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ANSI z87: What, Why, etc.

The majority of the frames we sell are ANSI z87+ rated frames. What does this mean?

It means they’ve been tested by the American National Standards Institute and have passed the various tests and points of inspection the ANSI folks require to give it the z87+ certification. For our lenses, these tests include a drop ball test in which a 500 gram projectile is dropped onto a lens to illustrate its lens retention properties, as well as a high-velocity impact test in which a 1/4″ steel ball is shot at 102 mph into a lens. This is an image of the high-velocity testing from Smith Elite laboratory:

Smith Optics Elite Prescription Tactical Eyewear.

Smith Optics Elite High-Velocity ANSI Testing.

Sometimes people ask us if other frames are unsafe: No, not really. Unsafe isn’t the term, and of course, any eyewear will protect you better than no eyewear. ANSI z87-rated frames are held to a safety standard, so the distinction is more that they have not been put through the same testing as frames that have passed ANSI z87 standards. It costs money for companies to test frames, and they have to do it to every color and SKU# they sell, so in many cases the materials, construction and design is the exact same, but they’ve simply opted to test the black and the camouflage models, and none of the others. If you’re required to get the ANSI model you have no choice, and if you want a little extra peace of mind, you should go for it. There’s usually no price difference.

We make our lenses out of high-index polycarbonate, which keeps them thin, lightweight, and most importantly, safe. It’s important to understand that a lens doesn’t stand on its own, and so for the lens to be safety-rated, it must be loaded into a frame that has been tested and marked as an ANSI z87+ rated frame. This is primarily because one of the major issues here is the lens retention, which is largely based on frame design.

We offer a Safety Stamp on any of the lenses we make, at no charge. This safety stamp is useful if you’re in a situation, whether it’s at work or on the shooting range, in which someone will inspect your eyewear to confirm that it is indeed ANSI z87+ rated. A lot of occupational situations requiring safety eyewear demand this marking on the frame and lenses, and while most ranges do not, we’ve heard of some that do.

To safety stamp the lenses we literally impress the lens with a tool we have. You can feel the stamp with your finger, but we stamp it out of your field of view so you never notice it as you’re wearing them. Here are some photos (it says “SO+”):

A clear, unstamped lens.

A clear, unstamped lens.

A lens with a small safety stamp in the upper, outside corner.

A lens with a small safety stamp in the upper, outside corner.

Just for effect and to clearly illustrate the stamp, we went a little overboard with this one.

Just for effect and to clearly illustrate the stamp, we went a little overboard with this one.


Glamour Shot

Sports Optical Mt. Falcon. Prescription Shooting Glasses.

Sports Optical Mt. Falcon Frame. Polarized Rose-Copper Lenses with Red Mirror.

When did ANSI z87-rated safety eyewear ever look this good?

Concealed Carry Magazine. Prescription Shooting Eyewear

Concealed Carry Magazine – Prescription Shooting Eyewear

Concealed Carry Magazine, Gear We Love.

Concealed Carry Magazine, Gear We Love.

Every issue Concealed Carry Magazine, the publication of the USCCA (United States Concealed Carry Association), creates a section called Gear We Love where it lays out some new, useful gear for the concealed carry consumer. The gear is all over the place in terms of style or function, but it’s all intended to give shooters the tools and products they need to carry and shoot with safety and confidence. The magazine promotes itself as the Ultimate Resource for Anyone Who Carries a Gun, and gear is absolutely a crucial part of that. With us, it’s gear that let’s you see: see your target, see your surroundings, see what you’re doing.

Quick, head to your local newsstand and grab the August/September issue! Tactical Rx is in the Gear We Love section, promoted as making custom shooting eyewear. We feel eye-pro belongs there, and too often prescription eye-pro options for those of us who don’t see well get brushed over without attention. Good for Concealed Carry for taking the time to give some attention to prescription shooting eyewear. They show a Uvex frame and a Wiley-X frame, which aren’t the sexiest of all frames, but they are the very best options for people with very strong prescriptions who still want safe, protective eyewear for shooting and everyday carry.

Since the issue came out, a lot of folks have gotten in touch with us with very specific, personal needs that they’ve never been able to find a good solution for, both with regards to prescription shooting eyewear and even non-shooting related needs (golf!). We’ve been able to help nearly all of them, and we wish they’d known about us sooner.


Jamie Hyneman Glasses.

Jamie Hyneman Wears our Custom Prescription Glasses

Here at Tactical Rx, we like to brag when it’s appropriate. And every time we see our prescription lenses on TV it’s gotta be appropriate, right? We’ve been very pleased to work with Jamie Hyneman, co-host of the show MythBusters on the Discovery Channel and owner of special effects company M5 Industries. We don’t have to explain the show, and it’s easy understand that safety eyewear is a requisite piece of equipment during the many myths these guys attempt to bust. Explosions and shrapnel and debris is always flying all around. Plus it’s sunny. This is a perfect recipe for Rx safety glasses and what we made for Jamie Hyneman was a pretty cool set-up:

The frame is a authentic vintage, metal safety frame from American Optical with rigid-mesh eye cups and very thin temples pieces. It’s a classic look, part modern steampunk part industrial revolution. For Jamie’s lenses, we went dark. Really dark. A polar grey lens, with a grey after-tint with a silver mirror, for as dark a lens as we could get (90%+ Visible Light Blockage). There’s no chance at seeing his pupils through the lenses. One unique aspect about making lenses for dudes on TV is that based on the high-activity of everything off-camera, a lens with any spherical curve will grab reflections of things that shouldn’t be seen. With this in mind, we had to make an entirely flat lens so that production crews could better manage the reflections caught in the mirror.

If you watch the show in the past few years, you’ve probably seen him in the shades that we made. Now you know what they are and where to get them, and if you come by our shop you’ll see this signed photo on the wall that Jamie was cool enough to send over.

Randolph Engineering Concorde Aviator.

We like the Randolph Engineering Concorde

Randolph Engineering is a fantastic combination of product and story. The story is that two Polish immigrants met working at a tool and die company in Boston and years later decided to found their own optical tooling and machinery company, in Randolph, MA. After establishing Randolph Engineering as a leader in optical metalwork, in the late 1970’s they began manufacturing mil-spec aviators for the US Air Force. A decade later, after establishing their manufacturing chops in the military sector, they began selling commercially. Today they are an iconic American eyewear company, owned, designed and manufactured with excellent craftsmanship here in the US. We are currently the only dealer in Denver, and in Colorado for that matter, selling Randolph Engineering Ranger Shooting Eyewear.

The RE Concorde is one of their iconic and most popular frames. Teardrop in design, it is the frame design most people imagine when they hear “aviator” frame. (This is potentially a misnomer considering Randolph Engineering’s true Aviator frame is more square in its styling.) With both skull and bayonet temple options and multiple sizes and finishes, the Concorde pleases a diverse range of faces and personalities. We’ve found happy homes for Tactical Rx custom Rx lenses in the Randolph Engineering Concorde with Ashley at craft EDC blog The New Artemis and with Roy below in top-notch shooting magazine American Handgunner.

Personally, I’ve had my Randolph Engineering Intruder for a few years now and it’s treated me perfectly: on hikes, at the range, and driving around town. I went with the polarized rose-copper lenses, so my world is always rosy and glare-free.

April 2014 issue of American Hangdunner, featuring Tactical Rx custom prescription lenses in the Randolph Engineering Concorde frame.

April 2014 issue of American Hangdunner, featuring Tactical Rx custom prescription lenses in the Randolph Engineering Concorde frame.


The Firearm Blog, Almost Lens feature.

The Firearm Blog Reviews our Shooting Bifocal

Back in June of 2014 we were lucky enough to have a profile on Tactical Rx released on The Firearm Blog and it’s brought a lot of customers to our virtual door. The article itself examines the idea that an overlooked optic is often eyewear itself, specifically prescription shooting eyewear. The Firearm Blog writer, Tim Yan, shares an anecdote that he also told me when we spoke on the phone about an unnamed but very popular red-dot manufacturer that endures 25% of returns which they find to be perfectly calibrated. The error, of course, is in the shooter’s eye.

Tim then goes on to offer a thorough and reasonably technical explanation of our company and our work. Some highlights:

– We specialize in applying prescriptions to curved-format sport lenses providing the user with fully-function peripheral vision.

– He called me a technician, which I’d never previously been called and found quite respectful.

– We sent him 3 frames to try on, as we do with any of our customers, and he gave a good run-down of the pros and cons of each. The Numas are quite soft and comfortable, the Smith’s slightly stiffer.

– Tim discussed the Almost Lens and it’s popularity amongst iron-sight shooters, giving good, clear analysis of the physical movements involved in using the lens. He and his buddy Chris Wilson also did a pretty good job with the camera.

– When we spoke on the phone he explained that he was looking for a bright, high-contrast lens that would give him good optical “pop”, and in the review he mentions a mandarose tint from Numa that we often use as a model for high-contrast lens tinting, which we do in-house.

– Finally, he mentioned that we extend a 20% discount to active duty military and LEO for our products and services. It’s great that he used the term service, because we like to think we’re more than a product.

Read the full article here: Tactical Rx on The Firearm Blog, and be sure to check out The Firearm Blog as a resource in sincere, interesting firearm news and journalism.


Glamour Shot.

Polarized Brown Lens with Silver Mirror. Oakley Crosshair frame.

Prescription polarized Brown Lens with Silver Mirror. Oakley Crosshair frame.

Custom Almost Lens shooting bifocal in Clear. Rudy Project Rydon Tactical frame.

Almost Lens

One of our most popular shooting lenses for open-sight handgun or rifle shooters is a configuration that helps shooters who can no longer clearly see their sights. We call it our Almost Lens, though we’re not entirely sure why. When you can almost see your front sights, you need the Almost Lens. Or when you’re almost hitting your target, you need the Almost Lens. Or..?

The premise is straightforward:

– We custom grind a lined-bifocal directly into the lens. A lined-bifocal is ideal because it gives you a large, single-focus area to acquire your sight picture quickly and easily. The line provides clear demarcation of the focal shift from your distance vision to your near vision.

– This bifocal is custom-placed for your specific needs. We all have different eye-dominance/shooting-hand combinations, shooting stances and positions, and of course not all frames sit the same way on different faces. We’ll send you an actual frame (or a few, to try on) and a marking kit so you can show us where you need the Almost Lens to be placed.

– We’ll adjust the focal distance of your standard reading so it’s precisely tuned for the distance of your front sights. If your Rx has already been adjusted by your eye doctor, that’s fine, just make sure we know so we don’t double-adjust it.

The Almost Lens is advantageous over a traditional bifocal because by having it in the upper portion of the lens you move your body much less to use it and can easily maintain your shooting stance. It’s superior to a progressive because there’s no “searching” through the progressive range to find the right focal spot, and also because the bifocal gives a much larger field of view.

If you’d like to read more about the lens, Jeff John at Guns Magazine wrote about it here.

Custom Almost Lens in Clear. Rudy Project Rydon Tactical frame.

Custom Almost Lens in Clear. Rudy Project Rydon Tactical frame.

Tactical Rx camouflage truck.

Welcome to the Tactical Rx Blog.

We’re really excited to launch our new Tactical Rx website. Our old site treated us well but this new one is an upgrade in terms of look (hope you agree), engagement (you’re reading our blog!) and product explanation (see: Almost Lens). If you haven’t already, check out the lens page where we are now able to better explain and illustrate our lens options with text and image. Frames are more easily searchable and can accommodate customer reviews and feedback. We can share new press which helps us explain what we do and lends hard-earned credibility to our work, as well as customer reviews. And this blog will be a great way for us to engage with our customers in a way we’ve never been able to. We hope to use this space to discuss our lenses in all their forms, post pictures of the sexy eyewear we make, respond to questions, celebrate press, and generally grow the Tactical Rx brand into a more robust social space.

Thanks for reading.