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Nike Killshot 2 Premium – $105 vs. Killshot 2 Original – $72 ($90)

Pricing Note: As of post time (Sunday 5/5/24) the Killshot 2 O.G. is getting a quiet 20% off. No code needed. Price should happen in cart automatically. Select colors only (navy swoosh, white swoosh, and black uppers with white swoosh.) No word on when this 20% off ends, which is why we expedited the review and posted on Sunday. Who loves ya baby.

About the Author: Adam Terry is a thirtysomething business analyst in the construction industry. He enjoys whiskey, watches, boots/shoes, and working on his dad bod father figure.

Nike recently launched an upgraded version of their ubiquitous #menswear favorite, the Killshot 2 lifestyle sneaker. This upgraded model features “premium” textured leather, embroidered branding on the toe box and heel tab, new “baseball” stitching around the heel counter, and some leather to line the rear half of the interior. Nike says these changes add a bit of depth and durability, but are these changes worth the small difference in price above the standard Killshot 2 model that we know and love?

Nike Killshot vs Killshot Premium top side by side

Killshot 2 Original on the left, Premium version on the right.
Immediately noticeable differences are the Premium getting a brown leather lining
and a red embroidered swoosh on the toe box

The Adam Review Scale of Excellence (A.R.S.E.)

  • 5 – Outstanding! Very nice and well worth the price of admission. Highly recommended.
  • 4 – Very satisfactory. Above average, may have very minor issues but still worth it.
  • 3 – Satisfactory. Average at best. May have notable issues, may be OK for some at this price.
  • 2 – Unsatisfactory. Below average due to defects, flaws, or other imperfections.
  • 1 – Poor. Significant issues, not worth purchasing at any price. Avoid!

Details

  • Brand: Nike
  • Style: Lifestyle “court” sneakers
  • Size: 11 US
  • Last: N/A
  • Construction: Strobel stitched, glued, and vulcanized
  • Upper: Leather
  • Sole: Vulcanized gum rubber
  • Extras: N/A
  • Country of Origin: Indonesia
  • Price for the Standard Model: $90 (can occasionally go on sale for $72)
  • Price for the Premium Model: $105

Hello old friend.

Ordering/Delivery/Returns

My pairs of Killshot 2 sneakers were both ordered on a crisp Tuesday morning in April. They shipped out separately. The premium pair shipped out the same day via UPS Ground from Nike’s Lebanon, IN distribution warehouse and arrived on my doorstep the next business day. The standard pair shipped out the next business day (Wednesday) via LaserShip and arrived on my doorstep on Thursday afternoon. Both of these pairs arrived fast, so there’s no complaint about a shipping or handling delay, but there was a notable difference in shipper services. UPS sent me a confirmation and regular tracking/delivery updates along the way, whereas LaserShip did not offer any updates at all. As a matter of fact, I had no idea the LaserShip pair had been delivered. If we had not ordered pizza for dinner, we might not have seen the delivery. While we live in a pretty safe neighborhood, others might have to worry about porch pirates.

FYI: Nike offers free standard shipping on orders of $50+ and is offering a free 60-day return period, for any reason, for Nike.com members. Signing up costs you nothing and can easily be done online in less than five minutes. Note that the 60-day return period is a temporary extension; odds are good that this policy will revert back to their standard 30-day policy at some point in the future for non-Nike.com members. Overall, this feels pretty normal for 2024.

Score: 4/5 Stars – Laser quick shipping, extended 60-day return policy. UPS > LaserShip.

Oh hello NEW friend.

Packaging/Unboxing

These pairs arrived in the standard red Nike sneaker boxes. Inside, there was minimal packaging and the shoes were wrapped in a single layer of tissue paper. Each shoe also had a recycled cardboard “shoe tree” inside to help protect the shape of the shoe in transit. For lifestyle sneakers at this ~$100 price point, it’s hard to knock the boring unboxing experience. At these prices, I expect the shoes to arrive as ordered and without any damage. That’s what we have here, so while the unboxing experience leaves a lot to be desired, you can’t be too upset that your ~$100 sneakers didn’t come with spare laces (even though the special release Jordan 1 sneakers you bought last week for $180 did). Oh well, there’s always Amazon for those extra laces.

Score: 4/5 Stars – Boring unboxing experience, but the shoes arrived without damage.

First Impressions

Fresh out of the box, both pairs of Killshot 2 sneakers look essentially identical at first glance, but there are a few differences which we’ll get to. The overall last shape and sporty design details still look great to me, even if this sneaker in the standard configuration has been on the market since mid-2009.

Nike Killshot vs Killshot Premium linings side by side

No changes to the overall shape with the premium. Killshots gonna Killshot.

For those of us that have been around the menswear block a few times, this silhouette is easily recognizable – the clean, white leather uppers are mixed with white or neutral suede accents, gum rubber soles, and a pop of color to add a bit of visual interest to an otherwise simple, unassuming sneaker. These are sporty, low profile sneakers that pair well with lots of casual outfits. Whether you like to dress them up with a button-down collar gingham shirt and slim khaki chinos or you prefer to dress them down with a plaid flannel shirt and Japanese raw denim, these sneakers will look great and keep you (relatively) comfortable along the way.

Nike Killshot Premium vs Killshot OG swoosh to swoosh

Left: Premium, for now, comes in just one color scheme, featuring a white, textured white swoosh.
Right: Standard comes in multiple color options, with the navy blue swoosh being the most familiar.

The standard pair that we’re probably all familiar with has the Nike Swoosh cut from a navy blue leather and has similar navy blue accents on the tongue patch and the heel tab out back. This version was an exclusive colorway to J.Crew for almost a decade, but has since become a widely available general release sneaker from Nike for at least the past five years (which some might argue caused the menswear sphere at large to lose a lot of interest in this design).

O.G. has a printed NIKE on the heel tab.

The upgraded “premium” version is even more unassuming with its crisp white leather upper, neutral suede accents, white leather Swoosh, and brown leather lining to pull in a bit of earth tones to pair with the gum soles. The only pop of color on this colorway is a bit of pumpkin spice orange thread that they used to embroider a mini Swoosh on the toe box and the Nike name out back on the heel tab. The embroidery on the heel tab does look and feel more premium than the standard model’s navy blue printed design. I find that the printed designs wear away too quickly; stitching like this tends to last longer if it’s done well. The stitched Swoosh on the toe box is fun enough, but it doesn’t make or break this colorway for me.

Premium model sees the NIKE heel branding get embroidered.

The upper leather on the standard model looks like a corrected and pigmented grain leather. The leather on the premium model looks and feels slightly nicer in the hand. With them held side by side, you can see that the regular model has a tint, whereas the premium model looks more naturally white. The texture of the two leathers is also different. The standard model feels more flat and uniform, whereas the premium model’s leather has more texture and a softer temper. Pressing your thumb gently into the leather yields different wrinkle results for each. While both options have their pros and cons, I do prefer the upgraded leather on the premium model over the more basic leather on the standard model. To each their own!

Nike Killshot OG to premium leather uppers

The Premium’s leather uppers do feel slightly nicer in the hand.

The standard model with the navy blue Swoosh has clean and neat stitching throughout. I did notice some small dabs of excess glue on one Swoosh, but that was quickly cleaned up. The rest of the shoes were as clean as could be. The premium model has thicker, more visible stitching at the heel counter and looks almost like baseball stitching as compared to the double needle stitching found on the standard model. This particular “premium” pair had some glue dabs on the leather heel tabs and either glue or something else embedded into the suede toe strip on one shoe. This stuff did not come off; while I didn’t try brushing it out, I shouldn’t have to. If this wasn’t a pair for review, I’d send them back and ask for another pair without this flaw.

Nike Killshot vs Killshot Premium linings side by side

Standard model has a knit fabric lining.
Premium has a half-lined leather interior, but the leather is a low enough grade that
it won’t offer any real advantage over the original.

Inside, the standard model has a knit fabric lining that feels pretty nice on foot. It’s lightweight, comfortable, and feels breathable (as much as you can tell while walking around the house). The premium model adds a touch of leather with a half-lined interior at the back of the shoe. This lining leather is nothing to write home about; it’s thin, slick to the touch, and offers no real advantage over the knit fabric lining in the standard model aside from a more luxurious look. Both shoes have fabric covered open-cell foam sock liners that are glued down to the fabric insoles. They are lightly glued down and you can easily peel them up and out if you’d rather have more comfortable and supportive inserts in your lifestyle sneakers. While I don’t find the standard sockliner inserts to be uncomfortable, they are certainly not as nice as other sneakers.

Both versions of the Killshot come with the same rubber outsoles, no difference there.

Both sneaker models have the same tan gum rubber outsoles with the classic wavy grid texture lines carved out of the bottom for flexible traction. I’m a big fan of gum rubber soles on sneakers as it offers visually interesting color and texture to an otherwise minimalist sneaker. While I can’t speak to longevity, I have some other sneakers with this gum sole and find that it does tend to hold up just as well as the typical white rubber soles you find elsewhere.

Score: 4/5 Stars – Overall, these are lifestyle sneakers. Docking a point for excess glue!.

Sizing/Fit/Comfort

In terms of sizing and fitment, I recommend trying a half-size up from your true-to-size Brannock measurement. I tried this pair in my usual Nike size of 11 and they fit as expected. The Killshot 2 model runs slightly narrow for me, although not enough to be uncomfortable with my usual choice of no cushion Darn Tough socks. If you’re used to sneakers with a wider toe box or more padding, these may fit or feel quite different for you, so try them on first if you can. FYI – The Killshot 2 model is not available in wide widths through Nike. Sorry, Hobbits! (*Understandable Hobbit response* / Editor’s Note: As my own feet are not shaped like canoes (I have borderline wide feet) I do not find Killshots to be particularly comfortable. It’s why I stick to AF1s. Those are a dream, thank you very much.)

Both versions have open-cell foam insoles,
and their guts are Strobel stitched, glued, and vulcanized.

For size reference, I consider myself a 10.5 D on a Brannock device (10.5 heel to ball, 11 heel to toe with high arches). For roomier lasts like Alden’s Barrie or Grant Stone’s Leo, I take a half-size down at 10 D. For “true to size” lasts, like Allen Edmonds 65 last, I tend to go TTS with a 10.5 D. For sneakers, I prefer size 10.5 with Converse and size 11 with Nike, Adidas, etc.

Comfort is always subjective, but I feel like the Killshot 2 model is comfortable enough for a basic lifestyle sneaker. It’s about on par with my other Nike and Vans sneakers with similar cloth and open-cell foam insole materials. While I find my Rothys RS02 sneakers to be more comfortable than these Nikes, my Adidas Boost-filled sneakers are simply on a whole other plane of comfortable existence. If you’re familiar with Nike’s lifestyle sneakers, these are similar.

Score: 4/5 Stars – Size up a half-size from your US Brannock size. Comfort is typical.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, I think Nike’s Killshot 2 model still holds up well in both style and substance for the price you pay. While some might think that the Killshot 2’s 15 minutes of fame have passed, it is hard to argue against a simply stylish sneaker. Both of these colorways are going to look great when paired with a wide variety of casual and comfortable outfits.

Choosing between the “standard” model or the newer “premium” model will come down to whether or not you place any extra value on the slightly higher quality leather upper, the embroidered branding on the toe box and heel tab, or the half-lined leather interior. If you do, and don’t mind this white on white on gum colorway, then I think it’s an easy decision to make. Either route you take, the $15 price difference at MSRP is negligible for most folks. Cheers!

Avg. Score: 4/5 – YES! Both versions are recommended for a casual Summer sneaker.

Nike Killshot Premium vs OG finisher

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