Wearing proper protective shooting glasses is always recommended. Eye injuries are far more common than you might think. If you wear glasses for vision correction you may think you’re protected. However, eyeglasses do not offer the protection from projectiles that proper shooting glasses do.
Other safety gear you need includes shooting gloves and hearing protection. Protection is not expensive and even if you buy really expensive protective gear, it is still less than the cost of an injury.
Eyeglasses for vision correction also vary a lot in shape and size. Many people wear smaller frames that don’t cover the eye area well. So, while something is better than nothing, it’s best to buy a few pairs of actual shooting glasses. Although many people use them for range days, they’re also good to wear if you find yourself in a self-defense situation with a firearm in hand.
Prescription Safety Glasses
You can buy safety or shooting glasses online made to your prescription. Zenni Optical is a decent choice for online eye wear purchases.
If you don’t want to buy costly prescription shooting glasses or goggles, there are other options.
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Contact lenses with shooting glasses
Contact lenses cost more than glasses, and not everyone can comfortably wear them. If you switch between glasses and contact lenses, you might consider using contacts when you’re on the range. Keep in mind that optometrists generally consider glasses to be better than contacts for vision correction.
Shooting glasses over prescription glasses
Unless you wear particularly large prescription glasses, you can get shooting glasses to wear over your regular glasses. This is a popular solution because it works well and is inexpensive. The downside is that some glasses are prone to fogging.
Vision quality is especially important when shooting, so you may want to check whether there’s a difference in your accuracy when shooting with contacts and shooting glasses versus shooting glasses over your regular glasses. The difference varies by person.
If you are wearing a full-face gas mask, you either need to wear contacts or get an aftermarket spectacle kit such as the MIRAVISION Spectacle kit. MIRAVISION is compatible with the CM-6M and CM-7M gas masks.
Yellow is a popular choice because it provides maximum contrast between orange targets and surroundings. Yellow is a good choice for shooting indoors and in low light. Skeet shooters use yellow lenses because of the great contrast they provide when aiming at bright orange clays. Yellow lenses transmit 80–90% of light.
Orange lenses are a good choice for many shooters because they provide excellent contrast in bright outdoor light. Many ranges are outdoors, so orange makes a lot of sense because it reduces blue light and glare. Orange lenses also provide good contrast with orange targets. Orange lenses transmit 70–80% of light.
If you’re shooting where there’s a lot of vegetation, consider light purple lenses. Dark purple lenses are good for snowy conditions or where there’s a lot of blue in the background. Purple lenses transmit 30–65% of light.
For cloudy, foggy, or hazy days, red lenses are your best bet. Red lenses tame green and blue backgrounds, so they’re excellent for shooting out in foggy fields first thing in the morning. Light transmission for red lenses varies from 50–60%.
Blue lenses are rarely used because they are exclusively for green targets and medium to low light. A blue lens transmits only 45–55% of light.
Gray lenses help with brightness, but they don’t provide any helpful contrast. If bright light is your main concern or your eyes are very sensitive to light, give gray lenses a try. Their light transmission is around 50%.
For good eye protection on bright and sunny days, consider brown lenses. Brown lenses are often used for hunting game birds because they provide excellent contrast for brown and beige. Their average light transmission is 35–45%.
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If you want a great pair of shooting glasses with excellent ballistic protection but without a tactical look, Smith Optics has you covered. These shooting glasses are the classic aviator style you can wear anywhere without looking like you’re wearing specialty eye wear. The design features a strong yet lightweight metal frame and heavy-duty lenses. The nose and ear pads actually wick moisture away for increased comfort whether you’re enjoying a long day at the range or heading out to dinner on a hot summer night.
These lightweight ballistic glasses offer a wide angle of view with a lightweight frame. The lenses meet military ballistic standards. Each lens is made from a single piece and coated to block UV light. The unique shape ensures that shooters can see as clearly as possible. If you wear prescription glasses, you can fit prescription lenses to the frame. Each pair comes with lenses in three colors that are easy to pop in and out as desired. Choose from gray, clear, or orange lenses depending on your shooting needs. The included cleaning cloth and hard clamshell case make it easy to keep your glasses in fantastic condition. The retention strap is a nice touch if you’re tired of shooting glasses that fall off at inopportune times.
If you’re looking for decent ballistic glasses that won’t be a big hit on your wallet if you lose them or loan them to a buddy, ESS is the company to check out. The hard case comes with three pairs of shooting glasses in three lens colors. The frame sits snugly on the face, so these can’t be worn over even the smallest prescription glasses without severely compromising safety. These glasses are a top-notch choice for backup ballistic glasses too. While you may not want to shell out the money for three pairs of the best ballistic glasses, having some affordable backups is not a bad idea.
Oakley sunglasses have long been a favorite of those who want high-quality shades. Their ballistic glasses live up to their high production standards, but of course, they come with a price tag to match.
The lenses that come standard on Det Cords have an antifog coating that can be a real game changer if you struggle with fogging. The lenses reduce blue light while completely blocking harmful UV rays. The heavy-duty frame only touches your face at the bridge of your nose and right behind your ears, so the glasses kind of float on your head for a more lightweight feel than many shooting glasses.
These moderately priced ballistic glasses don’t look overly tactical. The lenses are 100% polycarbonate that’s coated to protect your eyes from UV rays. Your eyes are well protected because these glasses exceed military standards. However, one negative is that these glasses are prone to fogging unless you use a spray to prevent it. This is in part due to how close they fit to your face. The other negative is that the close to the face design means you can’t put these over prescription glasses.
These are inexpensive shooting glasses that meet ANSI Z87.1+ standards. If you want to keep extra ballistic glasses on hand without breaking the bank, Radians are a great choice. Most people can comfortably wear them thanks to the thin frame. While these glasses will protect your eyes out on the range, don’t expect them to feel like the nicer pair you might use more often. The materials are good for the price, but they don’t compare with shooting glasses in a higher price bracket. I suggest buying some Radians in case your shooting buddy forgets theirs or you want to take someone out for a day on the range.
These are a good choice for throwing in your everyday carry or bug out bag.
Beretta Trident Shooting glasses are extremely comfortable because of their lightweight frame. As there isn’t much frame to get in the way, the field of view is great. Without the frame disrupting your vision, your peripheral vision is better than with most shooting glasses. Each pair of Trident Shooting glasses comes with lenses tinted black, red, and yellow. Choose the red lens for bright days and see what a difference the right tint can make out on the range. The lenses are easy to pop in and out, so you’re more likely to change them according to the lighting conditions.
If you need basic ballistic protection that can go over almost any eyeglasses, these will do the job. No, they aren’t particularly stylish, but that may not matter to you. They provide total eye protection because of their larger wraparound style. They’re designed to be worn comfortably with shooting muffs. You can choose between yellow or clear lenses. These are definitely budget glasses for stashing in bags or caches.
These are a super-premium pair of shooting glasses with a price tag to match. The frames are lightweight and made of Oakley’s trademark O’Matter frame material. The PRIZM lens technology enhances color and contrast so you know you’re seeing the best you can. If you ever need to replace a lens, it’s easy to get replacement lenses from Oakley. This means that even if you do get hit by something, you can make your glasses safe to wear again without buying a new pair.
The Radar comes in a ton of tint patterns for those who don’t need prescription lenses. Prescription lenses are available too, but they cost a lot more and there are only a few tint options. For most people, it makes more sense to wear contact lenses and get standard Radars because of the high cost of the prescription version.
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These are an affordable choice that provides amazing protection from projectiles. The dual-9 base wraparound lenses block debris coming from the side. My favorite feature is the unique ventilation between the frame and lenses that prevents fogging. Combined with the antifog coating, you can say goodbye to constantly wiping off your shooting glasses. The temple length is adjustable for enhanced comfort.
This affordable kit is a good option for those who want a range of lens colors for various shooting conditions. The one-piece polycarbonate wraparound lens is easy to change out and features full UV protection. This kit includes clear, yellow, orange, purple, pink, and bronze lenses. You also get to choose the color of your base frame. These shooting glasses exceed ANSI Z87.1+ standards, and they are antifog.
If you want to add prescription lenses, you can buy an adapter on Amazon and have lenses installed in it. Your choice of Methow lens can then be worn over the adapter. This makes for a custom fit at a fraction of the cost of many prescription shooting glasses. Online optical lens dealers offer lenses at some very affordable prices.
These are an outstanding pair of tactical shooting glasses. Shooters can choose between clear or rose unpolarized lenses or polarized lenses in either bronze with a blue mirror tint or gray with silver mirror tint.
These glasses are made to perform well in very wet and humid environments where fogging can be a major hindrance to comfort and safety. The interchangeable lens system allows wearers to buy other colors and change them out to suit different shooting environments and lighting conditions. With both a .Z87+ and MIL-PRF 3243 ballistic ratings, your eyes will have the best protection no matter what conditions you’re operating under.
Some shooting glasses have special coatings and ventilation features that help prevent fogging. For those of us who are making do with inexpensive pairs or wearing shooting glasses over prescription lenses, it can be a challenge to not wind up in a fog. Antifogging sprays can help. Simply spray it on and wipe before a shooting session, and you should be able to prevent most fogging.
Plenty of people stick to clear lens or have a clear pair and a tinted pair for protection from sunlight. Classic gray or black is popular. If you plan to shoot a lot or want to shoot competitively, you should consider trying out other lens colors. The right lens color can help improve accuracy and reduce eye strain in certain light conditions.
Protective eyewear should be worn when shooting to protect your eyes from flying particles. Although the brass that is thrown off is the most common threat, there are other threats to consider. For example, debris can be “kicked up” during shooting. Even a small particle in the eye can be painful and negatively affect your accuracy.
Eye injuries take a long time to heal, so you should do whatever you can to prevent them.
Samantha is Ready To Go Survival's lead editor, a life-long outdoorswoman with a Bachelors in Environmental Studies. She learned the foundation of preparedness from her father who saw heavy combat in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive. An avid outdoors woman and survivalist, her articles have appeared in various homesteading magazines such as GRIT, Back Home, Backwoods Home, and Countryside.