More than a decade ago I learned that 80% of the information we use to make decisions comes to us visually; that is to say, through our eyes. More than three decades ago I learned that two parts of basic marksmanship are sight alignment and sight picture. Note the word “sight” in both. Those two are almost 1/3 of the seven basic marksmanship skills. So if visual data is 4/5 of our decision making process and seeing is 1/3 of shooting accurately, I think it’s safe to say that protecting our vision and enhancing it in any way while in a potential conflict are both good things. Enter the Oakley Prizm.
I was introduced to the Oakley Prizm eyewear at SHOT Show. In their booth they had sample pairs and you could put them on while looking at various pictures the reps would put up on a large screen slide show. Just standing there looking at the images, with and without the Prizm eyewear, you could see a clear difference; and “clear” isn’t an unintended pun. The clarity of colors and separation between them increased the definition of visual acuity. It was far easier to see the targets as they existed in the shown images when wearing the Prizm eyewear.
But, call me a pessimist or a cynic. I’ve seen a few products that looked fantastic at SHOT Show but weren’t so fantastic when tested outside of that relatively controlled environment. As a result, I was happy to get a pair of Oakley Prizm eyewear, the Ballistic M-Frames, out on the range to see how they helped in actual shooting trials. As things worked out, not only was I NOT disappointed, but myself and other shooters were quite impressed with the increase is visual clarity that was associated with the Prizm eyewear.
Subjectively it’s easy to see the difference between having the Prizm’s on versus having regular eyewear on. I was hoping for something a bit better than subjective input – even my own. So, I had two shooters shoot a series of five qualification courses each. I had them shoot three courses with “standard” eyewear and two courses wearing Prizm eyewear. Both shooters score, on average, in the low-90s percentile on qualification courses. Prior to starting the qualification courses, I noted the comments from both shooters; the subjective observations that, while wearing the Prizms, they could more clearly see their weapon sites, the target, and the edges/lines of the backstop and area around our shooting area.
Shooter #1 wore the Prizms for qualifications numbers 1 and 4. His scores were as follows:
Course 1: 97.7%
Course 2: 94.3%
Course 3: 94.7%
Course 4: 97%
Course 5: 95%
Shooter #2 wore the Prizms for qualifications numbers 3 and 5. His scores were as follows:
Course 1: 96.7%
Course 2: 98%
Course 3: 98.3%
Course 4: 96.3%
Course 5: 99%
Now, take a look at those again. I have no way of definitively saying that the Prizm eyewear directly impacted their scores, BUT the courses they fired wearing the Prizm eyewear were (perhaps coincidentally) the highest scores they fired.
The Oakley Standard Issue Prizm comes in three models: The Ballistic M Frame 3.0 (what I had to test), the Radar and the Flak Jacket SLJ. According to the published material from Oakley, the Balistic M Frame 3.0 Prizm glasses offer:
- Fine-tuned optics to increase target/background contrast in a variety of light conditions.
- Reduced eye fatigue and strain.
- Meets or exceeds impact and optical requirements per ANSI Z87.1 2003/2010.
- Meets or exceeds ballistic fragmentation requirements per MIL PRF 32432 (Clause 126.96.36.199.4).
- Advanced anti-fog coating and hard coating for scratch resistance.
- Composed of Plutonite®, Oakley’s high purity optical-grade polycarbonate.
The test Oakley Prizms I have were delivered in a padded nylon stiff case with one set of frames and three lenses: clear, medium and dark. The lenses are relatively easy to interchange so you can suit your vision protection to the lighting conditions you expect. The carry/protection case itself has a sewn in belt loop and a snap link so you have two options for ease of carrying the glasses and spare lenses with you.
A quick online search shows these glasses priced at a (most common) $130 plus shipping. Given my experience with them thus far and the standards they meet, I think that’s a pretty good deal. One thing is for sure, the actual testing and wear during range time eradicated any doubts I experienced in the Oakley booth at SHOT Show. These glasses really do what they’re advertised to do!