What are the benefits of polycarbonate lenses?

Heading to the range? Awesome! Are polycarbonate lenses the best lens material for shooting glasses? What are the benefits and drawbacks of using polycarbonate lenses? Well, let’s take a look.

There are several types of lens material available on the market. However, having this many options makes it challenging to pick glasses that match your needs. One of the most widely used lenses are polycarbonate lenses. They are lightweight, comfortable to wear, and robust, which makes them a popular choice when heading out to the range.

What are polycarbonate lenses?

Manufacturers make safety glass lenses by the process of injection molding. Transparent plastic pellets are dumped into a hopper then melted into a liquid. The machine then forces the liquid plastic into the mold at a high pressure to form the lens. The high pressure and shape of the mold are crucial to making a robust distortion-free lens. 

The aviation and aerospace industries initially fueled the development of polycarbonate lenses. They needed super-tough lightweight material for use in airplane windows and cockpits. However, the demand for lightweight and impact-resistant eyewear lenses lead to its use in personal safety products soon after.

Nowadays, sports gear enthusiasts widely use polycarbonate lenses for their standard and high-impact safety eyeglasses. These glasses are less prone to cracks than plastic or glass lenses, making polycarbonate an excellent choice for shooting glasses.

What are the benefits of polycarbonate lenses?

Your eyes are sensitive, and you must take precautions while shooting outdoors. Even a tiny particle of dust entering the eyes can cause damage to your eye tissue. Besides, when practicing at the outdoor shooting range, you will expose your eyes to a diverse set of conditions and potential ricochets. Undoubtedly, any irritation or distortion can adversely impact the accuracy with which you shoot. Without a doubt, wearing protective lenses help to ensure the safety of your eyes and improve your performance.

Shooting glasses made from polycarbonate material helps to make this possible. It protects your eyes from potential impacts, the UV rays of the sun, and keeps your target sharp and clear.

Advantages of Polycarbonate lenses

Let’s take a look at the direct benefits of polycarbonate lenses. To make your shooting experience better, you need shooting glasses that are lightweight and ensure maximum protection.

Polycarbonate is all-around superior to plastic lenses. Here are some of the benefits:

Impact Resistance

For shooters, the main advantage of polycarbonate lenses are their enhanced impact resistance. In addition to the lens material, when built thick and paired with a pair of durable/ thick frames, the lenses can pass the military ballistic resistance testing. Polycarbonate lenses are also “shatterproof” because they deform under stress as opposed to shattering.

UV protection

Shooting glasses with polycarbonate lenses naturally provide complete protection from the harmful rays of the sun. They block UV rays and give better protection than inferior-quality plastic lenses.


They are light and soothing to wear. Since polycarbonate lenses are injection molded, they can be made extremely thin and distortion-free without giving up impact protection.

Disadvantages of polycarbonate lenses

Poor scratch resistance

The most significant disadvantage of polycarbonate lenses are their low resistance to scratching. Any amount of scratch on your glasses can prevent you from taking more precise shots. However, a quick fix to this is to make sure your lenses have a scratch-resistant coating and storing them in a sturdy pouch or case.

Does polycarbonate block UV?

The short answer is yes all polycarbonate lenses, including clear lenses, block between 99-100% of all UV light. 

As recreational shooters and outdoorsmen, we love being outside! We get up early and spend long days exposed to sunlight. Without a doubt, and regardless of the season, we need protection from UV rays. All polycarbonate lenses provide 100% protection from the harmful UV rays. This benefit makes them a better choice for shooting glasses over plastic lenses. Plastic and glass prescription lenses require extra coatings for UV protection.

It doesn’t matter which category of lens you buy, all types of polycarbonate lenses provide 100% UV protection. Whether you are purchasing a ballistic resistant polycarbonate lens or a basic impact resistant one, both types of lenses will provide 100% UV protection.

This UV protection includes clear polycarbonate lenses. All polycarbonate lenses including clear/ transparent lenses with or without any coatings will block 100% of the UV light

Plastic lenses need a UV protective film to block the harmful UV rays. In contrast to plastic or glass lenses, you do not have to worry about getting any additional layers or coatings to block UV with your polycarbonate lenses.

Do polycarbonate lenses need a UV coating?

The short answer is no. Since polycarbonate lenses naturally filter out UV light, they do not need any additional coatings. This feature includes clear lenses

Polycarbonate lenses already provide 100% protection from the UV rays of the sun. Meaning they do not require any other UV coatings to protect the wearer from harmful rays. You can practice at the range for hours without having to worry about damaging your eyes by wearing polycarbonate shooting glasses. Just don’t forget sunblock for the rest of your face!

Most of the time, plastic lenses have extra UV coatings. The plastic lenses are cheaper and more readily available. However, when you are out in the sun all day, you require maximum protection from this harmful radiation. To ensure the best shielding for your eyes, you should always carry shooting glasses that provide 100% UV protection along with ballistic resistance. Polycarbonate lenses are stronger, lighter, and naturally offer UV protection.

Is 100% UV protection the same as polarized?

The short answer is no. UV protection and polarization are two separate features and work to provide different benefits. Polarization alone does not block UV light.

Though this sometimes confused, it is crucial to understand the difference between the two.

Ultraviolet or UV is a form of light that can cause significant damage to your eyes or give you a nasty sunburn. 100% UV protective lenses block the UV rays from passing through the lens. This protection ensures that you do not damage your eyes, even while being exposed to sunlight for extended periods.

Light reflects off objects around us at different angles, which sometimes causes glare and be distracting. Polarized lenses block glare by blocking lightwaves with a horizontal orientation. This reduction helps to provide clear vision, making it easier to line up your shots. Click Here for a more detailed look at lens polarization and the benefits.

Be aware that polarization alone does not protect from UV light. The lenses need to be made of polycarbonate or treated to provide 100% UV protection. You should carefully consider these two safety factors separately when purchasing any eyewear.

Is 100% UV protection the same as UV400?

The short answer is, yes. These two terms are interchangeable. 

Any lens labeled “100% UV protection” protects from the harmful radiation. UV rays are a form of light emitted by the sun and are invisible to our eyes. This particular frequency of light can potentially damage your eyes and give you sunburns. Furthermore, “Snow blindness” is a condition where the retina is sunburnt. This condition can cause temporary blindness, and it may take up to a few days for the eyes to heal.

But there is also something known as UV400. So, what is the difference between 100% UV protection and UV400?

To understand the difference, we first need to develop an idea about the ultraviolet rays.

Different types of UV rays

There are three components of the UV rays – UVA, UVB, and UVC. These are the three different types of waves that the sun emits. UVC is the most dangerous out of the three. Fortunately, it does not reach the earth’s surface.  Our hard-working atmosphere absorbs all of these little devils

The other two radiations can reach the earth’s surface and cause tanning and sunburns. About 95% of the radiation reaches the ground is UVA, and the remaining 5% is UVB. Being directly exposed to them can cause damage to your eyes.

Listed below are the wavelengths of each of these radiations (in nanometers)-

UVA – 400-320 nm

UVB – 320 – 290 nm

UVC – 290-200 nm

For a more detailed look at UV radiation

UV400 protection essentially means that it blocks UV rays that are equal to or less than 400nm. As all of these are shorter than 400 nanometers, UV400 ensures protection from harmful radiations of the sun.

So, which is more effective at blocking UV radiation?

To sum this up, both are equally capable of blocking UV radiation. They both provide the same level of protection. You shouldn’t worry about UV radiation, as long as your shooting glasses advertise either of these ratings.


Two things are crucial to help you become a great shooter. First and foremost, is to practice regularly. Not only to get better but to maintain the skill level and muscle memory needed to be a competent shooter. The second is to have the right gear. It is critical to own the right equipment to provide proper support and safety when at the range.

Polycarbonate lenses provide both higher impact resistance and 100% UV protection naturally, taking care of the two main safety concerns when shooting outdoors. High-quality polycarbonate lenses are not the cheapest option on the market.  Nonetheless, they are the best option for lightweight, out of the box UV protection, superior strength, and shatter resistance.

Be sure to pick up a pair for your gear bag along with a pouch or case to keep them scratch-free!

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