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Lessons learned the hard way are the ones that tend to stick with you for life. I learned one such lesson many years ago while practicing with a popular 9mm pistol and shooting cheap reloaded ammo sold by a local shooting range. Midway through a magazine, a cartridge case ruptured, blowing the magazine and slide stop out of the gun and sending burning powder and hot gases in multiple directions. 

Needless to say, that incident led to a keen interest in new protective eyewear for shooters. For the last several months, I’ve been testing out a new pair of ballistic sunglasses from Revision Eyewear, a leading supplier of protective eyewear to law enforcement and military customers, and I came away thoroughly impressed. That’s not easy to do, considering I wear corrective lenses and have to deal with all the hassle that entails. The new glasses are the Hellfly Photochromic Ballistic Sunglasses. For those who may be unfamiliar with photochromic lenses, they are clear in the absence of UV rays, such as when you’re indoors or inside a vehicle, but darken to a sunglass tint when exposed to sunlight. I wear glasses with corrective photochromic lenses on a daily basis, so the Hellfly glasses were an immediate hit with me.

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The author has been testing the glasses for several months and is impressed with their protective wrap-around fit, light weight and ability to automatically change tint to match lighting conditions.

I really like the convenience of just having to wear one pair of glasses, day or night, in all light conditions. You don’t have to worry about the glasses being too dark on cloudy days or too light when the sun is glaring. Best of all, the glasses adjust automatically, so you can focus on what you’re doing rather than the glasses you’re wearing.

 

WRAP-AROUND PROTECTION

Revision installed prescription lenses for me so I could test the Hellfly glasses, but they are a standard option for those who wish to order them. I’m pleased to report that Revision got the prescription right, and my vision was as sharp as it is with my normal glasses. The Hellfly sunglasses have a low profile, wrap-around design, with a wide field of view, and provide good protection from the side as well as from the front. There were no gaps for sneaky projectiles to slip past from any direction other than directly beneath the bottom of the frame. Anyone who’s spent a lot of time shooting clays or being “rained on” with shot on opening day in the dove fields can appreciate that full protection. They’re quite light, at 1-¼ oz., and you quickly forget you’re wearing them. An adjustable rubber nosepiece helps you get the fit just right. I found that the glasses gave me good peripheral vision and, thanks to their hard coating, I have yet to scratch them.

That’s a major accomplishment, given the abuse I typically subject glasses to. They’re amazingly tough for weighing so little, and are made of materials that are resistant to chemicals, moisture and extreme temperatures.

MEETS MIL-SPEC REQUIREMENTS

The Hellfly’s lenses are 2.2 mm thick and made of high-impact, optical grade polycarbonate. They provide 100 percent protection from UV-A, UV-B and UV-C rays. Revision claims that they exceed the ANSI Z87.1-2010 standard and meet U.S. military ballistic impact requirements for spectacles (MIL-PRF-3013, clause 3.5.1.1). So just how much protection does this translate into? To meet the U.S. military standard, glasses are tested by being placed on a male headform. A very thin layer of aluminum foil is placed behind the lens. The glasses must then withstand being struck by a 5.8 grain, 0.15 caliber projectile impacting the lens at a velocity of 640-660 feet per second. That’s roughly the equivalent of size number 2 shot. To pass the test, both the eyewear and the aluminum foil must survive with no cracks, tears or punctures. Glasses must also meet standards for fit, optical clarity, UV protection, and resistance to chemicals as well as heat, cold and humidity. One thing I really liked about the Hellfly photochromic lenses was that they transitioned from light to dark very quickly. They also changed from dark to light rapidly. It took less than a minute for them to make the transition to a mostly clear state, which is a lot faster than my regular photochromic glasses or other photochromic sunglasses I’ve tested.

The author found that the Hellfly’s lenses changed from dark to light faster than his prescription photochromic glasses or other photochromic lenses he’s tested. 

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Unless you make your living executing unplanned tactical entries into darkened buildings on a daily basis, this should be plenty fast for most users. The non-prescription Hellfly Photochromic Ballistic Sunglasses retail for $149.99. Standard Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses, without the photochromic lenses, are available in a variety of frame and lens colors for $79.99

 

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the April 2016 print issue of Gun World Magazine.