Colourway Corral: A History of ‘Silver Bullet’ Releases

Silver Bullets

This article was originally published on September 11, 2018.

Nike are the unquestionable kings of iconic colourways. From ‘Infrared’ to ‘Black Cement’, evocatively named compositions have taken on lives that transcend otherwise humble origins.

One such colourway is the original Air Max 97 make-up, nicknamed ‘Silver Bullet’. With rumours of a ‘Silver Bullet’ Air Max 720 circulating, we’ve trawled through Air Max history to compile a list of the most iconic ‘Silver Bullet’-inspired drops – including one that didn’t quite make the cut!

Nike Silver Bullet Am97 Og

Air Max 97 – 1997

This is where it all started. The Air Max 97’s shimmering exterior was impossible to ignore, and it even managed to steal the limelight from its jaw-dropping full-length Air bag. The AM97 earned its ‘Silver Bullet’ nickname due to its resemblance to Japan’s bullet trains.

Nike Silver Bullet Air Max 360 One Time Only

Air Max 97/360 ‘One Time Only’ – 2006

To commemorate the release of the Air Max 360, Nike resurrected some classic Air Max silhouettes for a unique hybrid experiment dubbed ‘One Time Only’. Vintage Maxes, including the AM97, were fused with the new 360 Air bag. The ‘Silver Bullet’ AM97/360 was the least jarring fusion, but with the AM97 already packing full-length Air, we have to ask: was it really worth it?

Nike Silver Bullet Air Force 1

Air Force 1 – 2008

We saw numerous Air Force 1 hybrids during the late 2000s, but Nike’s run of Air Max-inspired Forces produced some of the better ones. These were hybrid in colourway only, and, of course, the AM97 made the cut. These ‘Silver Bullet’ AF-1s featured scorching red bottoms, lustrous silver leather, and plenty of 3M!

Nike Silver Bullet Af1 Low Supreme Sample

Air Force 1 (Unreleased Sample) – 2008

This sample is all but the same as the released version above, with one key exception – the full-length Air bag. We would’ve loved to see this nod to AM97 tech on shelves, but it wasn’t meant to be! A handful of leaked samples are on the resale market, so there’s still hope if you’re a size 9 with cash to burn.

Nike Silver Bullet Air Max 24 7

Air Max 24/7 – 2010

Nike continued their fusion ways with the Air Max 24/7. This three-in-one design combined elements from both the Air Max 95 and 97 and mixed that with the Air Max 2009’s 360-degree Air bag – Nike’s most high-tech sole unit at the time. The model’s heritage was evident with both a ‘Neon’ AM95-inspired design and the trusty ‘Silver Bullet’. The ‘Varsity Red’ Air bag was a nice addition.

Nike Silver Bullet Am97 Italy 2016 2

Air Max 97 (Italian Exclusive) – 2016

Lust for a ‘Silver Bullet’ comeback peaked in 2016, and Nike were ready to meet demand – provided you lived in Italy! These were super limited and only available through select Italian retailers. Coming complete with tricolour pull-tab details, it was a touching tribute to Italy’s widespread fascination with the AM97 and remains one of the hardest ‘Silver Bullet’ releases to obtain.

Nike Silver Bullet Air Max Zero

Air Max Zero – 2016

This wasn’t the only Air Max Zero released in 2016 to borrow colours from other legacy Air Max designs, but it was the first in a series of silhouette-swapping ‘Silver Bullet’ releases over the 12 months that followed. It was also a great way to acknowledge the AM97’s 20th anniversary.

Nike Silver Bullet Air Max Plus 2

Air Max Plus – 2017

With the Air Max 97 and Air Max Plus separated by only a year, this was one of the most fitting mash-ups of the ‘Silver Bullet’ to date. It gave us a perfect glimpse at what the Plus might have looked like if it followed the AM97’s styling. Now, if only Nike would drop some TN-inspired AM97s …

Nike Silver Bullet Am95

Air Max 95 – 2017

The Air Max 95 also got the ‘Silver Bullet’ treatment in honour of the AM97’s 20th anniversary. The wavy layered upper of the AM95 wasn’t much of a stretch from that of the AM97, presenting a unique ‘Silver Bullet’ that was comfortably familiar.

Nike Silver Bullet Am Jewell

Air Max Jewell – 2017

This women’s-only Air Max stunned in silver and added imposing red Swooshes into the mix, delivering one of the first must-have Jewell make-ups.

Nike Silver Bullet Am97 Ultra

Air Max 97 Ultra – 2017

The Air Max 97 Ultra leveraged the AM97’s 20th anniversary to showcase 20 years of construction improvement. This Ultra version cut down excess weight while preserving the overall aesthetic of the original.

Nike Silver Bullet Magista Obra Ii
Nike Silver Bullet Air Max Football X 8

Magista Obra 2 and MagistaX Proximo – 2017

A rather unexpected release for Air Max Day 2017, the ‘Silver Bullet’ was represented on both the Magista Obra 2 for grass play and MagistaX Proximo for indoor/turf.

Nike Silver Bullet Le Bron Soldier 11 2

LeBron Zoom Soldier 11 – 2017

The LeBron Soldier 11 took the ‘Silver Bullet’ to the hardwood and went the extra mile by adding oval Swoosh branding to the forefoot strap in an obvious nod to the AM97.

Nike Silver Bullet Am97 Swarovski

Air Max 97 LX ‘Swarovski’ – 2017

Never did the ‘Silver Bullet’ shine brighter than in this Nike x Swarovski recreation using Crystal Fabric, heat-fused to a one-piece AM97 upper. A single pair of these luxury AM97s in a women’s size 7 features approximately 55,690 crystals! This was the first time any precious material had been fused onto the AM97.

Nike Silver Bullet Air Vapor Ma 97

Air VaporMax 97 – 2018

Like the Air Max 97/360 more than a decade prior, the Air VaporMax 97 combined the AM97’s unmistakable wavy upper with Nike’s latest Air tech – poaching the Air VaporMax sole unit. The model made its debut in the neon-clad ‘Japan’ colourway, but the ‘Silver Bullet’ followed soon after.

Nike Silver Bullet Persian Bw

Air Max 97/BW ‘Persian Bullet’ – 2018

Not strictly a ‘Silver Bullet’ release, the Air Max 97/BW united a BW upper with an AM97 sole unit and honoured these origins in the best way possible: combining the AM97’s ‘Silver Bullet’ deco with the Air Max BW ‘Persian Violet’. The result was a beautiful hybrid ‘Persian Bullet’ that lives up to its inspirations.

Now ReadingColourway Corral: A History of ‘Silver Bullet’ Releases

Subscribe to our Newsletter