Shear me out…

If you work or study in the field of paramedicine, nursing or first aid like myself, you want to carry good gear that’s practical, good quality but also affordable, especially for my university students reading along. However, there comes a time where you need to make a decision – Do I get something cheap and practical but not of good quality or an expensive product and good quality but I have to survive on 2 minute noodles for a fortnight? You can’t have both.

There is a luxury however in the field of emergency medicine. Often times, you have access to products that do a good enough job that you often don’t need to spend any money at all, or, a minor investment to get a product that will get you by until such a time as you can afford a better product. This couldn’t be more evident with stethoscopes and shears, the latter our focus in this review.

I will take a look at some different shears on the market, their practicability, cost and quality and offer the most unbiased opinion I possibly can. Just to be transparent, I have purchased all of the shears you are about to read about with my own money, no discounts, mates rates or freebies here.


The basic, cheap, trauma shear – Cost $2-10 AUD

It doesn’t get much more basic than the simple set of trauma shears. These shears will set you back a small cheeseburger meal from McDonalds and will blunt after a couple of uses. These are a handy and cheap alternative if you’re not keen to invest much into shears but remain, at an absolute minimum, a must carry if you ever intend to be able to cut a patients clothes/shoes/bandages etc off. These shears will show themselves in most basic first aid trauma kits and are generally made of cheap plastic handles and stainless steel blades with a rounded tip at both blade ends to prevent accidental slicing of ones clothes pocket and allow you to cut along patient’s clothing without harm to the patients skin beneath. Don’t expect much of these shears, they are a tool that can get the job done but may not do that job very well compared to other shears within this list.




Approximately $2.00 AUD per shear and can be purchased in bulk packs online.

Require no maintenance and can be disposed of after each shift


Cheap components means they aren’t going to withstand much before breaking or bending

Blades will dull very quickly

Do not cut as effectively as higher quality alternatives


The middle of the pack – XShears – Cost ~$50 – $60 AUD

XShear is quite a new product to the world of first aid. Designed by Wes Brubaker (Registered Flight Nurse and Paramedic based in Michigan), he decided to do something about disposable shears (as mentioned at the top of our list). He sought out a world class designer and manufacturer and provided the world of EMS with a sleek, strong and superb set of trauma shears. They are so confident in their product over at that they even offer a 90 day return guarantee no questions asked. These shears are made of hardened stainless steel blades that are twice as thick as most on the market shears. The blades themselves are coated in black titanium which is said to increase durability (and makes them look oh so very sleek).

These shears feel really solid and durable in the hands and are definitely the preferred to trauma shear by us. The handle feels solid but ergonomic and the blades slice through clothing with minimal effort. Being able to place more strain and effort through the shears when cutting through something tough like leather is much easier with a sturdy set of these XShears. Definitely worth the investment if you want a solid product that will last and maintains a sleek design. The only downfall will be for those who like a breakdown/foldable style shear like Leatherman’s Raptor Shears but the XShears do come with a holster for mounting onto your belt or rig.


These feel as sturdy as raptor shears without the awkward design

Sleek black design looks good and the titanium coating has a practical application

They are easy to use and will cut through almost all materials you will face with ease


You get what you pay for. High quality means high price

These shears are heavy due to the materials and will weigh down a pocket

Do not fold-up

Require a little maintenance and oiling to ensure long-life. 

Visit XShear to purchase your own pair


The high roller – Leatherman Raptor Shears – Cost $130 – $200 AUD

Raptor shears are quite synonymous with paramedics. They are incredibly recognizable for their very direct design. You can view the quality of Leatherman products just by glancing at them and can appreciate a product that’s specifically designed for emergency medical services worldwide by one of the most (if not THE) manufacturer of world class multi-tools. Raptor shears have existed for quite some time and have been the go-to product for trauma shears. The biggest and most obvious advantage to these shears is also one of the reasons many people either love raptors shears or despise them, is the fact they fold up into a small product that fits comfortably in ones hand or easily into a pocket but this comes at a disadvantage as this technology adds weight to the product.

Raptor shears wouldn’t be a true Leatherman product without some additional tools in the product. In this instance, an oxygen tool for adjusting regulators and a seat belt cutter as well as a small pin hole for attaching a keyring, a ring cutter and finally a carbide glass breaking tool for windows. I can’t say I’ve ever used any of the other tools outside of the blades themselves but they are there if you ever need them in a pinch.

The design of Leatherman’s Raptor shears is of the highest quality. They feel very weighty in the hand and allow for good cutting ability on even the most durable of materials, much like the Xshears. These shears do not in any way feel like they would break under pressure and can take a beating. My personal pair are well over 6 years old and still feel exactly the same, even without much maintenance. For best results however, a little oil in the moving parts to keep the metal-on-metal parts smooth will ensure the shears feel smooth whenever you need them.

If you want to strip down the shears, they do require torx screws which may not be something you keep in your toolbox but it’s unlikely you’ll need to go that far for any maintenance. Leatherman has quite a reputation for service to their customers with many able to send products back to Leatherman for replacement or repair without even providing proof of purchase so if you ever required service post purchase, you’re in good hands.



Strong design makes for a superior product

Are probably the most popular quality trauma shear in use within nursing an EMS

Fold up into a small package. Fit comfortably into Leatherman belt holster

Good customer service


Expensive and not warranted for students

Heavy and long coming in at 164g and 12.7cm unfolded

Require a little maintenance and oiling to ensure long-life. 

Visit Leatherman to purchase your own pair