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Randolph Engineering vs American Optical: Battle Of The Iconic Aviators 2018

I’m not gentle with my gear. Most stuff never last very long.

When I am not traveling or lifting weights, I do boxing, hiking, jogging or crazy stuff like hitchhiking in Colombia. I love my active life but most of my belongings does not. The wear and tear is just too much for my lower quality gear.

But there’s a silver lining. I’ve become very good with finding affordable yet high quality gear. If the stuff can survive me, it will be good enough for 99% of the general population!

Now let’s talk about sunglasses.

I cant remember how many pair I’ve destroyed, but it’s probably close to 20. Not even known quality brands like RayBan or Oakley have escaped my destructive hands. But for the last 3 years I have only owned two pairs:  Randolph Engineering Aviators and American Optical Original Pilots.

I’m happy with both of them and at first glance they look almost identical. But each have their own strength and weaknesses and I believe every prospective buyer need to be aware of them. Get ready for the battle between two American icons: Randolph Engineering vs American Optical.

Let’s go!

Table: Summary Randolph Engineering vs American Optical

ImageNamePriceWarrantyMy Rating
Randolph Engineering Aviators $$$Lifetime
American Optical Original Pilots$$1 Year


Randolph offers lifetime warranty. I don’t know many other brands that offers this so I was initially skeptical. But Randolph is not joking around with their lifetime warranty. I know because I used it once.

About one year after my purchase, the rubber tip of the temple fell off and I couldn’t locate it. I emailed Randolph what they could do about it. The customer service rep was very friendly and said they would mail me a complete new temple. No questions asked and everything was going to be covered under warranty! Wow.

This is how you create lifelong customers!

I never had to use the warranty for my American Optical Original Pilots, but according to their webpage they only offer one year of warranty. That is not good enough.

Randolph is a clear winner in the first Randolph Engineering vs American Optical category.


I think we all agree. Sunglasses is not only for protection against the sun. You also want to look cool.

Everyone have their own personal favorite, but my friends told me aviators suits me best. And my Randolph Aviators looks really cool. It’s the original iconic aviator look. One thing that stands out is the lens. It looks classy, sturdy and have some weight. You can really see and feel it’s made of glass and not cheap plastic.

To add to the coolness factor, Randolph has also become the preferred choice for many Hollywood actors.

I also like the look of my American Optical. The style between the two are similar with the frame being almost identical. But there’s one difference. I think the lens looks a bit cheaper on my American Optical compared to the sturdy glass on my Randolph Aviator. Maybe not a big deal but I prefer the glass on my Randolph’s.

Randolph is a slight winner in the style category due to the lens glass.


Except from the rubber tip that fell off, I’ve had no further issues with my Randolph’s. After three years of heavy use the lens have zero scratches. The nose pads are firmly attached and the hinge screws have never fallen out. Amazing American workmanship!

I’ve not had a lot of issues with my American Optical either, but the hinges have caused me some headache. Sometimes the screws loosen and even falls out. This is not a big deal but nevertheless worth mentioning.

Randolph is a slight winner due to the hinge issues I had on my American Optical.


It’s not a huge difference between the two when it comes to comfort. Both sunglasses sits very comfortable on my face. Neither is too tight nor too loose. But there are a few noteworthy differences. First the nose pads on my Randolph’s feels more comfortable. Second is the temples feels less flimsy. The latter may be due to the hinge issue I described above.

Almost a draw but Randolph is a slight winner due to the better designed nose pads and temples.


In the last battle between Randolph Engineering vs American Optical I will talk about the price. This is the only real disadvantage of Randolph because they are more expensive than American Optical. Both glasses comes with stylish carrying cases and basic repair kits.

American Optical is the winner in the price category.

Andy’s Verdict

The battle of Randolph Engineering vs American Optical is over. For me Randolph Engineering Aviators are a clear winner. Of all the sunglasses I’ve owned they look most stylish, are most comfortable and have the highest quality. They almost seem indestructible. In addition they have an outstanding lifetime warranty that few can match. The only negative is the slightly higher price but I have no issue paying a bit more for gear that will last many years.

American Optical Original Pilots are also a great pair of glasses. They could be an option for those that don’t like spending too much on sunglasses.

If you want to try my Randolph Engineering Aviators you can buy them here.

If you want to try my American Optical Original Pilots you can buy them here.

Did you like reading my article about Randolph Engineering vs American Optical?

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Randolph Engineering vs American Optical: Battle Of The Iconic Aviators 2018


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