Do polarized shooting glasses make sense for you?
This is an article about whether or not you should seek out polarized shooting glasses for your next pair.
We wrote an article similar to this one at around the same time as this article – you can find it here. Rather than focus on Polarized lenses, it focuses on Photochromic lenses – that is, lenses that change colors based on ambient environmental light and temperature changes.
We had some interesting points in that article that speak to the moderate value that Photochromic lenses hold and how they relate to the world of shooting glasses. Specifically, we talk in great detail about why the lens type doesn’t suit certain shooter types. It can be highly educational to read both if you are considering a tinted dark lens.
In this article, we will be diving into a type of lenses that we ultimately feel can offer a larger percentage of shooters, more value. That is, we believe that polarized lenses fit a wider audience demographic than transition/photochromic lenses.
We encourage you to become knowledgeable on both lens types, and ultimately on all lens colors and what makes them each a quality option. The protective eyewear market is full of options – so to be an effective consumer and user of this type of product, we think this type of educational article makes the most sense.
Objective articles about shooting glasses and other protective gear
We love our own product, but we remain unbiased in these overview articles. Often we recommend other brands – we believe that offers transparency at the highest level.
This can help consumers make the best choices. Because ultimately our goal is to help you make incremental improvements and high-level skill optimizations through improvement in your shooting equipment and your knowledge.
We hope you enjoy this overview on the concept of choosing a lens type. And we seek to answer the question: “Should you choose a polarized shooting lens?”
Polarized Glasses are good for Shooting
Polarized lenses made a big splash when fishing gurus discovered their waterborne superpower. They see through glare on the surface of water. And the value of that for the sport has been well documented and highly interesting. The fishing fly or other lure is more easily tracked. Fish are easily identified. and underwater features could help you build a legitimate, fact-based tactic to dealing with smart fish.
In the same ways that polarized glasses are good for fishing, they can be good for shooting. The ability to effectively cut glare is amazing.
Polarization is only available in darker lens tints. That can improve color definition; most brands have a polarized variant. This is in stark contrast to another type of lens we mentioned ealier – the photochromic, which doesn’t always cut the glare as well or block the sunlight as well. Certainly, it is a much rarer brand offering comparatively.
If you have the need for dark tints, protections from UV rays and like the idea of also getting some good color definition and accuracy while shooting, then polarized glasses seem to make a lot of sense.
How can I benefit immediately from polarized shooting glasses?
If you are ever shooting in broad daylight and need maximum UV protection and glare reduction, then this is about as good a spot as you can find for a given lens type. In this case, the polarized lens will provide, dramatic and immediate improvements.
This is especially true where you may be on the water or in the snow, where glare is an obvious distraction and can cause you to make poor shots because of the ambient environment.
If you find yourself squinting a lot in outdoor shooting, it’s time to get rid of the clear or yellow lenses and moving into a polarized design that prioritizes glare reduction and edge trailing in heat and bright sunlight.
Using technology heavily while shooting with polarized glasses
When using app-based ballistic calculators or other LED/LCD/Electronic screens, the polarized lens may not be a good choice. electronic screens historically appear awkward with polarized lenses.
There can also be some odd interactions with certain electronic optics and other technology and how they register to the eyes when viewed through the lenses with polarization. This is especially true of digital readouts; red dots (in some cases) and indoors with electronic technology screens.
Note: Red dots and lasers can also benefit from polarized lenses – see below for some exploration of that concept.
Environmental conditions that make a lot of sense for Polarized shooting glasses
Real world scenarios where you’ll be glad to have polarized glasses on your face over others:
- Hunting in bright or transitioning light during the morning and afternoon
- In fast paced bright outdoors competitions
- On water
- On snow and ice
- With heavy sand conditions
- Hazy or foggy conditions
- When using certain optics
Hunting in bright or transitioning light during the morning and afternoon
This is one of the best environments to use polarized lenses in. The transition times where the sun us rising or setting can “conveniently” cast bright spots onto damp environments which can cause immense glare and difficult conditions to adjust to. Increased color accuracy and reduced brightness result. This is helpful for your ability to process the picture you are seeing.
In fast paced bright outdoor competitions
An obvious factor here is the wide-open eyes and the discount on glare. With a polarized lens you can cut harsh lighting. Having the ability to not be squinting or reacting involuntarily to some glare conditions, especially on a target means you can shave valuable seconds from stage times.
Some coordinators purposefully stage 3-gun stages to increase difficulty. The moving targets or background objects cease to be distractions with the polarized lenses. This is particularly true during all-day long events where there are multiple sun transitions.
Water has obvious glare concerns. When in a water-based hide or when hunting in marshland, the quick transitions that you’ll be able to perform from reeds/surface level, to sky are game-changing with a polarized lens. Background anomalies can be erased thanks to the more open field of view.
On snow and ice
Snow has even more of a glare concern associated with it than while on the water for shooting. This is particularly true when you utilize white target structures and moving targets that can be deceived by even the smallest amount of snowdrift from errant wind.
you can relive annoyance headaches by having a multi-purpose lens type. Polarized lenses can drive that functionality.
With heavy sand conditions
Sand too, can have glare associated with it, but one of the biggest reasons to use polarized glasses while shooting in sand is that sand backgrounds can tend to look distorted thanks to heat rising off of the surface and the shifting of sand particles during windy conditions. heat dissipation renders some downrange pictures useless. polarization can minimize distortion.
Hazy or foggy conditions
Shooting in a marine layer is a tricky condition because it acts like dense fog, which has reflective properties, but because it lays dormant in a lower valley, it can hang around until noon or even longer when it can burn off from the sun. For areas that have damp conditions in a coastal region, shooters can truly benefit from the glare reduction, and the heightened FoV provided by the minimal eye strain associated with polarized shooting glasses.
Light layers with the dense, reflective marine layer complicating the field of view.
When using certain optics
With glass optics this can help with a downrange wind shift and materializing heat dissipation, but only in a minor way. Darker lenses enhance projected images and red dot projections. This is also true with laser device usage, whether green or red.
Some shooters with natural ocular astigmatism can benefit mildly from such a use case. Shooters should talk to their eye doctor if they are seeing blurry or doubled/tripled vision while using electronic optics. First, they should verify through pictures or with other shooters that they are the only one who sees the poor image.
Where polarized lenses might not be the best choice for you
During dusk conditions polarized lenses are sometimes too hard to use. The resulting overall FoV is too dark and can make it hard to distinguish movements and target outlines. Awareness of these are important in shaving valuable time between deciding to shoot and actually landing a hit on target. This means your brain and eyes have to work harder to anticipate what is in the field of vision. The human eye is a complex device.
On extremely overcast days the polarized lens may be a bit too much. The resulting “fog” can potentially make target outlines diminish along with the experience. The view can just become muddied by the darkness of the lens, etc.
When shooting at certain ranges, where there is an indoor/outdoor layout, this can eb a problem. It usually occurs when the indoor area is dark. The polarized lenses may prove to be too dark to make it an easy task. The offset of light can make it unnecessarily dark in your viewport with the foreground having a lighter profile.
Additionally, this occurs on certain indoor ranges, particularly those with video projection screens. The polarized lens can be unsuitable as the lenses are too dark.
Some shooters like to use the same pair of glasses for everything. Many GruntX wearers are in this category.
For those who have chosen a GruntX Polarized Lens (one of our most popular models), may find that polarized lenses are not ideal to drive with at night. They are too dark to see through and can cause unsafe conditions. This may manifest during an early morning hunting trip where a long drive is necessary; or while driving home from the range or a competition. Either way, there are better options available while driving in dark conditions.
It’s not a question that polarized lenses can be very helpful in sunlight heavy environments. They thrive in hazy or foggy conditions, where light is present above the fog. They are also able to help define outlines with reduced eye strain on the periphery.
Versatility comes from a good pair of shooting glasses that can be used for everything. This includes driving to and from shooting activities or even just home after a day of work on the job site.
Most shooters who take eye protection seriously, own at least one pair of polarized lenses for multi-situational use. Except for the darkest conditions, they can offer enhanced shooter experience for a wide variety of users.