How to Make Sure Your Safety Glasses Are Ballistic Rated? (APEL List)

How to Make Sure Your Safety Glasses Are Ballistic Rated? (APEL List)

Ballistic safety glasses are one of the most important pieces of equipment for any soldier. They are not just to look intimidating or cool, but they protect your eyes from any hazards like broad sunlight, smoke, dust, flying debris, and other harmful things during combat or training.

If the safety glasses don’t meet certain military standards, or they are not listed in the APEL list, they cannot be military-grade or tactical safety glasses. So in order to protect your eyes during your Military service, you should wear safety glasses that meet military standards for impact protection (MIL-PRF-31013).

The two ways to make sure your safety glasses are ballistic rated are first by checking the product description or two, by checking the APEL List.

IMPORTANT: ballistic safety glasses are not bulletproof.

First, let us know what Ballistic Rated safety glasses mean.

What Are Ballistic-rated Safety Glasses?

Ballistic-rated means military-grade impact protection. In other words, ballistic-rated safety glasses are made to protect soldiers from the military’s high-speed impact, fragments, and projectiles.

What is an Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL)?

APEL or Authorized Protective Eyewear List is a list of protective eyewear tested and approved by the U.S. Military for use by its soldiers. It was created in 2006 because statistics showed that about 10% of battlefield injuries at that time were eye injuries. 

The APEL list includes safety glasses and goggles from manufacturers who have had their products examined and tested and who have satisfied all applicable qualification requirements for that product.

How to Make Sure Your Safety Glasses Are Ballistic-rated?

Any ballistic-rated safety glasses that are commercially available should be MIL-PRF-31013 Approved. There is no marking system in place for military-grade safety glasses. The two ways you will make sure that the safety glasses you want to buy meet MIL-PRF-31013 standards are to check the product description or to check the APEL list.

This list includes all the ballistic-rated safety glasses that have been tested and validated as meeting military requirements for ballistic fragment protection. Any safety glasses that are not MIL-PRF-31013 Approved or on this list are not authorized by the military for wear during combat, training, or any other military operation.

APEL list doesn’t include all the ballistic-rated safety glasses on the market. Sometimes you just need to see the manufacturer’s product description, there you will find if the safety glasses are military Ballistic approved or not.

The History of Military Ballistic Rated Safety Glasses

The history of ballistic safety glasses has started before World War I when P. Johnson invented eye protectors. His design was using two layers of semi-opaque cloth to protect the eyes by reducing the light intensity, but the design wasn’t providing impact protection. The idea was unsuccessful due to expense, poor quality, and lack of demand.

In 1910 Edouard Benedictus, a French chemist obtained both French and British patents for the manufacturing of laminated safety glass. He obtained a US patent in 1914. During World War I, his laminated glass was used to make small, round lenses in gas masks and for windshields in military motor vehicles and aircraft.

In 1960 the U.S. government-sponsored experiments tested the ballistic performance of various plastics and glass for potential use in eyewear. After many experiments polycarbonate became the standard material used for military ballistic eyewear.

The standards have been updated many times from that year to our current year, but the military still uses a similar test for its standards and all manufacturers still use polycarbonate to produce ballistic safety glasses.

What’s The Difference Between Civilian (ANSI Z87) and Military (MIL-PRF-31013) Safety Glasses Standards?

ANSI Z87 is the standard for civilian safety glasses. This standard requires the manufacturer to provide a high impact, high mass, dust, and Liquid Splash protection. On the other hand, the military standards MIL-PRF-31013 require all that plus the ballistic tests. 

ANSI Z87 Civilian Standards

ANSI Z87 standards are built to protect workers from hazards that can occur in the workplace. The standard requires manufacturers to test their safety glasses for:

  • High Impact 
  • High Mass 
  • Dust 
  • Liquid Splash

If the safety glasses exceed all the tests then they can be marked as Z87+ for impact-rated. But they are not military-grade or ballistic-rated.

MIL-PRF-31013 Military Standards

The military standards (MIL-PRF-31013) require more strength and durability from manufacturers. In other, for safety glasses to be ballistic-rated they should exceed these tests.

  1. First, it must be ANSI Z87+ approved, so it can protect the soldier from high impact, high mass, dust, Liquid Splash.
  2. They should withstand a 0.15 caliber, 5.8 grain, T37 shaped projectile at a velocity of 640 to 660 feet per second (approximately 3.8 mm 0.376 g at a velocity of 195 – 201 m/s).
  3. They should offer optical clarity, protection from UV rays, fit, chemical resistance, and environmental stability so the properties won’t be changed by exposure to a range of temperatures or levels of humidity.

If the safety glasses lenses didn’t crack and the frame is still in good condition after the tests, this means these safety glasses are ballistic-rated. 

So the only difference between Civilian and military safety glasses is the ballistic capability.

Frequently Asked Questions About Military Ballistic Safety Glasses

Are ballistic-rated safety glasses bulletproof?

No ballistic safety glasses are not bulletproof, but they will protect your eyes from debris and fragments from an IED or any bomb or a wall that you use as cover that got hit by a bullet and shatter.

How Ballistic-rated Safety Glasses Are Made?

Ballistic-rated safety glasses are made with Polycarbonate plastics that come with 3mm thickness, which make the lenses strong and can withstand fragments and protect the soldier’s eyes during combat or training.

Do Ballistic Safety Glasses Come With Prescription Lenses?

yes, manufacturers use RX insert to insert your perspective lenses under the ballistic lenses on your safety glasses so they offer the ballistic capability and crystal clear vision.

Where to Find Military-Rated Ballistic Safety Glasses?

Military-rated safety glasses are available online, those four online stores are the most reputable in the market.

  • Safety Glasses Usa
  • Safety Gear Pro
  • Sport Rx
  • Rx Safety

Are Ballistic Safety Glasses Required for Shooting?

No, if you do shooting as a sport only ANSI Z87+ approved safety glasses will protect you properly, ballistic-rated safety glasses are more for battlefield settings or if you think that you are in an environment where you need high-impact eyewear then yes you can use them.


Ballistic-rated safety glasses are required for soldiers and for people who work in hazardous areas, so investing in one can save your precious eyesight from any injuries. To make sure your safety glasses are Ballistic rated and MIL-PRF-31013 approved is to check the product description or check the APEL list.

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