Safety and Training

Guide to Buying Eye Protection and Shooting Glasses

Shooting classes with amber lenses and gray ear pieces on a white background

A beginning shooter needs to have some very basic equipment to start shooting. Shooting glasses and hearing protection are second to ammo and a gun! Outdoor and indoor ranges absolutely require you to wear both and even if you are shooting on your own land, you should not go without ear or eye protection.

Shooting classes with amber lenses and gray ear pieces on a white backgroundA good place to start is to look for glasses that meet ANSI Z87 +1 standards. The American National Standards Institute includes these points in their definition:

  1. Provide protection
  2. Be comfortable
  3. Fit securely
  4. Be capable of being disinfected
  5. Be durable
  6. Fit over prescription eyewear

Further, there are extra features you should look for in quality eye protection.

  • The glasses should have side shields.
  • The frames should be made of nylon, rubber or propionate to hold their shape and will not break.
  • To make the frames even more durable, look for a frame that has spring hinges.
  • Wraparound temples keep your glasses in place during recoil
  • Most importantly, the lenses should be impact-resistant plastic or polycarbonate which is less likely to break and be more scratch-resistant.

Lens color is another important factor to look at when choosing your glasses. Each lens color has pros and cons for each different shooting condition. Therefore, you might want to choose a pair with interchangeable lenses or pick out a few different pairs, depending on where you shoot most often. Don’t forget to check to see if the lenses you are buying provide UV protection, especially if you shoot outside.

  • Smoke/gray lenses are most effective in bright sunlight because they block glare. However, they are not effective in the woods or other shady areas. These are best suited for outdoor range shooting.
  • Vermilion lenses (red) give you a better view of light-colored targets against a dark background. These would be best for hunting.
  • Amber/brown lenses block blue light which are good for a cloudy day.
  • Yellow/orange lenses contrast, block haze and blue light, and enhance the color orange. The brighter yellow the lenses are, the better for shooting at night time. These lenses are best for outdoor shooting.
  • Ice lenses show true color.
  • Copper lenses are a good all-purpose choice. They are good for use during cloudy conditions or in bright sunshine.
  • Mirror and Polarized lenses reduce glare. Polarized lenses are better than mirrored lenses and they are especially good for dawn or dusk shooting.
  • Indoor/Outdoor lenses are clear with mirror-coating. The coating reflects light and reduces glare.

Do you have a favorite lens color for your glasses? How about a favorite type? Share with CheaperThanDirt’s readers in the comments section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

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