March 2002

Shooting Glasses: Avoid Scopz, Buy Rangers, Consider Hy-Wyds

We thought the Randolph Engineering glasses were comfortable, safe, and adjustable, likewise the Decot Hy-Wyd Sport Glasses. But we would pass on the pricey, single-lens Scopz by Carl Zeiss.

Randolph Engineering’s Rangers Shooting
Glasses were our choice for best combination
of comfort, value, and protection.

Most shooting glasses are really designed for tracking moving targets, and that translates to the shotgun sports: trap, skeet, and sporting clays. But many rifle and pistol enthusiasts shamble over to the scatter-gun ranges now and again. Even if you’re peering over your sights at a stationary piece of paper 100 yards away, anything that enhances the image is welcome, to say nothing of the importance of eye protection.

Gun Tests looked at some higher-end shooting glasses to determine how they perform during a shooting session, and how much protection they afford. We tried three models while firing handguns and rifles, and also while shooting clay targets with a side-by-side shotgun. We evaluated each one for simplicity of use, target sight clarity and comfort. Then we tested how well they stood up to some major abuse—a blast of No. 7 1/2 shot from a 12-gauge shotgun at 25 yards. All evaluations and prices discussed apply to non-prescription models only. Prescription lenses are available for all models we cover, at additional cost, although in some cases there are limits in shades or other options available. Contact the individual manufacturers for more information on prescription lenses.

The products selected were: Rangers, $109, from Randolph Engineering; Hy-Wyd, $140, from Decot Hy-Wyd Sport Glasses; and Scopz, $145, by Carl Zeiss Optical. Here’s how they performed

Randolph Engineering Rangers, $109
We expected great things from this product, and weren’t too disappointed. A pair of Rangers frames comes with three sets of lenses. Purchasers can select from any of the following shades: Gray, Clear, Yellow, Brown, Orange, Vermilion, Light Purple, Pale Yellow, Sunset Orange, and Ranger Bronze. We chose the black matte finish, with 150mm temple and 160mm spring skull frame, and an eye size of 66mm. The catalog number was RAD2G99, and it came with three sets of lenses.

We ordered Orange #45, Clear #42, and Pale Yellow #48.

Initial handling of the glasses was satisfactory, with a few reservations. Installation of the lenses was easy, as long as the printed directions were ignored. We actually had the first pair of lenses in with little difficulty before noticing these instructions. However, it seemed much clumsier when we tried to follow the instructions to remove and re-install them.

Another problem we encountered was using the PVC temple covers. The Rangers arrive with the ear cables uncovered and with separate sleeves that the user must install. Repeated attempts to snake these sleeves on were failures. Finally we gave up and used the glasses without the covers.

Although the comfort of these glasses was slightly diminished without the sleeves, it nevertheless remained high. Comfort while shooting was rated as “good” to “excellent” throughout. One tester commented that “it feels like you’re not wearing anything.” Our one complaint is that it is difficult to put on or remove the glasses while wearing hearing protection. We attribute this to the curved design of the ear cables, which go around the ears. We believe that changing lenses at a loud and crowded shooting area would be difficult.

When it came to shooting, we were very impressed with the target clarity through these lenses. Ratings ranged from “good” and “excellent” marks, both for stationary and moving targets. Combined with high comfort, this clarity earns these glasses high marks.

The final evaluation, under fire, was satisfactory. Although one of the 2.5-mm polycarbonate lenses broke into a few pieces, it was clear that it had caught a denser part of the shot pattern. At least a dozen pellets struck that lens. Another eight pellets hit the mating lens, which didn’t break it. This compared well with the other products on our test panel.

Also on the plus side, these glasses come with a high-quality lens cloth. The case has some nice features—multiple compartments on the inside, a hook-and-loop closure, and a belt clip on the exterior. Dual-action spring temples assist shock absorbency, allow for easier removal and replacement, and help assure a snug fit. On the downside, this design does not allow for bridge adjustment, although none of our shooters had any complaints in this regard.

Decot Hy-Wyd Sporting Glasses, $140
Decot Hy-Wyd frames are manufactured by Decot in Phoenix. The frames come in three sizes: 64mm (junior or ladies), 67 (standard), and 69 (large). They come in black or gold finish with or without spring hinge temples. The frame is manufactured from high quality spring metal, and sits behind the interchangeable lenses, eliminating smudging and fogging around the forehead and nasal area. The Hy-Wyd frame has a 3mm bridge so there is very little space between the lenses. The lenses are set high and wide, allowing a wide field of vision.

Decot's Hy-Wyd glasses were very comfortable
and did not break under fire from our 12 gauge.
We believe they offer excellent protection.

We tested the $140 Classic Hy-Wyd, which comes complete with one set of non-prescription lenses, frame, case, chamois, side shields, and cleaner. Prescription lenses are $215 (single vision), or for bifocals, $245. Available colors include Clear, Gold, Yellow, Target Orange, Burnt Orange, Target Sun (Purple), V-Lite (Rose), Rose Blaze, Vermillion, Bronze, Pink Blaze, Blue Ice, Royal Bud, Grey, Green, Hy-Green, Brown, BluBan Blocker. Polarized lenses are available.

Lens installation and initial wearing provided essentially the same experience that the Rangers glasses did. No big surprises or disappointments. Comfort was very good. Although we still experienced some clumsiness taking them off and putting them on while wearing ear muffs, the cable ends weren’t turned quite as severely as the Scopz’s, making them more comparable to the Rangers in this regard.

When we started shooting at our unmoving and flying targets, we were disappointed in these glasses. Although target clarity was superior to simple, clear safety glasses or no eyewear at all, we still felt these glasses fell short of the Rangers or Scopz lens quality.

Durability and protection tested well—at least for our test glasses. The company sells products with both polycarbonate and CR-39 lenses. We tested the polycarbonate model, which fared best in our durability test. After the shotgun blast, both lenses stayed intact, albeit dimpled by pellet impacts. However, closer scrutiny suggests that these results were comparable to those seen in the Rangers. Seven dimples were counted in one lens, and one in the other, suggesting that the glasses did not take the full force of the pattern’s densest section. Nevertheless, the glasses seemed to offer high protection.

Carl Zeiss Scopz, $145
Unlike the other glasses tested, this product has no interchangeable lenses. Buyers have a choice of five shades—Vermilion, Yellow, Gray, Brown, or International Target Orange. To add new shades into the repertoire, a new pair of glasses must be purchased. Although there were no lenses to monkey with, these were not much more convenient to set up than the Rangers. The cable ends wrap much more severely than those of either the Rangers or Decot, making for clumsier donning and removal. We did not notice that this added any appreciable stability.

The Carl Zeiss Optical Scopz did not offer inter-
changeable lenses.

Comfort was essentially as good as with the Rangers product, even though we found it is even more difficult adding or removing them under ear muffs. The adjustable nose bridge was also a convenient feature, as were the spring-loaded hinges. However, wearing the glasses over the better part of a day can hurt the backs of the shooter’s ears.

Zeiss says the lenses, made of Claret CR-39, are 100% UV-resistant and are treated with an anti-reflective coating to reduce glare and reflections. Under our testing conditions, however, we perceived no improvement in obtaining images or quality, compared to the Rangers.

Image quality did, however, fare better than the Decot Hy-Wyds. Evaluations were evenly split between “Fair” and “Good.”

Our analysis of the final quality—protection—was marred by an unforeseen hurdle. After the glasses were subjected to our shotgun blast, the lens were never recovered, even after an exhaustive search. In other tests where lenses, either still intact or in large chunks, were blown right out of the frames, their flights could be seen by observers during the shot and were easily tracked. This didn’t happen with the Zeiss lenses. There is a possibility that the lenses weren’t recovered because they had been reduced to small fragments, making recovery virtually impossible. In one pair we’ve been testing for some months, we’ve noticed that the lenses don’t fit in the frames perfectly. Despite repeated attempts to adjust the frames, we’ve been unable to keep the right lens in the frame. Based on this experience, it might also be true that the shotgun blast simply propelled the whole lenses beyond our ability to find them. Either way, we graded the glasses poorly in this section of the test.

Under the heading of “extras,” the case has a convenient belt loop and closes with a single snap closure.

Gun Tests Recommends
Randolph Engineering Rangers, $109. Best Buy. These glasses offer high comfort, good target acquisition, two pairs of additional shaded lenses at no charge, and a high level of protection. We liked these the best, and at $109 we believe them the best value despite a few minor inconveniences indicated above.

Decot Hy-Wyd Shooting Glasses, $140. Buy It. This pair seems like a reasonable value. They offer good protection, at least in the polycarbonate models, and reasonable comfort.

Carl Zeiss Optical Scopz, $145. Don’t Buy. These glasses were a mixed bag. They offered reasonably good comfort, target sighting and adjustability. But interchangeable lenses are not available, and we were unable to conclusively judge their ability to protect your eyes. As a result, we don’t think you’re getting that much for your $145.