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Oakley M Frames Through the Ages

By Kirsti Smouse

September 7, 2015

Oakley M Frames Through the Ages

By Kirsti Smouse

September 7, 2015

A History of Oakley M Frame

First introduced in 1989 as the “Mumbo,” the M Frame has long been a staple in the Oakley line-up and will likely endure for years yet to come. But while the frame shape has more or less remained constant, the iconic sunglasses have seen some tweaks through the decades.

The initial release included 3 frame colors (white, black, and neon yellow) and 3 lens styles—the V, 67, and Hybrid. Due to some legal grumblings by US clothing company, Mambo, the Mumbo was changed to the M Frame, the frame’s color selection expanded, and new lens shapes were introduced. Among those was the Strip, Sweep, and Heater in 1991, followed by announcements of the Strike and Slash to come in Fall '91 and Winter '91 respectively. By 1993, the Strip, V, and 67 had all been phased out.

A name change rarely accompanied the changes and updates, so here’s a break-down on what to look for to determine which era of M Frame you own:


Although the Mumbo and M Frame have different names, the only real difference between the two is the packaging they came in. Since they have the same traits, they will be treated as one era.

These are recognizable by:

  • The classic “Oakley” logo on the temples
  • The ear socks extend to almost the very ends of the stems and are flat and boxy
  • Hammered stems (A sharp bend in the stem at the temple)
  • OEM lenses did not have a logo on them
  • The Mumbos and earliest M Frames also had the taller Blade nosepiece, and the lenses were cut differently to accommodate this

*Without packaging, the only way to know if they’re true Mumbos is if they’re neon yellow. Both the white and black continued to the M Frames, but the neon yellow is exclusive to the Mumbo.

M frames of 1993
Please note: Pictured is a Slash lens but the frame is from the 1994 era. "Oakley" would still have been present on a 1993 M Frame, not an "O."

This year saw the edition of the Slash lens, which came in the same basic M Frame, but with a few additions:

  • Foam lining across the brow to help mop up sweat
  • A strap that connects to the frames as earsocks
  • The Slash lens from this era has round perforations lining the top of the lens for venting

October 2017 Update: After further investigation, I cannot confirm using original source material that 1993 was the true release year of the Slash. An Oakley advertisement from 1991 contains an announcement citing the release of the Slash and Strike in late 1991, but I cannot confirm the existence of promotion and sale of either lens until a 1993 advertisement. If anyone has original sources to verify when these lenses were released, please share in the comments.

M frames of 1994

The changes in the 1994 version have prompted what people often refer to as 2nd Gen M Frames. Although quite similar to the earliest version of M Frames, these can be identified by:

  • Classic logo replaced with the raised Oakley elliptical icon (made of molded plastic)
  • Trademarked “HammerFang” stems, which lengthened the stems past the ear socks
  • Reinforced hinges
  • Oakley classic logo etched into the top of the lens, above the nose bridge
M frames of 1996

This year included the introduction of new styles of M Frames — the Baseball, Cricket, Golf, and Tennis lines and the Pro M Frame, as well as changes to the standard M Frame.

  • Hammer stems far less pronounced on the interior of the frame
  • New wing design
  • Ear socks shape is now rounded, designed for better contact with the head
  • Elliptical icon on wing, still molded plastic
  • Pro M Frames also introduced, which feature a unibody and no hinges
  • Straight stems are introduced with the Baseball line-up to accommodate batting helmets
M frames of 1999

Often referred to as the “New” M Frames, these frames look almost identical to the 1996 version with a couple of subtle differences:

  • Wings shaved down slightly
  • Elliptical metal icon accents replace the molded plastic icons
M frames of 2002

Oakley introduced the short-lived Magnesium (Mag) M Frame. Similar to the M Frame in size and general shape, the Mag M Frame is easily identified by:

  • Frame material is magnesium, not plastic
  • Spring hinges
  • Hinges are placed after the icon (hinges on the M Frame are in front of the logo)
  • The front center of the frame features 2 curved vertical lines and two recessed screws
M frames of 2006

In 2006, Oakley introduced another member to the M Frame family named the M Frame 2.0. The intention of this frame was not to replace the popular M Frames, but to provide the military with a standard issue ballistic M Frame that could better accommodate military use. The 2.0 has the same lens shapes as the M Frames, but features obvious design changes:

  • Ridges along the top of the frame
  • Plastic molded icons always the same color as the frame
  • Wide, flat stems without hammers or wings
  • Temple design features 4 ridges
  • Removable center clip
M frames of 2012

After receiving feedback, Oakley tweaked its M Frame 2.0s in 2012 and the result was the M Frame 3.0s which can be identified by:

  • Thinner arms than the 2.0s
  • No earsocks to better accommodate fitting beneath a helmet and communication equipment
  • Smaller temple design than the 2.0s
  • Hinged top center clip
  • Larger lenses for increased coverage
M frames of 2014

The most recent evolution in the M Frame family is the M2. While still staying true to the basic shape of the M Frames, there are obvious differences to set the generations apart:

  • The wings are more angular and can be removed
  • Oakley icon is the same length as previous generation of M Frames vertically, but is shorter horizontally
  • The top of the frame features contoured lines
  • The ear socks now run from the wings to nearly the ends of the stems, with a 1¼ inch break at midpoint on the top of the frame
  • Stem length is nearly an inch shorter
  • Stems feature perforations to accommodate a strap
  • Ridge on the inside of the frame in the center above the nose
  • The hammer stem is now totally gone, with no indentation or curve in the stem

At the time of publication, Oakley only has one lens shape for the M2s, which is certainly a departure from the original concept. While lenses for the 1999 M Frames can fit in the M2s, it's a loose fit.

Do you have any custom or vintage M Frames? We'd love to see what you've got! Feel free to add a picture to the comments below.

Imagery by: Olivia Pedersen

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  • Michael Gladieux

    Great article! I have a set of the '02 Mag M Frames with the Plasma Iridium lenses. They are in near perfect condition, but I would like other lenses. As they are long since discontinued, are you aware of any replacement lenses that will fit these? (Possibly other M Frame lenses?)

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  • Claus Chr. Holmen

    Hi, it's really a great article which gave me an idea just how great the sunglasses are. I have a problem, however. My M-frame is from 1994 and I have three different lenses (Irodium blue, yellow and orange). I broke one of the arms and I have been looking for a replacement, but I have not been able to find it yet. Do you have any idea how to get it? Thanks for any suggestions

  • Robert Masterson

    I have a pair of '94s never wore them much but the nosepiece melted(?) do the newer nose pieces work as replacements?

  • Jimmy Lail

    Kirsti, I have had these for a really long time and looking around to replace the lens, nose piece and ear pieces. Do you have any suggestions for me ? Thank you!

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  • Bryce Karlins

    Kristi, my dad has this pair which a believe are 89s. The hinges are cracking and I'm looking for replacements, but I can't find any arms with this shape. Any help would be great, thanks!

  • Ik Ga Skeeleren

    I have written a review of the Oakley (Pro) M Frames in Dutch on take a look!

  • Michael Moore

    Kirsti, I would love it if you could provide a drawing of the 1996 Pro M frame, as well as the heater lenses out of the frame, and the ones with prescription lenses embedded. Also a closeup side view of the frame tabs on the lenses, and a discussion of why 1999 M frame lenses will not fit the 1996 Pro M frame, which is what I have, with three sets of prescription Heater lenses, with two of the surrounding lenses broken up. I'm looking to replace the lenses and cut them out so I can install my prescriptions.

  • Roger Howard

    Kirsti, I have always been warned not to buy oakleys with a Registered trademark symbol after the Y, but I am seeing what seem to be vintage and legit authentic oakleys for sale on Ebay and they have that symbol on almost all the 2nd gen ones I have seen. Can you confirm this to be an OEM thing or are these nockoffs?

  • Jukka Rinta

    Hi Kirsti, I have a vintage pair of M Frames, the lenses have started to "flake", and in an attempt to find a replacement lenses best suited to playing golf I stumbled across this. Would you be able to assist? Photo included, I think these are from early 2000's...

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  • Adam P

    Hi there! Love the article! I recently picked up a pair of Oakley Mag M-Frames but am unsure how to change the lenses. Are you able to share any tips or tricks?!

  • Trevor Davis


    Obviously, the style of the original SI Ballistic frame is very different from the 2.0 and 3.0 ballistic frames but I'm wondering if they use the same lenses...this is my first question. I'm also wondering if another one of the more standard m frame lenses, such as a heater lens, would fit in this frame (the 1.0 ballistic) without a hole for the clip in these lenses. Can you advise?

  • dolfan

    I was wondering if there were any new lenses I could get? is there a difference between what I have and the M frame strike?

  • sla797

    Hi Kirsti, great post, thanks!

    Who knew my mint vintage Oakleys might be worth something! Behold the 1994 2nd Gen M Frame in Black with original Black Iridium Heater Lens and original case (case is not so mint, but not bad for 23 years old!). Seeing as though I can't get one of your ace Revant lenses for this frame, they may need to go to a good home with a discerning collector. Care to give them a ballpark valuation? (Nose and earpieces are like new.)

  • Ryan Lovelady

    First, thanks for putting this article together, it has been extremely helpful to my quest of finding blue 89 style Mumbos which were stolen from me long ago. Anyway, I obtained some excellent frames and new ear/nose pieces, but the lens has some flaking.

    Could you tell me which models would have a lens that fits into these frames? I would like to start my search and wanted to make sure that I knew exactly what would fit.

    Please see the image of my glasses below.

    Thank you,

  • Jon Rice

    Hi Kirsti,

    Do you know if M2 lenses will fit in the older 1996 Pro M Frames? Also... would you happen to know if lenses for the newer Racing Jackets are compatible with the older hinge-less Racing Jackets? Thanks so much!

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