The search for new shooting glasses

Vision plays a significant role in shooting well.  Brian Enos’ classic line “you can only shoot as fast as you can see” is absolutely true.   My vision is not perfect. I’ve had to use prescription glasses for most of my 30 years as a competitive shooter.   For the past 12 years, I’ve used a set of Oakley Half Jacket glasses, with the correction built into the lens itself.  I strongly prefer having the correction in the lens, as opposed to using a prescription insert. My experiences with Rudy Project and Bolle glasses with inserts were that you had twice as many lens surfaces to attract dust that had to be cleaned off, and twice as many surfaces that could fog or be fouled by sweat or rain.  Worse, the correction was not available in the full coverage of the lens, but only in the small section corrected by the insert.

So about 12 years ago I wrote a big check to Oakley and got RX lenses in their VR28 color. When I got the glasses, I was amazed at the quality of the optics, which were better than my daily wear glasses.  The Oakley lenses appeared to correct all the way to the lens edge, giving me improved peripheral vision.  I liked the VR28 because it increased contrast with minimal color distortion.  I discovered that I could wear them from dawn to dusk anytime I was outdoors: driving, shooting, even on stage at outdoor gigs.

After more than a decade of heavy use, and some changes in my vision, it’s time to get not only new lenses, but a new frame.  Why not just get another Oakley frame and VR28 lenses?

This article from Lucky Gunner testing different shooting glasses for safety, did not show that the Oakley product performed well.  And several other companies, particularly Wiley X and Rudy Project, have competitive & similar products.  Rudy Project, in particular, is a big supporter of the practical shooting sports, sponsoring a shooting team and offering discounts to competition shooters.

I reached out to Kevin Gentry from the Rudy Project team and he connected me with Rudy’s RX specialist, who answered a lot of my questions, and arranged for me to get a T&E package to use on the range.  It included multiple lenses.  (The T&E package was not free. I gave them a credit card number and I basically bought some Rydon glasses & extra lenses, which gave me 30 days to evaluate before returning and placing my RX order.  They sent the lens samples at no charge — all of which was terrific customer support, as they even included a shipping label to return everything when I was done with my test and evaluation.  The support I got from Rudy was outstanding.)

 

LENS COLORS AND OPTIONS

I wanted something that would allow dusk to dawn use, driving and on the range. Rudy Project suggested their “racing red” color, and a photochromic lens that could change from clear to “laser red” as lighting conditions changed.  They also sent a clear to brown, and a clear to red w/ blue mirror lens.  All of those lenses were their ImpactX2 line, which met the highest level of ANSI standard for protective eyewear.

One of the other members of the KR Training shooting team (Roy Stedman) had been using his Rydon glasses with the clear-to-red photochromic tint for the past several months, including wearing them at the 2017 IPSC World Shoot, so I was most interested in that option, which he recommended.

They also sent a brown polarized lens and a non polarized “action brown” color. I still had my original (15 year old) “racing red” Rudy glasses and my Oakley VR28’s (bottom right in the picture below) on hand as well.

EVALUATION

I wore the Rydon frames for about a week, changing lenses around several times, as I used them every time I went outside.  For a long time I only needed glasses to see objects far away clearly, and I’ve been able to see my front sight without any correction.  As I have gotten older, my far vision has gotten better with near vision starting to suffer.  Last year I actually passed the eye test for my renewed driver’s license without any vision correction, which was convenient as it allowed me to use the various Rudy lenses while driving during the daytime.

Despite marketing claims that their polarized lenses made it possible to read car LCD displays and phone displays clearly, I found the polarized lens gave too much distortion in those uses to be the right answer for me.   Their polarized lens had less distortion than the polarized sunglasses I still had from 20 years ago, so it does appear that some improvements have been made.

I finally got out to the A-Zone to do a serious evaluation of all the lenses.  I went out on the main range, where I could look at my sights (irons and red dot) on white steel plates, tan targets, and a variety of colored objects (barricades and 55 gal drums), with both dirt and grass backgrounds.

TINT PICTURES

I put the lenses in front of my phone camera, to provide some insight into how each lens affected contrast and color.  The photos aren’t a perfect depiction of what I saw.

Photochromic clear-to-red

Clear to laser brown

Clear to laser red w/ blue mirror

Oakley VR28

Photo Red

Racing Red

I spent a lot of time looking at my sights with the different lenses, and looking at the bullet holes I could see on the target at 5 yards with each lens, getting an idea of which one gave best visual contrast on the tan target.

The tinting on the photochromic clear-to-red and clear-to-brown lenses worked well, going from clear to maximum tint fairly quickly, functional indoors and out, dawn to dusk.

Choosing

I ended up narrowing it down to the photochromic clear-to-red, maybe with the blue mirror option, with final decision to be made after I have my annual eye exam and talk to my eye doctor about it.  After that I’ll be placing my order for some RX lenses and a Rydon frame.

This is the current version of the Rydon non-RX kit.

 

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