TFBTV: Tactical Rx Shooting Glasses vs. Generic Prescription Glasses

In this episode of TFBTV, James runs Tactical RX’s prescription shooting glasses through a battery of tests to compare them to generic prescription lenses and frames. How much protection do you get from standard frames and lenses, and how much better are ballistic-rated optics such as the Tactical Rx models? Watch to find out.

Steve says: I asked James to undertake this test because occasionally when I am not wearing contact lenses, I have been shooting with just my prescription glasses. I have always felt a little guilty doing this, preaching safety on TFB but then not really following through in real life, and I wanted to know how unsafe it was (if at all) … I don’t want to reveal the results … but let’s just say I won’t be doing this in the future. 

Thanks to our sponsors Ventura Munitions and Grizzly Targets.

In this video:

Arsenal SGL-21 AK47
Remington 870 Police Short Barrel Shotgun
SIG MPX Pistol

The full transcript …

– Hey guys, James again for TFB TV.

Today’s video is going to be a comparison of professional shooting glasses versus regular prescription glasses.

We’ve teamed up with TacticalRx.

TacticalRx is a really neat company.

They’ll take whatever frames that you have and they’ll take your prescription and they will make prescription shooting glasses and put them in whatever frames you like.

So the people at TacticalRx sent me a bunch of Smith and Falcon frames to use in testing against generic prescription glasses to see what kind of protection each affords you and hazards you might run into while you’re shooting.

That’s the video I made today.

Now, it isn’t a gun review.

It isn’t a machine gun shoot.

It’s not that exciting.

In fact, it’s kinda nerdy and I think the only people that are gonna be watching these videos are probably nerds.

So I got my nerd on this weekend.

In order to better communicate with all you iPro nerds out there, I did the nerdiest possible things that I could find this weekend.

(classical music) So tell your fake internet girlfriend you’re gonna be AFK for about 10 minutes because it’s motha fucking science time.

Here’s the set up guys, Steve sent me a bunch of these creepy mannequin heads and to increase the creep factor tenfold, my wife, Lindsay, decided to decorate them.

That’s what you’re seeing right now.

As I said, TacticalRx sent us six frames and Steve also sent six generic pairs of prescription glasses that are pretty thick walled.

I’m going to run these glasses, the generics and the TacticalRx glasses, through a battery of tests.

Test one, we’re going to test the muzzle blast against the glasses from an AK-47 with a 74 style break.

Test two, we’re gonna test shrapnel.

I’m going to fire a bunch of rounds against the Grizzly AR500 target, which generates a healthy shrapnel splash.

So we’ll see how the glasses stand up to that.

Finally, I’m gonna back out about 35, 40 yards and shoot birdshot, number eight birdshot, at the glasses and see how each of them take it.

This is weird.

I feel like I’m in Mad Max, Game of Thrones or something.

Buffalo Bill.

Okay, guys, so round one we’ve got Gary Goatee next to the creepy ice cream man.

Creepy ice cream man has the shitty readers.

Gary Goatee, he’s got the Falcon frames from TacticalRx.

This first round’s gonna be 20 rounds from the AK 74 style break.

You can see their faces, they’re gonna be facing each other.

There’s gonna be, presumably, gasses coming out of the side of this break into both their faces.

Let’s see what happens.

(gunshots) (laughing) So I said, “Fuck it. Dispense with the science.” And just held this Muzzle Brake right up to their faces.

Hopefully you can see in the video, our shitty glasses lose a lens right out of the gate.

We have a wound here on Gary Goatee.

His glasses look brand new.

Let’s do that again.

(gunshot) You can see, you got some black right here.

Glasses look new.

All right, let’s see about creepy ice cream man.

I doubt he’s gonna do as well.

Nice knowing you pal.

(gunshot) Looks like they took it that time.

Now the other side of his face not doing so hot after losing that lens. (gunshot) Still holding on.

God, you can see though what it does when you have no protection whatsoever.

Look at that.

I’m really surprised this side’s holding on the way it is.

Try it one more time.

(gunshot) Nope. Still in there.

(gunshot) There we go. That did it.

To be perfectly honest, I’m pretty surprised, even with the readers, how much that protects your eye area.

You can see black all over his face now and it started on the left side where he lost that lens.

There’s some significant damage here.

No surprise, these things are busted but they still looked like they’d protect you from pretty substantial blast.

Let’s see if I can do any damage at all to these TacticalRx Falcons.

(gunshot) I’m touching the barrel to the lens.

(gunshot) That did it. That did it.

I mean, I really don’t know what I expected.

Let’s see how the lenses look though.

Impressively enough, the lenses look brand new.

So yeah, they came dislodged but you can see on our boy over there, he’s almost pristine on the area covered by the lenses.

So yeah, it dislodged the lenses but they took the brunt of it pretty well.

Our guy could look a lot worse.

He’s got a little black in the area that wasn’t protected but that’s about it.

Not bad.

Check this out.

Really it’s not even that hard to just snap them back into place And to be fair, our boy’s readers, plastic readers, didn’t do that bad.

One of them is still actually in pretty good shape.

The other one, blown to smithereens.

But like I said, I’m surprised at how much protection they did afford.

It still wasn’t much but it was better than I expected.

This guys got the Smith Tactical from TacticalRx.

(gunshots) And now let’s touch.

I’m touching the glasses with this brake.

(gunshot) Look at that.

It’s like brand new, like nothing happened to ’em.

So what’d we learn from the Muzzle Brake test? Well, I think we learned that some protection’s better than no protection, obviously.

But I think we also learned that if you’re gonna spend a little bit more and get some quality optics, you’re gonna get more protection.

It seemed like a small price to pay to protect your vision.

I do want to say I was surprised at how much protection you got from just the regular old readers.

I mean again, some’s better than none but let’s go to the next test.

Portion two, shrapnel test.

We’ve got a Grizzly target, Grizzly AR500 target, and it produces a fair amount of shrapnel.

Of course it redirects it in a safe direction behind the target.

So that’s where I’ve put our three dummies for this round.

In any case, I think I’m gonna shoot at this Grizzly target and generate some shrapnel.

I’ve got the new SIG MPX pistol and I’ve got a Remington 870 Police Short Barrel just in case.

(rapid gunshots) All right, well that was pretty savage.

Let’s see how these dummies look and let’s see how the glasses held up.

As you can see, these guys are pretty much eviscerated by shrapnel.

Our guy on the left, he lost both his lenses pretty early on.

You can see he’s in pretty rough shape.

Tobias Funkae here, looks like with those Smith Tacticals he still caught one.

Got one actually penetrated through the lense but for the most part, he’s doing all right.

And then our old-timey weight lifter is looking all right.

Got a little bit of damage but these held up pretty well to the shrapnel.

So here’s something a little scary from the shrapnel test, the Falcons held up the best.

They took a lot of damage and they were not compromised.

Kinda.

If you see, check that out right there.

That little guy goes all the way through but stops.

So that woulda been a close call but it woulda saved your vision.

Pretty nice.

So what did we learn from test two? Well, we learned that shrapnel is a bitch.

Clearly the readers did not do so well.

The lenses in the readers were shattered, were totally shattered to bits, disintegrated.

In the meantime, while the Smith Tacticals looked like the took a hot piece of shrapnel and did actually crack, the Falcons totally held up.

So what does that tell ya? If you get some shrapnel, some hot shrapnel, in your direction, certainly won’t be anything that bad, one hopes.

But if it were ever the case, you’re definitely gonna get better protection from some high-end professional eye protection versus just standard reading glasses or prescription glasses.

For the last test of the day, I’m gonna set up these mannequin heads with the respective glasses and I’m gonna shoot ’em with some number eight birdshot.

Birdshot at 50 meters isn’t too unreasonable of circumstance anyways, especially, I mean, I guess ask Dick Cheney right? You could conceivably get shot in the face while dove or pheasant hunting.

50 meters, with the readers.

That was a rhyme.

I can’t think of anything that rhymes with “rhyme” to finish that couplet so we’ll just go ahead and shoot.

(gunshots) First of all, here are the readers.

Just went straight through and, in fact, our mannequin even had some glass embedded in his eye socket.

So that’s not good but also nor surprising since we’re just talking about a pair of five dollar readers.

What was surprising, you can see those little, right there, the little dings in the lens.

Then there’s a few that you might be able to see in the frame but the Smiths and the Falcons each took two blasts of eight shot.

You can’t even tell.

You can’t even tell that they’ve been hit with lead.

Unsurprisingly, the readers didn’t hold up that well at that distance but the TacticalRx glasses they look pretty much like new.

So what’s the difference between these shitty, regular prescription glasses and the shooting frames that we get from TacticalRx? First of all, you have two standards.

You have the ANSI Z87 which the Falcons are and then you have the Smith Elite ballistic rated frames.

The difference between ballistic and ANSI frames, and ANSI is A-N-S-I, is that the ballistic frames have higher lens retention qualities which typically means deeper grooves to hold the lenses in place.

The frames also have higher impact resistance.

With regards to lenses, ballistic lenses are made to thicker specification than ANSI Z87 lenses.

As far as materials are concerned, TacticalRX says they only use polycarbinate because it offers the greatest resistance to shatter.

There is another material called Trivex, which is pretty popular, and it’s often described as safe or shatter resistant, but we should mention with the viewership, that TacticalRx doesn’t use that because Trivex only offers shatter resistant qualities in non-prescription lenses.

All right, so I know it wasn’t really sciencey today but thanks for being with me and pretending like it was.

Now to be fair, we did learn some things.

Definitely professional eye protection way better than just your standard whatever, sunglasses, readers, whatever it is you would wear if you didn’t have professional eye protection.

But, that said, some eye protection clearly better than none.

So I learned something, I hope you guys learned something.

Thanks again, see you next week.

Fuck yeah, science.

(gunshot)



James Reeves

James Reeves is a licensed and practicing concealed weapons instructor, the winner of Maxim Magazine’s MAXIMum Warrior, a graduate of Front Sight, the Shooter Performance Institute, and Tier 1 Group, and is an Appleseed-qualified Rifleman. James previously owned and operated a gun shop in Tallahassee, FL and worked as a regional sales representative for distributor/importer, Interstate Arms Company. He is a coverage litigation attorney by day. James likes traveling with his wife, boating, America, photography, guns, gear he doesn’t really need, cold beer, and a little exercise here and there (James is also GORUCK Tough). Above all, James enjoys creating content for TFBTV. Follow James on Twitter @jjreeves.


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  • USMC03Vet

    To be honest I’m content with your scientific method. When I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is get a muzzle blast in the face to start the day off.

    16/10 would science again.

  • Mrninjatoes

    F*ck yeah Science! That was very informative. I shoot with the clear safety glasses from Lowes. I need to take a few shots at them to see how well they would stand up to shrapnel.

    • OBlamo Binlyen

      If they are polycarb you’ll be good to go. Want some fun, get some polycarb lenses, put them on concrete and beat the living daylights out of them with a really BIG hammer, they don’t break….I’ve tried. You can get good prescription safety polycarb safety glasses cheap.

      • Mrninjatoes

        Awesome! Thanks OBlamo. Anxious to try it out!

  • Rusty S.

    Smith, Oakley, ESS and Rudy Project have been offering this service for military and LE customers for a long time, and will work with your optometrist if you are not Mil/LE. I wear my prescription eyepro every day, as they look just like regular glasses. My current lenses have taken frag more than once and still held up fine. Having your prescription lenses be ballistically rated is well worth any extra cost. If you shoot and require corrective lenses, upgrade them now, you’ll not regret it.

    • billyoblivion

      I’ve had 2 pair of Rudys and they are good glasses.

      Unfortunately I’m incredibly far sighted and anything with more than a base 5 curvature gives me headaches.

      • Rusty S.

        Ah, yes, curvature puts frames like Oakley gascans out of reach for me. ESS also gave me problems, though they were my issued eyepro. I’ve had great luck with smith elite frames and lenses.

  • Tom Currie

    I don’t know why you didn’t just use a pair of Dollar Store cheap Chinese sunglasses or maybe the cardboard and cellophane 3D movie glasses for this setup. Cheap Chinese “readers” are not even close to normal Rx lenses — and of course Z87 rated glasses are available at any decent optician.

    Perhaps for your next scientific test we could compare t-shirts vs NIJ Level IIIA vests to see which does a better job of stopping .22LR

    Come on guys, I didn’t expect MUCH from this article, but I did hope you would at least do the comparison that you used for your headline.

    • nobody

      >Perhaps for your next scientific test we could compare t-shirts vs NIJ
      Level IIIA vests to see which does a better job of stopping .22LR
      That would be an interesting test to see, how many cotton undershirts are required to stop various handgun rounds, as I’m pretty sure cotton body armor designed to stop weaker handgun ammunition existed in the prohibition era.

  • Brett

    For Science!

  • B.K.

    That was incredible lol. I’ve only gotten as far as the 2 minute mark and had to stop. I honestly didn’t see that wide angle “science time”shot coming. We also need to discuss the fact that your nerd shirt fit quite well. How on earth did you make that happen? Must of been some technological break through during SCIENCE TIME! I appreiate the fact you can laugh with us…..at you lol. Now I’m off to actually watch the vid.Oh I just watched your review again of the mini-14 tactical in 300 blk. This question really goes out to anyone. I just know your famimiar with the platform.I’m in california so I don’t have the luxury of supressing one. I have a mini 14 ranch and I was considering making the trade. It’d be my first foray into the cartridge. Worth it in your opinion? I was going to make the sell/trade for a normal tactical 14 as I love the rifle in general. However I have multiple 5.56’s and have other things that fit the 30 bill. I kinda see it as the l perfect excuse to try it out if it’s worth it. Thanks for listening to my short story lol. Keep up the good work!

  • J.T.

    Cheap Chinese reading glasses do not equal regular prescription glasses. I took the option and spent a little more to get Trivex lenses in my “Regular” prescription glasses. Trivex can easily pass the ANSI Z87.1 impact tests. Polycarbonate, which is an even more common lens material also has a high impact resistance. This test is a total joke.

  • Ian Thorne

    So basically this loaded test was just a 15 minute long advertisment for a partner? There are tons of non-shitty glasses you can buy that will easily pass the same tests as Tactical RX lenses, just not the cheapest ones they send over in order to maximize how their product looks.

    To be fair and unbiased you should have at least secured some decent to high quality rx glasses to test instead of using the garbage they sent you. Comparing a 2 dollar Walmart set to a 300 dollar custom set is stupid and pointless.

  • Mark

    Agreed. A more meaningful test would be polycarbonate prescription lenses (especially in a 2 diopter or greater correction) versus the “tactical.”

    That said, the bowtie, suspenders, and adhesive-taped spec were an amusing touch for the video.

    • billyoblivion

      …bowtie, suspenders, and adhesive-taped spec…

      Is he going to do one in black face next?

  • uisconfruzed

    THANKS for the link!
    I need to get another pair & these don’t look like *#!@&%*)!! like my other ones do.