The Best Tactical Sunglasses for 2017: Buyer’s Guide
Tactical sunglasses are an essential item to pack in your EDC bag. Whether you are an everyday huntsman or a casual shooter, taking the perfect shot requires precision, skill and crystal clear vision. The only way to guarantee the latter in all weathers is to carry the best in shooting glasses technology.
Like civilian sunglasses, tactical sunglasses shield your eyes from overexposure to ultraviolet rays (UVA/UVB). This is a spectrum of light that damages your vision over time. What you might not know is that tactical sunglasses also provide ballistic protection.
In other words, tactical sunglasses can take a hit from small projectiles and will keep doing the important job of protecting your eyes. Shell casings, shrapnel and rocks are commonly thrown into your line of sight when on a hunt. So, it gives peace of mind knowing your frames and lenses are rated to the same grade as the best military sunglasses.
There are as many different types of tactical sunglasses as there are situations to use them in. Each version has its own unique benefits and features that allow you to aim straight and true, whether there is strong sunlight, low light or complete darkness.
In this guide, we’ll tell you all about what you’ll get out of a great pair of tactical sunglasses and which are the best tactical sunglasses of 2017.
Top 10 Best Tactical Sunglasses
1: Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ
2: Wiley X Valor
5: ESS Crossbow
7: Wiley X Saber
8: Venture Gear Overwatch
Different types of Tactical Sunglasses
There’s a vast range of tactical sunglasses on the market and each model is tailored to do a specific job. From hiking and trekking, to law enforcement and military use. Below are the important types you should consider when buying new sunglasses for game sports and recreational activity.
Shooting glasses are lightweight sunglasses designed to be used on firing ranges by hobbyists and game hunters. They often boast the most casual designs and offer the best in terms of protection and affordability.
In order for sunglasses to be sold as shooting glasses, they must meet a standard of eye protection set by The American National Standards Institute (ANSI). They require that all shooting glasses meet the ANSI Z87.1 standard which measures impact resistance. Using a high velocity projectile, glasses are tested to destruction to ensure they will protect the wearer from projectiles up to ¼ inches thick.
For highly practical shooting glasses, choose a pair that include a number of interchangeable lenses. Clear, smoke and yellow tints are common and very useful. With a range of coloured lenses to hand, you’ll be able to optimise your glasses for different light conditions throughout the day.
Military sunglasses are guaranteed to exceed your expectations when shooting out at the firing range or hunting in the wild. This is a fact that only makes them more popular with civilian marksmen. The kudos earned by military glasses is down to their unique industrial eyewear protection standard, otherwise known as MIL-PRF-31013.
The military standard exceeds ANSI Z78.1 in two critical ways: the diameter of debris that the lenses can withstand, and the speed at which the debris is travelling. In both cases military sunglasses outperform shooting glasses, hands down.
The reason for this is that the best military sunglasses are designed to protect soldiers from shrapnel that is propelled by the detonation of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). It’s because of these deadly bombs that the best military glasses must protect the wearer from a direct hit by a .15 diameter metal ball travelling at 650 feet per second.
All military glasses can absorb the force of this impact and do not shatter or crack thanks to their polycarbonate lenses. For the optimum balance of protection and practicality, choose the best in military eyewear.
Tactical goggles are the ultimate in ballistic eyewear and are used by air forces, militaries and navies around the world. Like military sunglasses, tactical goggles incorporate ballistic rated lenses and polycarbonate frames to protect against ricochets and impacts.
They offer all the benefits of tactical sunglasses, including interchangeable lenses for daytime and nighttime use, as well as polarized coatings, scratch resistance and 100% UVA and UVB protection.
The major advantage of tactical goggles, and the reason you should consider them, is the retention strap that keeps the goggles firmly affixed to the face. No matter what high pressure situation you find yourself in, you can be sure that tactical goggles will not come away from your eyes, meaning they are protected from every angle at all times.
What’s the Best Tactical Sunglasses Brand?
Oakley take inspiration from the world class athletes who use their products. From road cyclists to game hunters, Oakley are known throughout the sporting world as an innovative brand whose products are trusted to perform in the most extreme conditions.
You can expect nothing but the highest quality when purchasing Oakley sunglasses . Their best shooting glasses use specially formulated iridium coatings to reduce glare, repel liquids and oils, and provide unbeaten optical clarity. So, they’re the perfect companion when out hunting in the wild.
For cutting-edge tactical sunglasses that benefit from athlete input and field tested designs, Oakley is a serious contender for shooters who want the best tactical glasses.
Wiley X is celebrating 30 years in business in 2017. As world leaders in protective eyewear, they are proud to produce the best military tactical sunglasses, as all their models exceed the US Military ballistic protection standard.
Fortunately, Wiley X started selling to the public when ex-soldiers were spotted using their military glasses at local firing ranges. This means that you can now buy tactical sunglasses that are rigorously tested by soldiers deployed around the world. Wiley X are known to use feedback from touring military personnel to periodically update their designs, too.
All of Wiley X’s tactical sunglasses meet OSHA occupational safety standards, ANSI Z87.1 and MIL-PRF-31013. However, these impressive certifications count for nothing if no one wants to wear their glasses in the first place. Thankfully, Wiley X design eyewear that is equally stylish on the street and the firing range.
ESS Ballistic Eyewear
ESS have the welfare of hard working men and women at the heart of their design philosophy. They are the brand of choice for those in the toughest jobs. Firefighters, military personnel and police officers are just some of the patrons who take ESS glasses through their paces in the harshest conditions, year in year out.
All ESS tactical sunglasses meet US military standards MIL-DTL-43511D and MIL-PRF-313013. They therefore exceed the ANSI Z78.1 standard by a large margin and they’re also the only company in this list whose products are tested against the European standard known as CE EN 166.
ESS are a favourite of soldiers who serve in the Middle East, since their military glasses and tactical goggles are on the cutting edge of optical technology. Their eyewear is often available with several interchangeable lens options including photochromic lenses and polarized lenses. For unbeatable optical clarity and bombproof frames, you can’t go wrong with ESS Ballistic Eyewear.
Overview: Top 10 Tactical Sunglasses
Protection, clarity and durability are three factors to consider when deciding which tactical sunglasses to buy. All tactical sunglasses reviews are written using these three criteria as guidelines, from reviews in the professional shooting sports media to consumer reviews on Amazon.com.
Look out for reviews written by professional marksmen, as well as ones by law enforcement officers, firefighters and military personnel. You’ll gain a whole new perspective on how these glasses perform out in the real world and under stressful conditions. Below you’ll find the best tactical sunglasses as rated by consumers on Amazon.com.
Reviewed: Top 5 Tactical Sunglasses
The Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ makes it onto this list for its impressive, futuristic build materials and a proven track record for impact protection and unbeatable optical clarity. As one of the most stylish pairs of glasses on this list, it has a large following among regular marksmen and freedom protectors, including the police and fire services.
The O-matter frame and plutonite lenses mean you’ll look great and you’ll be protected from high impacts and ricochets, too. On top of that, an iridium coating made with superheated metal oxides is bound to the the glasses’ surface. This high-tech coating offers perfect light transmission and minimised glare, to give the clearest line of sight that’s ever been possible.
Every detail of the Flak Jacket XLJ is a minor masterpiece. The lenses are hydrophobic, so water and sweat are repelled effortlessly. Static electricity is dissipated by this coating, too, so dust and dirt don’t cling to the lenses.
The unobtainium stem sleeves and nose pads are made to increase grip with perspiration. And a three point fit, with two sizes of nose pads, ensure sharp, clear vision every time you go to pull the trigger. Of course, the Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ meets the MIL-PRF-31013 military standard for ballistic eyewear.
2. Wiley X Valor
Competitively priced, with ballistic standard lenses and they’re made by a premium manufacturer? Sign us up! The Wiley X Valor is ideal if you’re looking for the perfect balance of affordability and industry leading features.
With interchangeable, shatterproof lenses and 100% UVA protection, these versatile sunglasses are adaptable to all light conditions. Simply twist the frame, unlock the lenses and replace with your desired lens colour. The three included lenses are tinted to optimise performance in bright sunlight, low light and pitch darkness.
Of course, clever lenses are useless without the peace of mind that only military grade materials and impact resistant frames can provide. You’ll be glad to know, these glasses despite their low price, exceed the MIL-PRF-31013 standard and are rated as OSHA grade for occupational protective eyewear.
Included in the price are a generous pack of accessories. You’ll receive three lenses in clear, smoke and rust colours, as well as a leash cord, black zippered case and micro fibre cleaning cloth. It’s a whole lot of stylish ballistic eye protection for the price.
The functionality of the Revision Military Sawfly will make it your new favourite shooting buddy. If you buy the military kit, you’ll get a micro-fibre cloth, head strap and soft case with belt clip, as well as frames and two lenses in clear and smoked tints.
The optical grade polycarbonate lenses are scratch resistant on both sides, so no amount of mild abrasion is going to affect your vision. The lenses also boast a rating that is three times higher for impact resistance than the ANSI Z78.1 and the European EN 166 certification.
This product is fantastic for hunters who search for game in humid weather as the lens coatings repel a wide range of chemicals, including deet. If you use deet to fend off insects during the summer months, the Revision Sawfly is the best choice for you. Unique to the Revision Sawfly are its adjustable stems, which make for extra comfort if you like to use earpieces to communicate with your buddies when out shooting.
As the name suggests, these affordable tactical sunglasses are ballistic rated. You’ll never have to worry about hot brass or flying dirt coming into contact with your eyes while wearing this highly rated eye protection.
It’s not all technical specs with the Battlewrap Ballistics either. They look as good as the latest designs from the biggest fashion houses. The difference is, you will always be ready to go shooting with these in your EDC bag.
The Battlewrap Ballistics are loaded with a list of features that glasses twice the price would be lucky to boast. As well as full UVA, UVB and UVC protection, the glasses are made using a titanium/Grilamid composite that gives strength and flexibility in equal measure. Pair these with ArmourSight lenses that are 10x stronger than the nearest rivals and you have a pair of military rated sunglasses that exceed MIL-PRF-313013 and ANSI Z78.1 standards.
For military eyewear on a budget, look no further than the Under Armour Battlewrap Ballistic.
5. ESS Crossbow
The ESS Crossbow is the first pair of tactical sunglasses designed specifically for marksmen who use ear protection while on the firing range. Ergonomically designed with ultra-thin temple arms, the Crossbow allows you to comfortably defend your ears from high decibel gunfire while providing superb optical clarity.
With those cleverly designed stems in place, you’ll notice a reduction in pressure points and hotspots, too. The unique Crossbow Suppressor frames use a patented Dedbolt Lens Lock to allow rapid lens changes while providing a vice-like grip under impact.
Mated to the frames are ESS’s 2.4mm polycarbonate lenses featuring ESSOPTICSTM and ClearZone FlowCoat technology. To you and me, that means anti-fogging properties on the inside of the lenses and tough scratch-resistance on the outside. Now you can see why the ESS Crossbow is a favourite of law enforcement officers and military personnel from Toronto to Tehran.
Other Tactical Sunglasses Worth Trying
Tactical Sunglasses: A Buyer’s Guide
All shooting glasses must be tough, provide crisp visuals and meet certain standards to protect the wearer, but there are many different models and types to consider. Watch the video below for an overview of what to look out for in your next pair of military sunglasses.
Think about where you shoot, how often and in what climate. Then consider the features below and decide on your priorities. Many of the points below cover shooting glasses, tactical sunglasses and military glasses and goggles. Here are the top 5 features that will help you to buy the right tactical sunglasses first time.
Impact protection: Throughout this guide there is an emphasis on ANSI standards and military certifications. This is because impact protection is the single most important quality of all tactical sunglasses. Without the ability to absorb and repel shrapnel and debris, all our recommended models would simply be fashion sunglasses. We recommend that you buy the shooting glasses with the highest standard of impact protection that you can afford.
Scratch resistance: If your glasses aren’t optically perfect, they aren’t doing their job. That’s why all tactical sunglasses must be scratch resistant. Shooting is an enjoyable but tough pastime that will take its toll on all of your gear. To maximise your return on investment, make sure your tactical sunglasses use the best in scratch-resistance technologies.
Single piece lenses: If you are looking to change lenses often, then narrow your options down to tactical glasses with single piece lenses. Single piece lenses (as opposed to two separate lenses) offer better shock absorption and force distribution. So, they guard against debris and shell casings better.
Durable frames: The frames need to be comfortable over the bridge of the nose and the tops of the ears. They also need to withstand the knocks, ricochettes and recoils that come with regular shooting practice and offer protection to your peripheral vision. If durability is high on your wish list, choose military rated frames.
Style: If you put a premium on good looks then your tactical sunglasses will have to ooze panache. If you buy a pair of glasses for their technical features but you think they look dorky, you might be put off wearing them. This could be dangerous to you and others around you. To ensure you’re completely happy with your new tactical sunglasses, choose a pair that give 110% in the style department.
You can’t put a price on your eyesight. That’s why we recommend buying tactical sunglasses with a proven track record for reliability, durability and optimised protection. Sometimes this means spending a little more for premium quality, but ultimately you can find tactical sunglasses that meet all the essential criteria for an impressively low price.
When you use your tactical sunglasses, you want the unique feeling of having exactly the right piece of gear to complete the job. When the job is taking a clean shot, then you’ll want to enjoy your sunglasses by looking great and feeling safe, too. That’s why trying out many pairs of tactical sunglasses is always a good idea. Whether you prefer target practice or hunting in the wild, demand nothing less than the best when it comes to protective tactical sunglasses.