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Black Diamond Positron Review

One of the most popular small lockers, but not the best performing or best value.
Black Diamond Positron Screwgate
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Price:  $11 List | $10.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Affordable three pack
Cons:  Squeeky gate and screw lock with lots of friction, larger, more expensive, and heavier than competitors
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 8, 2019
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 14
  • Overall Utility - 25% 6
  • Ease of Unlocking and Locking - 25% 6
  • Compactness and Weight - 20% 7
  • Gate Security - 20% 6
  • Gate Clearance - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Positron Screwgate is one of four carabiners in our test that we classify as "lightweight/compact lockers." Differentiated by their smaller size and weight from their larger full-sized counterparts, the compact locker is also made in an offset-D shape. This shape allows the 'biner to maintain a high strength-to-weight ratio, and allows it to perform well for certain uses, but does not allow for clipping lots of ropes or pairing well with a belay/rappel device. We like using larger lockers with wide baskets, like the Petzl Attache for these kinds of uses. The Positron Screwgate does work very well anywhere else that security is needed but a large rope-bearing basket is not optimal. Among the lightweight and compact lockers we tested, it is the largest, and also the heaviest, and so understandably received a lower score than those.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Affordable three packVersatile, lightweight, relatively affordable, lots of gate clearance, gate security stripe.Light, auto-locking, versatileLight, small, least amount of revolutions needed for screwgate to lock or unlockVery quick and easy to unlock, auto-locks, very light and compact
Cons Squeeky gate and screw lock with lots of friction, larger, more expensive, and heavier than competitorsScrewgate can get stuck closed, aluminum I-beam construction wears out quicker than some.Can freeze shut, hard to open at times, locks shut on gear loopsExpensive compared to alternatives, the least amount of gate clearanceLocking mechanism not as secure as others, locking slider can block closure of gate
Bottom Line One of the most popular small lockers, but not the best performing or best value.The best and most versatile locker at a reasonable price.Worthy of our Top Pick as the best auto-locking carabiner you can buy.Our favorite personal locker is great for building anchorsA unique tool for greater peace of mind while leading
Rating Categories Black Diamond Positron Petzl Attache Vaporlock Magnetron DMM Phantom Edelrid Pure Slider
Overall Utility (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Ease Of Unlocking And Locking (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
9
Compactness And Weight (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
9
Gate Security (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
4
Gate Clearance (10%)
10
0
5
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
3
10
0
5
Specs Black Diamond... Petzl Attache Vaporlock Magnetron DMM Phantom Edelrid Pure Slider
Weight 56 g 57 g 56 g 41 g 43 g
Gate Closed Strength (KN) 25 22 24 24 23
Sideways Strength (KN) 8 7 7 9 8
Gate Open Strength (KN) 8 6 7 9 8
Gate Clearance 1.8 cm 2.6 cm 2.2 cm 1.6 cm 1.8 cm
Visual Locking Indicator? No Yes Autolocking No Autolocking
Carabiner Shape Offset-D Pear/HMS Pear/HMS Offset-D Offset-D
Lock Closure Type Screw-lock Screw-lock Magnetron Autolocking Screwgate Autolocking Slider

Our Analysis and Test Results

As a compact and lightweight locker, we compared the Positron closely to the Mad Rock Super Tech Keylock Screw, the DMM Phantom Screwgate, and the Edelrid Pure Slider throughout our testing process. Comparisons to these excellent products are not kind to the Positron. The Positron is the largest and heaviest of the four, but is still too small and not shaped correctly to be used like an HMS/pear shaped locker. It is a fair bit more expensive than the Mad Rock Super Tech, but again does not perform as well, calling into question its value. Most disappointing to us is the fact that much like the Black Diamond Rocklock Screwgate, the screw lock mechanism, as well as the pivoting gate itself, rub excessively, have friction inherent in the design or production, and squeak — a lot! Not present in any other lockers we tested, these flaws immediately cause us to question the quality of the construction, and leave us sold even more so on its competition.

Although they are slightly offset in this photo  you can see the size difference between the BD Positron in the front  and the Mad Rock Super Tech in the back. The Super Tech is smaller and significantly lighter  the two most important attributes for small lockers such as these.
Although they are slightly offset in this photo, you can see the size difference between the BD Positron in the front, and the Mad Rock Super Tech in the back. The Super Tech is smaller and significantly lighter, the two most important attributes for small lockers such as these.

Performance Comparison


The BD Positron is being used on a bolt at the top of the second pitch of the classic route Zebra Zion in Smith Rock. It is slightly larger than other compact lockers  and clearly has no problem holding both the sling  bolt  and a backup figure eight on a bight.
The BD Positron is being used on a bolt at the top of the second pitch of the classic route Zebra Zion in Smith Rock. It is slightly larger than other compact lockers, and clearly has no problem holding both the sling, bolt, and a backup figure eight on a bight.

Overall Utility


Compact locking carabiners like the Positron Screwgate are useful in a variety of climbing and mountaineering situations, especially when the large size of an HMS 'biner is not required. We like using these compact lockers on climbing anchors, whether they are single or multi-pitch, on bolts or traditional protection. The thicker stock of the Positron does not get cut into as much as the lighter aluminum of the Edelrid Pure Slider. Using the Positron with an HMS locker when belaying a second climber with a plaquette style device like a Black Diamond ATC Guide is another appropriate use for this small but full strength locker.

Small lockers like the Positron are ideal for building anchors with  but the angle of their basket doesn't allow for great functioning of a Munter hitch  as shown here  where the ropes need to easily slide. Turn it into a clove hitch and there is clearly plenty of room.
Small lockers like the Positron are ideal for building anchors with, but the angle of their basket doesn't allow for great functioning of a Munter hitch, as shown here, where the ropes need to easily slide. Turn it into a clove hitch and there is clearly plenty of room.

The offset-D shape does allow for clove hitches to be used in a pinch, but Munter hitches bind up too easily in the tight curve between the spine and the basket. Using a pear-shaped locker like the Black Diamond RockLock Screwgate is better for hitches.

Ease of Unlocking and Locking


The Positron Screwgate uses a traditional, screw lock closure to secure the gate from opening. We cringe at the sound of metal on metal when screwing the gate open or closed, and it takes six half twists to lock or unlock the gate, roughly average among those tested. While we don't question the safety of these lockers, we also remember that when we tested the Positron two years ago we loved how smooth the action on the gate was, and now find it to be far and away the worst. Obviously, something in the production process has changed, but we demand the best for our money, and we will call out poor manufacturing where we see it! With perhaps the best reputation among climbing gear manufacturers, we are honestly a bit shocked to see this level of quality from Black Diamond.

Locking and unlocking simply means screwing or unscrewing the gate. Unfortunately  the milling and construction of these parts is not top notch  and although they don't pose a safety hazard  they do run and squeek as you open and close them.
Locking and unlocking simply means screwing or unscrewing the gate. Unfortunately, the milling and construction of these parts is not top notch, and although they don't pose a safety hazard, they do run and squeek as you open and close them.

Compactness and Weight


The Positron is the fourth smallest locker in this review, but larger than any of the other lightweight/compact lockers, weighing in at 15g heavier than the DMM Phantom Screwgate. Small lockers have their place on climbing harnesses for uses like attaching an auto-blocking friction hitch to backup your rappel, and the compact size can turn an otherwise bulky four locking carabiner/cordalette anchor setup into something a bit more manageable.

At 56g this weighs the same amount as larger  more versatile HMS shaped lockers  and weighs considerably more than other offset-D shaped lightweight lockers.
At 56g this weighs the same amount as larger, more versatile HMS shaped lockers, and weighs considerably more than other offset-D shaped lightweight lockers.

While the Positron is relatively light when compared to some of the lockers reviewed here, we must point out that for the same weight you could carry a fully functional locking carabiner like the Editors' Choice Petzl Attache or our Top Pick for Auto-locking, the Black Diamond Vaporlock Magnetron.

Gate Security


Despite the atrocious squeeking noise made when opening and closing the gate and screw lock mechanism on this locker (made the moment we pulled it out of the delivery box as well, for reference, not just after weeks of use in the real climbing world), we do not think there is any gate security issue beyond those inherent in the screwgate design. Like all screwgates, you must remember to lock the gate closed if it is to function as designed, and we advise you to orient the locker upside down when closed so that gravity and vibration cannot work to open it on their own over time.

Gate Clearance


With a gate opening width of 1.8 cm, the Positron ranks about average for a carabiner of its size and shape. It still does not have a wide enough opening to easily allow attachment to thick master points or multiple bight knots, but it is adequate to clip into bolt hangers, anchors made of thinner material and clip-in points of Gri-Gris and ascenders.

For a compact locker  the Positron has a solid 1.8cm of gate clearance  meaning it is not too hard to get items on or off in a pinch.
For a compact locker, the Positron has a solid 1.8cm of gate clearance, meaning it is not too hard to get items on or off in a pinch.

Best Applications


Compact lockers are a good option to save weight and reduce size. There may be no noticeable loss of function for their size in applications like anchor building, but if you need to clip into thicker things, or belay with a Munter hitch, they will not work as well as bigger, HMS shaped lockers. Carrying two or three of the larger sized lockers is usually enough, and filling out the rest of your locker needs with these compact biners is a good idea.

A compact locker works well for an auto-block backup when rappelling.
A compact locker works well for an auto-block backup when rappelling.

Value


At $11, the BD Positron Screwgate is more expensive than the smaller, and lighter Mad Rock Super Tech Keylock Screw. It is not our first recommendation for this style of locker, but probably presents an okay value on its own, and can also be purchased in a three-pack for $31.95.

The Positron used next to the DMM Phantom at an equalized anchor on top of a multi-pitch climb. This is the best use of compact/lightweight lockers in our opinion. On this day we used the Pure Slider to carry our shoes  which it did well! But we also recommend it for leading with.
The Positron used next to the DMM Phantom at an equalized anchor on top of a multi-pitch climb. This is the best use of compact/lightweight lockers in our opinion. On this day we used the Pure Slider to carry our shoes, which it did well! But we also recommend it for leading with.

Conclusion


The Black Diamond Positron Screwgate locking carabiner is an all-around performer for all types of climbers. Whether you are looking for a locker that will help you set up a simple top rope anchor off of bolts, or are going big wall climbing and want to eliminate some of the bulk from your harness, the Positron can help you on your climbing adventures.


Andy Wellman