Airsoft is relatively similar to paintball, except for the different guns and masks that are used. If you don’t have airsoft goggles, you might attempt to use whatever goggles you think might work, such as ski goggles. But is that possible—or even safe?
Ski goggles don’t work well for airsoft because they aren’t safe enough. Ski goggles are designed to protect your eyes from light debris, snow, wind, ice, and the sun’s glare only. You need proper airsoft goggles that won’t shatter to protect you against the impact of hard plastic rounds.
The rest of this article will examine why you need airsoft goggles while playing airsoft, how airsoft goggles protect your eyes, and whether you should opt for goggles or glasses while playing airsoft. So keep reading!
The Importance of Wearing Airsoft Goggles
While airsoft may seem like fun and games, the fact of the matter is that not only do airsoft guns resemble real weapons, they are also capable of doing a significant amount of harm. In fact, U.S. law limits the purchase of these guns to people aged 18 and older, and some municipalities further restrict or even outlaw the use of these guns.
These factors underline just how important safety should be when using such guns in airsoft games. A study conducted by the CDC in 2005 showed that emergency rooms in the country treated nearly 20,000 non-powder gun injuries over the year, a statistic that includes airsoft guns.
Additionally, users must also remember that most airsoft guns shoot at velocities of 200-410 feet per second (60-125 meters per second). While this isn’t necessarily strong enough to be fatal, it can cause significant damage, especially when shot from close quarters. Possible injuries included chipped teeth, bruised skin, and crucially, hurt eyes.
Doctors have noted that damage to the eyes caused by airsoft guns ranges from “light contusions” to injuries that threaten a person’s eyesight. Given the potential risk, it’s easy to see why most (if not all) reliable airsoft instructors and experts will recommend that all participants wear some form of eye protection at all times.
Check Your Eye Gear’s Safety Rating
While eye protection is important, it’s also essential to make sure that you’re choosing the right type of eye protection. The glasses or goggles you choose will have to hold up to the impact that an airsoft pellet creates.
In order to do so, you will have to check the safety rating of your eye gear. Most airsoft goggles (or glasses) will have a safety rating printed somewhere on either their legs or lens. These ratings are usually a combination of letters and numbers.
The two major safety rating standards are the European standards and the American standards. Ratings under European standards start with the code EN 166, and those under American standards begin with the code ANSI.
Some ratings to keep an eye out for include:
- EN 166 F: This is the minimum rating under European standards that eye protection should have in order to be suitable for airsoft. Anything under this, like EN 166 S, is unsuitable for airsoft. This rating can handle the impact of plastic pellets traveling at velocities up to 306 feet per second (93 meters per second).
- EN 166 B: Glasses with this rating offer better protection than those with EN 166 F. These can handle the impact of plastic pellets traveling at velocities up to 816 feet per second (249 meters per second).
- ANSI Z87.1-2003: Most glasses sold under American standards meet this rating. Glasses with this rating can handle the impact of steel pellets traveling at velocities of up to 150 feet per second (46 meters per second).
You can also look for eye protection that follows the U.S. military standard. Glasses with this rating start with the code MIL. Ratings you should keep an eye out for include:
- MIL-PRF-31013: This safety rating is usually seen on safety glasses and provides much better protection than the ANSI Z87.1-2003 option. (safety glasses with high enough safety rating are good enough for Airsoft)
- MIL-DTL-43511D clause 3.5.10: This safety rating is for goggles and visors. It represents eyewear that meets military standards for ballistic impact resistance. Goggles with this safety rating are the best you buy and are the best way to guarantee eye safety while playing airsoft.
It’s important to note that, unless specially designed, ski goggles do not meet any of the safety ratings mentioned above. As mentioned, they are not designed to protect your eyes from impact. Instead, they are designed to prevent irritation that can affect you while skiing, including that caused by snow, ice, and the sun’s glare.
As ski goggles are not impact-resistant, they will shatter on impact with airsoft pellets. Not only does this render the glasses useless, but it can also, in fact, increase the danger to your eyes, as broken shards may fly into your eyes.
Airsoft Goggles vs. Airsoft Glasses
When choosing eye protection while playing airsoft, you will most likely have to choose between goggles and glasses. While masks are available as well, they are not as commonly used as the other two options.
Both goggles and glasses have their own pros and cons. Considerations when choosing goggles include:
- Goggles are usually cheaper than glasses.
- They offer better face coverage (though not the full coverage that masks offer).
- They protect your eyes very well as they seal the space around the eyes.
- They are lightweight and easy to carry.
- There’s always a risk of fogging with goggles.
Considerations when choosing glasses include:
- They do not offer the same face coverage that goggles do.
- Ricocheting pellets can penetrate through the open sections around the eyes.
- They are lighter than goggles and thus, offer greater flexibility when moving around the field.
- They do not have an issue with fogging.
Another advantage to goggles is for players who already wear spectacles. It can be challenging to find airsoft goggles that fit around glasses while wearing airsoft glasses if you already need glasses to see clearly.
Goggles are almost always the better option of the two, especially if you expect to be playing airsoft in close quarters. However, if you’re a more casual player and use guns with lower velocity, glasses should still provide you with adequate protection.
While repurposing your existing ski goggles for airsoft can seem like a great way to save money, it’s essential to have appropriate eye protection instead.
Ski goggles and other similar eyewear have not been designed to hold up to the impact of airsoft pellets. Not only do they offer limited protection, but they can also actually end up causing more damage to your eyes if they shatter.