Review: ESS Crossbow Eyeshields

Serious But Comfortable Eye Protection

The Good
Wow. These are really comfortable. The field of vision is by far the best among the dozen or so different types of eye protection in our assorted shooting bags.
The Bad
Three of us have been sharing one set. Fighting erupts over who gets to use them on any given range trip.
The Ugly
None of our reviewers was willing to get shot in the face to test the toughness claims. Wimps.
Our Rating
3 Nuns Four Nuns!
Suggested Retail Price: $105.00 www.esseyepro.com

We didn’t know we were supposed to get presents to celebrate the United States Marines 236th birthday. Apparently that’s exactly the case as the folks at ESS, a subsidiary of Oakley, sent us a set of Crossbow 3LS Eyeshields to (abuse) evaluate just in time to celebrate the big event. And, as everyone knows, ESS Eyeshields are the only approved eye protection for United States Marines. Coincidence? We think not.

If you’re not familiar with ESS, they specialize in abuse. Or more specifically making sure that ones eyes are protected in harsh and abusive environments. ESS offers a broad array of glasses, goggles, and other eye protection products for military, law enforcement, fire and rescue professionals. For the general purpose shooter, the Cross Series and Ice product lines are ideal.

The Cross Series includes a family of three product lines with interchangeable components:

Crosshair The entry-level kit. Includes basic protective lenses without advanced anti-fog and anti-scratch coatings. The Crosshair series products are upgradeable with all Cross Series premium components.
Suppressor Specially designed frames for use with cup style hearing protection and communication systems. The ultra-thin frame helps eliminate pressure points and maintain the effectiveness of hearing protection by not interfering with the seal. Lenses are interchangeable with Crosshair and Crossbow frames.
Crossbow The Crossbow is the flagship of the line and features a no-slip frame and includes lenses with anti-fog and anti-scratch coatings.

All Cross Series products are available in a variety of single, double, and triple lens packagings.

In the Box

Our evaluation set was the Crossbow 3LS (3 Lens System) package. This kit includes:

  • Black Tri-Tech Fit Crossbow Frame
  • Smoke grey lens
  • High definition yellow lens
  • Clear lens
  • (2) soft pouches for lens storage
  • Hard zipper case
  • Lens cleaning cloth
  • Snap on retention strap
  • ESS sticker and instructions

Love At First Sight

With any product we evaluate, we like to find the ‘stand out’ feature. With the ESS Crossbow eyewear, that’s easy. It’s the fit. The Crossbows are light and balanced, but that’s not the biggest benefit of their fit. These glasses conform to your face and ride very close to your eyes. The biggest benefit of this is the effect on peripheral vision. Neither the top of the frame or bottom of the lens cluttered up our field of view. This is the only set of shooting glasses that we’ve been able to forget about while on the range. They’re great for shooting sports where peripheral vision is key – sporting clays, IDPA, USPSA, etc.

Lens Swapping

Second to comfort, the other stand out feature of the Crossbow eyewear is the manner in which lenses are changed. Our evaluation set came with three lenses in smoke grey, clear, and yellow to cover a variety of indoor and outdoor light conditions. Our experience with other shooting glasses systems prepared us to expect a lens snapping ultimate fighting bout to remove one lens and add a new one. It’s never easy as most systems rely on high tension lens mounts which force the user to bend and contort frames in order to remove and add lenses. The Crossbow was different. While the outside corners of the Crossbow lenses do snap into place snugly and securely, the method of removal is different. The Crossbow frame features a locking mechanism just above the bridge of the nose. Rotate it upwards and the lenses are unlocked from the frame. Each lens includes holes which are used by this locking clip. Once the lens is unlocked, simply pull the lens downward and it is easily removed. Add the new lens, rotate the locking clip into place, and you’re good to go. Much easier than traditional pressure mounted lens systems. It was plenty secure and at no time was there risk of a lens coming loose.

 

Dude! You Shot Me In The Face!

Reading through the customer testimonials on the ESS website is quite an experience. Customers describe being shot at, blown up, sprayed in the face with toxic waste, burned up, and a host of other misfortunes. We developed all sorts of aches and pains just reading these stories.

Strangely enough, no one on our editorial staff was willing to volunteer to get shot in the face. So we’ll share this reader testimonial from the ESS website instead:

I am writing to show and tell you of the in-field performance of the fantastic protective eyewear ESS has developed. The attached photos were taken before and after a sniper attack outside of Mosul, Iraq, on July 3, 2006. I was positioned in the right rear hatch of my rolling Stryker when a sniper that had claimed the life of a fellow soldier and good friend three days prior struck again. This time, the snipers bullet hit my gun mount and continued on to fragment and splatter on the right lens of my ESS CDI sunglasses. While I was knocked down with the impact of the bullet, I suffered only minor injuries to my head and was back in action within the week. As strong testimony to the physical toughness of the CDI glasses, after the sniper attack I simply replaced the fractured lenses and continued to wear the glasses in combat for the remaining five months of duty in Baghdad. The frames were dinged a bit, but still functioned as new, even after taking a hit from a 7.62 sniper round.Many thanks to your product development department and all of those associated with making these fine products available to our brave young men and women that continue to fight the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sgt. Ross Shores, 172nd Stryker Brigade, 562nd Eng. Co

Closing Arguments

We really like these glasses. The combination of light weight, close and comfortable fit, and excellent field of view make them a keeper. The close fit and wrap around lens style provide eye protection from all angles. Highly recommended.

 

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Comments

  1. Thank you for testing the products and providing this review! A minor point of clarification: while the Crosshair doesn’t have an anti-fog coating like the Crossbow does, it actually does have an anti-scratch coating that can be found on both the inside and the outside of the lens.

    The Crosshair lenses are dipped into a hardening solution, as opposed to the Crossbow which is flow-coated with two different solutions – one on the inside of the lens (anti-fog) and one on the outside (anti-scratch).

    Thanks again, and Semper Fidelis!

    Ari @ ESS

    • Thanks for the clarification Ari and for the note about using Crosshairs and Crossbows for different purposes. Perhaps you could share some insight on that with our readers here?

      Thanks!

      • Sure thing, Tom.

        With the introduction of our new Crosshair eyeshield, we now offer an entry-level product with critical impact protection and superior optics that also provides excellent all-around comfort. The Crosshair’s lenses, frame, and nosepiece are completely interchangeable with any companion Crossbow part, and are likewise compatible with the Suppressor hearing-pro & comms optimized frame.

        By offering interchangeable products and accessories, we are able to offer the highest levels of kit customization to our users. Users will choose their starting point in the Cross-Series based on their particular performance or budget requirements, and thereafter will enjoy the ability to expand or customize their kits as needed. Additionally, this platform approach can help users achieve a longer product lifetime, as any of the constituent parts of a kit can be replaced individually.

        To summarize the intended uses for each of the three types of products in the Cross-Series:

        Crossbow products are for those who need or demand the ultimate in performance.

        Crosshair products provide a solution for budget-conscious consumers who either don’t need the anti-fog characteristics of the Crossbow, or would like to obtain that performance later.

        The Suppressor is an ultra-thin frame that is of special importance to the gun community, as it is the only product that is specifically engineered to work in perfect harmony with ear cups. We tend to call the Suppressor an “Aha!” product, because that’s basically the reaction we’ve had from anyone whose ever used ear cups/comms gear with glasses once they try it on. Pro Tip: use Suppressor under ear cups without the retention strap if you like (it slides on or off with ease even while the ear cups are being worn!), but if you are wearing this frame otherwise, use the retention strap to keep it anchored to your head.

        Anyone can check out the Cross-Series landing page which summarizes all of this and is the starting point to viewing the many different product configurations we offer at http://esseyepro.com/cross-series

        Thanks again!

  2. I shot two Crossbow lenses, point blank, with a S&W 15-22 during a DOA Tactical AR-15 course in St. George, UT last weekend, and we had ZERO penetration and very little back face signature. I now own three pairs of ESS glasses.

  3. Nice review, and great followup by ESS.
    I wear the ICE series glasses with the prescription lens adapter, and I couldnt be happier!
    My wife has ditched all her convenience store sunglasses for ESS’s RECON and CD-Max sunglasses. We use these products at the range and are amazed by the clarity and lack of distortion.

    David

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