Best Shooting Glasses | Top Eye Protection for Shooters in 2021
In this article we will be taking a look at what we consider to be the best shooting glasses and shooting sunglasses currently on the market. Selecting the best eye protection for shooting is sometimes overlooked by more casual shooters. However, the reality is that there are a wide range of potential shooting injuries involving the face and eyes one might be in danger of encountering if they aren’t wearing proper protection. Selecting proper eye protection is therefore a very serious matter.
Why is Eye Protection Necessary?
If you are spending time around firearms you will inevitably be exposed to all kinds of material hurling at your eyes, including cartridges, debris, excess powder from blowbacks, dangerous metals, and even ricochets if you happen to be extremely unlucky.
Then there are the dangers of the natural environment itself. While hunting, for example, you will no doubt brush up against branches, leaves, and twigs that could damage your vision if they happen to clip your naked eye. Also consider that while shooting into direct sunlight you can damage your eyes looking into harmful UVA, UVB, and UVC rays if you aren’t wearing a protective lens.
Finally, there’s an obvious point to be made here that high-quality shooting glasses will not only protect you, but also help you see better. They can help create a clearer sense of contrast between the target and the environment and help reduce unwanted light refractions/glare from distracting you.
What to Look For When Choosing Shooting Eye Protection
Some form of protective shooting glasses are almost always required when visiting a shooting range. So it is likely that even novice shooters have gotten their first pair of cheap eye protection. However, as one becomes more serious about shooting, the time quickly arrives where making an investment into higher grade shooting glasses becomes necessary.
It will likely take some time and effort to find the pair of shooting glasses that are best for you. And given the importance of your choice, especially as it pertains to safety, it’s wise not to rush your decision. With all this in mind, here are some characteristics to look for when choosing eye protection for shooting.
ANSI and US Military Certification
A good way to narrow down your search from the get go is to only shop for products that meet the safety standards laid out by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the US Military. Eye protection meeting ANSI standards is easy to spot, as it will include ‘ANSI z87.1-2015’ in the product’s description.
There are numerous other symbols that can be included in the products ANSI description, which provide further information on added safety standards these product meets.Added markings to a product’s ANSI description imply one of the following:
- Impact vs Non-Impact
- Splash and Dust Protection
- Optical Radiation Protection
Impact-rated eye protection has passed high-mass and high-velocity tests, and also provides side profile eye protection. If impact-rated, you will see a ‘+’ included in a product’s ANSI information (e.g. ‘Z87+’).
Chemical Splash and Dust Protection break down into subcategories beginning with the letter ‘D’. For the purposes of shooting glasses, we are primarily looking for ‘D4’, as this means that the eyewear provides dust protection.
Finally, ANSI’s Optical Radiation Protection scaling also breaks down into numerous subcategories. However, for the purposes of shooting, we are primarily concerned with Ultra-violet (UV) filtering and Visible Light (glare) filtering. UV filtering will be indicated with a ‘U’ followed by a number on a scale from 2 to 6. Glare filtering, meanwhile, is marked as ‘L’ and scaled from 1.3 to 10. Standard clear lenses have no additional markings.
A product meeting ANSI standards is certainly a product you can trust, but you may also see eye other products that meet US Military standards. There is, once again, a coding system associated with these standards, but what you will most commonly encounter is the code ‘MIL-PRF-31010’, which means that the eyewear successfully with withstood impact of a .15” diameter projectile traveling at 650 FPS (feet per second). Generally speaking, military standards are even higher than ANSI, and this is one of the reasons products meeting these standards are less common.
Practical Categories to Consider
While understanding trusted safety standard information is certainly important, the two most practical factors that go into good shooting glasses are comfort and protection.
As far as comfort goes, you want glasses that fit snugly onto your face, without being too tight. You don’t want, for example, to worry about your glasses falling off your face if you are forced to start running or if you need to move through thick branches on a hunt.
At the same time, you don’t want your glasses to fit so tightly that they become irritating. You also want to be sure that no part of the glasses, including the lens, has the potential to scratch or irritate the skin. Potential allergens present in a product’s materials might also be something to consider.
We now have some of the most important basic information covered for what to look for when shopping for shooting glasses. Let’s now get into our top picks.
The Best Shooting Glasses and Sunglasses
Wiley X Saber
We begin our list with the Wiley X Saber Advanced Shooting Glasses. These are a great set of shades that meet the military’s advanced GL-PD 10-12 MCEP standard, in addition to surpassing the MIL-PRF-31013 ballistic standard.
The X Saber’s one piece wrap around lens design is intended to provide maximum protection and clear 120-degree viewing. The lenses also provide UV protection.
The Wiley X Saber is lightweight, and features adjustable rubber temples for detailed fitting and added comfort. The nose pad is also adjustable. Finally, while the smoke grey is the most popular lens choice for general use, the lenses on the X Saber are interchangeable, and you can buy different colored lenses for about $10 per lens.
The Wiley X Saber is the best bargain buy on our list.
Radians Shift Interchange Shooting Glasses
The Radians Shift Interchange Shooting Glasses come as a kit, which includes 5 different interchangeable lenses. All lenses exceed the ANSI Z87.1 standard, and also block out 99.9% of UVA and UVB rays.
Each of the colored lenses is ideal under certain conditions: the Green mirror lens is best in bright sunlight; the copper lens is for medium light and features enhanced depth perception; orange helps reduce eye strain when shooting at orange targets; and amber enhances visibility in low-light conditions, making it good for indoor and nighttime use.
The glasses are comfortable, but might feel a little too wide for those with a narrower head frame.
They have rubber-tipped temples for a more finished snug fit. Finally, the glasses come in a custom carrying kit for easy lens and glasses storage.
The Radians Shift Interchange Shooting Glasses are another affordable option that meet necessary safety standards.
Smith Optics Hudson Tactical Sunglasses
The Smith Optics Hudson Tactical Sunglasses have a great look, and are more than stylish enough to be worn as casual everyday sunglasses.
However, don’t be misled into thinking that quality is somehow sacrificed for style, as these shades were originally designed for law enforcement and the US Military. Thus, in addition to looking great, these sunglasses also meet both the MIL-PRF-31013 and ANSI Z87.1 standards. The lenses also provide 100% protection from UVA, UVB, and UVC rays.
These lenses perform very nicely and featuring Smith Optic’s trademark Tapered Lens Technology for distortion free optics. The fit is extremely comfortable, in large part due to the thick Megol nose pads. Those with narrower heads may want to be wary though, as these might be too wide. But on the whole these are certainly a fair buy, especially given that they have utility that isn’t limited to the range.
Smith Optics Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield Field Kit
Sticking with Smith Optics, let’s take a look at the Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield Field Kit. We’re returning to traditional range-style shooting glasses here, featuring the same Tapered Lens Technology to correct distortion, along with US-Mil-PRF-31013 and ANSI Z87.1 standard approval. As with the Hudson Tactical Sunglasses, the Elite Aegis Arc’s feature the Megol nose pads that are both comfortable and effective at holding the glasses in place.
As the name implies, these glasses come as a kit, featuring both clear and tinted lenses that can be easily interchanged. The clear lenses are ideal for indoor shooting, while the tinted lenses lend themselves to sunny day outdoor shooting. The tinted lenses are both UVA and UVB protective, and the entire kit comes in a durable compact carrying case for easy transport and storage.
Revision Military Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses
The Revision Military Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses, in my opinion, take the title for the most badass shades on our list. As the name suggests, these are intended to serve as military grade eye protection, exceeding ANSI Z87.1 and meeting MIL-PRF-31013 standards. They also provide 100% protection from UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. Additionally, they feature a close-fit, low-profile, wraparound design to maximally protect against the elements.
The aesthetic to these sunglasses is extremely cool, but the comfortable fit is their highest selling point. They come in 9 different colors, all of which include a carrying case and pouch. These are also an overall great deal for a set of durable sunglasses that will last for many years.
Allen Over Shooting Glasses
I needed a minute to cool down from the Hellfly’s so we’re going to slow it down a bit, and focus on something less sexy, and strictly practical. The Allen Over Shooting Glasses are budget shooting shades designed for those who wear prescription eyeglasses.
While the Allen Over Shooting Glasses themselves meet ANSI Z87.1 standards, it is still recommended that your standard prescription eyeglasses worn under the Allen Over’s are also ANSI Z87.1 approved.
The Allen Over’s come in 3 lens styles: Mirror Smoke, Clear, and Yellow, all offering 100% UV protection. Again, they are not the most stylish shades in the world and are a little bulky, but that makes sense given they need to fit over your prescription glasses. Style points aside, these are loved by many and are really well reviewed.
Oakley Men’s Si Tombstone Spoil Oval Sunglasses
Oakley makes some pretty damn cool shades, and these tactical sunglasses are no exception. The team at Oakley reports that they worked with veteran marksmen and experts to design a pair a shooting sunglasses that would offer the widest and most accurate field of vision possible, without compromising the overall functionality and design of these great looking shades.
The results are a military grade high performing set of shooting glasses, which are extremely durable, offer a full 120-degree wrap around view, have a 100% UV protection coating, and the most advanced shooting eyeshield on the market in the SI Tombstone Spoil.
Additionally, Oakley uses its trademark PRIZM technology to provide enhanced contrast and clarity when locking on to your target, while at the same time minimizing eye fatigue and strain.
These shades are extremely comfortable; the wide field of crystal clear vision is fantastic; and on top of everything else, the lenses can be easily interchanged with different styles for every scenario.
As is to be expected coming from Oakley, these shooting glasses aren’t the cheapest, but they meet ANSI standards, and go above and beyond the call of duty for shooting glasses. They’re my favorite product on this list, and if you do have the budget for them, you won’t be disappointed.
We’ll bring our list to a close there. Hopefully you found this information to be both valuable and fun to read. Selecting a good pair of shooting glasses is something that is often overlooked among casual shooters, but is nevertheless very important for your safety and long-term enjoyment in this sport.
Remember to consider the safety standards and general buying guidelines we laid out in the intro before making any final decisions, and if you have any comments or questions, feel free to reach out to us. Have fun and stay safe!
Now that you have your eyes covered, check out the Best Ear Protection to compliment your shooting glasses.