Which Lens Color makes the most sense for shooting glasses?
We want to prove that lens color on shooting glasses can be a game changer.
Using a systematic approach to improving potential outcomes, you can harness the spectrum of colors available for shooting glasses to improve your overall capabilities. In short: don’t doubt that lens color choice can have a huge positive impact on your skills.
We often overlook lens color and glasses in general when choosing shooting safety equipment.
Any old pair of dollar-bin safety glasses will do. Forget about comfort, these are a commodity. Forget about gimmicky marketing hype, one pair is as good as the next.
Why would you ever spend more than $10 on a pair of shooting glasses?
Here’s the often misunderstood answer: because quality, well-thought-out glasses can make you more accurate and faster.
This article seeks to educate and inform the reader of the benefits of different colored lenses in safety and shooting glasses. But more than that, it seeks to “teach a man to fish”. We aim to help you understand the concepts surrounding this topic at the most basic levels. This, so you can make informed, high-quality decisions about personal protective eyewear. So don’t be afraid to dive in and begin to understand the science and implementation concepts behind the topic.
How the human eye processes colors
The Color Spectrum
In the most simplistic terms, you can view the color spectrum like a scale between Red/Infrared on one extreme end, and Blue/Ultraviolet (UV) on the other extreme end. They are opposites for a lack of a better explanation in this scenario.
UV light is not possible to see with the human eye, but it can be damaging. Science and understanding in the modern world have combated this fact by building plastics that inherently block this lightwave type. In the case of shooting glasses, this is almost always polycarbonate, which by default in high-quality versions, will block 99-100% of UV light.
Reflective light and visual awareness
The human eye understands color by using reflective light. Objects reflect visible light. This gives us an input that helps our eyes and brain understand spatial and visual data. For instance, if something appears yellow to our eyes, it’s because that’s the only color not being absorbed from the visible cues. It would appear to us this way because that is the reflected color that is returned to us. So the color we see is the color that the object is reflecting.
A real-world extrapolation of that is the example of an amber-tinted lens. When you wear one, the world appears orange/brown/copper-colored. The lens itself is absorbing all the colors, except for amber light. In this case, you can see through the blue light, because by default they are blocking it.
Haze, dust, and fog are generally removed from your field of view because they are made up partly of blue light. This is a 30,000 foot view, but a basic exploration of the color spectrum topic. However, it should suffice to help you understand the information that is presented from here on out in this article.
Why optimization is important
Now that you know about the color spectrum, you can custom-tailor your experience to however you prefer.
Sure it’s possible to shoot without enhanced lens colors and even without shooting glasses at all. Shooting without properly certified shooting glasses is dangerous and should NEVER be done, but it is possible. But you’re not reading this article because you want to go without shooting glasses, you are here because you know you need them, and you want to improve your user experience with them.
Shooting is kind of like that across the board. Once you have the basics down, everything else is a constant quest for incremental improvement. It’s for the same reason that thoroughbred horses are fed a specific diet, and have their knees wrapped, and stem cell therapies are used to speed up healing. The underlying horse has raw talent, but raw talent without nuanced variables to support it is not operating at peak potential. Shooting is just like that.
We don’t suddenly get better in our overall capabilities, we seek out tools and tricks and enhancements that incrementally move our overall capabilities in conjunction with our core talents. It’s why shooters spend thousands on competition firearms and load them up with accessories. Those builds help squeeze more baseline accuracy or speed, etc. The combination which, with experience, can yield huge gains in our overall potential as shooters.
At some point optimization is everything. You’ve gotten as steady as you will be. You’ve learned to focus to the point that you can lock out distractions for the most part. The ammunition is hand loaded for the ultimate in velocity and grain weight consistency. Now you need to find ways to enhance the underlying parts that are already running in peak condition. So you look to things like lens colors, or trigger jobs, or spring sets to swap out, or holsters with more adjustability.
So, to the point of this article: lens color can matter, it’s a tool and a methodology that can enhance performance. It’s not a cornerstone skill or a major influencer of your potential as a shooter. But the nuanced enhancements are measurable and immediate. Over time, your skills can be enhanced depending on ambient conditions with regard to lens color.
Factors that can affect how we process visual information and why you need to understand these variables before choosing a colored lens
Several variables can affect our quality of visual data interpretation. The most important are listed below.
Ambient Environmental Conditions
Your background has artifacts. An artifact is something that is introduced on top of the absolute background of your “picture”. Things that are additional to the baseline image you see. Here’s an example: Let’s say you are looking for a downed pilot in the dense forest. It doesn’t matter if they are wearing the brightest fluorescent colored clothing or a flashing light. That’s because there are hundreds of layers of trees and branches and leaves and needles. This foliage functions as the artifacts caused by the ambient environment.
To target and find your downed pilot, these artifacts are not helpful. Having a grasp on the colors of the background environment you will be shooting or hunting in, will help you to understand how to choose lens colors.
Environmental moisture (clouds, haze, fog, marine layer) can significantly affect the colors you would want to wear in a lens. Each of the environmental scenarios has variables with different colored lenses that can optimize user experience in those conditions.
The way light is distributed through clouds, trees, upon the water, and other factors can help you choose the optimum lens colors. This can also extend to where you are geographically and from an infrastructural perspective. If you have shade structures, technology enhancements, or other non-organic props and aids, this will change your needs significantly under most situations.
At the most base level, a pair of glasses with a colored lens can be optimal in “removing” the background and helping you gain better acuity of your “target”.
What are you aiming at? For clays and skeet shooting, you’ll optimize lens color choice differently than if you are looking for a well-camouflaged big game animal, with a dark brown hide and multiple layers of dark fur.
Orange lenses can enhance orange colors; surprising to some extent, purple lenses can also greatly enhance orange-colored targets.
When you need to hone your focus and strip all unnecessary artifacts from your viewport, lens colors can have a dramatic effect.
When a camera opens the exposure, more details make its way into the picture. When a rifle scope has a larger objective lens, the view seen in the FoV is more actionable and uncovered. Our eyes work the same way. The more light (up to a certain point), the more we get to see extras. These extras are intangible at fractions of seconds, but the reality is, that our brain can function faster and more accurately based on how much and how accurate the viewport is from our eyes. Our brains create what may not exist, as a way to process data faster, when given incomplete information. Generally, this does not have adverse effects on what we see/don’t see, and whether we can be actionable. E.g. even though we may not see something in the periphery at a distance, it is not crucial information at the moment that our brain is processing the information, in the most general sense.
What this means, is that when there is more light, we can see more artifacts in our viewport. The more light (again up until that light is too strong to help detect objects), the more definition. The more definition, the faster your brain can process the viewport. The faster that processing, the faster you can react. The faster the reaction, the better the opportunity. In hunting, shooting, and almost anything, the more data that can be analyzed, and the faster you can react, the better the outcome.
With regards to shooting glasses, the darker the lighting, the lighter the lens should be. This allows you to see more visible light, which aids in producing your most accurate viewport. In contrast, the lighter it is outside, the darker the lens should be, generally. This means you won’t be hiding anything with excessive light pollution and can readily, accurately define what exists in the viewport of your eyes. This will directly enhance your ability to react. And you will gain speed and accuracy, on multiple fronts.
What color lens for shooting glasses is best?
The obvious answer is that there is no one best answer. Every single situation can be optimized for, and a little understanding and preparation can go a long way to ensuring success going forward. Sometimes it’s not just about colored lenses, but it can also be about mitigating other conditional hurdles, like excessive light, glare, or background textures. So which color makes the most sense for which scenarios?
The case for Clear lenses on your shooting or safety glasses
The benefits of going clear are clear. That is: there is nothing to cause distortion, distraction, or stop you from seeing exactly what exists. You are simply getting UV protection (thanks to the Polycarbonate lenses) and the safety certifications the glasses come with. In the case of GruntX glasses [LINK], this is both an ANSI Z87+ and a MIL-PRF-32432 which equates to the most comprehensive certification of any mainstream eyewear in the industry.
Clear makes the most sense when you are shooting indoors with proper lighting; or outdoors under a shade structure. If you hunt with a scope it can also be an ideal option.
Clear lenses are also an obvious choice for darker conditions, like the later afternoon and evening hours of a long hunt day. As we clarified above the rule of thumb is that the darker the conditions, the lighter the lens from a color tint perspective.
The benefit of the clear lens is also its drawback for some users. You get nothing in the way of shooting enhancement from a viewport perspective. Yes, you get safety glasses; with good clear views, but no background enhancement or target enhancement.
The takeaway: Buy clear lens shooting glasses [LINK] for every situation that you control the environment in, and choose a secondary color based on your most likely scenarios.
The case for Polarized lens shooting glasses
Simply put, the best case for polarized lenses on a pair of shooting glasses is when you’re on the water and in the outdoors shooting. The glare reduction and overhead light management that comes with a quality pair of polarized glasses just make sense for those who normally shoot outdoors.
These are also a very good option for when you want a single pair of glasses for outdoor shooting as well as for normal weekend tasks. Polarized lenses are nice for daytime driving, too. The polarized lenses give you a bunch of extra utility. If there is a single set of shooting glasses (more than one pair sold together) that make the most sense for causal shooters, it’s a set of one pair of Clear lens shooting glasses with a second pair of Polarized glasses [LINK].
That isn’t to say that you must be a casual shooter to benefit from the set. Similarly, you shouldn’t avoid a set like this just because you shoot competitively or with a much higher volume than “casual”.
Polarized glasses make a lot of sense when you are hunting on a boat blind, or where you might be on the water for fishing or recreation. That kind of multi-purpose capability means that you don’t have to only use your certified safety glasses as shooting glasses. They can be more than that.
As a parting shot regarding polarized lenses on a pair of shooting glasses, they just make sense as a second pair. If for nothing else, but that the arc of the sun changes over the day. When you are in the field all day stalking game, you need to know that you are not going to be derailed by getting the sun in your eyes. As the sun’s position shifts, so increases the need for lens treatments and tints.
Added benefits include the ability to still differentiate from background to target, especially with a moving target, though in darker conditions this may be minimized. This differentiation is particularly true on silhouette shots along a ridge or with background light sources behind your target. Long-distance shots with the sun behind the hill in the early morning or evening are the sweet spots for polarized lens shooting glasses.
The case for Smoked (Gray) lens shooting glasses
Better color accuracy comes with gray lenses than with polarized tints. The lack of distortion in the lens (sometimes polarized lenses can show their internal patterning) and visual clarity of gray makes them a showstopper for medium glare scenarios and for when you might be taking shots in the air. Duck or bird hunting is a good fit for the gray lens under most conditions.
The case for Amber lens shooting glasses
Blue light is an afterthought with amber lenses and the benefits don’t stop there. Because the blue spectrum includes moisture in the air and fog, haze, and other environmental concerns. You can also get your vitamin D without getting your melatonin dose (which can make you tired). You get real-time benefits from Blue light filtering.
The outlines of targets, especially on orange targets are super clarified. This means your visual acuity and tracking capabilities are enhanced. In early morning hours when the haze and moisture still haven’t burned off, and the sun is rising, amber glasses make sense. The ability to cut through the haze and remove blurring caused by blue light saturation is incredible. It means you can react quicker and handle yourself with greater composure especially when stalking game or preparing for a shot.
The orange targets practically glow. Amber lenses in your shooting glasses are a popular and obvious choice for trap, skeet, sporting clays, and other range competitions involving standard orange birds. This can also help with moderate and long-range target identification with orange stickers or targets.
Amber can mute brown spectrum color shades too, so you can get extra benefit with a dried woodland background or meadows in deep summertime. The browns tend to meld into the ambient environment, while targets stick out.
The case for Brown lens shooting glasses
Great for late morning, before the sun gets too high in the sky, especially when you are hunting brown targets against an alternate colored background. The highlighting of the brown spectrum and the ability to act much in the same channel as amber lenses in shooting glasses make these popular. Large fields and multiple elevation shifts are also a good area to consider brown lenses for. The depth of colors can be muted and the target’s movement can be highlighted, without some of the heat dissipation distortions you find without blue light minimization.
The case for Blue Mirror (Amber) lens shooting glasses
The best of both worlds. You get the super cool looks of a mirrored lens and the internal lens tint of an amber-colored lens in your shooting glasses. Safety certification, without looking like you’re wearing shooting glasses can have a lot of benefits. The ultimate beach and desert option, you still get the target outline pop of moving game, without the drawbacks of a majority muted background.
Oh, did we mention they look badass??!
The same benefits as an amber lens, but the looks and style of the mirrored front treatment mean you look how you want to, and you get legitimate shooting optimization for things like brown targets, orange targets, and moving target outlines. You also get some high brightness protection which makes you faster to reaction and better with accuracy as you formulate a gameplan throughout milliseconds. You can buy our awesome blue mirrored, amber lens shooting glasses HERE [LINK].
The case for Green lens shooting glasses
While it is not as popular as it once was, green lenses on your shooting glasses sometimes have no equal. They are a very “true to color” lens choice. The color accuracy is huge across the spectrum because green falls exactly in the middle of the spectrum extremes.
Green lenses are a more balanced approach to shooting glasses because they tend to keep contrast minimalized. Some may see this as a drawback. But they are very good for driving because details stay available; you can accurately chart colors and your reaction times are enhanced thanks to the detail clarity. The green lens on a pair of shooting glasses can also serve as a middle ground from an ambient lighting perspective. They tend to be right in the middle of the available light spectrum. Green is good for when you have bright green targets or varied backgrounds with a green layer that contains your target.
Conclusions about the nuances of lens color in shooting glasses and other safety concerns
There’s no single lens color that works for everything. Similarly, there is no single lens color that will work for everyone. What is crystal clear (pun intended) is that once you understand the strong points of each lens color and can accurately audit your personal needs, you can make a serious decision. Priorities shift and change. We recommend getting a few pairs (We would right? After all, we are a shooting glasses manufacturer).
No, really, and not just to pad our sales. If you know about how we view shooting glasses, we remain pretty impartial. Sometimes we recommend the competitor’s products. As a company, we are also well aware that improvements can always be made. This is why our credibility should remain high with you, our target demographic. We go out of our way to educate and support you as a buyer of glasses, not just a buyer of our glasses.
So we will reiterate: we recommend buying a few pairs for different situations and to practice with them under the conditions that make sense for each of the pairs you are buying. Our favorite for most shooters? A set of clear and amber/mirrored shooting glasses; along with a pair of yellow glasses. You get a wide spectrum of benefits and you can use the glasses for more than just range day.
You’ll frequently see our customers out at the beach or on their boat, or even working in our safety-rated shooting glasses. They are comfortable and versatile. When it comes down to it, we want you to be able to optimize. It’s obvious you have the baseline skills or that you are making a concerted effort to obtain them. What you need now is to push those skills base level up a notch and see how much you can optimize your toolset to produce uncommonly good results.
You’re likely to be very surprised as to how much of an impact choosing lens colors for your shooting glasses can have, once you understand what you need in your toolkit.