Shooting Glasses

 Shooting Glasses

Your Source for Information on Shooting Glasses


Shooting Glasses Lenses


Lenses are basically a core component of shooting glasses, so let's look at each one of these lens components or features in more detail:

  • Lens Material
  • Lens Impact Resistance
  • Lens UV protection
  • Lens color

Lens Material

A very important important feature to consider. In today's market most shooting glasses lens are made from three materials:

  • Crown glass
  • CR 39 plastic
  • Polycarbonate

For shooting glasses, Polycarbonate is the best lens material available on the market today. It weights less than Crown Glass and has a higher impact resistance rating. Polycarbonate is about the same weight as CR 39 plastic, but also has a higher impact resistance rating. Crown Glass and CR 39 Plastic offer little or no UV protection, while Polycarbonate, even in it's clear form, provides excellent UV protection.

Polycarbonate is a type of LEXAN® thermoplastic from G.E., and is the same material used for bullet resistant glass in autos. It's such a hard material that a special diamond grinding wheel must be used to cut the lens. To form the lens itself, the material is melted and then force injected into a special mold. In comparison, Polycarbonate lenses are lighter, more durable, more impact-resistant and more scratch-resistant than any other lens material in today's market. Many law enforcement and fire agencies are now making polycarbonate lens standard issue on all protective eyewear. We strongly suggest looking at polycarbonate lens for your shooting glasses.

Beware of lower end or less expensive brands of shooting glasses that advertise the lens as being "impact resistant plastic" or plastic lens marked as"high impact resistance". We'd recommend that you make sure that the lens are Polycarbonate as it is a far superior material over other plastic compounds.

Lens Impact Resistance

In light of the application, this is probably the most important feature to be concerned with. Lens color, fit, etc. are all important, but they become a mute point if the lens won't properly protect the eye. 

polycarbonate lens strength

Impact resistance ratings are typically standardized through agencies and groups like Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OHSA), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the U.S. Military. These standardized rating provide the minimum recommended impact resistance for safety based lens. Some rating information from each group:

OHSA Safety Standard 1910.133(a)(2) requires impact resistant lens AND "eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects."

ANSI standards for impact resistance are outlined in article Z87.1 and Z87.3. These standards were provided to ANSI by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and specifically focus on eye safety.

U.S. Military - The U.S. Military uses a testing standard called MIL-V-43511C, which is a .22 caliber ballistics impact test. U.S. Military eyewear must pass this standard before being issued to any U.S. military personnel.

We suggest choosing shooting glasses with lens that meet or exceed all three standards. If not all three, at least two. As your eyes are so valuable, we wouldn't recommend taking a chance with any less.

Lens UV protection

Ultraviolet radiation (UV) refers to the low frequency light waves produced by the sun. There are three forms of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC.

  • UVC - The atmosphere filters UV-C, so it is not a real concern.
  • UVA - The cause of sun related drug reactions.
  • UVB - This type of UV is responsible for sunburn, prolonged eye damage, and most forms of sun related skin cancers. It can penetrate thin cloud layers and up to three feet of water. This is the one that will do the greatest damage to eyes.

To provide adequate protection, look for shooting glasses that absorb at least 99% of UV radiation. Choose shooting glasses with one of the following labels:

  • "Blocks 99% or 100% of UV rays"
  • "UV absorption up to 400nm"
  • "meets ANSI UV requirements."

Any shooting glasses lens rating less than 99% or 400nm probably won't provide adequate UV protection. It should be noted that even clear Polycarbonate lens will block or absorb UV rays, so don't become focused on the tint as playing a role in the level of protection. To learn more, take a look at this interesting article on UV damage from the EPA.

Lens color

This really comes down to personal preferences. Lens for shooting glasses today come in a wide range of colors from dark gray or smoke to amber to purple. Some info on specific colors:

  • Smoke, Gray and Gray-Green tints - The most common type of lens color. They are effective at blocking glare without changing color perception, making them a good choice for all-weather use. Gray is a neutral, or "true," color that allows the wearer to see all colors as they are. Gray shooting lenses do not enhance the target, but they are good in bright sunlight.
  • Amber-Brown lens tints - Especially good at blocking the blue light commonly found in diffused light such as one might experience on a cloudy day. Amber can improve both contrast and depth perception, and is a good all-around choice for shooting or hunting.
  • Yellow or Orange tints - Improve contrast and give a sensation of heightened visual acuity. So-called "Driving" lenses are usually amber or yellow-brown. Lenses in these hues block haze and blue light and enhance the orange color of the target. The brighter yellow the lens color is, the better it is for use at night.
  • Purple-Vermillion tints - A light purple color, which is actually a combination of a neutral gray and a vermilion, is good for enhancing the orange of the target against a background of tall trees. Vermilion itself is useful to highlight conditions where there is poor background, such as trees, and to enhance the target against the background. If you haven't shot with purple or vermillion tint glasses, it does take some getting use to.

Many shooting glasses manufacturers are now offering glasses with interchangeable lens. Some manufacturers are now offering glasses packages that come standard with a set of 3 different colored lens. We highly recommend that you take a look at this option, as you'll be able to get a lens set of colors/tints to meet the needs of most lighting and atmospheric conditions encountered.