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For the past couple of months, I’ve been reviewing the Saber Advanced glasses from Wiley X. Specifically, their three-lens kit. My decision to review this kit was somewhat financial, although it’s also quite convenient. Because even if you’re feeling the pinch of our current economic woes, eye protection isn’t the place to skimp. Currently priced at $74 (MSRP), they offer protection that meets both ANSI and military standards and norms. That’s for a very comprehensive kit that should cover most situations.
Wiley X Saber Advanced – what’s in the box?
This kit includes multiple shatterproof Selenite™lenses, a strap that can replace the adjustable temples, a cleaning cloth, and instructions in a semi-rigid case. The 8-base distortion-free lenses are smoke grey, light rust (amber), and clear, covering a variety of lighting conditions. No tools are required for swapping lenses, but you’ll definitely need that cleaning cloth afterward. The case includes both belt loops and a handy clip, making it easy to keep on your person or gear bag.
A short course in MIL-PRF-32432 ballistic standards and ANSI Z87.1+ safety standards
If you’re already familiar with these standards, feel free to skip this section. MIL-PRF-32432 is a US military standard that specifies both the contents of the kit and the required protection. It applies to both glasses and goggles, which is why you see the (GL) for glasses associated with the Saber Advanced. The short version is that eyewear must demonstrate durability, light weight, and compatibility with other military gear. Textiles (the case and strap) must be mildew-resistant. Materials cannot degrade under temperature extremes and other harsh conditions. There are some strict optical conditions too. These relate to field of view, scratch resistance, UV radiation absorption, impact resistance, and more, which are covered under ANSI Z87.1, below.
ANSI Z87.1 lays out the requirements for protective eyewear. It includes blunt impacts, radiation, splashes and droplets, dust, and small particles. As firearms enthusiasts, our focus is on impact protection first, which is why Wiley X tested the Saber Advanced to Z87+, a high-velocity impact rating. It’s important to understand that this is not simply a materials test. Lenses are tested in their frames, on a test dummy. To pass, they must not be penetrated, fracture, rupture or detach from the frame. So the frame design plays a role in the protection offered as well. Here’s a link to an article that provides a more detailed overview of ANSI Z87.1 standards.
Option, options, options
I’ll start out by repeating myself even more. The Saber Advanced kit is very comprehensive. I use the grey lenses the most, as I only shoot outdoors during the summer. For low-light mornings or evenings, the amber lenses are handy for improving contrast. When winter arrives and I’m forced to use the indoor range, I’ll switch to the clear lenses. But it’s like having three pairs of glasses for the price of one. A wire core in the nose piece makes it easy to adjust for a perfect fit too. Even better is the adjustable and removable temples. They offer 0.75 inches of adjustment over four clicks. Or pull them off and replace them with the adjustable tactical strap. When switching from in-ear protection to big cans, this is a huge benefit. No more pressure points. If you’re into “run and gun” shooting, the strap keeps them in place even better than adjustable temples.
Lens swaps highlight the pros and cons of the certification process. In order to meet the impact guidelines, the lenses have to stay in the frame when struck by an object. Yet they also need to be replaceable without tools. So they do require a bit of muscling to remove them. I was concerned the frame might break, but at the same time, I know they’re not going to. Starting with the nose piece, pull either leg, and it will rotate out. With the nose piece out of the way, grab the brow bar and pull it up and off the lens. Repeat for the other side. To replace, simply push the brow bar straight down onto the lens. It sounds simple, but does take a bit of practice. Once the lens has been replaced, push the nose piece back in. Use the lens cloth to clean and wipe off any fingerprints.
Saber Advanced fit
Good eye protection is about more than just impact protection though. Glasses need to fit, and be comfortable. They also need to provide enough coverage while being optically clear. That means they should wrap around your head a bit, and maintain a distortion-free image all the way out to the periphery. The Saber Advanced frame is a semi-rimless design that’s pretty minimalist, so there’s nothing blocking my slowly narrowing peripheral. Optically, I could not determine any distortion, but my eyes are more than five decades old and are probably the weakest link here.
Between the adjustable temples or tactical strap, I was able to get a close fit that was comfortable for the longest shooting sessions. Using traditional over-the-ear hearing protection did cause some pressure points at the temples, which was easily resolved by swapping for the tactical strap. When I switched back to ear buds, I kept the strap on, as it’s just that much more comfortable. I did notice that on each side of the nose piece are three little bumps. They seem to keep it from slipping but also balance surface area to maximize grip without pressure points.
The Saber Advanced really is my ideal pair of safety glasses in just about every way. They are the most comfortable glasses I have worn to date, and I cannot find a fault with them. My only complaint is the lens swap process, but that’s part of the give-and-take in exchange for higher protection. And really, it’s not even that difficult. It’s more about having to clean them after, and concerns about dirt and grit causing scratches. Wipe your hands before switching out lenses, and it’s going to be a non-issue. So are they perfect? Well, that’s terribly subjective. But I can’t find anything I would change, so it’s pretty easy to see why they happen to be a best-seller. If you’re interested in them or any of the other excellent Wiley X products, check them out at wileyx.com.
I’d like to thank Wiley X for providing their outstanding eyewear for my testing and evaluation. For more than ten years, they have been my choice for not just shooting, but motorcycle riding and mountain biking. And even more mundane tasks like weed-whacking and running various power tools for construction and landscaping. Eye protection is something I take seriously, and I can place my trust and confidence in Wiley X.