Going to SHOT is always an education.
Firearms of course occupy front and center of the show. But so much of it is about the “peripherals”–everything else except guns. We’re talking tactical pants, shoes, shirts, knives, and for all I know, undergarments.
Eye wear manufacturers, for obvious reasons, were there in spades. Case and point was Edge Eyewear, a a manufacturer of safety-rated industrial, military, tactical, sporting, driving, and fashion glasses. The Edge website states that the company was the first to offer designer quality safety rated eye wear.
Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Layton, Utah, the company started off quite modestly in a rented basement room with a storage unit for inventory. In 2001 the firm moved into a 1,900 square foot office and in four years at this location, they expanded rapidly. By February of 2005 the workforce had tripled and relocated to a 15,000 square foot office warehouse.
Their products occupy the low to midrange of the tactical wear spectrum— $30 to $50.
Both models are designed to work on the range but stylish enough to be worn casually.We had a chance to look at two of their new tactical models—Hamel Thin Temple with a dark grey “G15” type lens, and the Sharp Edge Thin Temple with a Tiger Eye lens. (The G15 technology was engineered in 1953 specifically for pilots offering true color vision and exceptionally comfortable protection even in most dazzling glare).
The Sharp Edge Thin Temple frame is substantially thinner and narrower than standard fare. This is especially noticeable when wearing a cap and ear muffs—the temple arm does not protrude. They also allow for a much better seal around the ears thus improving hearing protection.
The Hamel Thin Temple is also quite skinny but not nearly as narrow as the Sharp Edge. The G-15 lens was of particular interest to me because it was engineered by the U.S. Air Force specifically for pilots.
Both were exceedingly comfortable, incredibly light and sturdy.
The videos made by the company that illustrate the torture tests these glasses are put through. Every pair of their glasses go through High Velocity Impact, High Mass Impact and Drop Ball Impact testing. All Edge glasses are compliant with ANSI standards for protection eye wear and meet U.S. Military Eyewear Ballistic Impact Resistance Requirements.
According to an Edge video, the tactical glasses are coated with three times the anti scratch coating that you’d find on typical eye wear.
Aesthetics: If Ray Bans are conservative, Edge is definitely contemporary. They do offer a tactical chic, designer-like look that can be worn outside of the range or in work situations.
Comfort: Extremely light. Good fit on temples and nose.
Range Ready: The thin temples do make them (particularly the Sharp Edge model) ideal for the range.
Price: Very reasonably priced–Hamel Thin Temple ($50) and Sharp Edge ($30)
One last observation.
I couldn’t help note that the Hamel Thin looks strikingly similar to the Rollbar model from ESS, which we reviewed in December.
There are several differences between the two models that I could discern. The ESS glasses have frames that feel even more comfortable, sport better quality lenses (that are interchangeable), have a carrying case and a strap.
There’s one other difference worth mentioning: The Edge products are made in Taiwan and the ESS stuff is manufactured in this country. That doesn’t imply the quality is better or worse but I suspect the US-made product will handle the rigors of the battlefield. It’s combat-tested.
At $50, the Hamel Thin is about half the price of the Rollbar. If you like the looks of the Rollbar, you’re going to like the Hamel Thin.
On the other hand, there’s nothing like having the original. And as the old bromide goes, you get what you pay for.
Photos mostly courtesy of On Target staff and Edge/ESS Eyewear.