Whether you use firearms for practice, sport, or hunting, equipping yourself with safety gear is crucial, and that also includes having a pair of quality shooting glasses. Shooting glasses can protect you from ricochet shots and debris, as well as each shot’s emissions, like the flame, dust, and burning powder that’s released. No matter what type of firearm you possess, it always has a certain bit of recoil, i.e., the jerk you feel as soon as you press the trigger and the gun swings backward. There are also other factors in play, such as wind or temperature, so it’s always wise to be equipped with glasses. But do you buy shooting glasses or safety glasses? Let’s dive into the similarities and differences and answer the question below.
Similarities Between Shooting Glasses and Safety Glasses
Proper eye protection is the key to a safe and enjoyable shooting experience, which is why most people who have a firearm also go for either shooting glasses or safety glasses. Let’s see how they’re similar before talking about their differences.
First of all, both shooting glasses and safety glasses have a similar appearance, so you might not be able to spot the difference until you go into the details. Moreover, both of them are highly durable and much stronger than your average prescription glasses. In terms of purpose, both glasses are designed to keep your eyes safe when you’re performing certain activities.
Also, both shooting and safety glasses are made to a certain standard and comply with specific safety ratings, which we’ll discuss in the next section in detail.
If you go out to buy either of the two, you’ll notice that many companies produce both products, which may give you the impression that these are very similar products in terms of features. However, if you go into the details, you’ll notice many differences between the two.
Differences Between Shooting Glasses and Safety Glasses
Now that we’ve pored over the similarities, let’s check out the numerous differences that you can find between shooting glasses and safety glasses.
The first difference between the two is in the way you use them. As the name suggests, shooting glasses are specially designed for use while shooting a firearm. In contrast, safety glasses are used for industrial work or any work in which there may be flying debris that can injure your eyes. While the two can be used interchangeably, there are various differences in their construction.
Shooting glasses and safety glasses have different safety ratings, determined by the American National Standards Institute. Normally, shooting glasses have the highest ANSI standards and undergo extensive testing for ballistic resistance and high-velocity impacts. On the other hand, safety glasses are mostly tested for durability, and that’s it.
Another major difference between the two is in the types of lenses that they have. With shooting glasses, you can find lenses that are much more durable and tested for maximum impact. Moreover, they’re also available in various tints instead of just colorless, so you get various options to choose from.
On the other hand, safety glasses are normally colorless, and their lenses aren’t as durable, mainly because their purpose is to protect against flying debris or dust.
What to Look for In Shooting Glasses?
You can keep in mind certain factors while choosing shooting glasses for the shooting range or your next hunting trip. Let’s go over them one by one.
First and foremost, the material of the lens is very important, as it should be durable enough to withstand the impact of a firearm when you experience recoil. Most companies manufacture polycarbonate lenses, which are highly durable and lightweight, so they also don’t feel heavy on your face. Other types of lens materials you’ll come across nowadays are stronger and have higher impact resistance.
Moreover, the color of your lens also matters, which is why you must’ve seen shooters wearing yellow or amber-colored shooting glasses. Not only does it protect their eyes and give them the proper vision they need to make a shot, but it also protects their eyes against the sun.
The type of frame you choose is also key to your shooting performance and safety. Like your lenses, the frames should also be lightweight, and you can choose between materials like aluminum, plastic, or titanium. A lighter frame means more comfortable wear and optimum shooting performance.
If you have weak eyesight and have been prescribed lenses by your optician, you can also opt for special shooting glasses with prescription lenses. This way, you won’t put any strain on your eyes when shooting.
Last but not least, make sure to go over the safety ratings of each shooting glasses that you examine. As we mentioned above, each one of them comes with different ratings, which makes them different in how they’re tested for safety and impact resistance.
Which One Is Best for Safety?
When comparing shooting glasses to safety glasses, the former is a clear winner by a mile because not only do they provide superior impact resistance and durability, but they can also be used as safety glasses. For instance, if you have a pair of shooting glasses and you’re working with a power saw and cutting wood, you can simply pop on your shooting glasses and get to work.
The converse is also true – you can use your safety glasses while you’re at the shooting range or out hunting. However, they won’t provide you with the same level of protection as shooting glasses because these are simply designed for stopping any type of debris going into your eyes while you’re doing any industrial work.
So, if you’re a firearm enthusiast, investing in a good pair of shooting glasses is a wise decision that you’ll make, especially if you don’t want to end up with a black eye due to the strong recoil by a shotgun or hunting rifle!
We hope this article helps you understand the difference between shooting glasses and safety glasses and also enables you to choose the best shooting glasses from the hundreds of models available in the market.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.