I reviewed some shooting glasses last year from Bolle and Swisseye. Both pairs proved to be excellent but were very much designed for shooting use only. You could have worn them as general sunglasses but they would have stood out and been fairly noticeable. Both pairs were quite large and looked.. Well.. Shooty..
Although shooting specific glasses are fine and I always pack a couple of pairs in the range bag it would be good to have the ballistic protection levels they offer in an everyday wear package. Enter Bolle’s Swat model. An excellent everyday wear pair of Sunglasses which will keep your eyes safe when using firearms.
As mentioned before I will only review items that I like and use myself. I actually have a list of requirements for general use sunglasses which I rather doubted any shooting oriented models would fulfill.
1. Be light.
2. Be durable.
3. Be comfortable.
4. Not slip down my sweaty nose when moving fast.
5. Protect my eyes from glare and general harm.
6. Look good but not like I am having a midlife crisis (difficult).
The Swat glasses are definitely lightweight and comfortable. The Nylon frame is very light and bends under stress without any problem. They come in a soft padded case which is a packable size and does a good job of protecting your lenses.
The frames hug the head well and have a grippy material insert at the bridge of the nose which is designed to prevent the glasses slipping down as you move.
I have had sports sunglasses before where the arms grip the head tightly to the point of discomfort. One pair I had used to give me a headache every time I wore them. The Bolle Swats are so lightweight that a tight grip of the arms is unnecessary and the tension is not noticeable. Comfort is very important if you are wearing something for many hours. It is also vital that you are not tempted to remove uncomfortable items which are keeping you safe for obvious reasons. Never overlook discomfort when selecting kit..
The Swat model is available in Polarized, smoke and silver lens options. I opted for polarized lenses. I used to use polarized glasses reguarly when I fished. Polarized lenses cut down on glare and so are ideal if you are on or near water. They are also excellent in urban environments where highly reflective surfaces produce unwanted glare. The downside is that LED screens can look odd or difficult to read with a polarized lens. I have found that bright LED screens look a bit odd but were still readable. That may be a factor for some professionals who are required to monitor screens with a high degree of accuracy.
The lenses are made from Ballistic Polycarbonate and have an anti scratch and anti fog coating. I would say the coating are pretty effective as I have had absolutely no issues with scratches or fogging. The lenses are fairly dark when viewed from a bystanders perspective (they cannot see your eyes) which could be good or bad dependant on situation. If you are working in a high stress environment then the ability to make eye contact is sometimes very beneficial. It is very hard to win someones trust or build rapport without good eye contact. Equally there maybe times when eye contact may be seen as threatening or give away your planned deception. All food for thought if your wearing dark glasses on the job.
The lenses comply with a number of directives and regulations concerning protection in terms of ballistic hazard and sunlight damage. The important one for the working wearer would be STANAG 2920 ballistic resistance. In short that is what your insurer will expect you to be adhering to..
As previously mentioned I have worn these glasses for several months as my “everyday” sunglasses and at the range when required. They are the most comfortable sunglasses I have owned to date. They are light yet stay in place firmly. Although I try to be careful with my kit the environment inevitably ends up causing my kit problems. In this case that was not to be. Despite being bumped, dropped, chucked around in Rucksacks, sat on and frozen on several occasions the Swats still look and function just like new. I have jogged in them which the ultimate test for movement/slippage but they stayed put. They are fantastic for use on the range when the Sun is out (not often enough!) and they proved their worth when the dreaded muzzle brakes opened up either side of me during some load testing. The wrap around close fit provides protection to the sides of the eyes as well which is sometimes overlooked and definitely helps keep small dust particles out. The only time I do not like wearing them is in dark conditions when I will select a yellow or clear lens instead.
The Bolle Swat ballistic sunglasses provide an excellent dual role addition to your everyday kit. They are fantastic to wear as standard sunglasses and perform equally well in a shooting related role. I continue to carry mine in a pocket or day bag. Price wise Bolle’s glasses are always competitive. I found them for £45 in the UK. Considering most fashion sunglasses cost £50+ then I would say the Swats are excellent value and if looked after will give you years of wear.
Lastly I would mention that I think they look good. They are pretty cool without being overly flashy which is what most people want. They do not stand out which will appeal to LE and Mil workers.
If you are a shooter and you are looking for sunglasses or shooting glasses or both I would highly recommend these.