29 Oct 10/29/2021
When you think of the military, eye protection might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Most thoughts go first to military boots, hats, or the fantastic technology used across military combat operations. Since, as the military itself points out, eyes make up less than 1% of the body’s surface, they’re often overlooked. However, they also point out that our eyes are disproportionately injured when unprotected, making eye protection a vital piece of equipment on and off the battlefield.
The Defense Department records that roughly 15 percent of all battlefield trauma is to the eyes. Shrapnel from IEDs and other explosives can leave soldiers blinded for life. Thankfully, eye protection that meets military standards can prevent or reduce the severity of eye injuries by 90%. And, what’s even better news, the U.S. government continues to invest millions of dollars in eye injury research each year, hopefully bringing eye injury rates down even lower.
Eyewear designed for the military outperforms the usual Z87+ eyewear standard.
Military-grade safety glasses are popular with law enforcement and SWAT teams. In addition, since they provide the highest level of ballistic eye protection on the market, they are popular with any worker seeking the best eye protection available. Even outdoor enthusiasts, such as hunters, prefer wearing military-grade safety glasses to protect their eyes from recoil from their firearms.
This article outlines what separates military-grade eyewear from standard safety glasses and explains what the U.S. Army requires for their eyewear. We’ve also selected some of the top choices for military-grade styles available in our lineup to showcase. Best of all, you don’t have to sacrifice style for safety when you buy MCR Safety eye protection, as our styles are sporty and attractive.
Ballistic eyewear must meet specific requirements and undergo rigorous testing to guarantee its high-quality performance level. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since the U.S. military has strict guidelines for all gear, and ballistic eyewear is no different.
Ballistic eyewear protects against projectiles that might damage the eye during military combat operations or training events. When something is flying at a high rate of speed, like chips, sand, dirt, or other fragments, it can cause serious eye injury, which means the best protection must be worn. U.S. military ballistic fragmentation standards ensure eye protection meets the rigorous demands of combat.
Any safety glass classified as “military rated” is designed to provide 5-7 times greater ballistic fragmentation protection than standard Z87-approved safety glasses. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between these two standards.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is the go-to organization that oversees standards for products, services, and systems used across the U.S. ANSI Z87 is the civilian standard by which most safety glasses and goggles are measured. ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2020 sets the criteria around the physical requirements, high level of impact resistance, coverage area, and permanent markings designating safety glasses as meeting the standard.
The main difference between military-grade ballistic eyewear and ANSI Z87 is the testing regimen the eye protection undergoes. Under the Z87 high-velocity impact test for safety glasses, a steel ball traveling at 102 mph is shot at the safety glass lens. For safety goggles, the ball travels at 250 mph. There can be no breaks or fractures on the frame or lens for the eye protection to pass. Military-grade eyewear is subject to much more rigorous testing and must withstand impact by projectiles traveling at even higher velocities.
To receive military ratings, the two ballistic standards used for testing eye protection are the MIL-PRF-31013 (Spectacles) and MIL-DTL-43511D (Goggles). Here is a breakdown of each:
As you can see from the numbers above, the military standard outperforms any industrial safety glass. So, when you see a glass has been tested to MIL-PRF-31013, you know you’re wearing advanced eye protection.
In addition to this performance standard, the eyewear used by the military must meet requirements set by the Military Combat Eye Protection (MCEP) and the Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL). More on this in our next section.
Eye hazards faced by military personnel occur in the most strenuous conditions any person will experience. They vary from metal fragments flying in the air after a blast, airborne debris, and shock waves caused by IEDs. Because of such conditions, the U.S. military standard requires that ballistic eyewear meet the following conditions using the military test method highlighted in our previous section. The Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and Navy all utilize the same standard accepted by the U.S. Army. In real-world terms, here are what these standards are measuring:
The above examples don’t mean that ballistic certification equates to safety glasses being bulletproof. Bullet speeds exceed 1200 ft/sec, which means these glasses are not protecting your eyes from a bullet. What it means is that your eyes are considerably better protected from hazards than they would be with a pair of uncertified or civilian glasses.
It is important to note that meeting the military-grade performance ratings doesn’t mean all eyewear is approved for military combat or training operations. Not only does the U.S. Army require the high-velocity specifications mentioned above, but they also require eyewear to be functional, be reasonably comfortable, and be made without the use of bright colors or distracting designs. Our military-rated safety glasses don’t meet all these criteria, which means they don’t fall under the final APEL list issued by the U.S. Army and are not army approved ballistic eyewear.
When we highlight a safety glass as military-rated, it means the eye protection meets the velocity performance standards required by the U.S. military, which is the first step in becoming qualified for use by the U.S. Army. Without that performance rating, a safety glass has no chance of becoming outfitted by anyone in the military.
All protective eyewear is not the same. Our lineup of heavy-duty ballistic eyewear is known for offering the highest level imaginable for safety glasses in overall durability, looks, and performance.
We’ve selected the best military-grade styles in our lineup and broken them up into specific categories. All of the safety glasses listed below meet the military-required velocity standards, which means they also pass the ANSI Z87+ eyewear standard.
Here are some highlights of each one.
ForceFlex® FF1 Series Black Safety Glasses
When it comes to flexible glasses, look no further than the ForceFlex® FF1 Series. These safety glasses have a flexible full-frame designed to fit average to more extensive facial profiles. The incredibly durable construction of these glasses achieves a military ballistic level impact resistance at over 1,000 feet per second.
These glasses are engineered to provide the highest level of innovation for consumers who demand the very best safety performance. While they're not indestructible, ForceFlex® glasses are made with a TPU material that allows them to bend without easily snapping or breaking.
Swagger® UD1 Series Safety Glasses
When it comes to law enforcement sunglasses, our Swagger® UD1 and UD2 series safety glasses offer a sporty look almost anyone will appreciate wearing. They are available with MAX3® scratch-resistant coatings, offering users three times greater scratch resistance when compared to standard hard coats. This feature is ideal for anyone who finds themselves operating in rugged environments. They are also offered with our MAX6® anti-fog coating, proven to provide six times greater fog-resistance and dissipation than standard AF coatings.
Mossy Oak® Blades®
Swagger® UD1 Series Camouflage Safety Glasses
If you’re looking for ballistic eyewear protection that can be used for hunting, look no further than the collaboration we did with Mossy Oak® Brand Camo to create the Shadow Grass® Blades® glasses. Our Shadow Grass® Blades® ballistic glasses feature a precise arrangement of individual blades of grass, whether windblown, broken, or bent, onto a background of thatch consisting of lesser or dead grass, to create the perfect pure grass pattern and top-quality camouflage.
Dominator™ DM3 Series
For shooting, we recommend the Dominator™ DM3 Series. This series is one of the most versatile and adjustable mil spec safety glasses we offer, featuring wire core temples so you can bend and adjust them for the right fit. The nose pads are also adjustable and can be shaped to fit you comfortably.
Dominator™ DM3 Series Polarized Bifocal Readers 2.0 Diopter
You don’t have to choose between being able to read on the job and protecting yourself. The Dominator™ DM3 Magnifiers Series are the most versatile and easily adjustable safety glasses in our lineup! Available in 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5 diopter strengths, these ballistic glasses also feature wire core temples allowing you to bend or adjust each temple to fit and feel just the way you like.
Predator® PD2 Safety Goggles
If you’re looking for something with more coverage than glasses, check out our Predator® PD2 goggles. One of the most frustrating things about goggles is that they can easily fog up in different weather conditions. However, these goggles offer standard anti-fog or our MAX6® superior anti-fog, which provides six times better fog protection. Also, these goggles feature a full foam lining that allows them to meet the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1 D4 designation for dust protection.
Most MCR Safety mil spec glasses look like sunglasses. However, never judge a book by its cover. Our military-rated glasses are tested to U.S. military velocity performance standards in addition to ANSI industrial performance standards. Our lineup of military-grade ballistic eyewear is tested to the highest standards, ensuring we protect your eyes from hazardous conditions in all sorts of applications.
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For over 45 years, MCR Safety has proven to be a world leader in gloves, glasses, and garments. Whether it's law enforcement personnel locking up bad guys, working on a construction site, or working on the shop floor, we are there providing solutions to workplace hazards. It's all part of our commitment to protect people.
No matter your industry, we have the personal protective equipment you need.
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