What is the single most important piece of gear you will take with you on an airsoft operation? It isn’t the hottest new AEG, or the tactical vest you just sunk a chunk of your paycheck into. No, it’s the one piece of equipment that is absolutely non-optional – your protective eyewear. Airsoft event organizers will not even allow you into the area of operations without protective eyewear. Dr. Airsoft is well known for having tortured many models of eyewear in unspeakable ways. I won’t go into details about that in this article; you can check the videos and reviews yourself at airsoftmedicine.com.
IN THE KNOW
Having reviewed different types of eyewear from many manufacturers, Dr. Airsoft and I are confident that there are plenty of models of eyewear with sufficient ballistic protection to keep your eyes from being injured by BB’s. I should note here that eyewear with a full seal around the eyes are the only type of eye protection that Dr. Airsoft and I recommend. Others may look cool, but you’re taking a chance by wearing them. Beyond knowing that you’ll want full-seal goggles, the difficult part in deciding which model to purchase depends on other features. Here are the major considerations in selecting protective eyewear:
Coverage – How much of the area around the eye is protected? What field of vision do I have when wearing this gear? Check your peripheral vision when trying them on, and make sure you can see 180 degrees without having to turn your head.
Fogging issues – One drawback to wearing full-seal goggles is the matter of fogging. Several manufacturers offer models with air circulation fans to alleviate this problem, or you can utilize the myriad products designed to reduce lens fogging. At least one manufacturer, Edge Tactical, offers a lens that is permanently treated to resist fogging.
Prescription lenses – If you wear glasses, you have additional issues to overcome. Depending on the style of your frames, most tactical eye protection will fit over your glasses. Another option (besides contact lenses or surgical correction) is to get corrective inserts to fit inside the goggles. Several manufacturers, including Smith, ESS, Wiley X, and Revision offer this option.
Tint – Ultra violet light can be harmful to the human eye, but darker tints that provide comfort against bright sunlight are also a disadvantage in low-light conditions, such as you would encounter inside of buildings. There are lens tints that screen out UV light while still transmitting sufficient light to allow adequate vision indoors. Edge Tactical’s Tiger’s Eye lens tint is but one very good example. Your best bet is to obtain a set of tactical eyewear that offers interchangeable lenses, allowing you to play in all conditions.
Cost – Don’t cheap out in this area. You’ve already got a serious investment in your other load-out. Besides, you can’t play if you can’t see.
After weighing all of the above, the over-arching consideration in selecting your eyewear is the answer to the question, “Will I actually wear this?” Don’t get it and then find out it won’t fit your face comfortably, or is incompatible with your other gear (helmet, communication gear, etc.). Talk to other players and find out what they like or don’t like, but get eyewear that is going to function well in addition to protecting your eyes.
Elvex, elvex.com, 203-743-2488
airsoftmedicine.com– Rangemaster Larry is a co-host with Mark Vaughan, MD on the monthly Airsoft Medicine podcast and appears in several of Dr. Airsoft’s YouTube videos. Check out airsoftmedicine.com for more information on tactical eyewear.
Words: Rangemaster Larry of airsoftmedicine.com
Photos: Walter Sidas