Nobody wants to shoot their eye out, right?
Keeps happening though. Not always a result of ‘shooting’ your eye out, but here’s the deal. Shooting’s a great sport and a great hobby, but it comes with danger baked right in.
The US Eye Injury Register – a voluntary reporting organization on eye injuries – says firearms remain a leading source of injuries to the eyes of those who fire them.
Powder burn injuries, shrapnel injuries, misfire injuries, you name it – it’s not usually a case of shooting your eye out. It’s that Things Go Wrong. When they do, we need to be sure we’re wearing effective eye protection.
If you’re of the curious kind, we’ve also included a buyers’ guide complete with a small FAQ.
They’ll help you to get clued into what makes not just a good fishing rod for spinnerbait but a good rod full stop.
This way your next purchase will be an informed one and your next fishing trip can go swimmingly.
In a hurry?This is our Winner!
Best Eye Protection For Shooting – Comparison Table
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|Wiley X Saber Advanced|
|Revision Military Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses|
|ESS Eyewear Crossbow Suppressor 2X Deluxe|
|Smith Optics Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield Field Kit|
|Radians SH500CS Shift|
Best Eye Protection For Shooting – Reviews
Our Top Pick
The Wiley X Saber Advanced eye protectors come with a long history of doing the job and doing it right.
They’re part of a series of leading high velocity eye protectors. That means they’re tried and tested, and have been tweaked and upgraded many times over the years.
When you put on these one-piece eye protectors, you know they’ve been evolved through experience to make sure nothing bad happens to your eyes on their watch.
It’s more than Wiley’s reputation is worth to have them fail – and that’s worth a confidence bump when you choose them to protect you.
That level of evolution in design and function is evident from the fact that some parts of these protectors are patented.
The adjustable tipped temples, for instance, which are designed to keep the frames firm and secure while you’re shooting, are patented technology.
Is that important?
Wiley probably thinks so. What it means is this. People have thought hard about the dangers of eye protection that can slip or slide in the moment when it’s needed. And as a patent, you can’t get that technology on other goggles. So why would you not choose eye protectors built with that danger taken into consideration – and countered for you?
In terms of the business end of eye protection, you’re looking at 2.5mm polycarbonate ballistic lenses in the Wiley goggles. That’s strong enough to keep most things out of your eyes, without being overly heavy or thick to wear on longer shooting days.
Eye protectors though are designed to protect you from more than intrusion by sharp or foreign objects. These lenses use a z-oxide mirror coating to protect you from flash and glare when you’re taking your next shot.
Again, the impression that these are goggles that people have thought long and hard about is difficult to escape. And you reap the benefit of all that thought when you wear them in the wild or on the range.
Every glasses-wearer on the planet will tell you though it’s not usually the lenses that are the irritating thing about wearing them. The two main areas that irritate with long use are the nose and the ears, where the glasses sit.
The same is true of eye protectors. It’s the points of contact with the face that can get tired, or sore, and make you take them off just at the wrong moment.
Wiley’s redeveloped the nose pad on these goggles so it’s adjustable to you. That means you can more or less get a custom fit on the nose so you stay comfortable all day long.
Add to that a brow bar which keeps the frame firmly to your face and stops the sweat from getting under the goggles.
What you end up with is a set of eye protectors doing everything possible to keep you safe. Which is why they take our top spot on this list of the best eye protection for shooting today.
- High quality goggles with a strong reputation
- Impact-resistant 2.5mm polycarbonate ballistic lenses
- Anti-glare coating
- One-piece wraparound design
- Padded nose pad and temple adjustments for a comfortable custom fit
- Goggles meet the GL PD 10-12 MCEP and MIL PRF 31010 standards
- Fog resistant, for clarity when shooting
- Weirdly not scratch resistant, which compromises overall vision quality.
You can tell a lot about a product by its name. The name is how the manufacturers have chosen to represent it to the world.
There’s a lot to like about the Revision Military Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses.
First, they’re ballistic sunglasses.
That’s a coming together of practical purpose and outright style. These are some stylish eye protectors. They look like the kind of thing you expect to see making Tom Cruise look cool in the movies. They’re eye protectors you’d be more than happy to wear just for their sunglasses function.
But they’re also highly protective ballistic eye protectors into the bargain. Double win for Revision on that one.
Then there’s the fact they’re labelled as ‘Military.’
Is that just marketing spin to appeal to gun-lovers, who frequently have an affinity or some personal or family connection with the armed forces?
Not so much, as it turns out. These are high-impact polycarbonate lenses which meet the US military’s ballistic impact requirements for glasses and goggles.
Cool enough for Cruise, tough enough for the US military. Looking pretty good so far.
The fit is made for comfort – that’s a must with any eye protectors that hope to be taken seriously as day-long sunglasses.
More than that though, the arms are thin, which means they can be worn without compromising the seal of any ear protectors you’re also wearing on the range or in the wild.
Seeing that they meet the US MIL-PRF 31010 standards, naturally they exceed ANSI z87.1 – 2010 standards. And with complete eye-area coverage and full side-impact protection, they’ll keep you safe from any imaginable hazard while shooting.
That includes UVA, UVB and UVC rays – protection against harmful UV radiation is up to 100% with these goggles.
None of which matters if you can’t both see clearly and shoot straight while you’re wearing them, of course. Thankfully, you can do both. They’re absolutely clear, fog resistant, scratch resistant and give you a clear frame of uninterrupted vision.
Clear, cool, protective enough for the military, designed within an inch of their life and safe to use with ear protection.
We did say there was a lot to like about the Revision Military Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses.
You could do much, much worse than own at least one pair to keep your eyes safe on your shooting days. And, y’know, to make you look cool on your non-shooting days.
- 22mm high impact optical grade polycarbonate lenses for protection and clarity.
- More or less guaranteed eye protection.
- Protection from harmful UV rays too.
- Comes with a microfiber cleaning cloth and a strong case, to keep the ballistic sunglasses safe.
- Wrap-around design gives a wide field of view.
- Some users find they wanted the sunglasses to get darker in direct sunlight.
- Frames feel thick to some people, which can be a distraction from your shooting
The Revision Ballistic Sunglasses are thin enough not to disturb any ear protectors.
The ESS Eyewear Crossbow Suppressors are specifically designed to be worn with ear protectors and not interfere with their operation.
They’re a comfortable fit and they’ve been collecting standards to meet and surpass since they were launched.
US MIL-PRF 31013, CE EN 166, ANSI z87.1+ and US Federal OSHA requirements – the ESS Eyewear Crossbow Suppressors meets them all. In terms of a guarantee that they’ll keep you safe while shooting, they don’t come better or more comprehensive than that.
While they may seem a little minimal to some people, there’s a definite non-shooting style about the Suppressors too. Not the Tom cruise movie cool of the Revision Ballistic Sunglasses, but certainly an Eighties-Movie-Alien chic that is absolutely due a comeback. You won’t look anything but stylish walking around with your ESS Eyewear glasses on.
But while they’re stylish off the range, it’s their protective capabilities which are the real selling point of the Crossbow Suppressors. They bring the cool, but they bring it to a set-up where you can keep both your eyes and ears safe from the potential hazards of shooting.
The Crossbow Suppressors are available in three lens colors – clear, hi-def copper and smoke grey. Each has their own vibe – ordinary citizen, steampunk avenger, and gun-toting alien who’s too cool for school, respectively.
And they each give you glare-protection and a clear field of vision while earning their place on this list for their superlative protective qualities.
- Strong, long-lasting shooting glasses
- Meets or surpasses a whole raft of protection standards
- Designed to work with ear protectors without disrupting their function
- Easy to change lenses when needed
- Clear, distortion-fee field of vision
- Scratch resistant
- Comfortable fit
- The suppressor frame is short compared to standard frames.
- Glasses need careful storage to stop the frames themselves from scratching the lenses
The Smith Optics Elite Aegis Arc Compact Eyeshield kit delivers on the things you need in a set of shooting glasses. And then they go further, having been designed with consideration to add extra protections for the shooter.
First of all, let’s cut to the chase – the Smith Optics eye protectors meet US MIL PRF-31013 standards. That means they’re up to military spec for eye protection.
That’s jobs 1, 2, and 3 done for a set of civilian eye protectors.
Adding jobs 4 and 5 into the mix, the Smith Optics kit comes with tapered lenses as standard.
So, tapered lenses help correct any potential distortion in your field of view. So you aim more accurately. Shoot more accurately. Succeed more regularly.
They’re strongly built too, meaning they’ll last a long time, and offer protection against front and side impacts during their active lifespan.
While designed to offer maximum protection, it’s worth noting that the Smith Optics eye protectors are better suited to those with medium to large faces.
Those of an especially elfin facial nature can probably find eye protectors more suited to their face – the Wiley or the Revision, maybe. But those with bigger, broader faces will find the Smith Optics fit them perfectly, while combining top notch protection and ice cool style
- High style, maximum protection.
- Designed to fit perfectly and stay comfortable all the time you’re shooting.
- Easy-change lenses in two colors – clear and smoke – for changes in light conditions.
- Comes with a case to protect your lenses from scratches.
- Style and protection this intense doesn’t come particularly cheap
It’s a lens-changing party with the Radians SH500CS Shift.
You get no fewer than five sets of high quality protective lenses here, each of which guarantees your eyes the protection they need. The five colors can be easily changed to respond to changes in the light conditions.
For bright sunlight, go green mirror. Medium light, break out the copper lenses, which also give you better depth perception. Shooting at orange targets? Bring on the orange lenses to lessen the eye-strain that comes with such long staring at such targets. Shooting at twilight? Go amber – it will enhance your vision in those circumstances.
Needless to say, alongside the practical lens-o-rama, there are a pair of clear lenses for indoor and night-time shooting, when straightforward clarity is king.
With the multi-colored lensfest, you’re looking at blocking out up to 99% of harmful UV rays with these eye protectors too. They exceed ANSI z87.1 standards by way of guaranteeing their reputation and quality.
The glasses come with rubber-tipped temples and nose piece, for a comfortable, slip-resistant fit. The design of the frames is deliberately unobtrusive, so it doesn’t make its presence felt while you’re shooting. That leaves it free to simply do its job – protecting your eyes from any shooting mishaps.
- Various lenses to offer protection and enhancement in different light conditions.
- Slip-resistant rubber-tipped temples keep a comfortable fit as long as you wear them.
- Optimum protection guaranteed as they lenses meet protection standards.
- Like the Smith Optics eye protectors, these glasses have a wider fit, so those with thinner faces should look elsewhere.
- Vermillion/purple lenses do not come included, though they’re useful if you’re shooting clays. Also if you’re going to goth parties. Just a thought
Best Eye Protection For Shooting – Buyers Guide
Eye protection is vital when you shoot. But there are several questions you should ask before you buy.
Does It Meet My Standards?
There are several standards eye protection can meet. There are civilian health and safety standards, and then there are military standards, which offer an extra level of security.
Look for the standards each set of eye protectors meets or surpasses. The more standards they meet, and the more stringent those standards are, the more confidence you can have that they’ll keep you safe during your shooting life.
Can I Hear You?
There’s no special obligation on makers of eye protection to take the makers of ear protection into account with their designs and builds. Those that do so though prove that they’re thinking of the shooter’s all-round real world protection, rather than just ticking a safety box.
Check if your preferred eye protectors work in harmony with ear protectors so you’re not compromising either sense when you need them both, either on the range or in the field.
Does My Face Look Cute In These?
We know, we know – as long as the protection works, that’s all that really matters about eye protectors, right? Still, there’s no harm in looking good if you can. And with some of the intense styling that’s gone into the new generation of eye protectors, you can.
Wrap-arounds? Fuller-face-fits? You name it, there’s a set of eye protectors that make you look cool while offering you protection from all the potential hazards of shooting and harmful UV rays too. Don’t compromise the protection for style, but if you can combine the two, do it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which standards should my eye protection be meeting?
As many as possible.
ANSI z87.1 and CE EN 166 are an advisable minimum standard, though they usually apply to protective eyewear in a work environment.
If you can get eye protectors that meet US MIL-PRF 31013, you’re golden, as this is the US military’s standard for ballistic eyewear. If it’s good enough for them, it’s guaranteed to be good enough for your purposes.
Which are better, fixed-lens eye protectors or changeable lens?
Honestly, whichever you prefer. Whichever you’re happy to use every time you shoot.
It’s true that changeable colored lenses can offer you tailored benefits in particular light conditions. But on the other hand, some users feel the sturdiness of fixed-lens eye protectors are more protective because of their greater similarity to safety goggles.
Some eye protectors are ‘better’ than others because of the strength of their protective lenses, the solidity of their side protection, etc. But that’s not necessarily a fact of whether the lenses are fixed or changeable. Prioritze protection first. But then, choose protection that feels right to you.
3. Is eye protection really necessary when shooting?
That depends. Do you like having eyes that work? Sounds flippant, but like any other hobby or profession involving close contact with firearms, you can do everything right, and things can still sometimes go wrong.
If and when they do, do you want to be ‘that guy’ who got a powder burn injury, a ricochet or a misfire injury because you didn’t believe eye protection was worth it? Do the smart thing. Wear the eye protection. Continue seeing things.