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If you’re a fan of hunting and shooting, then we don’t have to tell you how important it is to have the best shooting glasses.*
Not only are shooting glasses essential for safety, like to protect your eyes from ejected shells, they are also highly practical for improving your sight thanks to common features like colored and polarized lenses.
But you can’t just take any old pair of glasses to the range and call them shooting glasses, at least not if you want to be let in.
What makes the best shooting glasses safer than normal glasses?
For pretty much all shooters and hunters not entering a theater of war, there’s really only one standard you need to worry about when seeking glasses that will actually protect your eyes: the ANSI Z87.1 standard.
Now ANSI, the American National Standards Institute, sets rigorous standards for shooting glasses (and all protective glasses for other purposes) to meet before glasses can say they are ANSI Z87.1 rated. Let’s take a look at some of the more relevant required standards for shooting glasses below:
- Protector acceptance criteria: When undergoing impact testing, the glasses fail if “any part, fragment or material visible to the unaided eye becomes detached from the inner surface of any complete device,” if there’s a fracture of any kind or if a projectile breaks through or ruptures any component of the glasses.
- High-velocity impact: According to the above standard, ANSI-certified shooting glasses must be able to resist a .25-inch steel ball traveling at 150 feet/second. For shooting goggles, the standard is even higher: They must survive the same steel ball traveling at 250 feet/second.
- High-mass impact: The glasses must be able to handle “a pointed projectile” weighing no less than 500 grams dropped from at least 50 inches.
- Anti-fog properties: The glasses must undergo a fancy water bath test where the air around the glasses gets saturated with moisture. To pass the test, they must remain free from fogging for at least eight seconds.
- Droplet, splash, dust and fine dust requirements: These apply to enclosed face protection, like goggles, but, unsurprisingly, goggles and their like must undergo elaborate tests to ensure a minimum amount of water and dust can enter them.
There are other standards consumers would never think about — such as light filtration standards, allowable haze standards and standards dictating markings — but we don’t want to be here all day. What you need to know is that the best shooting glasses are ANSI Z87.1 rated and that actually means something important and could literally save an eye.
For most people, the ANSI Z87.1 standards will be enough for the range or outdoor hunting, but if you really want the absolute best in eye protection, there are also military ballistics standards, such as the current MCEPS GL-PD 10-12 or the antiquated MIL-PRF 32432 standards, which include the MIL-PRF-31013 standards for shooting glasses. (Many shooting glasses continue to use the old MIL-PRF standards because they’re still more rigorous than ANSI, even if no longer used by the military.)
Both are concerned with protection in combat situations, like say from ricochets or flying debris, and have even more rigorous standards to top.
We won’t take you through the same battery of tests to show the difference, but we will say that they must undergo the same tests, just made more difficult. For example, the MCEPS high-velocity impact test follows the same protector acceptance criteria as the ANSI standard, but instead of a small steel ball traveling at 150 feet/second, the steel ball is traveling at an absurd 660 feet/second.
Now setting aside safety ratings, which include standards on velocity and mass impact, fog and more, you should also keep some other desirable features in mind:
- Lens polarization
- The ability to swap lenses
- The lens color
- The adjustability and flexibility of temples
- The presence of a nose piece
- How the shooting glasses will work with other safety gear, like ear muffs
Now that you know what to look for and probably way too much about safety standards for shooting glasses, check out some of the best shooting glasses below. We think you’ll be surprised at how affordable even ANSI-rated shooting glasses are, and there’s genuinely no good reason not to have a pair in your range bag, hunting vehicle or anywhere else you expect to fire off a few rounds.
1. SolidWork Shooting Glasses
For your average gun enthusiast, the SolidWork Shooting Glasses will be perfect for the occasional hunt and an afternoon at the gun range.
First, yes, they are ANSI Z87.1 certified, which means they passed all the tests we went through above. Beyond safety, these shooting glasses are scratch-resistant, glare-resistant, UV-protective and actually pretty comfortable. The frames have padding so the glasses comfortably seal your eyes and the temples are flexible and swappable for an included headband.
2.Venture Gear Tactical Semtex 2.0 Shooting Glasses
For a more classic-looking pair of shooting glasses, check out the Venture Gear Tactical Semtex 2.0 Shooting Glasses. They boast a custom-fit rubber nosepiece, non-slip flexible temples and bronze-colored, scratch-resistant UV-protective lenses. But the real clincher for these hunting glasses is the fact they pass MIL-PRF 32432 high-velocity impact standards.
3. Smith Optics Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield Field Kit
For a somewhat more sophisticated but somewhat pricier pair of shooting glasses, the Smith Optics Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield Field Kit has a lot to offer. A soft nose and Megol temples ensure the glasses are comfortable and stay put while a tapered lens tech reduces distortion. You can also swap the primary lens out for dark lenses and can even get prescription lenses if you require vision correction. But the most important and expected safety qualities are there too. These shooting glasses are ANSI certified and MIL-PRF-31013 rated for impact.
Some users reported that some of the coatings started to peel fairly quickly, so though these are generally pretty great shooting glasses, but not perfect.
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4. Allen Company Guardian Shooting Glasses
Despite their misleadingly low price, the Allen Company Guardian Shooting Glasses are perfectly functional and safe. With anti-fog and anti-scratch protection, UV-resistant yellow-tinted lenses, adjustable padded temples, a padded nose piece and ANSI-rated impact protection, these shooting glasses are an absolute bargain. One user said he was “pleasantly surprised” about the quality for the price and we bet you will be too. Plus, if you love them and they work well for you, they’re cheap enough to buy a half dozen for everywhere you might want them.
Read More: The Best Cheap Sunglasses for Men
5. Howard Leight by Honeywell Genesis Sharp-Shooter Shooting Glasses
Ratings aren’t an exact science nor are they always trustworthy, but after enough reviews, if something still has a high rating, it’s pretty dang good in our experience. The Howard Leight by Honeywell Genesis Sharp-Shooter Shooting Glasses are not only highly-rated, with over 4,600 five-star reviews on Amazon, but they’re also highly affordable, too.
You can count on the soft adjustable nose piece, soft brow guard, adjustable temple length and lens inclination for the perfect comfortable fit. An anti-fog coating helps keep your vision clear and, of course, you can also count on the ANSI and MIL-PRF impact certification and UV-protected lenses to keep your eyes safe.
For some real-world evidence, one user reported that these shooting glasses stopped an ejected casing from a .380 without a crack or scratch, possibly saving his eye in the process. If that’s not convincing, we don’t know what would be.
6. ESS Eye Safety Systems CDI Ballistic Eyeshield
The ESS Eye Safety Systems CDI Ballistic Eyeshield are just really well-made shooting glasses.
They wear very comfortably, stay secure even during strenuous activity and offer all the benefits you’d want out of a top-quality pair of shooting glasses, including scratch-resistance, UV protection, swappable tinted lenses (or prescription lenses if needed), a strong polycarbonate frame and MIL-PRF and ANSI certification. In fact, these shooting glasses meet federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, too.
One user said she’s been buying these shooting glasses for her active military husband for years and only had to replace them when he lost them, not because they broke. If these shooting glasses are good enough for a war zone, they’re likely good enough for whatever casual shooting you get up to.
7. Allen Company Shooting Fit Over Glasses
BEST TO GO OVER GLASSES
We return to the Allen Company for their Shooting Fit Over Glasses, perfect for those shooters who already wear prescription lenses and who don’t want to spring for prescription shooting glasses lenses. Sure, they’re pretty simple looking and affordable, but they are ANSI certified for impact protection and offer UV protection, too.
The only thing to be wary of is the fit. Though they’re comfortable, it’s critical that these glasses stay pushed back on your face to prevent casings from sneaking through. One user had two close-calls too many after they slipped enough off his face to allow casings through.
If you do buy these, we’d recommend wearing them over your glasses and undertaking some activity. If they won’t stay close to your face, return them. But if they do, you’ve got the best shooting glasses for people with prescription glasses.
8. Rothco OTG Ballistic Goggles
As an alternative to fit-over shooting glasses, you might consider a pair of shooting goggles like the Rothco OTG Ballistic Goggles. These have slightly different tests to undergo to achieve ANSI and military standard certification, but you’ll be glad to know the Rothco’s got both for impact protection. They also fit over prescription glasses and feature anti-fog, anti-scratch and UV-resistant lenses as well as moveable hinges and an adjustable strap for max comfort and stability.
*Disclaimer: Looking for Spy Optic? Click here: https://www.spyoptic.com.