When it comes to sunglasses there is quite a smattering of products used among Special Operations groups. However you seem to see two main brands used. Oakley and Gatorz. Up until yesterday I had no experience using Gatorz though I had on many occasions seen my coworkers or other Operators utilizing them. My experience lay primarily with Oakley sunglasses which I am a huge fan of. However when I opened the package for the Gatorz Magnum sunglasses to review, I was immediately impressed. The frame is constructed of 7075 Billet Aircraft Aluminum and it feels solid, and unlike any other sport / tactical sunglass pair I’ve worn up until now. The fit is what really sells it for me however. The frame can be custom fit by slowly bending the heat-treated metal to contour to your face perfectly. Gone are the days of having sunglasses that are never really all that comfortable and cause hotspots. The frame is also very thin compared to its plastic framed brethren. This is very advantageous when wearing them under hearing protection / peltors. The thin frame allows the hearing protection to seal around the ear better, which protects your hearing more efficiently. The thin frame also alleviates the headache you can get from having a thick plastic frame pressed into your temples for hours on end. Further the styling on the Gatorz is spot on. I’m one of those guys who always looks bad in sunglasses and spends an hour finding the right pair – right out of the box this is the right pair.
I’m encouraged by the metal frame – I’ve broken many sunglasses in my job via parachuting and generally doing ops in the field. I believe that the metal frame will withstand the forces of austere environments much better than a plastic frame will. The hinge between the frame and the arms is reinforced by 5 barrel hinges, two per arm riveted in place. In comparison to the many different sunglasses that I’ve used which feature a single plastic hinge which is easily broken.
The optical quality is superb and was one thing I immediately noticed when walking outside. Everything looks sharp. My sunglasses are the grey polarized lenses and they seem well constructed utilizing TruRay optics. TruRay optics boasts impact and scratch resistance. I talked with one of the Pararescuemen that I’ve worked with in the past and he showed me his pair that he’d had for 3 years and the lenses seems to have held up very well through multiple deployments and freefall jumps. Despite all of the abuse that they have sustained they seem quite scratch free and he commented favorably upon using them for the past 3 years of his career.
Time will only tell how they hold up. I’ll be doing multiple jumps with them in the coming days and then they’ll be out to a field op for a week in the mountains for survival instructing. Stand by for a full review once I’ve had some more hands on time with the Gatorz Magnums!