In the past couple of years I discovered that street signs and even the captions on the television in my living room were getting fuzzy. While my laptop screen was nice and clear, mounting minor inconveniences in my vision suggested it was time for prescription glasses to deal with farsightedness that was getting more pronounced.

My local optometrist did a nice job setting me up with a stylish pair of glasses to wear around town last year, but those wire-frame glasses aren’t impact resistant, and they don’t provide near enough coverage to be something I’d ever dream of wearing at the range.

I was able to get away with wearing my excellent non-prescription Revison Miltary Hellfly and Stingerhawks until earlier this summer, when I started noticing that the front sight on my rifles and pistols simply weren’t sharp anymore.

It was time to upgrade to prescription shooting glasses.

Like so many folks, I fired up my web browser and did a search for “prescription shooting glasses,” and after scanning my way about halfway down the page I clicked on the link for Tactical Rx… and I’m glad I did.

Like you, I tend to skim through web sites and try to get an idea of whether or not a company really knows what they are doing, and the links to testimonials and reviews from numerous credible industry sources inspired me to get in touch with Tactical Rx.

Now here’s the cool part.

Instead of buying my glasses based upon what they looked like online, I discovered that Tactical Rx gives purchasers the option of receiving several frames in the mail (after a deposit, of course) so that you can try them on and see what fits your needs the best.

I opted to try out three frames.

I asked for the Spy Optics Quanta

Spy Optic Quanta
Spy Optic Quanta

..the Rudy Project Rydon

Rudy Project Rydon
Rudy Project Rydon

…and the Numa Optics Point Ballistic.

Numa Optics Point Ballistic
Numa Optics Point Ballistic

In the end, the Point Ballistic was my choice, as it simply fit my head size and shape the best, and gave me the very close frame-to-face fit I preferred.

After exchanging several emails and a phone call with Tactical Rx discussing my shooting needs, they suggested Transition Extra Active/AR lenses, which are ANSIz87 impact-rated, and which would provide the protection my light-sensitive eyes needed when I was in the high desert of Arizona during the daytime at Gunsite Academy for the 350 Pistol course, and which would also fade to a near-clear lens for indoor simulator runs and nighttime courses of fire.

They ground prescription lenses for my Point Ballistics in short order, and shipped them out as soon as they could.

The Point Ballistics quickly became some of my favorite “all-around” glasses, both in town and on the range. My non-ballistic wire-frames were quickly relegated to backup duty, as I could wear the Point Ballistics anytime, day or night.

They performed wonderfully at Gunsite, and I wore them again this past weekend at Valor Ridge, where Reid Henrichs (formerly of Tactical Response) and J.J. Wittenborn lead our two-day  Rifleman I class. The class itself is something I highly recommend (we’ll review that a bit later), but I want to talk about what happened during one of the drills.

Our relay of eight shooters was working on close-range carbine work, firing at paper targets backed by an earth berm cut out of the hillside. During this particular  set of stoppage recover drills, I fired a series of shots and felt something jar my glasses and push the frames to my face. There wasn’t any pain and no obstruction to my vision, so I kept on with the drill without giving it too much thought, figuring a bit of dirt had flown back of the berm, bounced of the glasses, and fell away.

It was no big deal at the time.

We finished the drill, went back and loaded mags, and rotated to a mid-range component. It was only after shooting that midrange set of drills that I took off my glasses to wipe away some of the sweat when I noticed the gouge to the glass on the inside corner of my right lens.

rightside up
My Numa Optics Point Ballistics frame simply soaked up the impact energy, and the ANSIz87 lens stopped me from taking a hit that would have drawn blood… or worse.
upside down
Thanks to impact-resistance of the ANSIz87-rated lens, the object that struck my glasses not only failed to cause injury, it didn’t even slow me down.

We’re still not entirely sure what struck the lens, but the most logical operating theory is that it was the result of a bullet striking a rock in the earth berm, and either a rock or bullet fragment roughly the size of a grain of rice bouncing back at significant speed. Based upon the severity of the gouge, I suspect that glass lens and non-impact-rated polycarbonate lens would have been cracked or even shattered.

I might have ended up looking like one of these victims.

If I’d been wearing my wire-framed glasses that provide much less coverage and don’t hug my face as tight, there is a good chance the projectile would have skimmed under the edge of the frame and impacted my eyelid with enough force to penetrate it.

While this particular impact wouldn’t have likely have led to permanent sight loss because it wouldn’t have struck a critical structure in my eye, it would have temporarily blinded me and prevented me from finishing the string of fire, and it had been more severe, might have led to a ruined weekend and an expensive emergency room bill to get the fragment removed from my eyelid and perhaps the eyeball underneath it.

As it was, the impact-rated Transition lenses and Point Ballistic frames absorbed the impact to the point that I wasn’t aware of the severity of the impact until over a half-hour later.

And it gets better.

When I contacted Tactical Rx to thank them for crafting me glasses that helped prevent a painful injury that might have ruined the rest of my weekend of training, they reminded me that their lens come with a standard one-year warranty (and optional extra hard scratch-coating and a 2-year warranty available) for just this sort of impact, and I’ll be getting my replacement pair very soon.

Folks, I can’t tell you which frames to buy, or which lens will meet your needs. I can tell you that prescription shooting eyewear typically qualifies FSA/HSA medical spending (that’s a hint), and I can do is point you towards Tactical Rx, a company that went above and beyond in providing me with excellent service and advice.