Randolph Engineering Aviator Sunglasses

Randolph Engineering – Aviators at their Best

A couple of months ago, we were provided with a pair of sunglasses by Randolph Engineering, the Massachusetts-based manufacturer of shooting eyewear and sunglasses. Since that happened to occur just prior to winter in Minnesota, it took us a short while to thoroughly review them.

Now, after testing the glasses in the mountains of Colorado, everyday use at home, as well as in the sun of Arizona, we want to present you to the Sportsman sunglasses from Randolph Engineering. First, we will take a glimpse at the history of this company, then describe and analyze the sunglasses before we provide you with our conclusion

History of Randolph Engineering

Randolph Engineering Maintenance Kit

Randolph Engineering Maintenance Kit

Originally, the company was established 1972 by Jan Waszkiewicz & Stanley Zaleski. Both were engineers, and so it hardly surprises that they chose to incorporate their profession into their company name. Initially, Randolph Engineering served the eyewear industry by producing machines as well as optical tools. Later, they extended their portfolio to eyewear.

One decade after the company entered the optical trade, RE was able to negotiate a supplier contract with the U.S. Department of Defense. Ever since, they have provided eyewear for many government agencies and soldiers, ranging from sunglasses for air force pilots to eyewear for submarine staff.

In the mid nineties, RE decided to offer a commercial line of eyewear, including sunglasses, prescription frames and shooting eyewear.

Sportsman Sunglasses – Made-to-Order

Randolph Engineering Sportsman Sunglasses

Randolph Engineering Sportsman Sunglasses

We received the RE Sportsman model, which is basically a pair of aviator sunglasses with a twist. First of all I should mention that Randolph Engineering sunglasses are Made-to-Order.

Find The Right frame In The Correct Size

This means that you can pick between one out of nine basic frame styles. Once you determined what look is best for you, it is time to pick one of the numerous sizes. Not all heads are created equal, and so the Sportsman frame is available in 3 different sizes: 52mm (small), 57mm (medium), and 61mm (large). In order to determine the right size, you have to measure your face in front of a mirror with a ruler from temple to temple. With that measurement, RE will be able to tell you what frames you need. Alternatively, you can visit your optometrist.

Afterwards, it is time to pick a frame color. I decided on gold but I could have gotten matte black, matte chrome, bright chrome or gun metal instead.

Temples & Polarized Lenses

Depending on the length of your head, you can now choose between 4 different temple lengths and 3 temple designs. I preferred the classic skull temples over the cable or bayonet style.

Last, but not least, you have to settle on some lenses. While you can choose between 8 lenses, including mineral glass lenses, polycarbonate lenses, and so forth, I strongly recommend you pick between either the grey or tan polarized lenses because these noticeably reduce glare from reflective surfaces such as snow or water, and hence provide better vision. Polarization basically means that the lens filters horizontal, polarized light waves which are hard on the human eye. Think of it as tiny blinds that filter unpleasant light but nothing else.

Polarized vs non-polarized lenses

We decided to go with the polarized lenses in tan and they are truly magnificent. The colors are vivid and the lack of glare is amazing, which became especially visible when I switched my sunglasses and compared them to other ones including another famous aviator brand. Even compared to other polarized sunglasses, I preferred the Sportsman. The nose pads are made of soft silicone and my glasses did not move around on my nose, even during a warm hike in an Sedona, Arizona canyon.

Quality & Build

Randolph Engineering Sportsman Polarized Lenses

Randolph Engineering Sportsman Polarized Lenses

The weight of my glasses is 36.7g, which is approximately 1.3 ounces, and hence, rather average. Yet, they feel very sturdy. My lenses do not have any scratches after prolonged wear, but I am usually rather careful. The workmanship seems to be great all over as nothing is squeaky or loose. Also, the sunglasses come with a hard case, micro fiber polish cloth and a maintenance kit, which consists of replacement screws, a jewellers screwdriver, as well as a pair of nose pads.

The sunglasses come with a general warranty of 1 year on all parts except scratched lenses. Moreover, RE provides a lifetime warranty (on the product, not the owner) on the frame. So, in case any solder joint breaks, they will either replace or fix it.

In case you still manage to damage your glasses, for example scratch or break the lenses, RE offers replacement parts for almost their entire range of products.

A regular made-to-order pair of Sportsman sunglasses costs $139. Our model had the highly recommended polarized lenses which cost an extra $40. All sunglasses may be purchased online. There, you can also find a local vendor list.

Conclusion

While I have to admit that I do not find most of their frame styles to be particularly appealing to my tastes, I can wholeheartedly recommend their Sportsman model. While the price is not low, a customized, made-to-order pair of sunglasses with a lifetime frame warranty stands up as a real value against typically high competitor prices and fleeting designer styles. In case you are on the hunt for a pair of high quality, classic aviators, you should look no further than the Randolph Engineering Sportsman. It is a timeless model sure to last in an increasingly disposable market.

4 replies
  1. Robert Anderson says:

    RE does indeed make the bet sunglasses in the world – especially the Sportsman model.

    Unfortunately this great company refuses…yes refuses to hip a $235 pair of glasses to my safe, secure, inside the US Post Office Box…but instead offers to drop them off with what ever neighbor is available when the UPS truck comes by my apartment.

    No Customer Service at all.

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