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:
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+”):