The Best New Gear from SHOT Show 2019

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It’s the start of the new year and an exciting time for gear enthusiasts. That’s because the biggest names in the EDC industry are starting to reveal what’s to come in 2019. It happened this past week at this year’s SHOT Show, the largest annual trade show for the tactical, hunting, and outdoor industries. We made a quick trip out to the show to focus on new, EDC-specific releases from your favorite brands. In this round-up, we’ll be showcasing a few of the standouts from each gear category. Check out some of our favorites from the latest and greatest knives, multi-tools, flashlights, and more from SHOT Show 2019.

Best Multi-tool: Leatherman Free Series

I know what you’re thinking: that’s a Leatherman?! It came as a big surprise to me, too. Leatherman underwent a huge overhaul with their new Free series, a set of multi-functional tools and knives over 5 years in the making. They look unlike the Leatherman tools you might’ve been EDCing for a decade or two—they’re fresh, modern, and admittedly unfamiliar at first. But once you start to handle the tools, it feels decidedly like a Leatherman, but evolved. The Free series includes two pliers-based tools reminiscent of a Wave, the P2 and P4 (top right and middle). Then there’s the T2 and T4 (left and bottom), which lack the butterfly-style design but keep handy EDC implements. Last are the knife-based tools similar to the Crater series in the K2 and K4, featuring a dedicated folding blade with a few flip-out tools built into the handle itself.

To give you an idea of the major improvements found in these tools, let’s talk about the P4. First, the two handles are held closed by magnets. Once you break that magnetic force, the handles swing smoothly and freely, giving it a balisong-type deployment. The deployment on the rest of the implements has been improved significantly as well—no fingernails needed! You can easily deploy the new tools by rolling your thumb along a catch, which cascades them out for you to select. The locks are intuitive, your fingers don’t get in the way of the knife when closing, the pliers never wear out or loosen over time, and so on.

This series marks an exciting display of innovation from Leatherman, a company who could have rested on their laurels and heritage but didn’t. Now, they’re blazing a frontier for the next generation of multi-tools. Stay tuned for more of the Free series later this spring.

Best New EDC Knife: SOG Terminus XR G10 Crimson

When it comes to best bang-for-your-buck EDC knives, SOG used to be part of the conversation with their overtly tactical-looking Flash and more subdued Twitch knives. Both of which were assisted knives however, which was a dealbreaker for a lot of EDCers. The rest of SOG’s knife lineup skewed towards the tactical side of things anyway, which was another issue for EDCers looking for a more conservative knife. With the Terminus XR G10, SOG has earned their spot back in the conversation for best all-around EDC knife in its class and price range.

SOG debuted the original Terminus as a two-handed slipjoint, and later released a premium carbon fiber version sporting SOG’s new ambidextrous XR lock. It bears resemblance to another popular ambidextrous lock mechanism and from my brief time handling the knife works just as well. The newest Terminus XR now comes in a lightweight, rugged G10 in green and my personal favorite, Crimson. The G10 variant also brings the price down from the carbon fiber version down to an MSRP of $55.95 while offering improved grip and overall durability, which is why I think it’ll be the better pick for most EDCers. The blade pairs its utilitarian geometry with a corrosion-resistant, high-hardness Carpenter CTS BDZ1 steel so you can really put it to hard use. Last but certainly not least, it’s worth mentioning the Terminus XR G10 can be deployed quickly and easily three different ways! You can do it by flicking the thumbstud, flipping a rear flipper tab, or disengaging the XR lock and whipping the blade out that way too. Overall, the Terminus XR looks like a solid knife for the price with a utilitarian form, showcasing some tasteful restraint in SOG’s usual tactical design language.

Check It Out (CF Version)

Best Knife Design: Kershaw 5500 Collateral

If there’s one thing Kershaw does best, it’s bringing high-end design to more affordably priced knives. Their new 2019 line-up is full of unique designs, with everything from tiny autos to gent’s knives to karambits and stilettos. I especially appreciated seeing hallmark features from designers tapped for Zero Tolerance knives making their way to more accessible Kershaw knives. In 2017, the ZT 0055 turned heads with its spring-loaded flipper tab and futuristic lines from Gus T Cecchini of GTC Knives. The upcoming 5500 Collateral will debut with that spring-loaded tab, along with more futuristic contours and carbon accents to do its 3.25″ clip point blade justice.

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Best Overall Bag: 5.11 Tactical LV Series

It’s fair to say we’re seeing more and more discreet tactical bags, which I think is a win-win. You get tactical features and performance if you need them without drawing unwanted attention from an overly aggressive-looking design. 5.11 Tactical has taken this approach in a few of their earlier bags like the COVRT and DART, but their new LV (Low Vis) takes things to the next level. The collection is composed of a range of bags depending on the format and capacity you need: a backpack, smaller cross-body/waist bag, messenger-sized sling, and more. I especially liked the LV18 backpack (pictured above) and the LV6 waist bag (anchored to the bottom of the LV18). 

The LV series’ design language emphasizes privacy and discretion inside and out. For example, the backpack’s main compartment is accessible from the back of the bag so only you can see its contents. Even the tiny logo tabs throughout the bag can be tucked away into a hidden compartment for a truly minimal look. Best of all, these bags still feature robust internal organization and modularity you’d expect from 5.11 Tactical — you just won’t be able to see it all from the outside. The LV6 comes as a welcome option for EDCers who prefer the ease of access and smaller footprint of cross-body bags heading into 2019 too. It’s more capable than most minimalist cross-body bags, complete with CCW compatibility as well. 

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Best New EDC Flashlight: Streamlight Protac 90

There weren’t too many EDC-focused flashlights for civilians at the show this year, but that isn’t to say Streamlight’s new right-angled light isn’t worthy of some praise. Right angled lights open up tons of new use cases as a work or tasklight with their ability to flex between flashlight duty or as a hands-free option. Pair that versatility with Streamlight’s practically bombproof construction and you’ve got a light on your hands (or shirt pocket, or bag strap) that can handle anything you throw at it. It’s conveniently sized to accommodate both CR123 batteries and AA-sized cells too, while maxing out at 300 lumens on its High mode.

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Most Innovative Flashlight: Nitecore TUP

Nitecore was never a brand to shy away from experimentation, pushing the limits on both ends of the spectrum with insanely bright yet tiny keychain lights like the TIP and TINI, and even more insanely bright yet somehow fairly tiny searchlights like the Tiny Monster series and Concept 2. The TUP is sort of a mash-up of those boxy searchlight proportions and high output with the portability and high-tech features of Nitecore’s keychain lights. It reaches a 1000 lumen max output and sports a unique OLED screen to display the light’s “vitals” all in a form factor that fits in your palm and on your keychain.

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Stay tuned next week for more of our favorite gear we saw at SHOT Show 2019!

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