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.
I wouldn’t say they are the same lenses as the Sawfly. The Sawfly lens is one piece, which makes it much stronger. The split frame glasses have a nasty habit of popping out, potentially entering the orbits of your peepers, and rendering the ballistic protection effect moot.
Then again, a shotgun to the face, glasses or no, tends to render everything else kinda moot.
That was my first thought, but what if you don’t die from the shot. Better to end up just ugly than ugly and blind. Plastic surgery can do a lot these days, but it can’t make new eyes that work.
I was gonna call bullshit on the shotgun claim until I watched the video. Now I want a pair.
Thanks for the review. But for a motorcycle, a full face helmet works even better. I rode a bike every day for 7 years, got run over twice. Plus, as an EMT, it was always easy to tell who wore a full face helmet and who didn’t. The guys that still had their jaw attached to their skull were the one’s that did.
And the happy riders have bugs on their teeth!
While riding every day in TX, I do wear a full face helmet for safety (doubly important in Houston traffic), I usually have my face shield open to allow more breeze in to combat the sweat-in-the-eyes effect. Wear safety glasses under the visor to protect eyes from sunlight and damage. These look like they would be great and not require bringing both a clear set and a tinted set of SGs.
Bonus, its nice to have a set of SG already on you for when you want to stop by the shooting range on the way home from work!
Sir, you complete me.
All photo chromatics I’ve tried react to fluorescent lights making them useless in my work environments (hospital ER’s). What kind of lighting have you tested them under?
I didn’t test them under any fluorescent lighting as I only have incandescent lighting in my home. However, I feel the purpose of these glasses for me at least is for day/night riding outside. In outside conditions under natural sunlight or the lack thereof (cloudy skies) I’ve been very impressed.
I’m going to be out and about today in an area that has flourescent lighting and I’ll bring out the Hellflys and see how they react. I’ll get back to you on it.
Oh sure, confuse the issue with logic. Thanks for the reply. I need eye protection at work for all kinds of airborne and liquids. Wish I could get photo chromatics for that.
Paul53, I had to run an errand about an hour ago in a building with flourescent lighting and I held the Hellflys right up to the light and they didn’t change tint, so it seems to me that they are unaffected by it. At least that was the case with the flourescent lighting I tested it against. Either way Revision has a ton of different lenses including clear, amber ect… to choose from.
I believe the lenses react to ultra violet light, which is why they do not darken from the majority of indoor lighting sources. However, if you have a black light, that should do the trick.
How quick does the Photochromatic work? I have other Photochromatic lenses and they take a very long time to transition and often in the Sun they do not get as dark as I would like.
After I saw your comment I walked out the door with the Hellflys to test it out. According to the stopwatch on my smartphone around 24 seconds to get from clear to full darkness in direct sunlight.
Id have em sat on and broke in a week, I ride in $9.00 safety glasses from home depot.
Safety glasses fail all the time, and cheap Chinese safety glasses are all the more likely to fail. Caveat emptor.
I worked at an electronics plant where anyone on the production floor was required to have safety glasses with a specified minimum impact resistance. I was there once when the owner-boss noticed someone wearing a cheap imitation brand; he asked to see the glasses, and “examined” them with a wrench. They shattered under a moderate tap.
What made that really stupid was that when we bought safety glasses we turned in the receipt and got reimbursed the next paycheck.
At any rate, I don’t think those glasses would have stood up to an impact from a BB — which means that if I’d chosen a pair like that for my mountain bike rides, I would have ended up interrupting my ride with a visit to the clinic when a piece of gravel hit my lens. So when I picked out safety glasses for work, I got ones guaranteed against gravel thrown by a car.
Cut corners to avoid paying much, and you may end up paying more — much more.
Since this is a gun blog, I’d be more interested in how they work paired up with earmuffs. If the arms stick out too much they just get pushed into your skull or your ear when you use ear pro.
I’ve had my Sawfly glasses for a few years. I’ve been happy with them. They’re not cheap. But, my eyes are worth a lot. I won’t skimp on eye-pro. The Sawfly comes with three interchangeable lenses. I also got the polarized lens for the Sawfly, which works great for shooting outdoors.
Bot 4 Sawfly’s 3 years ago, for me, wife, kids to go to range. Hey, am I gonna scrimp on my kids safety?
Sure enough, Murphys Law of Sunglasses- the more expensive the more likely they are to be sat on, misplaced, or “borrowed” and not returned. Wore the last pair as my regular sunglasses for a couple years, so def got my moneys worth.
Slight scratches and fogging after that, so I put them up for range only.
I’ll definitely be buying these photocromatic ones, nicer looking and better supported frame. I imagine they have inserts for prescriptions like the others.
I’ve been using revision eyewear ever since one of their senior folks sent me a dozen pairs to share with my platoon in Iraq. I am currently wearing an unblemished pair of Sawfly, and a guy I was “working” with one night hurt his knuckles on them a few weeks ago, for what it’s worth. I also have their bullet ant goggles. Revision makes quality, durable eye Pro that rarely if ever fogs and performs exactly as advertised. Great company.
Thoroughly impressed with this product….. However instead of saying it’s bullet resistant it should actually be phrased as pellet resistant. Big difference.