This was a question posed by Jeff Johnston, Senior Editor of American Hunter. After years of being told to wear eye protection, he decided to ignore the claims and studies of eyewear manufacturers and test a variety of eyewear to see how well it held up under fire.
Jeff wanted to determine the answer to three questions:
1. At what ranges and with what shot sizes is eyewear effective?
2. Are polycarbonate lenses better than other materials?
3. Does expensive eyewear perform better than bargain brands?
Using a unique test involving a foam mannequin fitted with two small ballons to simulate eyeball tissue and armed with a shotgun and ten different types of eyeglasses Jeff got to work. The results of the test are interesting and very enlightening to say the least.
To summarize the results:
1. It’s a mistake to assume that any plastic-lens sunglasses are made from polycarbonate and therefore are effective as shooting glasses. Make sure you select ANSI Z87.1 rated lenses as they offer your eyes phenomenal protection from birdshot at 10-15 yards and beyond. Incredibly, a few brands passed the test at 8 yards!
2. A higher price does not always equal higher protection levels. Some of the “bargain brands” like the Pyramex Rendezvous performed equal or better than brands costing 30 times as much!
3. Your shooting glasses won’t do you any good if they’re stuffed away in your trucks glovebox. So wear them religiously. Polycarbonate eyewear can protect your eyes from flying debris and direct hits from birdshot at suprisingly close ranges.