Shooting safety glasses are also known as ballistic safety glasses. In this post we’ll be looking at shooting safety glasses over glasses. Up until now we have looked at ANSI Z87.1 rated safety glasses. We’ll now look into MIL SPEC rated safety glasses and look at one huge difference along the way.
Military Specification (MIL SPEC) safety glasses have to conform to the brutal standards set by the military in order to protect those that serve. The MIL-PRF 32432 Ballistic Fragmentation standard uses tests similar to those of the ANSI Z87.1 standard but the bar is much, much higher. There are two standards that apply, one to spectacles and one to goggles and they are respectively, MIL-PRF-31013 and MIL-DTL-43511D.
Now we have some of the ground work, let’s go ballistic!
So What’s The Difference?
The major difference between the two, ANSI standard and the MIL SPEC standard, is how tough the safety glasses have to be. MIL-PRF-31013 specifies the tests for projectile impact on ballistic glasses requires the safety glasses to survive after being impacted with a test projectile traveling at six hundred and fifty feet per second (.15 caliber), give or take ten feet per second. Normal ANSI Z87.1 rated safety glasses are required to survive impacts at speeds of one hundred and fifty feet per second.
So, just from the impact test alone we can see that ballistic rated safety glasses are tougher in terms of being able to absorb and deflect more energy away from your eyes than would an ANSI Z87.1 rated pair of safety glasses. This could be crucial on a shooting range, gun club or similar type of venue.
Shooting Safety Glasses Tints.
There are various options available to you in terms of tints for your shooting glasses. One of the most popular is the clear tint. When I chose my pair of shooting safety glasses over glasses I chose a no tint, or clear lens. I simply didn’t know, then, how a tint could help. Now I do know however, I will go with a yellow or amber tint. I have covered this tint in previous posts. The first being,“To Tint Or Not To Tint?” and the second being “Best Tints For Work That Work Best.”
Paper targets and fast traveling clay targets will stand out far more with a yellow or amber tint on your ballistic safety glasses over prescription glasses. This tint will increase the clarity of your vision and will also enhance your contrast and depth perception.
I have noticed some merchants will simply announce that their shooting safety glasses over prescription glasses are ANSI Z87.1 compliant and are silent about anything else. This is alright if you don’t want to pay for ballistic safety glasses over prescription frames, personally I have seen some things at gun clubs that are wild.
Like the time we were shooting clays, everyone was well behind the shooter who shouted for his clay. We heard the hammer drop, nothing happened. The shooter looked at his shotgun before turning around and covering us all with his weapon. I never knew that dirt could taste so good up until that moment. The range officer immediately took charge of the weapon and the shooter.
While ANSI Z87.1 rated safety glasses are a good choice for say woodworking, I would prefer to have a pair of ballistic rated safety glasses when I’m at a gun club, shooting range or somewhere similar.
Before buying a pair of ballistic safety glasses over prescription glasses, please do your best to ensure what you’re buying will actually go over your frames, comfortably. I have heard of some people buying a pair of ballistic safety glasses to wear over their prescription glasses only to find the ballistic safety glasses are too small. Not good.
Where Can I Buy A Pair?
Shooting safety glasses over glasses are readily available at many places, even from the internet! I know, it’s hard to believe. Seriously, many places have this type of safety glasses available but there are several things you should look for before buying a pair of ballistic safety glasses, to protect your eyes and eyesight, from just anywhere.
ANSI Z87.1 rated safety glasses have to be marked with Z87+ somewhere on them. There is, at the time of this writing, no such mandatory marking for ballistic safety glasses.
You should also take note that simply because a pair of safety glasses is rated as ballistic, doesn’t mean it is used by the military or law enforcement. Those that are ballistic rated and can be used by the military and law enforcement appear on the APEL (Approved Protective Eyewear List) list provided by PEO Soldier.
I have examined the list and have not found a pair of ballistic safety glasses over prescription frames there. However, that simply means that type of eye wear is not used by the military or law enforcement, not that it doesn’t exist!
What’s The Take Away?
We have to watch out for safety glasses being sold as shooters or shooting glasses when they are only ANSI Z87.1 rated. While that will work, I ask you to look back towards the beginning of this post and examine the different speed ratings used in the ANSI Z87.1 and MIL SPEC tests. I ask, which would you prefer to protect your eyesight? The answer is for you, it’s your choice.
A few final things to mention that you should at least be aware of when buying ballistic safety glasses over prescription frames. If all you’ll be doing is handgun, then you’re good to go.
If however, you’ll be using a long gun such as a rifle or shotgun then after you buy your ballistic safety glasses over prescription frames, I recommend you practice. Practice wearing your safety glasses and obtaining a comfortable cheek weld on your weapon. Away from the range or wherever is, I would suggest, a better place to practice getting that right rather than wasting shooting time. Some have had to work hard to get that right, yet for others it is a piece of cake. It depends on your frames, your safety glasses, your long gun, well, you.
ANSI Z87.1 rated safety glasses will not meet the requirements of MIL-PRF-31013, whereas ballistic rated safety glasses will exceed the ANSI Z87.1 rating. This for me will always be the deciding factor. I will go ballistic every time.
If you have any comments or questions regarding this post, please feel free to leave me a comment below.
Aim for zero accidents and be safe!