SMITH Optics is a great company for sure. They offer a lifetime warranty and based on two recent experiences, I can say they honour them very well.
The first issue was with my Aegis Arc. I have had these for years and the inside layer on the gray lens started bubbling up in a few spots so I filled out their online warranty claim and got a whole new pair of Arc IIs with two new lenses!
The second issue was with the Gray Man’s I just ordered…these are MilSpec safety rated but couldn’t survive the clowns at UPS who crushed them! Seriously the box arrived crushed and even had a hole through the top! The frames on the glasses were actually bent and so were the arms to the point that it was unwearable. But again, Smith came through and I got a replacement within days!
With that out of the way, let’s move on to the glasses themselves!
As I mentioned in my Revision eyewear review, the two APEL qualified spectacles that rise to the top in safety / torture tests most often are their Sawfly and SMITH’s Aegis Arc. Assuming they are equally capable of protection, the Aegis Arc does have a couple of advantages. First, the shape of the lens appears to offer more coverage. It also sits closer on my face, providing more protection from any fragments coming in through the bottom, side, or top. Perhaps the coolest feature is the “PivLok” locking system that uses two flip up/down levers to lock the lens in place.
Here it is with both lenses (note this pic was taken before the bubbling issue)
And on my face.
Box for my new Arc IIs
Very nice case
Extra lens in the microfiber, no fog cloth, and headstrap
I opted for the Arc IIs in Tan499. The lens shape is different from my Arc, particularly the bottom edge. As such it offers a bit less coverage
When you need ballistic protection in a more discrete setting, The Gray Man (love that name!) may be the perfect option.
The Gray Man is billed as “the world’s first MilSpec ballistic aviator” but I am a little confused by this as I have also seen the Oakley Ballistic Crosshair described as “the world’s first ballistic wire frame glasses.” Perhaps there is a nuance I am missing. In any case, the Oakley is the nearest competitor and I happen to have those as well so will draw some comparisons. The only other similar option I can think of is the Wiley X Klein but that one is only ANSI, not MilSpec.
The Gray Man lenses are wider than the Ballistic Crosshairs (63mm vs 61mm) but the Oakleys are taller (47mm vs. 43mm).
On the face, the Gray Man has more of a wrap shape while the Oakley is more of a classic aviator. Note also how the arms are more flush on the Gray Man while they jut out to the side a bit on the Oakley.
In terms of feel, the metal on the Oakley is definitely thicker or chunkier and the gunmetal finish is definitely flashier. From that perspective, it is not as low profile as the Gray Man.
Ultimately that’s what makes the Gray Man so interesting. How did they manage to achieve a MilSpec ballistic rating with such a thin wire frame? Very impressive!
SMITH also has a few goggles on the APEL list, including the legendary Outside the Wire (OTW) and the lower profile legendary Boogie SOEP. Wow I have heard so many good things about them. I got the Boogie first and as the name suggests these are Special Operations Eyewear Package authorized and meet US MIL-DTL-43511D goggle impact level clause 3.5.1
No fancy box here
But something far better…an NSN number!
Nice soft case
Like the Boogie Regulator, it has SMITH’s slotted ventilation technology and adds 35MM strap with pivoting attachment to make it easy for helmet wear.
for size comparison against the Wiley-X CQC (discontinued) and Revision ExoShield (note that was in-store and the strap not fully adjusted)
During a recent visit to my hometown of Montreal, I stopped by PreFair, an AMAZING store for tactical gear. Picture a Costco warehouse layout full of outdoor and tactical gear from brands like 5.11, Rothco, Condor, BlackHawk, Mechanix, Lowa, Original Swat, Mystery Ranch, Surefire, CRKT, Tasmanian Tiger etc etc etc.. They had an incredible selection of SMITH Optics, essentially every model in the Elite line including the OTW and OTW Fan in every colour! I opted for OTW in Tan499 again.
beautiful soft case
and beautiful goggles! Apart from the good looks, this is SMITH’s most protective offering. The OTW exceeds U.S. military ballistic impact requirements for goggles (MIL-PRF-32432, clause 18.104.22.168.5, superseding former MIL-DTL-43511D, clause 3.5.1), meets ANSI Z87.1 and is EN 166 compliant. It features “tapered lens technology” that corrects distortion and flame-resistant anti-microbial goggle foam.
and compared to the Oakley Standard Issue 1.0, Revision Bullet Ant, WileyX CQC, and SMITH Boogie SOEP
Some family pics.
All in all I am extremely impressed with the SMITH Elite lineup. The Gray Man is currently in my daily rotation and I plan to wear the others in my next trips to the gun range.