Eye Protection: it’s not all equal

Oakleys, it turns out, are not all that.

Oakleys, it turns out, are not all that. Who knew?

You probably had a pretty good idea that the eye protection you buy for $5.98 at Walmart is not as good as the $200 Oakleys that “certain elements” issue — or seem to issue (a lot of times, what looks like “issue” is something between fashion and groupthink, coming out of the operators’ own pockets). You probably had a pretty good idea that neither one was as good as the blast goggles that have saved more eyes than we’d care to count in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places where the guys are getting blow’d up.

But how do you know? There’s no Consumer Reports for range and combat gear. Wait one. There’s LuckyGunner Labs!

Andrew Tuohy of the Vuurwapen Blog has now brought his high-functioning, detail-oriented and evidence-based approach to reviewing stuff to LuckyGunner Labs. He not only did a better “5.56 vs. .223″ analysis than ours (which wasn’t all that bad, in retrospect, but an important link is missing from it as published), but he has a thoroughly comprehensive look at eye pro. It originally went up in July, but it’s one of those perennial things and you ought to make note of it and come back to it every time you replace your eye pro — which should be every two years, less if you go downrange.

It’s long, it’s dense, and there’s a video synopsis for those who are unwilling to Read The Whole Thing™, but we’ll warn you that those who don’t RTWT™ will forever be dumber than those who do on this subject.

If this dude were not styrofoam, his whole life would have just taken a turn for the worse.

If this dude were not styrofoam, his whole life would have just taken a turn for the worse.

As a Navy Corpsman, I had the opportunity to see the results of a number of injuries, including those involving the face and eyes. I was astounded to see how crucial eye protection, sometimes referred to as “eye pro,” was and how effective it could be. I saw a number of potentially vision-threatening fragments of metal and other debris stopped by good eye protection. In one case, a large chunk of metal hit a Marine in the face, partially penetrating the lens of his glasses and causing him to lose vision in that eye. Without that eye protection, he most likely would have been killed.

Not all eye pro is created equal, though. In order to understand how one type of eye protection might be “better” than another, we need to first look at what standards various types of eyewear may meet – and then shoot at them to see which eyewear provides the best protection.

via Eye Protection and Shooting Glasses Review – LuckyGunner.com Labs.

He’s absolutely right — eye injuries are really bad, but with good gear, lots of them are preventable. Takeaways from his article:

  1. Any eye pro beats none. Even an ejected case can do serious eye damage, and even the Wally Mart specials forestalls that.
  2. You’re constrained by the laws of physics: nothing you can apply to your face will stop a square-on hit from a military rifle or pistol round, or a high-velocity fragment (shrapnel comes off an artillery or mortar shell at over 50,000 fps, although it slows quickly in air).
  3. The relationship between protection and price is far from linear. Sometimes you pay more without getting more. (For instance, we like  $50 Wiley-Xs that are superior to the $200 Oakleys in everything but snob appeal).
  4. Really cheap stuff, though, is really cheap both ways.
  5. Ceteris paribus, you want one-piece, not two-lens, eye pro. Seriously.
  6. Military standard (MIL-PRF-31013) beats ANSI standard (ANSI Z87), which beats no standard. The Army Protective Eyewear List is a good place to start.
  7. Eye protecton needs to be kept out of the sun, and periodically replaced. It gets old fast under UV rays.

But you really need to Read The Whole Thing™ and see what happens to a styrofoam head, given Andrew, a range, and a shotgun.

2 thoughts on “Eye Protection: it’s not all equal

    1. Hognose Post author

      Thanks, but while we aspire to put good info out, Andrew is really one of the best researchers — mythbusters if you will — in the gun world today.

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