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DMM Revolver Review

A very helpful carabiner for guiding, glacier travel, alpine climbing, and rescue personal, but not one we would add to our everyday trad racks
DMM Revolver
Photo: Backcountry
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Price:  $35 List | $31.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Built in pulley wheel reduces friction, compact
Cons:  Heavy, expensive, stiff gate
Manufacturer:   DMM
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 26, 2020
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50
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 10
  • Clipping - 25% 5
  • Unclipping - 20% 4
  • Weight - 20% 3
  • Gate Clearance - 20% 7
  • Handling - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The DMM Revolver is a specialty carabiner that has a small pulley wheel built into the basket. This design helps reduce rope drag significantly and aids this unique 'biner with accomplishing many purposes, such as reducing rope drag on wandering pitches, reducing friction and wear in top rope anchors, and for rigging hauling and rescue systems, both on rock and on glaciers. The pulley wheel is functional for loads up to 11kN, making this a very versatile rescue tool. While its added weight meant that we were less inclined to carry in on our trad racks for protecting lead pitches, we are converts to its incredible versatility for glacier travel and crevasse rescue, and also think that guides and other rescue personal would find it very useful for potential client hauling situations. Alpine climbers may consider bringing one to reduce the effort needed to haul the pack.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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86
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Star Rating
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Pros Built in pulley wheel reduces friction, compactFull-sized, easy to clip, low price, low weightKey-locking nose design, easy gate action, large sizeGreat price, slim profile, comes in eight different colorsVery light, inexpensive, small shape
Cons Heavy, expensive, stiff gateHas a notch in the nose, gates sometimes get sticky over timePricey, heavy compared to competitionOther options are lighter, a little on the small side, exposed notch in the gateNot the easiest to clip, exposed notch on nose, can be hard to handle with gloves on
Bottom Line A very helpful carabiner for guiding, glacier travel, alpine climbing, and rescue personal, but not one we would add to our everyday trad racksWhile not perfect, still the most impressive combination of the winning attributes – full size, low weight, low priceThis great carabiner is among the largest and hands down the easiest to use, regardless of hand sizeThis inexpensive carabiner provides a great value and matches up well with your camsA tiny and lightweight carabiner that will help you shave ounces from your rack, but may also be a bit harder to use
Rating Categories DMM Revolver CAMP Photon Wire Helium 3 Trango Phase Carabiner Black Diamond MiniWire
Clipping (25%)
5.0
9.0
10.0
6.0
5.0
Unclipping (20%)
4.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
Weight (20%)
3.0
8.0
5.0
8.0
10.0
Gate Clearance (20%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Handling (15%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
Specs DMM Revolver CAMP Photon Wire Helium 3 Trango Phase Carabiner Black Diamond MiniWire
Manufacturer Weight (g) 51g 30g 38g 30g 23g
Gate Closed (kN) 24 22 24 24 20
Sideways (kN) 7 8 7 8 7
Gate Open (kN) 9 9 10 7 7
Gate Clearance (mm) 24 26 27 23 21
Forging Method Hot Cold Hot Not Specified Hot

Our Analysis and Test Results

The pulley wheel found in the basket of the DMM Revolver is meant to reduce friction as the rope runs through it. How this could benefit you depends completely on the situation. We tested it mainly in summer in the Colorado Rockies, and thus mostly used it on the end of a sling to reduce rope drag on long trad pitches. For this usage, we found that it didn't work as well as advertised, because the wheel is too small, and if the rope bends inside the carabiner, it is just as likely to rest on some other part of the basket as perfectly on the wheel, thereby negating most of the benefits. Thus, we would not be inclined to add it to our trad racks due its marginal benefit and heavy weight.

However, our head tester is a former alpine guide who has spent time traversing glaciers in South America, the Northern Cascades, Alaska, British Columbia, and Nepal, and thinks this would be an excellent tool to have on the harness for building three-to-one or six-to-one hauling systems to rescue a climber out of a crevasse. It simply works best when oriented in a line, without forces pulling off to the side, even at a small angle. This same hauling usage could be very effectively applied to hauling a pack on alpine climbs, reducing friction while hauling the pig on El Cap (used in conjunction with an actual wall hauler), or providing a hauling assist to a client while alpine or rock guiding. Any hauling situation can be greatly enhanced when rope drag is minimized, and the Revolver strikes a nice balance of doing so without carrying too much extra weight, or objects such as extra pulleys. While it could also help in genuine rescue applications, generally heavier duty equipment is used for these purposes. While we tested the wiregate version, it also comes in a screw locking version for added gate security.

Performance Comparison


The Revolver is a specialty carabiner designed to reduce rope drag...
The Revolver is a specialty carabiner designed to reduce rope drag. While it can be rigged up for leading with, especially with wandering pitches where drag needs to be reduced, we didn't think it worked amazingly enough to justify the price or weight. It is best used by guides, or in glacier travel situations, to aid with rigging 3-to-1 or 6-to-1 hauls.

Clipping


The gate springs on the Revolver are very tight, more so than any other we tested, so it takes more effort to force the rope through the gate and into the carabiner than other options. This is in line with its intended purpose, adding some security against gate flutter or accidental opening by hitting the rock. There is no reason to be trying to clip this carabiner over your head on a desperate trad or sport lead, so the fact that it isn't simply buttery smooth should present you with no problem.

The gate springs on this carabiner are very stiff, which adds a...
The gate springs on this carabiner are very stiff, which adds a level of security to hauling situations, but makes them a bit hard to clip. Notice also the deep notch and hook, which adds to the difficulty when unclipping them. Since we don't feel they are ideally used while leading, these factors shouldn't dissuade one from considering them in the right situation.

Unclipping


The tight gate spring also means that this isn't a very easy carabiner to unclip the rope from either. Again, as we wouldn't recommend it for high end vertical climbing, needing to unclip it in a half second with one hand under duress should not be a top priority. Like many wiregates, it has a notch and hook on the nose, which can cause some friction with the rope or other items like slings while unclipping, but judging this carabiner based on its intended purpose, which is hauling situations, the relative difficulty found in unclipping it only adds to the sense of security, and isn't a serious drawback.

Testing how it is to unclip the rope from the carabiner while top...
Testing how it is to unclip the rope from the carabiner while top roping, the heavy and stiff gate spring makes things more difficult than with most other competitors, and the notch and hook don't help either.

Weight


The Revolver weighs in at 51g, which is of course heavier than the other carabiners in our review. This is to be expected, due not only to the addition of the wheel that is not present in any other option, but also to the added metal in the basket that ensures that the wheel can withstand forces equal to 11kN. In reality, considering its purpose and functionality, this carabiner could be considered to be pretty light, and surely weighs in lighter than a separate metal pulley and carabiner combo, which would be a comparable alternative.

It's no surprise that this carabiner is the heaviest we've tested...
It's no surprise that this carabiner is the heaviest we've tested lately, as the pulley wheel, plus the added aluminum to ensure safe engineering around it, adds grams to the otherwise medium sized design.

Gate Clearance


The clearance of the gate is measured at 24mm, which is roughly in the middle of the field. The basket is made wider by a bend in the spine, and is overall very deep. While we found that it doesn't necessarily handle three knots or ropes fitting into the basket at the same time very well, it also isn't designed to be used as an anchor 'biner, so this test wasn't very fitting. Suffice to say, the gate clearance is plenty enough to use it effectively.

The basket is very deep but not very wide, and we had a hard time...
The basket is very deep but not very wide, and we had a hard time fitting three knots in there. Used for its intended use, for hauling or rescues, there is likely no reason to use it like this, and the gate clearance is sufficient for use with one rope, as it is intended.

Handling


The shape of this carabiner is a bit odd, with a very narrow crotch at the top and a wide basket at the bottom. The weight of it is out of balance, with most of the weight focused at the basket where the pulley wheel lives. These two factors mean that it doesn't fit or feel as natural in our hands, which can only mean that we might be more likely to drop it on accident. That said, as we don't really recommend it for use while lead climbing, and instead feel like you would only use it on the ground or at an anchor, these concerns are minimized.

The Revolver can best be described as medium sized, and is not the...
The Revolver can best be described as medium sized, and is not the easiest to handle overall due to the fact that it's weight is drastically out of balance, which the heavy part focused in the basket. This may catch on by surprise if you are used to the balance of most regular carabiners, and can lead to a fumble.

Value


As a specialty product, there should be no surprise that it comes at a specialty price, which is far more than any other carabiner in this review, and is in line with an expensive locking belay carabiner. The price seems fair for what you get, and if you are a guide, alpine climber, or mountaineer that needs one or two, then the function you get for the price is more than worth it.

This pulley is the reason this carabiner might have some value to...
This pulley is the reason this carabiner might have some value to you or not. It can reduce rope friction significantly when compared to a standard I-beam carabiner design, thus making rescue and hauling situations easier. We didn't think it worked super well to reduce drag while on lead because the rope rarely sat correctly on the wheel itself.

Conclusion


The DMM Revolver reduces rope drag friction by inserting a small metal pulley wheel into the basket. While it is advertised as being applicable for lead climbing or even top-roping anchors, we didn't feel like its weight and price were worth the impaired function for these uses. However, we highly recommend that guides, alpine climbers, and mountaineers who traverse glaciers pick up a couple for use with hauling and emergency systems, as they present a compact and very versatile alternative to a traditional pulley, with far better function than simply trying to haul through a carabiner alone.

Derek pulls around the bulge on a traversing second pitch. Notice...
Derek pulls around the bulge on a traversing second pitch. Notice the long slings in the upper left corner, which he hooked up with a Revolver to reduce drag. While these carabiners can be used like this, we find them much less effective for this purpose than one might think, and wouldn't normally choose to carry the weight for this usage.

Andy Wellman