Gear Review: Leupold Tracer Shooting Glasses

Leupold Performance Eyewear Tracer Glasses

Nick Leghorn for TTAG

It’s strange that while we spend a lot of time obsessing about the clarity of our rifle scopes or getting the perfect set of sights on our gun, there isn’t the same attention to detail when it comes to shooting glasses. Most people just buy a cheap pair of eye protection from the range or hardware store and don’t give it a second thought.

But that decision makes a huge difference — you won’t get the full benefit of your expensive scope if you’re looking through a wavy pair of $2 plastic eye pro from Home Depot. Which is why it makes sense that Leupold would try to address that problem with their Performance Eyewear line of shooting glasses.

The last time I changed up my eye protection was when I reviewed the Revision Sawfly military eyewear system back in 2012. I’ve been using those ever since, but there’s definitely some room for improvement. They’re a great ~$50 piece of kit, but Leupold is asking damn near $150 retail for these Tracer model specs. And they’ve made a few improvements over other shooting glasses that really make the case for why they are worth the expense.

Leupold Performance Eyewear Tracer Glasses

Nick Leghorn for TTAG

Speaking of making a case, the case the eyewear comes in is pretty snazzy. The packaging is top notch, the case itself is precision cut foam to protect your investment, and it easily survives being chucked into a range bag along with random boxes of ammo and spare magazines.

You’re not going to scratch up or break your glasses. It’s a solid improvement over the Sawfly system’s soft case, and a world of difference compared to the plastic shrink wrap for the $2 plastic injection molded things.

To be fair, you’re probably only going to see the cardboard packaging once. But still, it’s a nice touch.

Leupold Performance Eyewear Tracer Glasses

Nick Leghorn for TTAG

Reason #2 this is an improvement is the interchangeable lens system.

Permanently affixed lenses are obviously no bueno, since a single scratch on a lens and you’re throwing the whole thing out (or just dealing with it, which might be worse). With the Tracer’s detachable lenses, you have the ability to swap them out if they get hit with something like a flying piece of super heated metal, a common and probable occurrence at a shooting range where flying super heated metal is kind of the point of the exercise.

Leupold has engineered these lenses to be scratch resistant — they also provide ANSI Z87.1+ ballistic protection, which is their real purpose — but at some point they’re bound to get scratched and need replacing.

Not only can you replace the lenses if you scratch them, but you can also swap them out depending on the situation. Whether you need these polarized reflective lenses for outdoor shooting, or want clear lenses for indoor low light situations, swapping the lenses out is quick and easy.

I’ll also note here that the optical clarity of the lenses is great. There’s no distortion of the target or what’s around you, it’s almost like you’re wearing nothing at all.

Leupold Performance Eyewear Tracer Glasses

Nick Leghorn for TTAG

Interchangeable lenses is good and optical clarity is obviously a huge driver in wanting a better pair of eyewear, but comfort and stability are also up there on the list of must haves.

I like my Sawfly eye protection, but after nearly a decade of use I’ve noticed that they really do want to slip off my face when it’s hot out. Down here in Texas during the height of the summer the sweat just pours down your face, and without some additional help from the elastic strap that goes around the back of the glasses the Sawfly specs would have been long gone.

That’s not the case for the Leupold Tracers. These glasses stay exactly where I put them, even through an entire day of being on the range in the Texas sun on a 100+ degree day. The arms of the glasses wrap around my head and kept everything perfectly in place, and the nose bridge is so comfortable that I nearly forgot I was wearing them.

In short, they work. And they work great.

Leupold Performance Eyewear Tracer Glasses

Nick Leghorn for TTAG

Let’s talk briefly about the one minor complaint I have about these: that they scream “tactical.”

Leupold makes two versions of the Tracer glasses (and four other styles that look more like conventional sunglasses), one in “shadow tan” (for yet another version of FDE to add to the mix) and black. The Shadow Tan version, especially with the reflective lenses installed, couldn’t more loudly announce to all those within visual range that you’re a gun guy or possibly a police officer. And for those in the know, the Leupold logo embossed into the frame removes all doubt.

Leupold Performance Eyewear Tracer Glasses

Nick Leghorn for TTAG

Don’t get me wrong — the aesthetic fits in perfectly with my current “farting around” rifle and looks great on the range. And they certainly would go well with a Hawaiian shirt and a plate carrier.

But when you leave the range, and you want to get a taco from the taco truck on the corner that’s cash only and doesn’t speak a word of English, you probably don’t want to look like a law enforcement officer (unless you are a law enforcement officer). For that reason I think I’d recommend the black glasses with the black lenses over these FDE-ish ones.

Overall I’m very impressed. The Leupold Performance Eyewear Tracers work great, look snazzy (especially in black), and work better than almost anything else I’ve tried. Right now there aren’t any aftermarket or replacement lenses readily available, and prescription lenses don’t seem to be in the catalog, so it might not work well for those who need glasses or wear contact lenses. For that reason I’m dropping off the fifth star, but otherwise for me they are a clear winner.

Leupold Tracer Shooting Glasses – 179090

Kit Includes: Bronze mirror lens, clear lens, and a yellow lens, carry case
Price: $179.99

Overall Rating: * * * *
As always, Leupold is improving shooters’ sight picture and doing it in style.

comments

  1. avatar That Jason says:

    I paid less for prescription safety glasses… If I’m paying for custom-ground optics, and still coming in cheaper, then I can’t see the use.

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      As can’t (as typical) state the country of origin I’ll assume made in Chicomland. So landed cost $15.

  2. avatar MB (the real MB) says:

    If someone’s paying $180 for shooting glasses, I doubt he’s pulling the trigger on his gun, the butler is doing it.
    $18, maybe… not $180 ever for non prescription glasses.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I’m pulling the trigger on my own guns, a lot. And $170-$180 is steep, but not too much for me to pay for my eyes to be safe and to be able to see clearly and comfortably behind the gun. $20 glasses often don’t last more than a day on the range, especially if I’m shooting black powder. Plus, the diminished clarity of those cheap glasses makes my eyes tired, and therefore less precise, as the hours roll on.
      Last month I was on the range with someone who double loaded their .45-70 rolling block. He lost a finger and a thumb. Everyone on the line got peppered with shrapnel. Last week my Oakley shooting glasses got cracked by someone shooting a jacketed round on steel 3 yards from the line.
      Good glass is worth every penny.

      1. avatar Robster says:

        I agree. Just wish I could find something like this in a prescription for near sighted aging eyes.

        1. avatar Chi-Chi Montezuma says:

          My optometrist has deals on that stuff a few times a year. My insurance also will pay for a pair of glasses a year which would pay for these. Check your benefits if you have vision insurance. Your eye doc’s office can explain what something like that might set you back minus what insurance pays for. I know I had to get them to explain that stuff to me a few months ago. I can get contacts and frames with a lense copay once a year.

          I prefer 30 day contacts and wearing Z87 sunglasses. Gargoyles and Oakleys sunglasses have ballistic protection and can be prescription. I’d wear Oakley’s Det Cord z87 before these. Just get more usage out of em than the range.

        2. avatar enuf says:

          It can get pricey but most any frame can be fitted with prescription lenses to your specification. Could be worth a call to Leupold, ask them about prescription versions of the product? Or find a full service eyeglass shop, show them the brochure on what you want and ask what they can do?

          Before Laser eyeball sculpting came along I was severely nearsighted. The Bolle’ Crevasse glacier glasses I was provided for a job in Antarctica had to be special made, but it was a routine process back then. They arrived looking exactly the same as every other non-prescription of that model everyone wore. After getting my eyes fixed, a bought a standard pair. Still own both.

          Call Leupold, see what they say.

        3. avatar LarryinTX says:

          I got shooting glasses, both clear and sunglasses, from SSP Eyewear, which have a small patch in the upper corner beside the nosepiece which is reading glasses. Using a scope, I have the scope set normally instead of for my ancient eyes, which now require 2.00 reading glasses, yet when I am not on the scope I am not looking through reading glasses. I don’t recall whether they could produce actual prescription glasses in that format, but it sure solved a problem for me! I’d never heard of such a thing or even imagined it. I also don’t recall how much they cost. Sorry.

        4. avatar Ralph says:

          Robster, my prescription shooting glasses come fully loaded — double thick ANSI-rated polycarbonate lenses, wraparound style for side protection, gasket at the top so brass can’t drop in for a visit, anti-scratch coating, progressive “bifocals,” Transitions for sun protection, and $400 bucks. My RX hasn’t changed in four years, so the investment has been amortized at $100 bucks per year and might go on for more. Without the Transitions and progressive lenses, tinted single-vision lenses would be cheaper but not as effective for my old eyes.

          A savvy optometrist can alter the progression to make the glasses perfect for shooting.

        5. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Robster,
          As a few people have said here, work with your optometrist. If your optometrist won’t work with you, find one that will. Mine let me bring a scoped rifle and went out to the parking lot with me, as well as let me hold out my pistol out to make sure that I could both see my front sight crisply as well as through the reticle without straining my eyes too much. It made a world of difference in how easy it was to see through the glass, and really reduced my headaches when looking through the spotting scope for long periods of time.

  3. avatar enuf says:

    Wow. That’s a lot of money for non-prescription sunglasses.

    Guess High Fashion is a major financial burden for some folks???

  4. avatar No one of consequence says:

    If it doesn’t work with prescription glasses, I’m not interested.

  5. avatar TommyJay says:

    As an old guy who’s been near sighted my whole life, the best thing I ever did was buy a pair of cheap prescription shooting glasses. My problem with pistol shooting is that I could not really focus well on the front sight.

    In California you can’t buy prescription glasses retail without a recently tested prescription. That pissed me off enough that I figured out the prescription data and found online glasses vendors I like.

    There are two problems with typical ophthalmologist tests: 1) They always want to dilate your eyes first. Don’t. Use an optometrist if need be. 2) They dial in your distance vision correction until you see the letters get smaller. This means that usually your focal point is at infinity or a bit beyond, and then it is much harder to focus on a front sight that isn’t that far away.

    So I had a pretty good prescription for everyday use that I started with. Then lower the correction power a 1/4 of a diopter. An OD = -300 then becomes an OD = -275. Now I can focus both the far distance and the front sight (barely). Perhaps a 1/2 diopter change is better which would be OD = -250. If you want bifocals, you should increase the Add Power too. An original Add Power of +125 would become a +150 or +175 corresponding to a 1/4 or 1/2 diopter change.

    I’d recommend a polycarbonate lenses which are the medium priced choice but are the most shatter resistant. Very tough stuff. I think I paid $60 for the glasses, with bifocals, from some online vendor.

    1. avatar Robster says:

      I appreciate that detail. I need to set up some prescription glasses just for shooting. Your details are helpful.

      1. avatar Chi-Chi Montezuma says:

        Same here. Taking this to my eye doc. Can’t focus well long range with glasses. Don’t understand it but I know she will.

    2. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      If I get “plastic ” lens that are not polycarbonate , they are ” blurry”. The same strength in polycarbonate are clear, go figure.

  6. avatar egghead says:

    Try ESS i got a two pack for under 100

  7. avatar TommyJay says:

    I think I messed up the Add Power part in my above comment for bifocals. I believe I went down from the original Add Power +175 to a lower +150 when reducing the amount of near-sighted correction for the main lens. (The Add Power = +125 was for my computer screen glasses. Oops.) Might want to double check that with a pro Robster.

    1. avatar Chi-Chi Montezuma says:

      Thanks. It’s all Greek to me.

  8. avatar dlj83544 says:

    Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough, but what do those of us that wear glasses do? Most of these “shooting glasses” won’t fit over eye glasses.

    1. avatar Chi-Chi Montezuma says:

      Buy some prescription sunglasses with ballistic protection, prescription safety glasses or do like I do and wear contacts and ballistic sunglasses or safety glasses.
      If that stuff is too pricey there are shooting glasses that fit over your prescription glasses. I think they run around $20 on Amazon.

      1. avatar dlj83544 says:

        …thanks. Specialized glasses or contacts are not currently a viable option. I’ll sift-through Amazon (again) and see what I can find.

  9. avatar Nam62 says:

    I had my cataracts removed 4 year ago. Now I can see & am farsighted, what a thrill. I’ve tried all types of sunglasses and found even the cheap ones work great.

    Before all I could use were expensive prescription lenses and they were very limiting for different conditions..
    Don’t knock the cheaper ones..

  10. avatar former water walker says:

    Great article for me and my old eyes! Looking forward(lol) to cataract surgery & bifocals. There’s some interesting YouTube prescription eyewear video’s out there too…

    1. avatar Nam62 says:

      Make sure when you have your cataract surgery you spend the extra $ for the better lens or you will have to use prescription eye glasses still. I only need readers and can buy any sunglasses I like to try!

  11. avatar FCMatt says:

    Oakley is just the way to go for good shooting glasses. Everything from mil-spec to biking glasses are impact rated and optically correct.

    Some of the new wrap around shooter models have extremely thin arms perfect for fitting under ear pro.

  12. avatar possum says:

    I’ve found that by closing your eyes just before you yank the trigger protective eyewear isn’t really needed. ,,,No seriously, before my cataract surgery I was legally blind, it sucked, now I think a welders helmet is not overkill. Sight is precious, especially in these turbid times. 180 is worth every penny if they do the job. The only thing about these glasses is the origin of manufacture is not stated and in my mind if it don’t say Made in U S A it’s made in China, and in my mind if it’s made in China it’s probably got some secret chemical in it that makes you go blind. ( the hard part of going crayz is the going part, once your there it’s all good)

  13. avatar Montana Actual says:

    I used to rock Oakley’s, but they keep getting cheaper and cheaper built and the replacement nose pieces and or was pieces for most end up getting the can too. I have used them since all their m frames were ACTUALLY ballistic, back when they’d even issue them in the army. Not the same anymore. Oakley’s making some cheap junk and nothing good looking anymore. Every tool and his liberal grandmother is wearing Ray Ban. Guess I’ll just rock the pairs of speed jackets I have until they break. I like the gas and, but they slide right off your head with any moisture. I could cares less, I just don’t want glare, I want to hide my eyeballs from your vision, and I want polarized.

  14. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    these are superb.
    eyepro is pretty great these days, endless varieties.
    if i’m dropping real coin my concern is mostly with wind (100mph+) mitigation.
    searching u.s. made eyepro brings up ess, not much else.

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