First Gear | Eyes And Ears

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posted on May 1, 2016
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Some are too heavy, some too uncomfortable. Some work well, some not at all. Some you fall in love with, others you can’t get rid of quickly enough. 

Like ’em or hate ’em, though, if you are headed out for a day at the range—and plan to be able to see and hear well into your golden years—eye and ear protection are mandatory safety equipment that simply cannot be overlooked. 

We recently gave a new pair of shooting glasses and a new set of hearing protection devices a whirl. Here’s what we found. 

Revision Hellfly 

Sure, we have plenty of shooting glasses in our bag when we head for the range. And sure, we’ve narrowed our favorites down to very few models. But when the folks from Revision Military asked if we wanted to try out a pair of their new Hellfly shooting glasses, we had a couple of good reasons to say yes. 

First, they make research-driven, battle-proven eyewear used by some in the U.S. military, and there’s something to be said for that fact. Second, the rep mentioned that the Hellflies were photochromic—a definite plus. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it means the lenses get lighter or darker depending on the lighting conditions. So when it is bright outside, they get very dark. But when it gets cloudy, they’ll automatically lighten up. That means no more having to repeatedly change lenses on days when the weather can’t decide whether to be sunny or cloudy. 

The Hellflies have a host of nifty features, including MIL-PRF -31013 impact protection; wraparound design; 100-percent UV protection; adjustable nose piece; and optical grade polycarbonate lenses to guarantee distortion-free vision while at the range.

We took them with us to SHOT Show in Las Vegas, and wore them for six or seven hours at Media Day at the Range. That was enough for us to know that there were a lot of things about them we really like. 

First, the photochromic feature is definitely a positive, and probably what we liked best about the glasses. Media Day was one of those days when bright sunlight changed to clouds and vice versa, and the lenses changed nicely to adapt to the conditions. They were also extremely comfortable, as glasses should be if you are going to wear them for more than just a few hours. They’re also quite sturdy—a trait you often don’t find in comfortable shooting glasses. 

The only downside is that we don’t think they are the most attractive shooting glasses we’ve ever worn. Then again, we’ve been told we’re no sight for sore eyes, either, so does that really make that much difference? Besides, since Hellflies come in other frames and cover, this is really a non-issue. 

The Hellfly photochromic shooting glasses come with a cleaning cloth and hard storage case and can be ordered from Optics Planet for just under $100. That seems like a bargain to us. 

Etymotic GunSport-PRO 

Ear protection is much like eye protection—we’ve tried a bunch, liked a few and hated more than a few for a variety of reasons. But we’re always willing to try one we’re not yet familiar with. You never know when you’ll find that magic set that finally meet your every need. 

That’s why we found ourselves sporting a pair of Etymotic GunSport-PRO plugs along with our Hellfly glasses at Media Day at the Range. And we weren’t disappointed with these, either. 

The GSP-15 earplugs we tried allow natural hearing when no background noise is present and gradually reduce unsafe loud, continuous noise from vehicles, machinery or gunfire. When activated (there is a handy switch, unlike some other brands), sound is amplified up to five times for enhanced hearing. 

These GunSport-Pro earplugs, unlike some others we have tried, are very comfortable, and the reason is the selection of ACCU-Fit tips supplied with the unit. The package includes small and large three-flange tips with short stems; small and large here-flange tips with long stems; small and large foam tips; and our favorite, a simple 8-11 mm glider tip. 

We wore these for several hours at range day before finally putting them away and double-plugging with phone plugs and a headset. A constant barrage of fast fire, much of it with fairly heavy weapons, put a little too much load on the GunSport-Pros, just as it would with any other electronic plugs. 

Upon returning home, a couple of range trips with more normal firing proved the plugs to be good to go. We’ve worn them several times since then, always with fine results—and with no apparent hearing damage (and that’s a good thing!). 

Along with the plugs and wide variety of different tips, the GunSport-Pro package includes a flexible neck cord, ACCU-Filters and filter tools, a cleaning tool, batteries and a protective case, which makes losing them a lot more difficult.

The Etymotic GunSport-Pro earplugs retail for about $299—a quite reasonable price considering the value of good hearing.

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