If you have not heard of Rudy Project before reading this article, then you have been missing out on absolutely the finest shooting glasses ever made. Perhaps it is because, like most shooters, we have not paid enough attention to our eyewear. We pick up a new pair of shooting glasses every year for $20 - $30, throw them around, stuff them in our pockets, fling them on the dashboard of the truck and toss them in the trash at the end of the season because they are scratched beyond recognition.
It is almost as though we take our eyes and vision for granted and assume that they will always be there and work as expected. Unfortunately, as we get older, our visual acuity starts to wane and our trusty eyes begin to falter. For those of you under 50 (still kids), let us say, you owe it to yourself to buy and use the best eye protection you can find, because if you lose your eyes, your entire life changes. I have had one gun explode on the range (a Bryco special) and another Kaboom when I was repairing a rifle for a chap who had stuffed 30-30 rounds into a 44 mag lever action Marlin (yep, that was really dumb). In both cases, I could have lost one or more eyes ... but didn't. In the Bryco incident, I did not have on shooting glasses, and for whatever reason, I was lucky. From that time on, I wore glasses shooting at the shooting range or when hunting.
However, we are slightly off topic ... this is about Rudy Project eyewear. This story started in 1985, by Rudy Barbazza in Treviso, Italy. A friend convinced Rudy to make some sunglasses with the new polycarbonate material for the lens. After a bit of persuasion, Rudy agreed to take on this task as a new project. It became known as the Rudy Project. He was one of the first, if not the first, to incorporate completely new materials in his sunglasses.
The temples are constructed from KynetiumTM, an aerospatial aluminum which is composed of magnesium, silicon, and titanium. The result is a frame/temple combination that is lightweight (magnesium), durable (titanium) and flexible (silicon). We have bent the temple ear pieces every which way in our tests. Our results ... regardless of how you adjust the temples, up, down, in or out, they hold their position.
The Ergo IVTM nose pads are truly ergonomic and can be adjusted to fit just about any face. We let several of our friends try on Jim's glasses and asked them to adjust the temples and nose pads to their head. Everyone was impressed. In fact, a couple of them asked if they could buy Jim's glasses ... no sale.
The Grilamid® frames are flexible and very tough, yet light weight. Rudy Project frames are true Grilamid, a polyamid made by EMS in Switzerland. Beware of the many cheap imitations that are on the market. A lot of Asian imports will say they have Grilamid frames, but in reality, they are simply injected plastic which will warp and break. Real Grilamid frames will not warp and are almost unbreakable. The only caveat with polyamid material is not to use alcohol to clean them, as it can react with the polyamid and cause it to crack.
Another benefit of the Rudy Project glasses are interchangeable lenses. You can use any of the variety of lenses that are best suited for the conditions of brightness or weather conditions you may encounter. You can also fit them with the shatterproof and photochromic ImpactX lenses which change color according to different light conditions.
With over thirty different lens options, ten colors of temples/nose pads and a variety of frame colors, you can design your own personal shooting glasses at no additional cost. And, for those of you who require prescription lenses, they have a very reasonable prescription service. Rudy Project will fabricate your prescription lenses in polycarbonate or their cutting edge and completely unbreakable ImpactX lens material. Rudy’s digital surfacing technology has the ability to fill either single vision or progressive lens designs. Mary ordered her Rydons with transparent frames and pink temples, with an extra set of red temples. Hey, a gal has to be able to change colors now and then. And, her prescription lenses are superb, not only at the shooting range but also when driving.
Jim ordered a modified Rudy Project Rydon Performance Kit Matte Black frame with ImpactX Grey, Impact X Clear, Yellow and Polychromic Racing Red Lens. He wanted to be able to "cover all bases" while hunting or shooting at the range. In a pinch, I can pop in a set of his lenses into my frames on the range or in the woods. The "standard" Performance Kit includes five sets of lenses: Laser copper, action brown, clear, yellow, and racing red lenses; but, you can easily customize and select your own. Rudy Project Polycarbonate RP Optics lenses provide 100% UVA/UVB protection. That is something that you do not get with most other shooting glasses on the market.
The Barbazzas have taken lens technology one step further. Enter the ImpactX lens. These lenses are made from a Trivex ® hybrid that is proprietary with Rudy Project. Trivex ® is a urethane-based monomer that was developed by PPG Industries in 2001. It is impact-resistant yet still delivers superior optical properties. In fact, a lot of optometrists will tell you that lenses made from Trivex ® provide even crisper optics than polycarbonate lenses. Frankly, we could not tell the difference, with respect to optical properties, between the Rudy Project polycarbonate and the ImpactX lenses ... and they are guaranteed for life, even if you just scratch or nick them ... Rudy will replace them. Oh yeah, you can bend them almost in half and they return to their original shape!
Don't get the idea that these glasses are only useful when you are shooting. That is not even remotely close, if you golf, cycle, hike, hunt, race cars, climb mountains, or are active in any way.... these are truly versatile glasses. Because they do not look like run of the mill shooter's glasses, they can go everywhere. As the saying goes, these may well be the last pair of sunglasses you will ever buy. To say that we liked these glasses is a gross understatement ... and Jim does not like glasses ... until he got his Rydons. Now, he doesn't leave home without them.
The Rudy Project brand has now been passed to Cristiano and Simone Barbazza, Rudy's sons. Rudy Project is one of the only remaining family-owned sunglass businesses left. Everyone else (including Oakley) have been bought up by giant groups like Luxottica. That is a shame, because just like in the cutlery business, there is a race to the bottom with all the cheap imports from China. But, not so with the Barbazzas. For this family, quality and customer satisfaction is still number one. If there were a gold standard for sunglasses, then Rudy Barbazza's Project would be it.
The MSRP for a pair of Rudy Project Rydon glasses ranges from $200 to $275, depending on the type of lense selected. However, the Performance Shooting Kit, with its case and five sets of lenses (Laser Copper, Action Brown, Clear, Yellow, and Racing Red) is a bargain at $325. Buy the kit and you will never need another pair of sunglasses. You can order directly from RACE, the exclusive distributor in the U.S. and Canada.