Written by John B. Holbrook, II | Published in USPSA Magazine
Last summer, I was fortunate enough to win a pair of Hunters HD Gold Caliber shooting glasses at the 2018 Area 5 Steel Challenge Championship. These glasses were probably the best single gear change I made in 2018. You can read my previous review in the September 2018 issue of USPSA Magazine, but the bottom line is that the improvement in visual acuity with these glasses both outdoors and indoors has been significant and helped me make serious improvements in my shooting. I need corrective lenses when I shoot (or do anything else, really) and I vowed that each year when my prescription changed, I'd be getting a new pair of Hunters HD Gold right alongside my regular prescription glasses.
When January came around and I got my annual eye exam, I reached out to Hunters HD Gold President Brian Conley and he made me aware that they had a new model that he thought I should try - the Velocity. In the short time I've known Brian, I've quickly come to the conclusion that I should never question his good judgment, so I enthusiastically agreed to give the Velocity a try.
In terms of the lenses, everything I've come to love about Hunter's HD Gold shooting glasses stays the same with the new Velocity glasses. 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 have both anti-reflective (AR) and scratch-resistant coatings applied - just like my regular prescription eyeglasses. They 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 that forces the user to change lenses based on lighting conditions. That's something you'll never have to do with the photochromic lenses in Hunters HD Gold shooting glasses.
The big change with the new Velocity model is the frame itself. Let me start by saying that I've been wearing glasses for 40 (plus…) years, and there are things about glasses that I've just come to accept, like the fact that when I move around aggressively, my glasses will probably move around on my face - particularly in the summertime when I'm sweating. The design of the Velocity addresses these issues by providing unparalleled adjustability at all the points at which the glasses touch your face and head.
During 2018, Brian Conley was on the road almost every weekend attending state and national level USPSA and Steel Challenge competitions. His support of competitive shooting really defines the term "above and beyond." During his time on the road attending various events, Brian got to know the needs of competitive shooters extremely well. He used his unique insight to match up the fantastic lenses his company manufactures with frames which matched the performance of Hunters HD Gold lenses. For starters, frames are lighter than those previously available - and while my previous pair was by no means heavy, the new Velocity feels even lighter and "invisible." Thanks to the custom fit nose pad and the "infinitely adjustable" temples which are manufactured with wire cores, it is now possible to get a "no-slip" comfortable fit from the Velocity.
This is important from not only from a comfort and shooting performance standpoint, but it's also important from a safety standpoint. Glasses that don't stay in place can introduce the possibility of an ejected bullet casing or spall striking the eye. The Velocity even comes with a cord that wraps around the back of your head with attachment points that integrate into the frame of the Velocity. Personally, I've not found it necessary to use the cord, but the shape of everyone's head, nose, and ears are all different and some may well benefit from this feature.
For a long time, I shot with my regular prescription eyeglasses as my "eye protection", because…you know…any glasses will protect your eyes, right? I learned my lesson in this regard while at a handgun class at Tactical Defense Institute some years ago. A hot 9mm shell casing ejected from my handgun and actually managed to clear the top of my glasses and drop behind them, landing just below my eye, and leaving me with a nice burn on my face. It's a small miracle that the casing didn't actually burn my eyeball. The Practical Shooting sports can present some unique eye safety considerations - hot shell casings, spall and ricochets all represent possible and permanent eye damage. This is why every discipline of the Practical Shooting sports mandates that shooters wear eye protection. Hunters HD Gold lenses are rated and tested at ANSI Z87+1-2015 which provides impact protection from a .25″ steel ball traveling at 150 fps. Coupled with the Velocity frames (which are OSHA safety frames), you get unparalleled protection for your eyes. I see far too many shooters who choose to wear shooting glasses with a "fashion first" mentality - when your vision is on the line, vanity needs to take a back seat to safety.
I've been testing the Hunters HD Gold Velocity since January and I've worn them while shooting both indoors and outdoors during USPSA, Steel Challenge and 3-Gun matches, and I'm extremely impressed. More so than any other glasses I've owned, once I put them on, I completely forget they are there. The lightweight materials combined with the adjustability of the nose piece and arms really do a great job of keeping the glasses in place - even when perspiration builds on your face. The Velocity frame design also ensures optimal protection for your eyes from every conceivable angle.
Hunters HD Gold is the Official Eyewear of both USPSA and Steel Challenge. If you are a USPSA/Steel Challenge member, you can benefit from special pricing by visiting the USPSA Preferred Vendor web page. Brian Conley also extends this pricing when you buy them directly from him at the various USPSA, Steel Challenge, and other practical shooting events he attends throughout the year - it's always great to talk to and purchase from Brian directly if you have the opportunity to do so.
Finally, if you happen to see me at a match, I keep a pair of non-prescription Hunters HD Gold Aviators with me for anyone to try out just for the asking. I strongly believe in this product and want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to experience it for themselves.
-John Holbrook is a writer, photographer, competitive shooter and member of Team Steel Target Paint.