Good Range Gear: Gatorz Eyewear
These all-aluminum framed glasses offer rugged eye protection and easy fit customization.
Who is stupid enough to forget sun/shooting glasses when you go to Industry Day at the Range? Sheepishly I have to raise my hand to that one. Yes, when I left Denver for SHOT Show last January we were about to get a serious snowstorm, so I didn’t need my glasses on the drive to the airport and didn’t even think about putting them in my bag. As I was in my hotel room getting ready for Range Day, there was momentary panic as I realized I didn’t have eye protection for a day of shooting. Of course, the organizers always provide eye protection, but it’s usually clear lens glasses and shooting all day in the bright Nevada sun didn’t sound particularly fun for my eyes without some sun protection. Thankfully, for me and my eyes, Gatorz was set up just inside the shooting facility. I admitted my stupidity to the staff and they handed me a pair of their Magnum Z glasses, after adapting the nosepiece and the aluminum frames to precisely fit my face. I wore those glasses all day and the lightweight aluminum frames were comfortable the entire time and reduced the glare off the Nevada desert making it easier to see my targets.
I didn’t know this at the time (I just needed the dang shooting sunglasses!), but the Magnum Z is Gatorz #1 selling eyewear, popular with military special forces – and pretty much anyone who wants to protect their eyes. The ANSI Z87+ rated smoked grey polycarbonate lenses provide 100 percent UV protection, offering the highest rating of ballistic impact resistance, scratch resistance and sun protection.
The aluminum wrap-style frames can be adjusted at the frame and at the temple to fit a wide range of face sizes and shapes. The rubber covered nose piece can be custom fitted for wider or narrower noses, and to keep the lenses right up against your face – or, if you’re like me and have longer lashes, you can pull them out so there’s more space between your eye and the lenses. Admittedly, Gatorz’ Magnum style glasses are intended for larger faces, but with the adjustability, this hasn’t been an issue for me.
In continued use – at the shooting range and running on trails near my home – these glasses continue to perform well. I can make slight adjustments to the sizing to fit for different uses.
The thin aluminum arms of the frames fit easily and comfortably underneath a ball cap. Even when I’m pretty sweaty during a run, the frames stay where I put them with only minimal slip, and the anti-fog coating on the lenses keep my eyes from getting steamed up.
Lenses and As Sunglasses
So, I wondered, are other Gatorz glasses as good without the extra ballistic protection? The answer is yes. My daughter and I have now tried both the yellow lenses in the Wraptor glasses, another wrap design but with a thinner profile, and rose polarized Magnum glasses. These glasses continue to perform well.
My daughter loves the yellow lenses when she’s shooting her shotgun. She says she definitely picks up the targets more easily and those thin aluminum arms are even comfortable under ear muffs! Importantly, the Wraptor’s lenses are still an impact-resistant polycarbonate making them safe for shooting. If the ANSI Z87+ lenses are important to you, they do offer the Wraptor Z with the extra ballistic protection.
I’ve used the Magnums with Rose colored polarized lenses on two upland hunting trips so far this season and they impressed me. I thought the rose color might be too light to use on high UV days at the elevation where I typically bird hunt, but I haven’t experienced any eye fatigue. The TruRay polarized lenses still provide 100 percent UV protection, but the rose color allows for even more clarity to acquire a target – important when you’re trying to get a bead on a grouse erupting from the sagebrush flats. With their adjustability, these glasses are incredibly comfortable all day in the field.
Thanks to my brainlessness last Range Day, I lucked into what have become my go-to shooting glasses. I have yet to have something disappoint me with my Gatorz, and the best part? Gatorz glasses are made in the U.S.A.
MSRP: Magnum Z with ANSI Z87+Rated Lenses – $200; Wraptor – $180