Gear Review: Oakley SI Eye Protection with Prizm

Oakley's newest offering is stylish and functional (Photo Credit: Oakley inc.)

Oakley’s newest offering is stylish and functional. (Photo credit: Oakley)

In January 2014 Oakley Standard Issue, a division of Oakley, Inc. that focuses specifically on products for military and government, unveiled a new contrast enhancing lens technology called Prizm. The new Prizm lens will be offered in three of their most popular frames: The Ballistic M Frame, The Radar and The Flak Jacket. Less than a week after 2014 SHOT Show, Oakley had a Ballistic M Frame Prizm array kit in my hands for evaluation.

What you get when you buy a pair of Oakleys (Photo by Chad Cheung)

What you get when you buy a pair of Oakleys (Photo by Chad Cheung)

In the box

Remember, Prizm is a lens technology not a piece of eyewear, meaning, you have a choice of platform. I received a Ballistic M Frame Array kit that kit included a hardshell case, lens cleaning cloth with attached pouch, an anti-fog/cleaning solution and three interchangeable lenses: TR22 Prizm, TR45 Prizm and clear.

The TR stands for Target Red and prefaces the corresponding Visible Light Transmission (VLT) rating. Therefore, the TR22 has a VLT of 22 percent, which would be optimal in bright light conditions, and the TR45 has a VLT of 45 percent, which would be ideal for lower light conditions. Also included is a warranty card and some informative cleaning and care instructions.

The Prizm tech

When it comes to eyewear, trying to provide the right combination of physical protection and UV protection has always been a challenge. Oakley takes lens technology to the next level by developing a product that not only solves those issues, but enhances the wearer’s vision and allows them to more easily distinguish objects from the background.

Oakley describes their product as, “The Oakley Prizm lenses provide the user with specialized lens alternatives for varying light conditions and environments. The lenses strategically boost wavelengths along the visible color spectrum to maximize contrast between the colors in a target and the surrounding environment, resulting in reduced eye fatigue and increased visualization of a target for the user.

Traditionally, eyewear reduces light and filters glare using a standard array of gray lens tints. The Prizm technology utilizes the adjustment or “tuning” of dyes in order to heighten specific colors as it relates to both the sport application and the environment of the user. In terms of marksmanship, the lenses offer improved contrast and visual separation between targets and different backgrounds, in both bright and low light conditions.”

Like all Oakley lenses the Prizm is made out of their proprietary polycarbonate they call Plutonite that meets or exceeds the optical requirements per ANSI Z87.1 2003/2010 and the ballistic fragmentation requirements per MIL PRF 32432 (Clause 4.4.3.3.4). They also block 100 percent of UVA, UVB and harmful violet-blue light up to 400nm wavelength. You get a combination of sunglasses, ballistic eye protection and contrast enhancing technology all in one package.

The prizm drastically improves target/background contrast (Photo Credit: Oakley Inc.)

The Prizm drastically improves target/background contrast (Photo credit: Oakley Inc.)

First Impressions

If you’ve been shooting for any amount of time you’ll be familiar with the standard array of lens options: clear, gray/smoke, amber and yellow. I typically stick with smoke or clear depending on if I was indoors or outdoors. Sure, I have tried the amber and yellow tints, but they are not for me. Either everything looked like a bad 70s porno or, if the weather was anything other than overcast, everything was so bright I couldn’t wear them more than a couple of hours before getting a headache. Needless to say, I was excited to hear that Oakley came up with and different approach.

The lens has a light pink/orange tint, but nothing overly intense like the majority of the competition. When you first put them on, you can instantly tell something is different. Some colors instantly become brighter and pop out, while others become dull and it’s clear that depth perception seems to be enhanced by 100 percent. The best way to describe the initial impression of the new Prizm is like looking through a polarized lens, and them switching back to a standard lens, and vice versa, but the Prizm isn’t polarized.

The Ballistic M Frame 3.0 is designed with the military and competitive shooter in mind. They’re fully compatible with helmet-mounted night vision devices. The thin stem technology enables comfortable compatibility with over-ear hearing protection or communication devices. They have a quick, tool free lens changing system and an ultra lightweight design. Weighing in at 1.05 ounces for the frame and lens, you’re sure to forget that you’re even wearing them.

On the range

What better way to test the new Ballistic M Frame with Prizm, than a day out in the bright California sunshine at a local IDPA competition. The first thing you’ll notice when you’re out in the Prizm’s targeted environment is how easily the targets stand out from the range’s background. It’s done in a way that’s not overly bright, yet still very noticeable. The Ballistic M Frame 3.0 is light, comfortable and the thin stem technology retention system keeps them firmly in place regardless of body position or orientation. I wore them for the better part of a day (8 a.m. – 2 p.m.) and noticed little eye fatigue or the desire to take them off and give my eyes a “break”. Anyone would easily be able to wear the Prizm all day long, which is typically not the case with other shooting or sun glasses. I plan on putting them through the ultimate indoor test at IDPA Indoor Nationals this February.

Overall

Anyone in the market for some new eyewear or eye protection should highly consider adding a new pair of Oakley’s with Prizm technology to their list of candidates. They’re currently available at OakleySI.com to first responders, members of the military and military retirees who poses valid credentials. They’ll be available to everyone else at Gander Mountain and other retailers mid-March. The Ballistic M Frame 3.0 with Prizm Array will have an MSRP of about $250. I definitely think the military, law enforcement, recreational and competitive shooters are going be vying after Prizm technology for years to come.