What's the difference between ballistic-rated and safety-rated glasses? For starters, ANSI compliant eyewear is indicated by a Z87+ marking on the safety glasses or goggles. Oddly enough, there's currently no marking system in place for military-grade eyewear. Sunglass Rob and Karen from Wiley X help us dig deeper into the differences between ballistic and ANSI-rated glasses.


Typically used in combat, military-grade glasses are designed and tested to withstand high impact and fragmentation standards. Because of this, ballistic-rated glasses meet criteria that civilian safety glasses do not. Sunglass Rob makes the distinction that ANSI-rated eyewear is a good choice for when you're shooting, but ballistic-rated eyewear is designed for situations when someone is shooting at you.

Ballistics-rated safety glasses

The ballistics test is similar to the ANSI test, but more rigorous. There are two main Military Ballistics Standards used for testing; one for eyeglasses and one for goggles. If the item passes, it is qualified to be listed on the APEL (Authorized Protective Eyewear List). Military-grade glasses include ANSI certifications, but ANSI-rated glasses do not have the APEL certifications unique to ballistics-rated eyewear.


The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees the design, performance specifications, and marking of safety eye and face products. Civilian safety glasses must be compliant with high-impact and industrial safety standards, but the test omits the fragmentation standards of the ballistic test.

ANSI-rated safety glasses


Prescription Ability

To maintain a true ballistic rating on a pair of military-grade glasses, you must use prescription inserts that have also passed the ballistics test. There are safety-rated prescription lenses you can install, however it will alter the status of the ballistic rating and the glasses will be considered an ANSI safety product. The only way to maintain a true ballistics rating is to use prescription inserts.



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