|Pilla Hawk 75% SO LTM|
As we were discussing eye protection and hunting I pondered the benefits of performance eye protection, big-game hunting, and the advantages of merging the two again at some level in my life. Since I have already partially messed up my hearing, at least I had not yet destroyed my vision from an unforeseen hunting accident. Enhancement of your vision while hunting is a realized benefit as well.
Pat asked me if I would consider evaluating a pair of Pilla glasses and I agreed to give him my honest feedback primarily related to double rifle range shooting and field performance while hunting dangerous game. The agreement was that good or bad I would share my experience and he would be getting the glasses back after I gave them a try. No free glasses in exchange for positive feedback. By the way, that scenario was in no way suggested or implied by Pat. He was looking for an honest opinion and constructive criticism. The initial model I parted with to review was the Pilla Hawk and two lenses.
|Pilla Panther Standard HDX 55% LTM|
The Pilla Panther has a frame that securely attaches the lens with three snaps just like the Hawk frame as previously noted. The Panther was designed in part to eliminate frame movement for those who find it to be a problem. These frames have a wrap around ear piece that is completely made from rubber to eliminate the typical ear pain often associated with metal around the ear wraps (Pilla Panther Link) .
They also have an adjustable temple piece to fine tune the length to the specific shooter. I have used shooting glasses previously with metal around the ear wraps and have found them to be uncomfortable at the back of the ear. I was curious to see if the rubber ear wrap made any difference in comfort for me. As a side note, the Panther Pro frame is also prescription insert compatible.
I wanted to try a few additional lenses with the Panther Frame. I retained the Standard HD 75% SO (sport orange) LTM from the Hawk frame and added two additional lenses from the Standard HDX line for comparison. In these lenses I chose the Standard 55 HDX and 40 HDX. These two HDX lenses are visibly browner in color than the Standard HD 75% SO I had tested previously. I also selected a Max Orange HDX 65% LTM clay target lens for slightly personal reasons. I wanted to see how they worked on clay targets.
So to summarize lenses, the original lenses tested were from the Standard HD line (25% SB LTM and 75% SO LTM); the two new lenses I added were from the Standard HDX line plus a third lens from the Max Orange HDX line. Before Pat and I parted ways, he promised to order me an additional fourth lens from the Max Orange HDX line. The lens I was interested in receiving is the Max Orange HDX 80% LTM. This is a lens developed as a target lens for excessive low light and for use in heavily tree covered areas. I was interested in how this might perform for hunting in tree cover and tough light. More on this lens later when it arrives.
|Shooting Skeet with the Max Orange HDX 65% LTM|
My second session of double rifle shooting gave me a chance to try out the Standard HDX lenses in 55 and 40% light transmission values. What I noticed with both of the Standard HDX lenses is excellent clarity, excellent contrast, and a very nicely balanced color interpretation. For my eyes, these would both be an excellent lens line choice for hunting. My white bead front sight still stood out as well. These lenses were developed to work nicely for a sportsman that would use his glasses for hunting and on the range. The yellow, orange, and red spectrum is slightly boosted to assist with clay targets but not to the level of the Max Orange series of lenses.
The Standard HDX lenses come with some additional benefits over the Standard HD lenses I initially tested. These include Dielectric Flashing, Hydrolio Coating, and Anti-Reflective Coating (5 layers). These are each applied through a vacuum coating process and will never wear off the lens.
The Dielectric Flashing is a multi-layer coating to improve light transmission and reduce glare. This coating also produces a brighter sight picture that enhances high contrast and color. I found this to be evident.
The Hydrolio Coating is a feature that is exclusive to Pilla Performance Eyewear. This coating is applied to the front side of the lens. It helps to sheet water off of the lens in adverse weather, reduces finger print smudges, and provides a hard coating to provide scratch resistance and to facilitate easier cleaning.
I was not able to test the lenses in the rain but I did have my assistant splash water on them from time to time from a bottle of water I had with me. They do in fact sheet water extremely well allowing you to see through the lens easily. I found that to remove any remaining trace of a water streak required nothing more than simply blowing your breath across the lens and it is clear and dry without needing to wipe off the lens.
The HDX Anti-Reflective Coating is used to prevent stray light from negatively affecting your vision from both the front and back lens surface. Being concerned about reflective light while hunting, I had an assistant take the HDX lens and Standard lens down range from me to create a flash from the Sun. Both lenses were held on the same plane so they would reflect in the same way simultaneously. What I easily noticed is the HDX lens had a smaller amount of flash and the pattern of flash when viewing the lenses up close was also much smaller and less flared.
It was just a short few days later when I received word from Pat that the Max Orange 80 lens had arrived. We met quickly to exchange a word or two and I was off with the lens. I decided to take them with me on an evening training hike to try them in a heavy tree canopy and fading light. I decided on a mountain trail I hike routinely. It is rather steep and I thought that would be a good test to see how they handle heavy sweating as well. I encountered no fogging issues of any kind during my 4 mile hike.
As my hike continued on it became late evening and the trail still seemed full of good light. I lifted off the glasses and was shocked to see how flat the light truly was and how little light was actually available. It was at that time in which we are all familiar with when the light fades and flattens after sunset and just before total dark. It’s during this time of the day that depth of field seems to almost vanish. The Max Orange 80 lens was noticeably helping to contrast and provide color enhancement in those areas that would otherwise be extremely difficult to see. I was extremely pleased with their performance.
I think the Max Orange 80 would likely be an excellent lens for early morning, early evening, and dense or heavily shaded areas. I headed out to shoot the lens the next day and found them to perform every bit as good as the Standard HDX 55 and 40% lenses I tested earlier. I got into areas of dense foliage and cover to shoot and they really performed exceptionally well in these poor light and heavy shadowed areas.
After having spent a great deal of time in the Panther frames I have found the adjustable temple piece and around the ear wraps to be great. They have not created any uncomfortable areas at the back of the ear. The rubber ear wrap seems to help greatly with overall comfort.
|Pilla Case: Four Lens Slots Plus a Section for Frame with Lens Installed|
The Pilla lenses I have tested were housed in a very nice zippered Pilla protective case. The inside is fitted with a dense foam liner that contains cut-outs for four lenses and a frame fitted with a lens. There is plenty of room to house lens cloths and micro-fiber glass cases as well.
My experience so far with the Pilla glasses has been an enjoyable learning experience. They seem to offer a real advantage that can easily be seen. Of the lenses I have tried, my favorite for double rifle range shooting in the field are the Standard HDX 55%, Standard HDX 40%, and the Max Orange 80%. The Max Orange 65% was of course a treat on the skeet field.
Well I made it back home from Tanzania in one piece after several exciting encounters while we were hunting dangerous game. These included a very close call with an elephant, a 90 minute tracking job in the long grass for a buffalo, an exciting encounter with a hippo on dry ground, and a showdown with a Cape buffalo at 10 paces just to name a few of the highlights!
Finally, when seated on top of the vehicle in the very bright sun a lens with less light transmission was my preference. While bouncing through the bush over roadless country looking for game I preferred using the 40 HDX lens. So there you have it. These are what worked well for my eyes.
Remember, we are all different with regard to light sensitivity so you may find that you prefer going to the higher or lower light transmission side of things for your preferred range of comfort and to maximize your visions performance.
Link to Pilla Shooting Sports Brochure