If you shoot guns, you need protective eyewear; it’s that simple. The only thing shielding your eyes from any errant gases, carbon, or heaven forbid, metal chunks, it is absolutely imperative that any and all firearms owners have at least one pair of good, protective glasses that pair a resilient lens material with good all-around coverage of the eye and eye socket. Typically, this means finding a pair of glasses that meet, or exceed, the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, requirements for high velocity safety and optical standards.
At just $38, the Wiley X Saber Advanced glasses offer everything one might need in a decent pair of shooting glasses; a rugged lens element, a comfortable frame, and excellent coverage. However, for those whom number clay target sports among their hobbies, such as some of us around the Calibre office, Wiley X also makes a $65 package that includes the frame and three lenses; grey, light rust (orange), and vermillion (red), as well as a zippered nylon case to store them in. Furthermore, additional lenses are available in grey, clear, yellow, orange, and pink. They can be purchased for $20 each from Wiley X, as can a prescription lens insert that replaces the nosepiece and allows for a pair of corrective lenses to be fitted.
While not offering nearly the wide range of colours and shades of some of the more costly brands, such as Randolph, Pilla, or the ubiquitous Oakley, the basic orange and pink lenses have performed well on both the trap field and the sporting clays course, and have certainly served us far better than their price tag should allow for. With replacement lenses coming in at just $20, sand blasting an eye-dominance diminishing dot into one side to help compensate for cross-dominance wasn’t a heart-stopping, stress-inducing nightmare.
However, even at this price point, we couldn’t recommend these glasses if they weren’t protective. I myself had the misfortunate of testing the Wiley X’s might… albeit in a non-firearms related manner. While working to restore the 1973 Land Rover, I lost my footing and fell headlong over the bulkhead separating the small cargo bed from the front seat, bringing my forehead down onto the exposed end of the steering column where the steering wheel would normally reside. Incapable of finding purchase with either my hands, feet, or knees to break my fall, the entirety of my 190-pound frame landed on the end of that steering column, with just the Saber glasses I was wearing separating my skull from that particularly nasty spike of threaded rod. The result? A slight scratch that’s so insignificant that I haven’t even bothered to replace the lenses. The foam pad positioned atop the inside top edge of the lens even prevented so much as a bruise!
Although these glasses are extremely affordable and robust, there are a few things that separate the Wiley X’s from more expensive glasses on the market. First off, the lenses are very thick, and very heavy. With a full 3mm of selenite polycarbonate, they may be durable but their weight will take some getting used to. Conversely, the arms are incredibly light, to the point of feeling almost delicate. Normally, that wouldn’t be an issue, but changing the lenses on the Saber requires reefing on the front corner of the arms in order to snap the dovetailed joint of the lens element out of its corresponding slot in the arm, and it can feel like you’re going to rip the arm in half. Finally, if you choose to wear them while doing any sort of strenuous physical activity, although the foam pad will prevent sweat from rolling into your eyes, the silicone covers on the nose piece and arms can get a little too tacky for comfort. Then again, typically by the time that happens, it’s the least of one’s concerns.
Having had plenty of occasion to test these glasses in a few years’ worth of ownership, the simple fact is: if you need protective ballistic eyewear that can be fitted with at least a few different colours of lenses, the value of Wiley X’s Saber Advanced is hard to beat. Seemingly indestructible, quite comfortable, and yet still extremely affordable, they make for great shooting glasses that you don’t have to worry terribly about losing.