Gatorz Eyewear Review
November 26th, 2022
6 minute read
Do you know what the most underrated piece of EDC gear is? A sweet pair of shades. That’s right. You may be the most kitted out or skilled dude or gal on the range, but if you don’t look cool, what’s the point? I jest, but a good pair of shades are worth their weight in gold. Eye protection is an often overlooked but utterly important consideration.
But it’s not that easy, you might say. You may love the look of some shades, but they just don’t fit your face, or they are uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. That would be true if we weren’t talking about Gatorz.
If you are familiar with the Navy SEAL and or Special Operations communities, there is a good chance you’ve seen some of them wearing a pair of Gatorz sunglasses. This is for good reason as Gatorz shades are designed, machined and hand assembled in the USA, and they are as tough as they come.
Gatorz was founded in the 1980s with the intent to build the most rugged eyewear possible from billet aluminum. The idea was that mission-driven people could rely on these sunglasses for both clarity and protection. The sunglasses were adopted by extreme sports athletes and later adopted by the Special Operations community because of their rugged reliability.
For years I have seen these shades used by folks like Tu Lam, Jack Carr, Travis Kennedy and Clint Emmerson. But until recently, I never really looked into the company beyond cursory glances here and there. Turns out, Gatorz are hand crafted here in my home state of Arizona. They also offer a wide array of ballistic and polarized options. I decided to grab a pair for the range, and a pair to wear every day.
Why choose two different pair? I am glad you asked.
I generally wear larger square-style, open-side frames for my EDC because in Arizona the heat can be overbearing. But on the range, that style doesn’t offer as much protection as a wraparound design. This is where the Gatorz Specter frames come in.
The Specter is one of Gatorz wrap-style frames. They are larger frames that have a close fit and taller sides to protect foreign objects from reaching your eyes from the left or right. Additionally, the Specters have thin adjustable temples (the side of the sunglasses) that don’t dig into the sides of your head when wearing over ear protection or helmets.
For my EDC shades, I chose the Delta frames with Tan Cerakote and polarized lenses. The Delta frames are a larger square style, which I appreciate. The temples are a bit shorter in height and the frames have good airflow on the top and bottom. Here in Arizona, if you are not inside, you’ve got a pair of shades on, so it’s essential that they be comfortable. The Delta frames are super comfortable and offer a lot of protection against the harsh Phoenix rays. If you know me well, you know I am quite fond of anything FDE/Tan. So, finding some shades that were Cerakoted Tan was a match made in heaven.
Tough and Flexible
Earlier I mentioned billet aluminum, and here’s why that is cool: you can shape all the Gatorz frames to your face. Yea, that’s rad. They won’t warp over time, become brittle, or deform in extreme temperatures either. The lenses have a scratch-resistant coating ensuring they are as rugged as their users. Additionally, the lenses are high contrast and have an anti-fog coating for use in all environments.
Let’s dive into that self-fitting feature. Since the frames are made from billet aluminum, you can simply bend the frames into fitting your facial structure as you see fit. To loosen or tighten the fit, you can carefully bend the frames inwards or outwards. Similarly, you can adjust the fit of the temples by slightly bending them from the middle toward the rear.
If this seems daunting to start bending $250.00 dollar shades, Gatorz has you covered with a YouTube video detailing exactly how this self-fitting is done. Beyond the frames and how tight or loose they are, you can also adjust how high they sit on your face as well as how close the frames are to your eyes. You can accomplish this by how you adjust the nose piece, and this is all covered in-depth on the Gatorz website.
Circling back to my range shades, the Specters, I got to choose my color on those as well, and you guessed it, FDE. The edgy, hard lines look fantastic with the tan coloring, and they make the black Gatorz logo really pop. The Specters are comfortable on my face, and they provide a lot of protection on the range. The sides are large and enclosed while the lenses are also tall enough to cover my entire eye from cheekbone to eyebrow. When wearing the Specters with ear protection that goes over the ears, I noticed a lack of that “pinching temple” headache after a couple of hours that I usually receive from thicker plastic frames.
When you hear the term billet aluminum, you might think “metal shades? Sounds heavy.” But these are some of the lightest-feeling sunglasses I have owned. From a road trip to a range session, you begin to forget you are wearing eye protection. Gatorz nailed it on the comfort level without sacrificing the rugged design.
Beyond how sweet these shades look and feel, we can’t overlook possibly the most important factor of a good pair of sunglasses — clarity, color and contrast. When you put on a good pair of sunglasses, it should feel like you just upgraded to HD vision. The Gatorz deliver on that optical promise providing a super sharp, vibrant, contrasty picture. Walking outside and sliding the Gatorz on feels like what water is to a parched throat.
After wearing these shades for a few weeks every day and on the range, I think it’s safe to say I’ll be a customer for life. Supporting U.S.-made products that support our industry making premium products for discerning people is what it’s all about for me. When it comes to protecting your eyes from UV rays or errant spall/brass, you don’t want to skimp out. Do yourself a favor and check out the Gatorz website. Gatorz has a lot to offer, from nine frame styles, four Cerakote colors, and 15+ lens options for you to choose from. I think their most unique feature is the self-fitting aspect of the frames.
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