Finally — a set of eyepro that doesn’t render your over-the-ear hearing protection useless. ESS is about to release a modified version of the Crossbow eyeshield frame called the Suppressor. The Crossbow Suppressor won’t replace the Crossbow, but will be sold alone and along with it in a tactical kit. The difference between the CB and the CBS is the temple arms. The CBS arms are thinner, more flexible, shorter and have a dogleg that makes the arm ride up against your sideburns, resulting in a blessedly small profile to pass under your bang-bang earmuffs.
Hit the jump for a full (exclusive) review and enough photos to make you think you’re holding the shades in your hand.
The thinner arm does two things: It creates a smaller profile that passes through the earcup while remaining supple enough to follow the contour of your head without pressing back on the earcup. Both of these things work to provide a great seal for better hearing protection and comfort on the range and in the field.
We used a pair for a range day and for a few days out in the field at Fort Polk recently and can say it’s no hype. They work. Our Peltors rode over them without issue. At the end of the day there was no temple-ache. As it got dark, changing from gray to clear lens was painless. The rotating catch (called DEDBOLT) on the bridge snaps open and releases the middle of the lens. Pull the lens down and it’s out. Shove the outboard edges of the incoming lens into the temple and rotate it up till it snaps then lock the DEDBOLT catch down and roll on. It’s up their with Smith’s PivLock Aegis as the easiest lens swap mechanism we’ve seen on an eyeshield. The Pivlock is a hair easier, but DEDBOLT lens can be switched out a little faster since there’s only one catch and you don’t have to change your grip.
In everyday use, the CBS arms don’t hold the eyewear as securely as the standard arms because they don’t have the rubber on the arms to keep them from sliding off. ESS includes a retaining strap that snaps into the ends of the arms and works perfectly when the CBS are worn without Peltors. The strap does get under the helmet though, and it did occasionally catch and pull the short hairs on the back of the neck. But overall, it works if you want to forgo the standard Crossbow arms.
In the short-term, we had no fogging issues, nor did we expect any since the lens is anti-fog treated. As the coating wears off, we expect the lack of a vent at the top of the frame will cause a little heat/moisture build up and lead to some fogging, but the rounded shape of the frame top should allow some air movement if they aren’t worn pressing up tightly against your brow. YMMV.
A word on the coating. We talked to ESS about their coating system and found out they are using a new technology that allows them to apply a dedicated anti-fog coating on one side of the lens and a different anti-scratch coating on the outside. They tell us the traditional method is to dip the whole lens in a bath of chemicals that apply both solutions at once. The result is a cocktail that dilutes the effectiveness of each solution when compared to a discrete application. ESS says they’ve got a new production setup that allows them apply a dedicated anti-fog coating to the inside and a completely different scratch resistant coating on the outside of the lens and allowing them to overcome the compromise approach applying both coatings at once.
The kit includes two complete sets of eyewear. One Crossbow frame and one Crossbow Suppressor frame, 2 lenses (gray and clear), a retaining strap, a microfiber bag and a semi-hardshell, PALS compatible case. ESS is set to release the kit at AUSA next week with an MSRP $110. The CBS is available alone with a copper lens for $46
GearScout Verdict? Thumbs up, guys. The Crossbow Suppressor brings unmatched comfort, protection and versatility to the tactical end-user. And, it does it while looking good. If we were forced to whine about something, we’ll hold our breath to see if fogging becomes an issue, but that’s par for the course with eyeshields.
As is our custom here at GearScout, we went a little nuts on the pics. So click through for a good look at the soon-to-be-released ESS Crossbow Suppressor.