ESS Crossbow Photochromic


Ballistic glasses made to keep you in the fight, no matter what lighting condition.

The common order for decision-making is see, recognize, decide, and react. When you take away the sight component the other three pieces of the puzzle become much more difficult, or even impossible to accomplish. Varying light condition, wind, debris are all things that can very quickly and very easily hinder your vision, which in turn slows your recognition, ability to make a decision and certainly kills your reaction time. If you are a professional shooter these variable could cost you a match, and if you are a professional risk taker, they could cost you your life.

Eye Safety Systems, or ESS, was established in 1998 with the goal of providing the toughest eyewear in the world in addition to “Providing go-to styling and superior fit, form so our tough customers can stay safe and be brave: on or off duty, beyond risk and on to adventure.” They are the only authorized eyewear provider to the United States Marine Corp and are a leading supplier to all other branches of the DoD. With a customer list like that it certainly sounds like they are reaching their goals.

The ESS Crossbow has been around for a couple years now and has proved its strength many times over. Traditionally it was available in both a clear and a tinted lens so that all you had to do to change them was simply roll the locking tab and “pop” the lens out and exchange them. This is a nice feature as you are covered in both light and dark conditions, but if you are anything like me your lighting conditions can change by the minute and instead of changing to your setup they end up lying on a table or packed in a pouch, leaving my eyes unprotected. Now ESS has managed to provide the best of both worlds with their new Photochromic lens system for the Crossbow.

The photochromic lenses now give you the ability to wear your glasses all day or night, regardless of lighting because instead of you having to change out your lenses they adapt based off of the U.V light that hits them. This process has been used in prescription eyeglasses for a few years but is certainly new to the military and ANSI Z87 grade world, these however are a little faster than grandpa’s bifocals.

The new Crossbow Photochromic has the ability to adjust to 50% tint activation in just 11 seconds and 90% activation in under a minute. This gives you the ability to use them as both an indoor and outdoor eye protection seamlessly. Whether it means in and out of the patrol car, dynamic entry and searching buildings, unloading equipment from storage or having to work on equipment, these single lens safety glasses can handle it.

Growing up having terrible eyesight I was forced prescription glasses at a very young age and quickly developed a strong dislike for them. It seemed like wearing glasses and being active were two things that did not going together. Now in my adult life I have had my eyesight fixed but my disdain for a pair of glasses hanging off of my face, smashing into my nose when doing physical activities or squeezing my head so bad that after a couple hours I wanted to smash them has stayed the same. I have had (and given away) countless pairs of shooting glasses for these reasons. The ESS Crossbows are a different story though. The nose piece and sides of the frame are covered with a nice, forgiving rubber that makes for zero pressure points on the head. The front side of the frame has a nice tight fit to the forehead so that dust and debris can’t get between them and your head. Combine that with the wrap around style of the Photochromic lens and your eyes are protected from everything from shrapnel to dirt to harmful UV rays.

I have been wearing the Crossbow Photochromic’s for just over a month now and can honestly say that they are the most comfortable pair of shooting glasses I have worn. The weather in Kansas is about as unpredictable as it gets and I have had days where the weather went from cloudy and snow to sunny and 70 in the span of a few hours and have never once found myself squinting from the sun or straining to see because it was too dark. When working on machinery I know longer find my glasses lying on the ground next to me because I can’t see what I am doing, just to end up cussing a few minutes later because I have dirt in my eye. The Crossbows have become not only a required piece of range gear but are as big a part of my EDC as my M&P9C.

Be sure to check out ESS online at Find ESS on Facebook at, too.


  1. Nice sunglasses for outdoor work. Do they work in a vehicle? I have had photochromic glasses not work in a car because of the light tinting most manufacturers now use. Does the ESS lens compensate, or do they stay clear?

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