Steve Coulston talks eye protection in this review of ESS Rollbar ballistic eyewear.
My grandfather was completely blind from a very young age and lived the majority of his life in the dark. Even with the loss of his sight, he still lived a productive life. He would often say to me that “I was looking good.” While he had a great sense of humor and made the best of his situation, I know he would have given just about anything to be able to see his grand kids and great grand kids. I think everyone would agree they value their eyes. Sight is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable of our five senses. God only gave us two, so it is important we do everything we can to protect them.
We wear sun glasses on sunny days to protect our vision from glare. It is also mandatory for construction workers on a job site to protect their eyes from debris and impact. For those of us in the shooting community, we wear eye pro as well or at least we should. There are many types of eye pro available, however not all eye pro is created equal. ESS is a company that specializes in creating eyewear for America’s elite warriors. Their motto says it all: “Built for Battle, Tough for Life.”
ESS’s reputation speaks for itself. They are the sole authorized issuer of eyewear for the United States Marine Corps and are a leading or sole provider for the other branches of service. They also provide their eyewear to other service personnel in more than 100 other nations. This is impressive, but what makes ESS so special?
ESS says their “innovation is born from intense listening to elite warriors. [They] dissect their challenges, then roll up [their] sleeves to create real-life solutions that will work under duress. As a result, ESS ballistic-grade eyewear provides peak performance that’s hard at work today in the most hostile environments. The entire line of battle-proven ESS eye pro is engineered to meet or exceed the most stringent U.S. Military and ANSI Z87.1-2010 Specifications.”
They put all of this innovation and end-user input into their glasses, lenses, goggles, and eye shields. The result is eyewear products that can withstand the rigors of combat and everyday life.
I was fortunate to get my hands on a pair of their ROLLBAR glasses. These are stylish ballistic glasses that feature quick change lenses. This is a feature I really appreciate. I have owned quick change lenses in the past that were held in place with magnets. This worked fairly well until I got hit in the face, dropped my glasses etc. Upon any sort of impact the lenses would pop out, which would ultimately result in scratched lenses and unprotected eyes. Also, the magnets would break off the lenses, which resulted in useless glasses. With the ROLLBARs this doesn’t happen. They have an ingenious locking lever called a lens gate that is built into the side of the frame. Simply fold the lens gate, pop out the lens, put in the new lens, re-engage the lens gate and away you go. Nothing to it and the lenses stay put. My glasses came with a clear and smoke grey tinted lenses. The lenses are stored in a soft pouch that fits into the handsome, semi-rigid glasses case. Other colored lenses such as yellow and copper are also available as well as polarized and prescription lenses options. I will be adding the yellow can copper lenses to my frames in the near future. This allows me to use the same frame for a wide variety of lighting conditions.
Another thing I really appreciate about the ROLLBAR is the frame. The frame has a masculine, tactical look that is perfect for LEO, Military and other first responders. The frames are made of Thermoplastic and are matte in finish and are not glossy. They are very rugged, very light weight and can be worn for extended periods of time without any discomfort to the bridge of the nose. Headwear and eyewear that fit too tight can cause headaches. The ear piece arms have a decent curve to them to be ergonomic to the head. They have a snug fit, and they’re not too tight. The arms are also thin and flat allowing them to be unobtrusive with ball caps, helmets and other head ware. This profile is also ideal for compatibility with larger hearing pro and communication head gear.
The lenses are 2.2mm high impact polycarbonate that are coated with ESS proprietary anti-scratch coating. The lenses are medium to large and provide ample field and protection. As mentioned previously, the glasses meet ANSI Z87.1-2010, U.S. OSHA and MIL-PRF-31013 (clause 184.108.40.206) standards. What does that mean to you? In a nut shell, it means these glasses are bad ass and hard as nails. ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2010 establishes the performance criteria and testing requirements for devices used to protect the eyes and face from injuries from impact, non-ionizing radiation and chemical exposure. The MIL-PRF standards are where it gets really impressive. This standard requires the lenses can withstand the penetration of a 0.15 caliber, 5.8 grain, T37 shaped projectile at a velocity of 640 to 660 feet per second. This gives your eyes solid protection from dirt, debris, powder residue, and other nasty junk.
I am very happy with my ESS glasses and wear them during normal work life and to the range. They are now my go to glasses. I feel confident they will protect my eyes and provide years of outstanding use. ROLLBAR glasses can be purchased for $115 directly from ESS.