Randolph Engineering: Ranger XLW “Serious Equipment” Shooting Glasses


Randolph Engineering has been around for nearly forty years, founded in 1972 by a pair of ophthalmologists. A decade later, RE became the main choice of the U.S. Dept. of Defense for aviation flight glasses. Since then, their line has continually expanded. The Ranger XLW glasses, discussed here, are one of their more recent offerings, featuring a lifetime warranty on frame joints and so forth.

Shooting and hunting eyewear is an intensely personal choice and RE offers a dazzling line-up of lenses and frame styles to accommodate this. Their polycarbonate lenses, lighter than mineral glass, are shown as tough enough to withstand a blast of shotgun pellets from 34 feet. Eternal international shooting champion Kim Rhode uses them. The set I've been using came with their new copper polarized lenses, quickly changeable with what you prefer in concert with ambient conditions, target backgrounds, and so forth. These copper lenses are excellent for killing the glare on snow-covered terrain like we have right now, but certainly for general hunting or lower-light conditions the moss yellow polarized lenses would be more appropriate. Glare stings my eyes, so I'm personally a fan of the “venetian blind” polarized lenses. Glare just plain wears me out more quickly than just about anything else hitting my eyes. An easy way to see if you have polarized lenses has long been to see if they turn the face of your LCD wristwatch black. Following up on that, one of the conditions where you might not want polarized lenses is if you need to refer to gauges, which also commonly have polarized faces just like the mineral glass on a wristwatch. Other than that, I prefer them.

I never have liked the lobe-grabbing wrap-around the ear “cables” or wires, but like a lot of things else it remains a personal choice. The bayonet style temples are thinner, more comfortable, and slip into headphones, helmets, and other headgear with far less hassle and more comfort than thicker temples or wraparound the ear styles. When it comes to eyewear, we all have different ideas about that. The bewildering array of frames at your local Pearle Vision or similar is testimony to that.

The RE glasses are just about the opposite of the insta-scratch, gas station variety sunglasses-- the ones that you really don't care if you lose or sit on. There's little question that these XLW sets are supremely well made, coming with a massively foamed zip case, maintenance kit, extra screws, extra nose pads, and so forth. They are designed to be used and enjoyed for years, not weeks.

The lenses are nicely off the face so fogging is no issue. I like the way they look, the way they feel, and it really is hard not to recommend them as worthy of consideration for anyone looking for professional grade, lasting eyewear. The lens options aren't endless, but with over sixteen different tints along with prescription lenses available, as a practical matter, they are. Some of the terms used to describe high-end eyewear are well beyond my limited cranial capacity to absorb. For example, the RE XLW is described as the “industry's first 8-base wrap frame specifically made for sport shooting.” That's quite a mouthful, I have no clue whether that is a good thing or not, but RE seems t0 think so. The true significance of a statement like that handily exceeds my limited intellect to fully grasp.

For a product like this built to last, it is likely worth your while to get all your fitting questions answered by Randolph Engineering directly, or one of their many dealers. Fit counts for a tremendous amount, moreso the longer the day. So, a little extra effort getting the style and design that is right for you invariably pays dividends.

These RE XLT Rangers are as good as any shooting glasses I've ever used, are obviously carefully designed and made. There are made right here in Randolph, Massachusetts, and are quite deserving of being on anyone's short list for high-performance, extremely high quality hunting and shooting sports glasses. For more info, see http://www.randolphusa.com/ . The RE Ranger XLW is outstanding product.



Copyright 2011 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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