Each branch of the armed forces, to include the special operations groups, have their go-to eye protection and breaking tribal rules can be rough. So when you must have the protection you need, choosing your own gear can be like your first deployment, your first day on the range or driving around in your first minivan. Being an operator with the 1st CivDiv, or pumping out on a new deployment, and having to pay for your own gear doesn’t mean you give up on choosing the right gear. For this article, I was fortunate enough to review two different pairs of Gatorz Eyewear, one for testing and one pair from my SOFREP Crate Club subscription. Like you, Gatorz Eyewear may not have been my first choice, and so I started with some Intel about the glasses; what material did they use and why should I chose these over a similar priced pair of glasses?
Before any mission and gear issuance, a brief needs to happen. Here is your technical briefing on Gatorz.
The frame is built from T6 7505 billet aluminum, which is part of the 7000 series alloys. The 7075 alloy sub series are often used in transport applications, including marine, automotive and aviation due to their high strength-to-density ratio. In addition, 7075 can be found in rock climbing equipment, bicycle components and hang glider airframes. 7075 is also used in the manufacturing of M-16 rifles, in particular; high-quality M-16 rifle lower and upper receivers as well as extension tubes, which are typically made from 7075-T6 alloy. Companies such as, SIG Sauer, and French armament company PGM use it for their precision rifles. Texas Black Rifle Co uses the alloy for its weapons and other parts, including the model 1836 AR-15 as well as their Glock Micro Comp.
Now that is good skinny, but I wanted to “go all in” like “You know who” from the movie Tropic Thunder and make testing a bit more thorough than simply driving around and looking Operator As F*@%. The best place to learn about materials and how to abuse them, is to head over to NASA and check out the hot and cold temperature pain threshold research on human tolerance to cold. The research showed that onset of pain threshold occurs at 44°C (111.2°F) at the dermal/epidermal interface, 15°C (59°F) skin temperature, numbness occurs at 7°C (44.6°F), and risk of frostbite is risked at 0°C (32°F) when touching aluminum. Here in the Northeast, temperatures can get around and below these temperatures pretty quickly, so I wanted to make sure that when I wore my Gatorz, I wouldn’t get the frostbite ring or end up pulling the skin off like a bud-light bottle at a tailgating party.
Checking my vanity in at the armory for a moment; they looked good in the mirror; I wanted to find which pair provided for best spatial awareness and observance. The Blackout Wraptor, due to their design compared with the Magnum had millimeters of more glass for optimal peripheral vision, extremely significant for situational awareness in a fight. Because I wear headgear often, I also found for me personally, that the Wraptor style fit better under a ball cap; just as important that all your gear work symbiotically. I next tested them under the various situations that you may find yourself. I grabbed the Darebee Military Fit program and worked out with my Wraptor on; they held up very well with minimal slippage even though the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) program had me wetter than a frogman during hell week. I would still recommend securing them with a Croakies or similar strap. I then took them for a walk outside in 0°C (32°F) degree temperatures and found that wearing a wool watch cap was enough to keep them from getting frosty around my ears. I then placed them in the freezer for 3 hours and immediately put them on. While I did get some tactile skin stick and could feel some numbness the density of aluminum also quickly heated up the stems to body temperature. The verdict is still out on how long you can wear these in cold temperatures, unless you enhance the stem by placing a thin layer of insulator material between your skin and the aluminum.
After putting the glasses through some stress testing, I am a firm believer that Gatorz Eyewear are by far the superior choice of Eye Protection. the design and material allow you to fit these to your head shape and provided the full package to protect your eyes. If you are looking for another reference in making a choice and changing opinions, check out this Loadout Room Post – Elite Performance Gatorz Sunglasses by one of our own Navy SEALs.