The Best Military Sunglasses


ESS Crossbow

ESS Crossbow

Sunglasses protect your eyes from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation and are thus very important if you spend a lot of time outside. However, when it comes to tactical/military sunglasses it is not all about the UV protection – military sunglasses should also provide ballistic protection (e.g. protection against small projectiles and fragments). Ballistic eye protection is of the utmost importance in combat situations as it is not uncommon to encounter dirt, sand, debris and even shrapnel flying towards you and your eyes. Sunglasses that provide effective ballistic protection meet the U.S. civilian standard (ANSI Z87.1 – 2010) as well as the U.S. military standard (MIL-PRF-31013) for ballistic eyewear. Both tests measure impact resistance of the lenses.

Here we selected and reviewed the best military sunglasses. We were especially looking for products that offer good functionality and ballistic protection for a good price. All sunglasses in this review meet the U.S. military standard (MIL-PRF-31013) and the U.S. civilian standard (ANSI Z87.1 – 2010) for ballistic eyewear.

1. Buying Military Sunglasses  – What is important?

Ballistic protection:

As mentioned above, military sunglasses should meet the U.S. military standard (MIL-PRF-31013) and the U.S. civilian standard (ANSI Z87.1 – 2010) for ballistic eyewear. The MIL-PRF-31013 testing is much more rigorous and demanding (it produces seven times more impact energy) than the ANSI testing and therefore sunglasses that pass the MIL-PRF-31013 testing normally also pass the ANSI testing. In addition to impact resistance, the MIL-PRF-31013 testing also evaluates optical clarity, UV-protection, fit, chemical resistance and environmental stability.

If you are in the United States Armed Forces, keep in mind that you have to choose sunglasses from the Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL) which is based on the MIL-PRF-31013 testing. However, there are sunglasses which pass the ANSI and the MIL-PRF-31013 testing which are not listed on the APEL. In this review we included three pairs of sunglasses that are listed on the APEL and two pairs that are not.

Shape:

Military sunglasses should feature wide rims and a frame that has a U-like shape in order to provide all-around coverage. This shape does not only offer good protection against UV-rays but also efficiently protects your eyes from dirt, sand, debris, fragments and projectiles.

Interchangeable lenses:

Military sunglasses should have interchangeable lenses so that you can easily switch the lenses when the light conditions change – you would for example use clear lenses in cloudy weather while sunny weather requires lenses that block out most of the visible light. Interchangeable lenses also come in handy in the long run; when the lenses get scratched you don’t have to buy a pair of new sunglasses because you can simply replace the lenses. Nevertheless, you still have to buy new lenses.

Durability:

Tactical/Military sunglasses typically feature lenses with a scratch-resistant coating and a frame made of composite materials. The frame is usually flexible to some extent in order to provide good resistance to impact, so that it will bend instead of breaking.

2. The Best Military Sunglasses Review

Best Military Sunglasses

Best Military Sunglasses

  1. ESS Crossbow
  2. Wiley X Vapor
  3. Revision Sawfly
  4. Swiss Eye Raptor
  5. ESS ICE

Comparison

Feature/Product ESS CrossbowWiley X VaporRevision Sawfly Swiss Eye Raptor
ESS ICE
ANSI Z87.1 – 2010 CertificationYesYesYesYesYes
MIL-PRF-31013 Certification YesYesYesYesYes
APEL Compliant YesYesYesNoNo
ESS Crossbow

ESS Crossbow

1. ESS Crossbow

Suitable for:

  • Military use
  • Law Enforcement use
  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Everyday use

 

The ESS Crossbow sunglasses are highly popular among soldiers and law enforcement officers as they provide great durability and functionality. The sunglasses use the Tri-Tech Fit frame which ensures a good fit and comfort. The frame’s weight is evenly redistributed so that the sunglasses stay securely on your head. The lenses are coated; there is an anti-fog coating (ClearZone FlowCoat) on the inside as well as a scratch-resistant coating on the outside. For switching the lenses, the sunglasses feature the DedBolt system which means that there is a lever at the top which releases the lens when pivoted to the right. The DedBolt system allows you to easily and quickly switch the lenses. ESS offers no less than 13 different lenses for this type of sunglasses – including the light adapting photochromic lens which is suitable for all light conditions (the lens goes from dark grey to clear).

The ESS Crossbow sunglasses come in four different configurations:

  • Crossbow Photochromic includes: Black frame, light adapting photochromic lens
  • Crossbow 2X Kit includes: Two frame sets, clear lens, smoke grey lens
  • Crossbow 3LS Kit includes: One black frame, clear lens, smoke grey lens, yellow lens
  • Crossbow Polar One includes: Black frame, polarized mirrored gray lens

All configurations also include a microfiber cleaning pouch, elastic retention strap and a zippered hard case.

 

Pros:

  • Adjustability (many accessories are available)
  • Fit
  • Durability
  • Easy to switch the lenses
  • Scratch resistance

Cons:

  • /

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Wiley X Vapor

Wiley X Vapor

2. Wiley X Vapor

Suitable for:

  • Military use
  • Law Enforcement use
  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Everyday use

 

The Wiley X Vapor sunglasses are another good choice as they are, like the ESS Crossbow sunglasses above, very durable and functional. The sunglasses feature shatterproof polycarbonate lenses and a well-fitting frame (made of composite materials). The lenses are not only approved through the ANSI and MIL-PRF-31013 certification but also have the EN-166 FT certificate (European ballistic eyewear standard). The lenses feature two coatings; the T-Shell coating is on the outside and protects the lenses against scratches while the Foil coating on the inside provides anti-fog protection. The lenses block out 100% of all UV light and provide distortion-free vision. Most configurations of the sunglasses are also compatible with the Wiley X’s prescription lens carrier (sold separately).

The Wiley X Vapor sunglasses come in five different configurations:

  • Black frame, smoke grey lens, clear lens (lens carrier compatible)
  • Black frame, light rust lens, smoke grey lens, clear lens (lens carrier compatible)
  • Tan frame, smoke grey lens, clear lens (lens carrier compatible)
  • Tan frame, light rust lens, smoke grey lens, clear lens (lens carrier compatible)
  • Black frame, smoke grey lens, clear lens (APEL certified)

All configurations also include a tactical case with a clip, microfiber cleaning cloth, anti-fog wipe and a rubber tipped leash cord.

 

Pros:

  • Durability
  • Fit
  • Scratch resistance
  • APEL Compliant

Cons:

  • /

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Revision Sawfly

Revision Sawfly

3. Revision Sawfly

Suitable for:

  • Military use
  • Law Enforcement use
  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Everyday use

 

The Revision Sawfly sunglasses provide great durability and protection. They feature a frame made of composite materials which has extendable arms for a better fit. The arms are very thin so that you can use the sunglasses with hearing protection and head sets. The lenses offer distortion-free vision and superb impact protection. They are also scratch-resistant and coated with an anti-fog film. The sunglasses are also compatible with the prescription lens carrier (sold separately).

The Revision Sawfly sunglasses come in three different sizes (Small, Regular and Large) and five different configurations:

  • Sawfly U.S. Military Eyewear System includes: Black frame, smoke lens, clear lens (APEL certified)
  • Sawfly Deluxe includes: Black frame, clear lens, yellow lens, smoke lens
  • Sawfly Photochromic Kit includes: Black frame, (light adapting) photochromic lens
  • Sawfly Shooter’s Kit includes: black frame, clear lens, smoke lens, vermillion lens
  • Sawfly High-Impact Polarized Deluxe includes: black frame, clear lens, high-impact polarized lens, high-impact yellow lens

All configurations also include a head strap, microfiber pouch and a case with a belt clip.

 

Pros:

  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Fit (three different sizes)
  • APEL Compliant

Cons:

  • /

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Swiss Eye Raptor

4. Swiss Eye Raptor

Suitable for:

  • Military use
  • Law Enforcement use
  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Everyday use

 

The Swiss Eye Raptor sunglasses perform superbly for the price. The sunglasses feature impact-resistant lenses which block out 100% of all UV light. Furthermore, the lenses are also coated in order to provide good resistance against scratches and fog.  The sunglasses come with three different lenses – smoke, orange and clear. The frame is made of composite materials and has extendable arms for good fit.

The Swiss Eye Raptor sunglasses come in three different configurations:

  • Rubber black frame
  • Rubber brown frame
  • Rubber green frame

All configurations also include: smoke lens, orange lens, clear lens and a microfiber bag.

 

Pros:

  • Price
  • Durability
  • Fit

Cons:

  • Only few accessories available

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ESS ICE

ESS ICE

5. ESS ICE

Suitable for:

  • Military use
  • Law Enforcement use
  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Everyday use

 

The ESS ICE is another pair of fairly inexpensive sunglasses that provides good performance. The sunglasses feature a frameless design (the side pieces are attached directly on the lens) and thus they provide an unrestricted vision field. The lenses offer high-impact resistance and distortion-free view. The side pieces are comfortable and keep the sunglasses securely on your head. They are also adjustable in length for a better fit. The ESS ICE sunglasses are a good option for those who want simple but effective military sunglasses for a low price.

The ESS ICE sunglasses come in five different configurations:

  • ICE Tactical Kit includes: Two pairs of black side pieces, smoke grey lens, copper lens, anti-fog cloth, elastic retention strap, hard case
  • ICE-One (Clear Lens) includes: Black side pieces, clear lens, microfiber bag
  • ICE-One (Smoke Gray Lens) includes: Black side pieces, smoke grey lens, microfiber bag
  • ICE-2X Retail Kit includes: Black side pieces, clear lens, smoke grey lens, anti-fog cloth, elastic strap, hard case
  • ICE-3LS KIT includes: Black sidepieces, clear lens, smoke grey lens, yellow lens, anti-fog cloth, elastic strap, hard case

 

Pros:

  • Price
  • Unrestricted field of vision

Cons:

  • Durability

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3. The most attractive product in the review

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