The patient on the stretcher has a clearly bleeding wound on his upper right leg. You know you need to get a visual, so you reach for your trauma shears, but your partner stops you: “Take my Raptors—those cheap things couldn’t cut paper.” You shrug and borrow his, but as you start cutting your patient’s pants, you wonder, is there really a difference between your partner’s expensive shears and the generic ones?
We wondered too, so we gathered five different types of shears—Leatherman Raptors, North American Rescue Trauma Shears, xShears, Ripshears, and standard generic shears—and tested them for performance, comfort, and durability with cuts on a t-shirt, pair of jeans, cardboard box, and penny. Our testers also rated the comfort of the shears in their hand while cutting and summed up the pros and cons of each product.
Price: Free (but similar shears can be found for $5–$6 online)
Weight: 1.9 oz.
Length: 7.5 inches
Width: 3.5 inches
Color: Black handle, stainless blades
Material: Stainless steel
Features: Rounded tip, wire cutter in handle
Performance: The generic shears were average across the board. They had no problem with the t-shirt but struggled with the jeans, cardboard, and penny.
Durability: Minor nicks to the steel after cutting the penny.
Coolness: Like every other pair of shears. Meh.
Pros: Cheap, and you won’t get too upset if you lose them.
Cons: Only shears and average in every way.
They’re all pretty good shears. They all cut. If you want something inexpensive to handle day-to-day cutting, pick up a pair of the generic shears in your local EMS convention’s exhibit hall or buy a pair from North American Rescue if you like the built-in oxygen wrench. If you want great cutting ability and don’t need fancy features, invest in the xShears. And if you’re the EMS provider who wants the Swiss army knife of shears, get a nice pair of Ripshears or the more expensive Raptors.
At the end of the day, shears should help you “cut to the heart of the matter” and do your job.
Disclosure: Free evaluation copies were provided to the authors by Ripshears, xShears, and North American Rescue.
Barry A. Bachenheimer, EdD, FF/EMT, is a frequent contributor to EMS World. He is a career educator and university professor, as well as a firefighter and member of the technical-rescue team with the Roseland (N.J.) Fire Department and an EMT with the South Orange (N.J.) Rescue Squad. He is also co-owner of Jump Bag Training Company, LLC. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lea Bachenheimer, EMR, is a cadet with the South Orange (N.J.) Rescue Squad.