The consequences of poor quality eye protection can range from something annoying like an unexplained shift in point of impact to something as serious as vision loss. The first situation will ruin a day at the range. The second situation has life altering implications that can’t be reversed. High quality eyewear that is purpose built for shooting is a must have for any shooter.
In this post, I’ll be taking a look at the Revision Eyewear Sawfly Shooters Kit. Revision refers to the Sawfly glasses as “ballistic spectacles”. The term ballistic spectacles speaks to their intended purpose of protecting the wearer’s eyes from the various hazards of shooting.
What Makes for Suitable Shooting Glasses?
There are several things that I look for in shooting glasses. These are the things that separate safety glasses meant for hammering nails from shooting glasses meant for the specific environment of the gun range (or police and military use). These are the things that separate the good shooting glasses from the great ones…
The first thing is ballistic protection. The glasses should be rugged enough to protect your eyes from impact and cover a broad enough area of your face. If the glasses to break, shatter, or otherwise allow a harmful object contact your eyes without resistance, they are not suitable for shooting. The Sawfly has actually been tested and proven to stop 37 strikes of #6 shot fired from a 12 gauge shotgun. They will certainly shrug off brass, bullet jackets that bounce off steel targets, and various other debris. They are broad enough to prevent debris from entering at odd angles.
Shooting glasses should also sit a bit differently on your face than regular glasses for maximum protection. They should sit close to your face at the top of the glasses but still provide air flow to prevent fogging. I once witnessed a gentleman shooting at a public range that had a piece of freshly ejected brass fall between the top of his shooting glasses and his forehead. The brass settled on his lower eyelid and left quite a blister. His safety glasses were the type that are more suitable for factory work than shooting and he paid the price (though it could have been much worse). The top of the Sawfly frame sits very close to the forehead. There isn’t enough room to allow a brass casing to enter.
Secondly, shooting glasses should be clear and distortion free from edge to edge. You can only shoot as well as you can see. I have seen poor quality safety glasses actually effect the point of impact of a shooter who was shooting iron sights on an AR-15. The shooter zeroed their carbine at the start of the day with good quality clear glasses with clear lenses. As the day wore on and it became brighter, he switched to sunglasses and immediately noticed a shift in point of impact. It was cured by returning to the original clear glasses.
Poor quality glasses have poor quality lenses that distort and obscure your vision. The Sawfly lenses are distortion free and clear from edge to edge. Revision Eyewear even offers the Sawfly in two sizes so that the fit of the glasses will not flex the lenses in such a way that view through the lenses becomes distorted. This is a very welcome feature for someone like myself who has a larger head.
Comfort and Fit
Comfort and fit are obviously important. If your eye protection isn’t comfortable or it is constantly shifting you may be apt to remove it or you might be concentrating on it rather than making the shot. The Sawfly frame features curved arms that are flexible to conform to the wearer’s head and adjustable for length. The arms have rubberized areas that help prevent them from shifting. They also feature a really slick low profile head band that snaps into place on the ends of the arms. The head band really helps to keep everything from shifting. Those of you who do more than shoot from a shooting bench when at the range will appreciate the head band. They also have a large, soft, and flexible nose piece. The nose piece is very comfortable and stays put well, even when wet.
Many shooting glasses share the same, often overlooked, flaw. The frame sits too low above the eyes. As a result, when the shooter goes prone and their head rocks forward slightly they end up trying to look through the frame instead of the lens. It is obviously impossible to look through the opaque part of your eye protection so you will often see shooters pushing their glasses up on their face when they go prone or other shooting positions. The Sawfly frame actually sits up over the eyebrows. This allows the shooter to tilt their head forward and still see through the lens. You never notice this stuff until you have to fight it on the range.
Your eye protection also has to work well with other important range gear like head wear and hearing protection. I always wear a ball cap and use Sordin electronic hearing protection. It seems that most other manufacturers give this no thought at all. My previous eye protection has fat rubber arms that would break the seal my Sordins around my ear and would contact the sides of my hat causing the glasses to lift in the front. The Sawfly arms are very thin. They slip easily under the ear cups of my Sordins without breaking the seal and under the band of the hat. The way that the head band snaps to the frame also plays an important role here. Some head bands are pressed onto the ends of the arms which adds bulk but the Sawfly head band is very slim. They work well with all the typical range gear.
It can also be nice to have various lens types that can be chosen based on a specific situation. If you are shooting on a bright outdoor range you will likely prefer a dark shaded lens. A lens color that offers high contrast, like yellow or vermilion, can be a real boon when you are shooting on a dimly lit indoor range. The Sawfly is available as a kit with various colored lenses that can easily be swapped into the frame without tools. They can be tailored to your specific conditions in just a moment. The Shooter’s Kit that I received for evaluation came with Smoke, Clear, and Vermilion colored lenses.
In the Box
The Sawfly Shooters kit came with the lenses mentioned above (Smoke, Clear, and Vermilion), the Sawfly frame, a head band, a lint free cloth bag that can also be uses to clean the lenses, and a soft case with individual “envelopes” for storing the spare lenses. The soft case also features belt loops and a plastic clip that makes it easy to clip to the outside of a range bag or backpack. It is a well thought out kit.
I have some nitpicks with the Sawfly. The arms are secured to the frame via small screws that are often found on glasses. I have really come to appreciate glasses that just snap together since they tend to “break-away” when they are sat on or crushed in a shooting bag. They can easily be snapped back together. Screw construction can be less forgiving.
I also wish that the head band had its rotation limited. It is a minor gripe but it would be nice if the band couldn’t become twisted. It won’t twist when it is on your head but it can twist when you put them on, take them off, or take them in and out of storage. It is not a big deal to straighten them out, but it would be nice if you didn’t have to deal with at all.
I really, really like the Sawfly. They solve a couple of problems for me – they play well with my Sordin hearing protection and the larger size prevents distortion caused from flexing to fit a larger head. I am not sure why more high end eyewear manufacturers don’t offer multiple sizes. The Sawfly has really performed well for me. I highly recommend them.
You can check out the Sawfly Shooter’s Kit and all the other Sawfly kits on the Revision Eyewear website.
Disclosure: This product was provided to me for review, free of charge, by Revision Eyewear.