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Old 12-22-2008, 10:07 AM
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What kind of goggles should I get?

I see a lot of questions about which goggles are approved for airsoft use. Of all the repeated questions that pop up again from time to time, this one seems to recirculate more often than most. When I entered the topic for this post, this hasn't been addressed for almost a year. I'm writing this post in the hopes that it will be informative enough for those who may ask the following questions:

Quote:
What is ANSI z87.1?

Is it okay to use paintball goggles and masks?

First, a word on the industry standard. ANSI (American National Standards Institute) coordinates development and use of voluntary consensus standards in the United States and represents the needs and views of U.S. stakeholders in standardization forums around the globe. The Institute oversees creation, promulgation and use of thousands of international norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses in nearly every sector: from acoustical devices to construction equipment, from dairy and livestock production to energy distribution, and many more. ANSI is actively engaged in accrediting programs that assess conformance to standards - including globally-recognized cross-sector programs such as the ISO 9000 (quality) and ISO 14000 (environmental) management systems.

When it comes to eye protection, the most current industry standard is ANSI z87.1-2003. This is the minimum compliance that is generally required by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) that states manufacturers must provide their employees with a certain level of eye protection where needed. Here is that standard:

ANSI z87.1

Current standard: American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protective Devices ANSI Z87.1-2003

Scope and Purpose: The scope and purpose of the standard is laid out in section 2 and states “This standard sets forth criteria related to the description, general requirements, testing, marking, selection, care, and use of protectors to minimize or prevent injuries, from such hazards as impact, non-ionizing radiation and chemical type injuries, in occupational and educational environments including, but not limited to, machinery operations, material welding and cutting, chemical handling, and assembly operations. This standard provides minimum requirements for protectors including selection, use, and maintenance of these protectors as devices to minimize or prevent eye and face injuries.”

Frame Tests:
High Mass Impact Test:
Spectacle frames shall be capable of resisting an impact from a pointed projectile weighing 500 g (17.6oz) dropped from a height of 127cm (50.0 in). No piece shall be detached from the inner surface of any frame component, and the test lens shall retained in the frame. This test is intended to determine the capability of a protector to resist impact from relatively heavy, pointed objects traveling at low velocity. 4 samples are tested: all must pass.

High Velocity Impact Test:
Spectacle frames shall be capable of resisting impact from a 6.35mm (0.25 in) diameter steel ball traveling at a velocity of 45.7 m/s (150ft/s). No contact with the eye of the headform is permitted as a result of impact. No piece shall be detached from the inner surface of any frame component, and the test lens shall be retained in the frame. This test is intended to determine the capability of a protector to resist impact from high velocity, low mass projectiles. 2mm Polycarbonate lenses are used in the frame testing. 20 samples are tested: all must pass.

Lens Thickness:
Basic Impact Lens Requirements
Basic impact spectacle lenses shall be not less than 3.0mm (0.118 in) thick, except those lenses having a plus power of 3.00D or greater in the most plus meridian in the distance portion of the lens which shall have a minimum of a thickness no less than 2.5mm (0.098 in).

High Impact Lens Requirements
When used in a frame marked Z87-2, the lenses shall not be less than 2.0mm (0.079 in) thick. This requirement is in recognition of the thickness needed to maximize lens retention in the frame in a high velocity impact.

Lens Tests:
Basic Impact Lens Requirements
Drop Ball Test - Basic impact spectacles lenses shall be capable of resisting impact from a 25.4 mm (1 in) diameter steel ball dropped from a height of 127 cm (50.0 in). The lens shall not fracture as a result of this test. Glass lenses shall be individually tested. Statistical sampling is an acceptable means of demonstrating compliance for plastic lenses.

Penetration Test (Plastic Lenses Only) - Basic impact plastic spectacle lenses shall be capable of resisting penetration from a weighted projectile weighing 44.2 gm (1.56 oz) dropped from a height of 127 cm (50.0
in). The lens shall not fracture or be pierced through as a result of this test.

High Impact Lens Requirements - High impact lenses shall be capable of resisting an impact from a 6.35mm (0.25 in) diameter steel ball traveling at a velocity of 45.7 m/s (150 ft/s). No piece shall be detached from the inner surface of the lens. In addition, the lens shall not fracture.

Lens Markings:
All markings shall be permanent, legible, and placed so that interference with the vision of the wearer is minimal.

Manufacturer’s logo - Complies with Basic Impact Requirements.

Manufacturer’s logo and a "+" - Complies with High Impact Requirements.

Shade Number - Filter lens which complies with Table 1.

S - Special purpose lens, complies with table 2, but not with table 1.

V - Photochromic lens.

___________________________________

Paintball adheres to ASTM F1776 - 01 Standard Specification for Eye Protective Devices for Paintball Sports. The ASTM F1776 document specifically refers to the ANSI z87.1 standard in its documentation.

In other words, any goggle designed for paintball will be safe to use for airsoft.

Without boring everyone with even more technical data, what follows is a summary of what you should be looking for in a goggle system:

1 - The goggle lens should meet ANSI z87.1 standards for high velocity impact. Read the above testing notes again carefully. The impact resistance test was performed using a projectile similar to the size of the BBs we use for airsoft. However, it was only 150fps. Steel BB @ 150fps vs. a plastic BB @ 400fps. I don't know the fancy math used to determine impact velocity, but I do know that I only have one set of eyes. Better safe than sorry.

2 - Much of the ANSI z87.1 standard also refers to frame materials and corrosion resistance that do not apply to airsoft. There are separate notations for lens and frame standards, so don't get hung up on the frames. These standards largely deal with safety glasses with sideshields used in a manufacturing environment, and not specifically goggles.

3 - While some airsoft players do not prefer them, full-seal goggles will better protect you. The goggle should have a foam or rubber seal that fully encases the area around your eyes so that no projectile can enter around the lens. Full-seal goggles feature an elastic strap that pulls the goggle tight to your face.

4 - Thermal lenses. These are far less prone to fogging issues. Yes, they are more expensive, but the additional cost is well worth it.

5 - Try before you buy. This is very important in my opinion. We all want to look nice out on the field. But that really sweet set of goggles you ordered off the internet may simply not fit your face comfortably. I would argue that your goggles are the most important piece of gear you own...so find a pair that you like, can afford, and fits you correctly. This is a lot easier said than done.

The rest is up to you. There is no "best" goggle, because everyone's face and idea of comfort are different. It seems that most younger players prefer the full-face protection that paintball masks provide. Others go for the minimalist approach, wearing only a small set of glasses with sideshields. Do not skimp out on safety and buy El Cheapo goggles. Wearing an eyepatch for the rest of your life is not cool.

___________________________________

The purpose of this guide was not to provide examples of which goggles to purchase, because that is largely personal preference and budget. However, here are a few examples that will get you started in the right direction:

Goggles:
Arena FlakJak, Bolle X800, Guarder T800, Revision Desert Locust, ESS LandOps, Oakley A-Frame

Paintball Masks:
JT Spectra, Matrix Alien, Dye Pro i3, Scott Voltage XP

Glasses:
Revision Hellfly and Bullet Ant, Bolle Downdraft
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