The most important aspect of shooting glasses is the lens material. For shooting purposes, polycarbonate, the same material used for bullet-resistant glass, is the best lens material available on the market. It combines light weight, durability, impact- and scratch-resistance better than any other lens material. Some glasses have plastic lenses, but in order to be considered true "shooting glasses" they must be American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z78.1) certified. This certification is the most important thing to look for in shooting glasses, if safety is a concern, because it establishes performance criteria and testing requirements for devices used to protect the eyes and face from injuries from impact. Plastic lenses and even some polycarbonate lenses are not covered by this standard, so it is pivotal that you check.
Just as lens color and fit are key, another important aspect to shooting glasses is the impact-resistance. Impact resistance ratings are standardized through agencies like the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, ANSI, and the U.S. Military. These ratings provide the minimum recommended impact-resistance for safety-based lenses.
Advantages to different lens colors
The color of lens you prefer is no more than a personal preference. However, some colors do offer advantages that can ultimately help your shooting.
- Smoke, Gray and Gray-Green tints – These are the most common lens colors. 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.
Most manufacturers offer shooting glass packages that come standard with a set of three different colored lenses. This allows you to have a set of colors/tints to meet the needs of most lighting and atmospheric conditions encountered.
Since protection is the reason you’re buying shooting glasses, it is imperative that the lens covers your eyes properly. You want the lens to be long enough to cover the eyes, so it will protect them from flying debris. Also, look for lenses that wrap past the sides of your eyes, so you will have complete coverage from every direction.
Frames and Fit
The last thing you want your shooting glasses to be is uncomfortable. More often than not, discomfort is caused by the frames, lenses or a combination of both. Some frames are meant to be rigid while others are flexible and can be adjusted. Adjustable and flexible frames provide additional fitting options and offer a custom fit. Just as important as the frame, the type of nose piece that the shooting glasses have is key as well. Some are made of a soft plastic while others are rubber, but no matter which you choose, just make sure you pick whichever one you’re most comfortable with.
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