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Review: Gatorz Specter Eyewear

In the world of hardcore outdoor eyewear, Gatorz, a company with roots in San Diego, CA, is somewhat of an anomaly. All glasses the company manufactures are 100-percent American-made, which is somewhat of a rarity across the entire eyewear industry, and the frames are CNC machined from lightweight aluminum billet instead of plastics. The metal frames and temples are a signature move, and besides extra durability, they allow wearers to gently bend the glasses to conform to their heads. Gatorz offers its customers a wide selection of frame styles, lens materials and color tints to suit nearly every general outdoor activity, shooting style or even tactical considerations–especially with their ballistically rated premium lens offerings. The end result is sturdy eyewear for the active outdoors, shooting, first responder, military and tactical markets. One of the lead instructors from Green Ops I’ve trained with still wears a pair of ballistic Gatorz issued to him as a military free-fall parachutist. As a busy firearms writer, I’m not jumping from aircraft, but eye protection is still essential.

The Gatorz Specter and My Experiences 

Gatorz Specter glasses have a sporty, contemporary look with a frame and temples designed to stay close and wrap around the wearer’s face in order to stay out of the way. This makes them ideal to wear under tactical headgear or ear-pro. The profile reminds me of an old pair of sunglasses I wore underneath my motorcycle helmet for much the same reason; they fit snugly without being in the way of the helmet. Due to the lens and frame shape, Gatorz Specter glasses give the wearer widescreen coverage since the lenses are wider than they are taller. That said, I don’t find the vertical lens coverage lacking either. As a result, the Specter frames and lenses work well for shooting and most activities.

My pair of Specter glasses has been residing regularly in my range-bag for well over a year, and I still use them on a regular basis. The lenses have a light-purple, ballistic-rated lens which is optimized for shooting in lower light conditions (43-percent light transmission) while also affording both red and orange objects a very high contrast that makes them “pop.” Because of this, they’ve become some of my favorite wintertime shotgun shooting glasses because orange clays stand out so well. They’re also my go-to pair any time I shoot indoors or during cloudy, overcast days. Neither the light-purplish tint nor the frame shape has ever interfered with my vision through red-dot sights or magnified optics, either. I also appreciate how easy they are to wipe off with lens wipes as they have an oil- and scratch-resistant coating in addition to meeting ANSI Z87+ or MIL PRF 32432A specifications for ballistic protection. The metal hard-sided carrying case and microfiber soft case included with the pair is also a nice touch, especially for the price. The only “complaint” I have about the Gatorz Specter is that after wearing them continuously for periods of 5 or more hours, the temples begin to rub and chafe the top of my ears since they’re not rubberized. Even so, I view it as a tradeoff for a widescreen, face-hugging well-made set of lenses that are extremely useful.

The Takeaway 

Gatorz eyewear, be they Specters or other models, aren’t cheap and that’s probably their single biggest drawback. However, the company manufactures every pair in the U.S. using American materials and labor. Furthermore, the different lens materials Gatorz offers go beyond basic polycarbonate shooting safety glasses. In addition to being American-made, their other upside of Gatorz is their lifetime warranty. Considering we’re talking about protecting one’s eyesight here, the case for “buying-once, crying-once” could be definitely made.

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