I’ve spent the last month wearing Hellfly Ballistic Sunglasses with Photochromatic lenses. The lenses offer ballistic defense; they can take a shotgun blast without any of the projectiles penetrating. These glasses are issued to the military and sold as eye protection for shooters. Even if you’re not an operator operating operationally, you can tell all your friends that you’re wearing MIL-SPEC eye wear, which I may or may not have done several times. But here’s what I did do: test the Hellfly sunglasses as a motorcyclist. Fair enough? We report you decide. . .
I’ve been riding motorcycles for 11 years now. I’ve ridden dirt bikes, bullet bikes, Harley’s, touring bikes and even scooters. The one thing I always… always… bring with me on a ride is a pair of sunglasses. I don’t bring sunglasses on every ride because I’m some sort of vampire that can’t let sunlight hit me in any way, shape or form or because I want to look cool while I’m riding (although I certainly don’t mind that perk).
To be honest, I bring them on every ride for eye protection. Without eye protection a pleasant Sunday ride up the canyon can quickly turn into a painful, miserable experience when a gnat or piece of sand is whipped into your eyeball at 55 mph. I have on occasion been unable to find my sunglasses and had this exact scenario unfold.
While sunglasses will indeed protect your eyeballs from grains of sand, or flying insects, they don’t work so well against larger objects like flying gravel. To add to this, you have another problem, when it starts to get dark outside, your sunglasses that are protecting your eyeballs are now making it hard to see because of the dark tint of the lenses.
A neat benefit of the Revision glasses is that they can come with photochromatic lenses that change the darkness of its tint from a dark shade when in direct sunlight to nearly clear when indoors or at night. To me, this is one of the coolest things about these glasses.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone on a ride to visit some friends, brought my sunglasses and stayed a little longer than I expected and it got dark outside leaving me with the unenviable choice of either riding home without eye protection or not being able to see very well due to the dark tint of my sunglasses.
Suffice it to say, I was really excited to test out these glasses. So did they live up to the hype? Lets find out.
Over the course of testing out the glasses I took them through many different riding scenarios, including on the freeway, around town, in bright sunlight and at night. One of the things I really liked about them is that they are a wrap-around style of glasses that form a good seal around your face. This seal doesn’t allow dust or dirt to sneak into your eyeballs while cruising down the freeway.
In fact, on my freeway ride I drove through a section where there was road construction and lots and lots of dirt and dust being whipped around. On my ride I only counted one instance where a stray piece of dust made it past the wrap-around of the frames. I would have to say that I’m pretty satisfied with that result; if I were wearing, say… a pair of aviators which offer no protection on the sides from debris, the ride through the construction zone would have been very unpleasant.
The sunglasses are so comfortable that you actually forget that you’re wearing them. While riding on the freeway I actually got hit in the cheek area by a BB sized piece of gravel. I immediately remembered that I was wearing the Hellfly’s and was glad knowing that if that piece of gravel had hit me in the eye region my sight would have been protected.
I thought about testing out Revision’s ballistic claims by shooting the glasses with a shotgun or something similar, but ultimately decided against it. Why? Because I want to keep the glasses; I like them too much. They’ve become my go-to sunglasses and I’ve been wearing them just about everywhere I go. While they are bullet resistant once they’ve been shot by a shotgun they don’t look very pretty anymore. Plus, there are already tons of videos of people testing out their ballistic protection on YouTube with various firearms, like this one here:
(Note: the video above is of Revision’s Sawfly glasses, however they have the same ballistic lenses that the Hellflys do.)
While I didn’t shoot them with a shotgun, I did test out their durability in other ways. While taking the glasses out of the case I fumbled my fingers and accidentally flung them at the hard cement of my driveway. I thought they would be damaged or at least pretty scratched up. However, I noticed that there were zero scratches on the lenses and a slightly discernible scratch on the frame. When inspecting the glasses for damage I realized a really good thing about these frames is that they are a matte black color, so if they do get scratched it’s very hard to tell.
In addition to wearing the Hellfly’s while riding my motorcycle, I’ve also been wearing them while riding my mountain bike, which happens to be a hobby of mine (read:obsession). I wore them yesterday on a ride in the mud and naturally got them absolutely covered in mud several times; I didn’t have any water to wash them off with and out of necessity used my t-shirt.
Normally I would expect wiping mud and grit off of sunglasses with a t-shirt would scratch the heck out of them. When I got home and rinsed them off with water and cleaned them with a microfiber cloth I found that I could not find a discernible scratch anywhere on the lenses. So in addition to being bulletproof, these Hellfly’s are pretty scratch proof too.
As far as the Photochromatic lenses go, I’ve been very happy with the results. In bright sunlight they darken up nicely and really help protect against glare. When it’s partly cloudy outside they change to more of a subtle smoke color. At night or indoors they are almost completely clear with just a very slight tint. At first this slight tint worried me and I thought it would become a problem if I wore them riding at night.
However, I’ve gone on several night rides and while the slight tint is noticeable if you’re paying really close attention, while actually riding I found myself forgetting that I was even wearing the Hellflys and didn’t experience any times where I felt my ability to see clearly was effected.
In addition to being bullet resistant and having the photochromatic lenses, I think they look pretty stylish as well. I’ve been very pleased with the glasses and if you are in need of stylish, comfy, protective eye wear, I’d highly recommend you pick up a pair of Hellfly’s for yourself. Just don’t ask to borrow my pair. I’m keeping them.