Written by John B. Holbrook, II | Published in USPSA Magazine
As a nearly life-long wearer of prescription eyeglasses, I've paid very little attention to shooting glasses. They typically come in two varieties - cheap glasses large enough to fit over another pair of glasses or cheap glasses designed to be worn by themselves. The latter won't work for me if I have any intention of hitting what I'm shooting at, which I normally want to do. I've tried many variations of the former, and they aren't much better - usually heavy, uncomfortable, and often of such poor clarity, they hinder visual perception. I usually just wear my prescription glasses when I shoot, which of course is fine visually, but they're not designed to be shooting glasses and don't maximize protection for my eyes from spent shell casings or other debris - so you can imagine how anticlimactic it was for me when I checked in to the 2018 Area 5 Steel Challenge Championship and learned that I had won a pair of Hunters HD Gold Shooting Glasses. I first attempted to put them on over my regular glasses, but they were too small. Disappointed, I thought "well, maybe one of my buddies that doesn't wear glasses could use these."
Having finished checking in for the match, I walked out of the clubhouse and ran into fellow competitive shooter and Range Officer Cory Wyatt, who saw me carrying the glasses. "Man, I can't believe you won one of the nicest prizes on the table!" I shrugged and said "I can't use them - I wear prescription glasses." Cory said that Hunters HD Gold can produce prescription lenses. "They have a tent set up right over there", he added, pointing an embarrassingly short distance from where we were standing. I had plenty of time before the match started, so I headed over to the tent and spoke with Brian Conley, President of Hunters HD Gold. "I won a pair of your shooting glasses and I understand lenses can be put in them that will match my prescription. How much would that cost?" "Absolutely no cost - it's included as part of the prize you won."
I was stunned by the generous prize - I normally buy a new set of prescription lenses every year, costing $800 to upwards of $1000.00 depending on my choice of frames. Brian took the glasses from me and asked me to email him my prescription on Monday; once they had that, a set of prescription lenses could be made and the finished product would be shipped to me.
Monday morning, I sent Brian the prescription for my lenses. I was both excited but also a bit dubious. I have astigmatism and wear invisible-line bifocals. My prescription has to be sent out and usually takes a week to get back - and has had to be returned more than once to get done right. When my Hunters HD Gold shooting glasses came, I tried them on - they were absolutely perfect! In fact, they were perhaps even better than the ~$1000.00 prescription eyeglasses I normally wear! When I spoke to Brian Conley, he told me that the lenses they produce "pass through 17 sets of hands" before they get shipped out. Clearly, Hunters HD Gold has industry-leading capabilities for producing premium quality corrective lenses.
Hunters HD Gold offers several frame choices for shooters which are both attractive and functional. The model I won is called the "Caliber" and comes in red and black among several other color choices. I was given the option to select a different frame, but the red and black color scheme matches the rest of my gear perfectly.
The frames are extremely lightweight and comfortable, and even with my prescription, the lenses themselves added very little weight. This is an important consideration, because the matches I shoot in USPSA, Steel Challenge and 3-Gun can often run most of the day. The design of the frame wraps around the wearer's face, providing almost goggle-like protection for your eyes while shooting, which is extremely important. I've actually had a hot shell casing pop up, over and behind my regular glasses due to the gap between the frame and my face which exists with most regular eyeglasses - I was very lucky it didn't touch my eye. The design of the Hunters Gold HD Caliber frames all but eliminates that gap and dramatically reduces the possibility that an errant shell casing or other debris will reach your eyes.
Hunters HD Gold lenses are constructed from Trivex® which allows the lenses to be made thinner and more impact-resistant than standard plastic or polycarbonate lenses with 43 percent more light transmission. One of the keys to the enhanced visual experience provided by the Hunters HD Gold glasses is the golden amber/yellow tint to the lenses. The colored lenses filter visual light, creating an excellent contrast between colors, and improving visual clarity in low-light conditions. I shoot on an indoor range every Tuesday night, and the lighting is a little weak down range. I've noticed a considerable increase in down-range visual clarity since using my Hunters HD Gold glasses. The lenses also have both anti-reflective (AR) and scratch-resistant coatings applied, just like my regular prescription eyeglasses. The lenses are also "photochromic", which means that they darken on exposure to specific types of light of sufficient intensity, most commonly ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In other words, the lenses "change so you don't have to", as the Hunters HD Gold slogan suggests. This feature alone makes the glasses worth their weight in gold. I've seen shooting glasses out there (very expensive ones, in fact) which offer three sets of changeable lenses, forcing the user to change them based on lighting conditions. That's something you'll never have to do with the photochromic lenses in Hunters HD Gold shooting glasses.
If you wear shooting glasses or are like me and wear prescription glasses while shooting, you've probably experienced the frustration of having your glasses "fog up" on you during a match. I was concerned that this particular problem might be more of an issue with the Hunters HD Gold glasses. Because they are designed to have less of a gap where they meet your face to maximize eye protection, they let less cool air into the interior area of the lens - creating steam or fog in warm, humid conditions. However, each pair of Hunters HD Gold glasses comes with Clear-Z Anti-Fog treatment; just apply to the lenses, allow it to dry, and wipe off with a microfiber cloth. The product works fantastic - I have experienced zero problems with fogged-up lenses while shooting since using it.
If you participate in shooting sports - any shooting sport and at any level - you need Hunters HD Gold shooting glasses; 1) unquestionably, you will be able to see your targets better and more clearly, and perhaps more importantly, 2) you will have the best possible protection for your eyes. Making sure you can hit what you're shooting at is great; making sure you can still see after you're finished shooting is even better. By any measure, these glasses are an absolute bargain at their price of $369.00. I plan on buying a new pair every year when I get my annual eye exam and new prescription.
Hunters HD Gold has a fantastic new website you can visit at www.huntershdgold.com. I strongly suggest you take a look to learn even more about their products as well as information on where and how to purchase them.