The concept of “Best Shooting Glasses” may not be anything more than a subjective, opinion based statement for a couple of reasons. Firstly, once a certain set of standards is met, there is little room for improvement without vastly increasing the cost of the item and secondly, fashion is about the only other determining factor for the “best” label and fashion is highly subjective.
That doesn’t mean there cannot be a best set of shooting glasses for each individual, it just means that a shooter will need to make an active decision when weighing out the pros and cons of different top tier shooting glasses to make sure that they are the best selection for that individual shooter.
Stylistically there will be differences for glasses that all meet a stringent base standard. Female versus male styles and special experiential benefits may exist but that will be a piece of the puzzle that must be ultimately decided by the shooter themselves.
There is an important note that must be discussed at this point too. Not all glasses are created equal, but that doesn’t mean that all glasses will or can meet specific basic standards to provide suitable protection, it is more of a best practices guideline.
Here is a glaring example: some shooters will NEED to use their prescription glasses while shooting due to lack of other vision improving alternatives. These will HAVE to suffice for the purpose of shooting, and they almost certainly will not meet the minimum best practice standards. Short of using a goggle (which we will cover later in this article) over the glasses, the shooter will have to accept that fact or use alternative means for protection and vision correction.
Note, high quality safety-oriented glasses are slowly being added to the broad market in vision corrected options. A large provider of prescription glasses may be able to provide an avid shooter with prescription versions of glasses that meet stringent standards, though that discussion is beyond the scope of this article.
Materials used for Safety Glasses
Plastics of all types make up the shell and frame materials with specialty optically clear plastics like polycarbonate being the majority of the lens materials. Many manufacturers will have marketing specific proprietary names for their lens or frame materials, but generally the spectrum of lens and frame materials is very tight across the board. Most use some combination of CR-39 or polycarbonate and polymer, though trade names like Trivex (a urethane based monomer plastic) and others are also potential options.
Fit and Comfort
Adjustability and/or custom and semi-custom designs make for a better overall experience, but they add to cost significantly. You’ll want to look for the overall built-in fit and comfort features, like nose pads, ear pads adjustable arm lengths and product design profile to determine how comfortable the glasses will be.
Most glasses utilize some sort of a one size fits all approach so some of this adjustability or comfort on fit will be built into the overall design. This makes it very easy to find protective eyewear in more places which meet a basic standard of protection. The idea of individual adjustability is a premium feature that will increase the cost of the safety glasses by a large amount.
Eye Protection Standards and Ratings Explained
There are a few major standards that exist, and the following explains the basics of these standards and to where they will apply. There are plenty of glasses, many very popular – that don’t even meet the basic standards listed here. They are used by many thousands of shooters with a high degree of protection against risk, but ultimately, they are not the finest eye protection for shooting that is available. The choice is yours as to whether you buy rated protective eyewear or not.
ANSI Z87.1 Standards
This specification determines whether impact or non-impact protection exists in a lens, based on what is basically the least restrictive and least adequate standard for testing. That said it is not an easy standard to achieve. It requires a ¼” ball at 150-300 feet per second to be deflected/resisted by the lenses. It is known as the civilian standard for protection in safety eyewear.
US Mil-PRF-31013 Standards
This specification is known as the Military standard and involves a .15 caliber projectile that weighs 5.8 grains and is shaped in the T37 profile moving at 640-660 feet per second to be deflect4ed/resisted by the lenses. It is 7 times more stringent than the ANSI civilian standard.
There are three standards for the EN.166, the extreme deviation is as follows:
The base minimum of the EN.166 standards require a 22 mm weighing 43 grams (1.52 ounces) dropped from 1.3 meters (51 inches) at 18 Kilometers an hour (16 feet per second) and the frame is to remain in tact and the lens is not to be shattered.
The highest standard within the EN.166 set of specifications will be much more stringent, requiring a 6mm ball weighing 86 grams (.03 ounces) to be fired at the lens at 432 km/h (394 feet per second). The frame must remain intact and the lens untattered.
Fashion and Other Considerations
For those prescription glasses wearers that like to shoot, it may serve your best purpose if you can accommodate contact lenses, to use those and forego your typical glasses. For several reasons, not the least of which is the ability to see better through optics, and to reduce wear and tear on your primary vision correction devices.
Additionally, having access to contacts while shooting allows many features to be bought into your eye protection for a fraction of the costs of doing the same thing for prescription glasses. You should ALWAYS wear safety glasses in addition to your contacts.
Fashion is by a large a big determining factor for the shooting eye protection industry. Many items look alike and it is the subtle differences in design ideology and implementation that usually sets apart a brand that has gone viral form a standard offering producer. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder however, and you will need to decide which fashion styles you like, as no article can simultaneously satisfy all types of shooters with different fashion options.
Best Eye Protection Options Available
WILEY WX300 WILEY x Saber
- X Saber advanced yel/Blk matte
- High quality product
- Highly durable product
- This product is manufactured in United States
Wiley X Saber Advanced Shooting Glasses offer a universal design with broad appeal and a wide shield to protect against dust, flying debris and impacts.
This is a great set of eyewear with a lot of accessorizing possible. The unisex design looks good on a variety of face shapes and fits any sized head.
The Wiley-X Saber is a modern classic with the coverage of a bigger lens with he slim features of fashion forward thinking.
The top-quality lens exceeds the stringent Mil Spec test as listed above. The colorway options and ease of implementation make this a top pick no matter who you ask.
- Exceeds MIL-PRF-31013
- Flexible frame to fit a variety of head shapes and sizes
- May not be the most fashion forward
While Wiley X Saber Advanced Shooting Glasses may not be very unique in design, it is top quality both in materials and build.
Smith Optics Elite Pivlock V2 Max Tactical Sunglass
- Medium Fit/Large Coverage
- Superior ballistic impact protection with uncompromising optics and coverage
- FreeFloat Lens Technology, 3-Position Adjustable Nose Pads, Megol Nose and Temple Pads
- Anti-fog and scratch resistant coatings on all lenses
Clean aesthetic and brand recognition even outside of the shooting world, the Smith Pivlock V2 Elite Max Tactical Safety Glasses offer exceptional versatility.
The tactical feel of the glasses comes via a stealthy profile and good color combinations.
Smith has a reputation that few others offering tactical/shooting glasses can match. The obvious benefit of years in the glasses/eyeware industry shows as the fit and finish is impeccable.
- Exceeds MIL-PRF-31013
- Flexible frame to fit a variety of head shapes and sizes
The reviews and ratings on the Smith Safety Glasses across the board tout its many good properties, while the real world uses of the glasses hype the superior optics of the lenses.
Oakley Si Ballistic Shocktube in Terrain Tan
1 used from $ 176.40
- Plutonite® Lenses offer top UV Protection filtering 100% of all UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light up to 400nm
- Patented High Definition Optics® (HDO®) provides superior optical clarity and razor-sharp vision at every angle
- Three-Point Fit holds lenses in precise optical alignment while eliminating pressure points common with frames that hook the ears
- O-MatterTM stress-resistant frame material is both lightweight and durable for all-day comfort and protection
Military and law enforcement Operators prefer the Oakley SI Ballistic Shocktube Tactical Glasses 10 to 1.
That isn’t a scientific number but it does take into account that some of the most hardcore tactical operators in the world have found these glasses and adopted them to great success – that speaks volumes of their durability, versatility and appeal to some of the best shooter sin the world.
- Very good looking
- Meets some of the highest standards for protection on impact
- Quality optics
Some of the best looking glasses on this list, the atypical looks are a huge benefit when you value fashion or uniqueness over other attributes.
But you don’t have to sacrifice either, because the Oakley classes exceed some of the most stringent standards (MIL-PRF-32432).
ThevOakley SI Ballistic Shocktube Tactical Glasses are in a class of their own and every hardcore shooter knows that they have a secret Wishlist with this or a substantially similar version on it.
Howard Leight by Honeywell Genesis Sharp-Shooter Shooting Glasses
2 used from $ 10.10
- 9-base wraparound uni-lens style offers maximum protective coverage and superior peripheral vision; soft, elastomer browguard diffuses impact while providing comfort at all key points
- Uvextreme anti-fog lens coating offers superior performance in extreme conditions and won't wear off after repeated cleanings; ventilation channel between frame & lens controls fog in eye socket area
- Soft, adjustable nose piece fingers conform to almost any nasal passage; adjustable temple length and lens inclination for customized fit
- Clear lens is suitable for most indoor and outdoor shooting environments
- Meets ANSI Z87.1-2010 (High Impact) and is certified to the requirements of the CSA Z94.3 standard; Meets Military V0 ballistic impact test requirements (7x higher than ANSI); 99.9% UV protection
The Howard Leight Genesis Sharp Shooter shooting Glasses is a fantastic set of eye protection for shooting.
Simple, straightforward and seriously inexpensive, if based on cost alone these would be most shooters top choice especially given the multiple specifications it manages to exceed from a safety perspective.
A bargain and a quality piece of engineering, this is a long lasting perennial favorite at a throwaway price point.
- Best value for the money, no question
- Comfortable universal design
- Kind of mundane and typical in appearance
It’s amazing what Howard Leight/Honeywell has been able to do for the price point and while the glasses are a bit “typical” looking, they are seriously good value glasses for the money.
Pyramex Fortress Safety Eyewear, Clear Lens
- Vented lens allows air to flow away from the lens to prevent fogging.
- Straight back rubber coated temple tips.
- Adjustable nose pad provides a comfortable fit for a broad range of bridge sizes.
- Anti-Scratch lenses offer 99% protection against harmful UV rays.
The Pyramex Fortress Safety Glasses might seem sort of typical, but the value-added build offers good heat release from the head and face; the comfortable universal deign seats the glasses close to the face and the standard for civilian use is met easily by the lens.
Not the highest quality build you can buy, but for the money, these are an excellent choice with a good protective rating.
The price makes these an easy choice and the quality is good enough to last a few years if treated properly.
- Pretty good looking
- Good heat shedding abilities for a close fitting frame
- Slightly flimsy build quality compared to some others
You’ll probably lose them before they break and always having a good pair of glasses around for eye protection is important.
Now with the Pyramex Fortress Safety Glasses it’s not a choice anymore, because these are so affordable and meet a good minimum standard.
iLumen8 Clip Ons
- SAME LENS AS OUR BEST SELLING UV SHOOTING GLASSES- Now available as a Clip On Flip Up' version that Fit-Over your Prescription Glasses, these Glasses use the exact same quality 'pale yellow' lens that our best selling UV Safety Glasses use.
- SHOOTING GLASSES - Excellent for use on Indoor and outdoor gun ranges, our shooting glasses offer enhanced optical clarity for sharpshooters. Our lenses are really, really good for seeing in low light conditions like dusk or evening, or on cloudy days, and as well as for night vision driving.
- PERFECT FOR UV FLASHLIGHTS -- Our shade of 'yellow' Lens is perfectly engineered to enhance your viewing of the stains and the very things you WANT to see with your Blacklight flashlight.
- 100% UV PROTECTION -- from your Black Light Flashlight and ANY outdoor activity. SCRATCH RESISTANT and IMPACT RESISTANT, makes these Clip on glasses an excellent choice for any outdoor sports activity as they are virtually indestructible. PERFECT CHOICE for any ACTIVE OUTDOOR SPORTS AND ACTIVITIES such as Running, Biking, Climbing, Hiking, Walking, Fishing, Driving, Shooting, Hunting and not to mention finding Scorpions!
- BONUS CARRY POUCH / CLOTH INCLUDED ! -- Buy with Confidence - To see our full line of UV flashlights and UV Safety Glasses, please go to our MAIN PRODUCT PAGE at www.amazon.com/shops/iLumen8 , or enter " iLumen8 " into amazon search --- All iLumen8 products carry a WORRY FREE MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
While the iLumen8 Clip-ons do NOT meet ANSI Standards for impact protection, they do offer some additional protection to those who MUST wear Rx glasses while shooting.
The extra definition in the yellow lens and the additional protective qualities can bring normal eyewear up to a much safer level through use of the add-on lenses.
- Clip onto existing glasses
- Relatively inexpensive
- Does not meet the basic civilian standard of ANSI Z87
Sometimes you cannot get certain impact protection levels met when you wear Rx glasses.
The iLumen8 Clip-ons won’t exceed the standard but it does offer additional protection in an easy to use clip on package that has some other benefits like increased clarity and a one handed clip design.
Howard Leight by Honeywell Uvex Hypershock Shooting Glasses
- STYLE & PERFORMANCE: Combines high-performance protection and aggressive sport-inspired styling; designed to fit a wide range of head sizes for increased coverage
- SHOOTING SAFETY: Full frame is lightweight but offers high-impact protection that meets ANSIZ87.1-2015 impact standards; wraparound design for increased side protection and better peripheral vision
- 10X ANTI-FOG: Uvextreme Plus anti-fog coating provides 10X longer fog-free vision and 2X better anti-scratch protection than most other anti-fog glasses on the market
- LONGWEARING COMFORT: Molded nose piece and streamlined temples with soft, molded inserts for longwearing comfort; Integrated hinge mechanisms with dual cam action for secure fit
- INDOOR/OUTDOOR: Clear lens is suitable for most indoor and outdoor shooting environments; offers 99.9% UVA/UVB protection
A good looking universal design that offers a clean aesthetic and doesn’t detract from other items like a hat or hearing protection by being too over the top.
The innovative flexible frame of the Howard Leight Uvex Hypershock Glasses fits a variety of users and the lenses exceed ANSI Z87.
- Great for any sized head
- Doesn’t meet the highest standards for impact protection
Simple and very good looking for the money, this is a good frame that remains flexible in extreme environments without being too intrusive through bad design or poor engineering.
The name is well known to shooters and the lenses of the Howard Leight Uvex Hypershock Glasses meet a minimum standard making them better than many competitors.
Crossfire Eyewear 2164 ES4 Safety Glasses
- Designed for all environments, the ES4 features an adjustable nosepiece, ultralight frame and 100% visually correct lenses
- Frames are designed at an 8 to 10 base curve resulting in maximum side coverage and superior peripheral vision
- 99.9% protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays
- Lens quality and performance meet and exceed ANSI Z87.1-2003 high impact standards
- Frames and temples made of highly durable, ultra-lightweight, flexible and impact resistant material
Crossfire 2164 ES4 Safety Glasses are a good cheap pair of glasses that has fantastic anti-fog properties and a very lightweight frame.
The glasses exceed ANSI Z87 and while not being the most durable glasses in existence, these are winning a lot of points for their lightweight thin profile and very inexpensive price point.
- Comfortable, thin profile
- Perhaps a bit too lightweight – durability may suffer a bit
Plain and simple if you are sticking with the ANSI spec, and you don’t desire a higher spec, these are worth the money. Even if you break the Crossfire 2164 ES4 Safety Glasses and need a new pair, because the price point is ridiculously low for the benefits of the design. Good looking for a standard safety glasses offering.
Pyramex I-Force Sporty Dual Pane Anti-Fog Goggle
4 used from $ 15.26
- Ratcheting quick release interchangeable temples and strap
- Scratch resistant polycarbonate lens provides 99% UVA/B/C protection
- Outer polycarbonate lens protects against the environment, while inner acetate lens is designed to prevent fogging
- Outside lens is coated with H2X Anti-fog Technology
- Passes MIL-PRF 32432 High Velocity Impact Standards
The heat retention caused by the goggle design is a small price to pay for such a high quality piece of gear that can be trusted to stay on your head, thanks to the strap attached to the back of the arms.
For dusty or windy environments, the Pyramex I-Force Dual Pane Goggles are hard to beat at the price point, especially for those who are in prone and laying down shooting positions.
- Surpasses MIL-PRF 32432
- Comfortable for the goggle design
- Better protection against dust
- Retain more heat than open architectures
For high movement activities and where there is a legitimate need for increased protection against dust and grit, these goggle style glasses offer better protection than most.
There is a small trade-off of increased heat retention and potential fogging, though the Pyramex I-Force Dual Pane Goggles do ok with their quality anti-fog protection.
NoCry Over-Spec Safety Glasses are not the best looking option, but definitely has its good qualities.
These ANSI Z87 spec glasses offer good clear visuals with a large overwrap design that fits over most Rx glasses. The price is exceptional considering the versatility.
- Great for those who must wear Rx glasses
- Rubberized features
- Not for the fashionista
For those who require Rx glasses to shoot, these might be your best bet in hot environments.
The over-your-lens design allows for decent airflow, and the extended arms are a nice touch.
NoCry Over-Spec Safety Glasses are a quality universal safety glasses option for any environment, including outside of shooting.
NoCry Over-Spec Safety Glasses with Anti Scratch Wrap-Around Lenses
- Safety eyewear present a challenge for anyone with prescription glasses. NoCry Over-Spec Glasses protect both your eyes and eyewear. No need to buy expensive prescription safety glasses or work without a clear sight
- Fits easily and comfortably over most prescription glasses and readers. Wrap-around lens made from scratch-resistant polycarbonate offers a high level of direct and peripheral eye protection
- Clear lenses won't distort your vision so you can easily see cut lines, colors, and other details. Padded arms adjust to fit both small and larger head sizes comfortably. Soft tips eliminate pressure behind the ears
- Ideal for woodworking and carpentry, metal and construction work, lab and dental work, shooting, or anywhere you need to wear PPE eyewear
- OSHA-approved, ANSI Z87 and CSA Z94.3 safety certifications
A heat retaining design is better for those who wont need heat escape for activities.
The ActionEliters Tactical Eyewear are not the highest quality when it comes to durability but gets an honorable mention for the added accessorizing options and the included lens sets which are ANSI Z87 rated.
- Interchangeable lenses for color differences which can enhance clarity and usability
- Some durability concerns over time
While the durability is not on the same level as some of the other options, for those who need multiple lens options these are a good choice.
Remember you are buying generic glasses that, while ANSI z87 rated may not have the fit and finish of bigger brand names with a reputation to protect.
Still for the money the ActionEliters Tactical Eyewear represent a good choice for those who prefer multiple lens options.
ActionEliters Tactical Eyewear Eyeshield Polarized
- Shatterproof flexible poly-carbonate frame.
- Tri-tech fit black frame. Clear, smoke gray and yellow lenses.
- 100% UVA/UVB protection. Universal Fit.
- Scratch-resistant coating on both sides of lens; impact protection and anti-fog performance.
- Perfect for cycling, riding, driving, fishing, running, sports, outdoor activities, etc.
Generic is a good description of the MAGNUS Safety Glasses, but sometime a generic look is a good look especially when you need them to look good on a ton of different uses.
A great choice for bulk purchase with the two specification standards it meets and the low price of entry.
- Meets EN.166F and ANSI Z87
- Very generic design
The generic looks may be a good thing, because then you won’t miss them when you accidentally leave them somewhere.
As long as you write your name on the frame you’ll be ok. Great glasses for the money, with multiple specification standards met.
A good price point and a hands down winner for most shooter on a budget; the MAGNUS Safety Glasses is a very good safety shooting eye protection option.
MAGNUS Safety Glasses/Goggles
- BUY 2 GET 10% OFF AUTOMATICALLY! ADD 2 TO YOUR CART NOW! FREE: Microfiber pouch to
- Our Glasses Are Made With Superior Grade Polycarbonate, Unlike Many Brands Made With Cheap Materials
- ANSI z87.1 & EN166F CERTIFIED PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR With Clear Wrap Around Lens & Non-Slip Adjustable Frames.
- EXCELLENT FOR WORK- Dental Hygienist, Nurses, Nursing assistant, Chemistry Lab Tech, Construction...
- EXCELLENT FOR PLAY-Racquetball, Nerf, Painting, Carpentry, Perfect Style For Men or Women
Eye Safety Systems 740-0207 is a goggle for those who move around a lot while shooting or who are in conditions that require full goggle configuration.
These will shed rain better than regular Rx glasses and therefore offer superior performance under difficult conditions including dust storms, or where there is a lot of airborne debris.
- Possible use for those with glasses underneath (depending on the size of the glasses and their profile)
- Good protection against airborne dust and debris
- A bit pricey
For those that prefer a full goggle for use while in ground positions or shooting from prone position.
This is a great goggle for those who want to match a full kit of gear in desert tan and coyote colorways.
The ANSI Z87 spec is met meaning at least a minimum standard for impact protection exists with the Eye Safety Systems 740-0207 .
Risk of Eye Damage while Shooting
Until you shoot in a high volume, you never really examine the dangers of shooting when it comes to potential eye injuries. Certainly, you wouldn’t experience it without likely significant time behind a gun.
Guns might be simple products or utilize a simple mechanical design, but they aren’t simple in their implementation – there are many variables that come into play.
Ammunition during the ignition and firing phase represents a complex set of events, which can offer some safety concerns to shooters. That is just a single component part to the overall process of shooting.
A single cartridge contains multiple parts to operate, including a primer which offers an explosion; powder which is ignited and leads to a bigger explosion, inertia which moves a bullet into a barrel, where the barrel is contacted on all sides by a projectile, which cuts metal into particulate pieces and then the airborne remnants of the whole process is expelled at the end of the barrel and escapes partially at the breech.
That gives a serious risk of particulate matter which can enter into the eye. It also creates hot blowback that not only contains particulate matter but can also include larger pieces of metal. The hot gasses expelled by the round can also create a risk for the eyes with the violent temperature it exhibits. Forget about the catastrophic failures over the course of history, that safe, completely normal process of shooting, alone can cause serious injury to the eyes without proper protection. Again, this is a single part of the process.
Shooting next to someone increases this risk many fold. The risk of being injured by other shooters is far greater than the risk you pose to yourself, generally speaking, with regards to eye injury.
Flying brass cartridges, hot gasses, and particulate matter is increased significantly. You have very little control over the other shooter’s positioning, safety assessment or control over their weapon. It’s simply smarter to prepare by having the right equipment.
Another often-overlooked consideration is the UVA/UVB rays that you may encounter while shooting, especially in outdoors scenarios. Many glasses for shooting offer basic protection against UVA and /or UVB rays. Most of these options offer some protection against UVA/UVB rays.
You only ever get two eyes. It’s best to just protect them well while engaging in activities that could threaten their ability to perform their primary function.
With so many good quality lenses available and frames that offer unique characteristics, there are plenty of “Best shooting glasses” available to buy, but ultimately fashion and personal choice factor heavily in the selection of what’s best for your needs and your style.
Many lesser quality examples exist on the market and are even (whether responsibly or irresponsibly) being marketed as shooting eye protection that have been available forever. But in light of the amount of protection you can have for a tiny bit more money, it’s obvious that choosing from the finest baseline offerings which meet stringent testing standards becomes your best bet.
There are plenty of other factors that can be included in the decision, and therefore it should be a minimum that your options are meeting a set base standard before you choose from among them.
Having a great pair of shooting eye protection will be a great asset when shooting, but it will be an invaluable piece of gear when you actually need the protective qualities.
Here’s hoping you invest in the best safety equipment you can afford and that you never need them to save your eyesight because of an accident or event.