise unmanageable lighting conditions. Whether it’s too bright or too dark, protective glasses can level everything out so you’re able to see your target with the utmost clarity.
Lastly, protective glasses look cool. Whether they’re tinted black or are clear, most brands know that you want to look good while shooting and will design their glasses with a little flair and style.
What Is the American National Standards Institute Z87.1?
As you’re shopping for protective eyewear, you may see something called “ANSI Z87.1” referenced frequently. It’s not some secret code or something only the manufacturer would understand. In fact, you should know what ANSI Z87.1 is and you should be looking out for it on every pair of shooting glasses you pick up.
ANSI Z87.1 is the United States Civilian Standard of eyewear protection. A pair of glasses that meet ANSI Z87.1 standards have been tested and confirmed to offer protection against fine objects. Those fine objects, which can be described as “impact” or “non-impact,” include dust, mist, optic radiation, liquid splashing, and droplets. Glasses labeled “ANSI Z87.1 +” have been tested and passed high-impact tests, which is essentially what you’re most concerned with.
If your eyes are going to be hit by a projectile while you’re firing a gun, it’s going to be coming at you at a high impact. Anything labeled simply “ANSI Z87.1” was not tested for impact and are typically glasses you’ll want to stray away from.
While the ANSI Z87.1 standard stamp is important, it’s actually not the only standard that your shooting glasses can live up to, so if it’s not listed, check to see if any of the following standards have been met.
Other Quality Standards:
While the ANSI Z87.1 standard is going to likely be the more common standard you come across while shopping for protective eyewear, there are other standards that may pop up. Anything that mentions meeting S. MIL-PRF-31013 standards is approved for military use while glasses labeled as meeting or exceeding EN166, 169, 170, & 172 standards relates to European Standards for Eye Protection.
Where ANSI rates the standard for civilian-use eyewear protection, MIL-PRF-31013 is the standard that the United States military requires. Any pair of shooting glasses that meet the MIL-PRF-31013 standard were tested and proven to withstand a 5.8 grain, .15 caliber projectile traveling at up to 661 feet per second. Any lens that was able to withstand that test is definitely going to provide you with ample protection while you’re out hunting or at the shooting range.
The military standard for eye protection also requires that the lens also shield against harmful UV rays and are able to withstand chemical wear. There’s also a requirement that they are able to maintain a reasonable level of protection in wet environments and fluctuating temperatures.
If you are most worried about keeping your eyes safe, you will want to shop glasses that meet the MIL-PRF-31013 standard.
Unless you’re in purchasing and using your protective glasses in Europe, chances are you won’t pay attention to this indicator, but it is still good to know that, even overseas, a product is trusted eyewear. EN166 standards are similar to American military standards. The impact test ensures that the lens is able to withstand a .86 gram, 6mm steel ball projected at a velocity of 190 minutes per second.
EN166 is broken up into different ballistic protection levels, which include: Increased Robustness, Low Energy Impact, Medium Energy Impact, and High Energy Impact. Glasses that withstand High Energy Impact tests are marked with the letter “A” as they were able to stand up to the 6mm ball.
Any one of the three standards is suitable for your protective eyewear, though the military standard will certainly ensure ample protection in the case of high-speed projectiles.
Components of Protective Glasses
You may think that your protective shooting glasses are just a frame, two lenses, and a nose pad, but there are factors that come together to make the perfect pair of glasses. As you’re shopping for the right pair of shooting glasses for yourself, you’ll need to consider: Ballistics (Impact Protection), Elements (Environmental Protection), Fit & Comfort (Ample Coverage).
These three elements are what come together to create an effective pair of shooting glasses. Even Fit & Comfort has a hand in increasing the level of protection.
The physical protection of your shooting glasses, otherwise known as the Ballistics protection, is what keeps your eyes safe in cases of mishaps. The Ballistics of your glasses will refer to its ability to deflect projectiles and withstand high-impact contact without cracking, breaking, or, in some cases, even scratching.
Stray fragments can be a common occurrence when it comes to shooting and the Ballistics of your protective eyewear is going to be what keeps that fragment from cutting or penetrating your eye, causing severe damage.
Physical particle fragments aren’t the only danger when it comes to shooting and firearms. An effective pair of shooting glasses will also be able to protect your eyes from any environmental hazards. Most commonly, that refers to Ultraviolet rays from the sun. While many sunglasses protect from most of the sun’s UV rays, it’s not always a guarantee. There is more than one type of UV ray, also, so you’ll want to look out for a pair of shooting glasses that protects from 100% of UV rays.
Even if you don’t shoot outdoors and the sun isn’t a concern, environmental factors can still hinder your eyesight and cause discomfort and potential damage. Dust particles and gun-powder residue are typically invisible to the naked eye but can cause a great deal of harm if you’re not careful and don’t protect yourself. Most shooting glasses provide enough protection to keep these particles out. You also may want to consider liquid hazards, such as cleaning solutions or other chemicals that may accidentally be sprayed into your eyes.
Fit & Comfort
Of course, you want your glasses to be comfortable and remain in place. Many offer a tight grip to ensure they don’t slip off, especially while firing. No-slip nose pads and wrap-around earpieces are usually the most common means used to keep your protective glasses in place.
If you wear corrective lenses, consider this during your shopping process. Some shooting glasses are designed to fit over corrective lenses without causing discomfort or causing them to be too snug. Glasses that are too tight can cause skin irritation, which will make keeping them on difficult.
Look for glasses that have padded brows for a mix of practicality and comfort.
Tips for Shopping for the Best Shooting Glasses
So, how can you make sure you purchase a pair of glasses that will work best for you? Don’t forget that, while you can’t test many of the “protective” components of the glasses, you certainly can try them on. Before you even get into the Ballistics and Environmental protection of a pair of glasses, make sure they fit comfortably. Move your head around to see if there is any sort of slippage and, if so, move on to the next pair.
Do They Fit?
Shooting glasses should be snug, but not so tight that they’re comfortable. The looser they are, the higher the likelihood that they’ll slip off while you’re at the range or out hunting and put your eyes in harm’s way. While you’re trying them on, feel around the lens for any possible unprotected points. Fragments can easily sneak into even the smallest sliver, so make sure that the entirety of your eyes covered and protected.
Are They Clear?
As you’re getting a feel for them, pay attention to the clarity of the lens. You’ll need a clear view to ensure that your aim and accuracy aren’t hindered. Some lenses may cause distortion, which you’ll want to avoid. Other lenses may not be fog proof, which can be a huge dilemma especially if you’re hunting. Try to find a pair that provides a wide field of view. These types of shooting glasses come as completely frameless and look like one big lens.
Will They Work in Different Lighting Conditions?
Determining the glasses’ clarity and comfort is one thing, but before you can confirm your choice, you have to consider where you’ll be using these glasses. Though they may be clear indoors, what happens when you get outside and they don’t hold up well in the bright sunlight. If you plan on hunting, you need a pair of protective glasses that can withstand a multitude of lighting conditions. Typically, you’ll need to find a pair with interchangeable lenses of differing tints.
Are They Compatible with Firearm Accessories?
If you’re using accessories with your firearms – such as a rifle scope or red dot sight – you have to think of whether your protective glasses will get in the way. Will you be able to see through the scope just as effectively? With the tint of the glasses completely wipe out the red dot of your attached sight? If you wear hearing protection – and you should – you need to consider whether they’ll fit over the temples. Your accessories need to work with one another or you risk reducing the functionality of one.
How Protective Are They?
Determining whether a pair of glasses’ Ballistics stands up to the standards they’re rated on isn’t really something you can determine just by trying them on. In fact, without physically watching a test of their durability, there’s no real way for you to see just how protective they are. You can typically determine what standards they comply with based on product information found online or in stores, but a vital resource in determining just how protective a pair is are the online reviews left by those that have actually owned or still own them.
When it comes to the military and civilian standards, if you can’t find any information on whether the glasses meet them, assume that they don’t and move on. Try to avoid glasses that have a thin bridge. Another component not to forget is the Elemental protection. Shooting glasses that are labeled as sunglasses should always provide protection from UV rays. If they don’t, then they aren’t suitable for outdoor use and should be reserved for indoor ranges. Anti-fogging is key to preventing obstructions while you’re trying to shoot.
A Checklist of Requirements
To make your life easier and to ensure you find the perfect pair of protective glasses, while ou’re shopping, check to see if the pair you’re looking at fulfills the following requirements:
- Is made from a single-piece lens that covers both eyes.
- Meets U.S. MIL-PRF-3103 or European EN166 standards. Glasses that don’t meet ANSI Z87.1 standards will not meet military or European standards.
- Has a thick bridge or one covered by rubber for ample comfort.
- Contours around the eyes for protection from all angles.
- Does not slip off from sudden movements.
- Offers 100% UV ray protection
Other factors you may want to consider are whether:
- They made U.S. Army Authorized Protective Eyewear List (guaranteeing they meet military standards).
- Have glare protection
- Come with interchangeable lenses for different lighting conditions.