Understanding U.S. Military Eye Protection (MCEP) Standard

Military Combat Eye Protection (MCEP)

MCEP's goal is to increase the number of soldiers who wear protective eyewear thus reducing the number of eye injuries sustained in training and combat.

The Military Combat Eye Protection Program (MCEPP) was established to validate and authorize protective eyewear for use by military personnel, and it works to improve soldier acceptance of authorized protective eyewear thus reducing the likelihood of eye injury to soldiers. MCEPP comes under the umbrella of Program Executive Officer Soldier (PEO Soldier). PEO Soldier “designs, develops, procures, fields and sustains virtually everything the soldier wears or carries.”

The Army’s MCEPP program offers protection to soldiers’ eyes from ballistic fragments by allowing soldiers to choose their own approved eyewear. As more options are provided to soldiers, MCEPP hopes to increase the number of soldiers who wear protective eyewear thus reducing the number of eye injuries sustained by soldiers in training as well as in combat.

All approved military eyewear should meet or exceed protective standards established by the Integrative Protective Team (IPT). The IPT is a committee appointed by PEO Soldier to validate safety standards and test protocols and to approve new products for the Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL).

Commercial eyewear products are put through a rigorous testing procedure to determine their ability to withstand ballistic fragments such as rock, glass and shrapnel in both a laboratory and a field environment. Eyewear that passes these tests is included on the APEL, which is updated twice a year.

APEL is a listing published by PEO Soldier of all eyewear products that have been approved for military use by the MCEPP-IPT. All APEL items must be marked with a sticker on the packaging stating that the product is on the APEL. Anyone purchasing their own MCEP should look for this sticker. Only eyewear on the APEL has been validated against Army requirements for protection against ballistic fragments. Eyewear not on the APEL is not authorized for wear during combat or training or even when there is a risk of eye injury.

Products on the APEL are tested every two years and routinely sampled for compliance. APEL items with changes in the design or fabrication process require immediate retesting, and items can be placed on suspension resulting in recertification needed to get back on the list.

The APEL is published on the following website:


Sunglasses and goggles from a variety of makers such as ESS, Oakley, Revision, Uvex, Wiley-X and Arena have all made the APEL. Currently, MCEPP is working with vendors to make improvements in eyewear for soldiers. Improvements needed include better scratch, fog and impact protection as well as protection against exposure to contaminants such as bleach and dirt. In addition, new goggle colors, universal prescription inserts and agile laser protection are on the list of future interests for MCEPP.

Here’s additional information on the submission process for inclusion on the APEL. And here’s a link to an earlier article we did on “How to Identify Ballistic Rated Eyewear”.

How To Identify Ballistic Rated Eyewear

What’s the difference between Ballistic Eyewear & Safety Glasses?

Ballistic Eyewear from Smith Optics Elite

Ballistic rated sunglasses are a popular choice for todays military and law enforcement personnel.

Ballistic rated safety glasses and sunglasses are becoming one of the fastest growing segments of protective eyewear, however there seems to be a considerable amount of confusion on what actually classifies eyewear as ballistic rated.

I’ve read several comments in forums, blog posts and customer emails where the “Z87″ markings on a frame or lens are mistakenly interpreted as proof of ballistic certification. The “Z87″ markings on safety glasses and goggles indicate the eyewear is compliant with the ANSI Z87.1-2003 High Impact and ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010 industrial safety standard for eye protection. Although the Military Ballistic Standard 662 uses some test similar to those used in the “Z87″ standards, the requirements are much different.

There are two main Military Ballistic Standards used for testing, MIL-PRF-31013 (spectacles) and MIL-DTL-43511D (goggles). Here’s a chart from Smith Optics Elite showing the differences in projectile size, weight and velocity for each test.

ballistic eyewear velocity standards

As you can see in the above chart there is a significant difference between the Military Ballistic Standards and ANSI Z87.1, in fact the MIL-PRF-31013 test is producing approximately 7 times more impact energy than the ANSI Z87.1 standard.

How to identify Ballistic Rated Eyewear?

Unfortunately verifying your protective eyewear is ballistic certified is not always easy. Unlike the ANSI standards, which requires all safety glasses and goggles to be marked with some “Z87″ indicator, the Military Ballistic Standards do NOT have a marking requirement. In other words the military currently doesn’t require ballistic eyewear to be labeled in any manner to verify compliance with its ballistic standards. With that being said, most if not all ballistic rated eyewear will be marked with “Z87″, since they already exceed the requirements of that standard. Keep in mind the standards are developed by separate entities and certification of one doesn’t automatically mean the certification of the other.

*Update: Future APEL regulations will require “APEL” to be marked on the frame for all APEL approved eyewear. The exact time frame for implementation of this requirement is unknown, however some manufacturers such as Wiley-X have already started to mark some of their certified eyewear with “APEL”.

You should also check the U.S. Army’s official APEL (Authorized Protective Eyewear) List for a comprehensive listing of approved ballistic eyewear for combat operations. If you’re serving in the U.S. Military you can only wear the ballistic eyewear shown on the APEL list, so make sure you have a current version. Most manufacturers will list which of their styles meet/exceed Military Ballistic Standards on the product package and sales descriptions. If you’re unable to find certification information on the box or sales descriptions I recommend contacting the manufacturer and request they produce a certificate verifying their eyewear has passed the Military Ballistic Standards test. Without a certificate you should consider looking for another product.

Where can I find Ballistic Rated Eyewear?

To make things a little easier, we’ve created a Ballistic Eyewear Section on our website that allows you to sort all of our ballistic rated eyewear by name or price.

Here’s a list of popular brands that offer ballistic rated styles:

Coming Soon: Smith Optics Elite Eyewear

During my recent trip to the 2011 Shot Show in Las Vegas this year I had the pleasure of visiting the Smith Optics Elite Division booth and speaking with Mike Torres, Sales Manager of the Smith Optics Elite Division (SOED), about their line of ballistic rated eyewear. Mike gave me an in depth overview of SEOD products and I was able to sample several models from the Tactical Core and Tactical Lifestyle lines. Needless to say I was impressed with the attention to detail and overall quality feel of every product.

Products aside, I think what really impressed me was the enthusiasm that each SOED team member displayed. You can tell everyone at SOED is extremely passionate about the performance, quality and value of their products and it shows. Mike and the SOED team’s goal is to provide the best ballistic eyewear available and offer it at a very competitive price–and I think they’re right on target.

Smith Optics Elite Division separates their products into two main categories, the Tactical Core Series and Tactical Lifestyle Series.

The Tactical Core Series was designed for combat operations and is comprised of the Outside the Wire (OTW) Goggle and the Aegis Eye Shield.  Both models are designed to provide maximum protection, optimized fit and Rx capability for today’s modern warrior.

The OTW Goggle is available in four different configurations, including a Turbo Fan model that contains a variable speed micro electronic fan that silently evacuates moist air from the goggle. Perfect for high exertion situations and unforgiving climates. All models feature Tapered Lens Technology for distortion free vision and FRAG face foam-flame resistant anti-microbial goggle foam.


The Aegis Eyeshield is available in three different configurations giving you the choice of two or three lens combinations. The Aegis is designed to offer maximum optical coverage and protection in high impact environments. A feature unique to the Aegis is the PivLock Lens Interchange System that provides easy and rapid lens changes, yet securely locks the lens into the frame.

The Tactical Lifestyle Series is a line of stylish sunglasses designed for military and law enforcement personnel in non-combat operations, but provides excellent protection from the unexpected. There are a total of six different styles in a variety of lens colors and configurations all of which meet ANSI Z87.1 and MIL-PRF-31013 impact standards.

Smith Elite Tactical Sunglasses

Safety Glasses USA, Inc. is now an authorized Smith Optics Elite Division dealer and we expect to have SOED products on our website by the end of February 2011. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Update: Smith Optics Elite Tactical Eyewear is now available for sale in our Smith Optics Elite section.