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Black Diamond Positron Quickdraw Review

This is a good intro draw for those who want a keylock carabiner without spending a ton of money.
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Price:  $18 List | $17.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Good value, easy to unclip, durable
Cons:  Heavy, more expensive than before
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 19, 2018
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 15
  • Ease of Clipping - 25% 7
  • Ease of Unclipping - 25% 8
  • Portability - 20% 3
  • Ease of Handling - 15% 8
  • Ease of Grabbing - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Positron is a durable sport climbing quickdraw. It's been around for well over a decade now but was updated recently with some new colors and a thicker dogbone. This draw is heavy, but reasonably priced and is often a climber's first set of quickdraws, for a good reason. They last a long time, but won't completely blow your budget, particularly since you have so many other things you need to purchase when you are first starting out. Black Diamond's FreeWire draw is a little bit cheaper, but if you have a few more dollars to spare you'll appreciate the dual keylocking design this one has to offer.


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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Good value, easy to unclip, durableSnappy clipping action, wide sling is easy to grab, light for a sport quickdrawEasy to clip, deep basket, cool "hood wire" around the notch for snag-free unclippingGreat clipping, wide sling for easy grabbing, keylocking gates don't snagEasy to clip, durable construction, large size works well with gloves
Cons Heavy, more expensive than beforeExpensive, still a little heavy for trad climbingHeavy, expensiveHeavy, expensiveHeavy, dogbone is on the thin side and not easy to grab
Bottom Line This is a good intro draw for those who want a keylock carabiner without spending a ton of money.The best overall draw for sport specific climbers.A great quickdraw for sport climbers who prefer wiregates on the clipping end but don't want it to snag on anything.A fantastic option for sport climbing.A great all-around draw for those with large hands or who wear gloves.
Rating Categories Positron Petzl Spirit Express LiveWire DMM Alpha Sport Quickdraw Petzl Djinn Axess
Ease Of Clipping (25%)
10
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7
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Ease Of Unclipping (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
Portability (20%)
10
0
3
10
0
6
10
0
4
10
0
4
10
0
4
Ease Of Handling (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Ease Of Grabbing (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
6
Awards (%)
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
MSRP (%)
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
Specs Positron Petzl Spirit Express LiveWire DMM Alpha Sport... Petzl Djinn Axess
Weight (ounces) 4.2 oz 3.2 oz 4 oz 3.9 oz 4 oz
Gate opening bottom carabiner (mm) 26 mm 25 mm 24 mm 25 mm 27 mm
Width of sling (mm) 18 mm 25 mm 27 mm 25 mm 16 mm
Sling Material Polyester Nylon Polyester Nylon Polyester
Manufacturer Warranty 1 year 3 year 1 year 1 year 3 year
Non-snagging Top Biner yes yes yes yes yes
Non-snagging Bottom Biner yes yes yes yes yes
Forging method cold cold hot hot cold
Unique features Durable, double keylock design Sling is wider at the bottom to facilitate grabbing, stiff sling Large and ergonomic carabiners good for larger hands, hood over bottom wiregate to prevent snags Dual keylock carabiners, wide sling Large carabiners good for big hands or gloves, easy to clip
Available sling lengths 12 cm, 18 cm 12 cm, 17 cm 12 cm 12 cm, 18 cm, 25 cm 12 cm, 17 cm

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Black Diamond Positron weighs 4.2 ounces per draw, making them one of the heaviest options that we have tested. They come with a moderately wide sling (18mm) for easy grabbing. The carabiners are cold-forged and have keylocking solid gates. If you prefer a wiregate carabiner on your rope clipping end (a little lighter and a less prone to gate flutter), Black Diamond also makes the PosiWire, which has the Positron carabiner on the top and a HotWire carabiner on the bottom.

2016 Product Recall
There was a safety recall on this model a couple of years ago. If you have the current "bumblebee" color configuration in the photos below, those were produced later than the recall. If you're not sure about your older Positron quickdraws, please take a minute to check out the safety recall notice from Black Diamond.

Performance Comparison


We liked using this draw while sport climbing. The keylocking gates are great  and while heavy  they are a good option for those just getting into climbing.
We liked using this draw while sport climbing. The keylocking gates are great, and while heavy, they are a good option for those just getting into climbing.

Ease of Clipping


This quickdraw clips very well — we didn't notice that it was particularly hard to clip in any situation, and the carabiners are a good size. The sling is thicker and stiffer than the old model, making it a little easier to clip it into on bolt in hard-to-reach situations.

The gates have good clipping action  and we never found ourselves fumbling around while trying to clip them.
The gates have good clipping action, and we never found ourselves fumbling around while trying to clip them.

Ease of Unclipping


The Positron really shines in our ease of unclipping category. The keylock solid gate has no notch to catch on the bolt or rope, and so slides off easily. A couple of models were even easier to unclip, like the Petzl Djinn Axess, but only because their gates openings were slightly wider, giving us even more room to get the rope out.

Here's where you'll really appreciate the keylock gate - when trying to unclip the rope or the draw from the bolt on a steep route.
Here's where you'll really appreciate the keylock gate - when trying to unclip the rope or the draw from the bolt on a steep route.

Portability


This was one area that the Positrons did not score well in. At 4.2 ounces per draw, they were one of the heaviest models in our test group. The Edelrid Bulletproof weighs the same, but they have a stainless steel insert! Why are these so heavy? The carabiners are cold-forged and have a lot of material in the spine, and the solid gates weigh more than wire ones. The benefit of the cold forging technique is that these carabiners typically don't wear down quite as fast as hot-forged ones, giving them more longevity. If you're looking for something for hard onsight attempts where you want the lightest possible option, this one probably isn't it, but for most sport climbing it works just fine.

On a one-pitch mixed route it wasn't too heavy to bring along  but these quickdraws are heavier than most and they aren't the most optimal trad draw.
On a one-pitch mixed route it wasn't too heavy to bring along, but these quickdraws are heavier than most and they aren't the most optimal trad draw.

Ease of Handling


Our testers like the way these handle and have no major complaints or concerns. They didn't cross-clip on our harnesses like wiregates sometimes do, and the carabiners felt fine size-wise to our big-handed testers.

We liked the way these handled. The wider  stiffer sling makes reachy clips easier  and they have a slim profile thanks to the internal carabiner positioner.
We liked the way these handled. The wider, stiffer sling makes reachy clips easier, and they have a slim profile thanks to the internal carabiner positioner.

Ease of Grabbing


The Positron sports an 18mm dogbone, up from 14mm in the last version. That might not seem like much, but it makes a world of difference when going to grab a draw. While still not the easiest to grab — look for models that are 25mm wide for that — it is much better than before.

The new and improved sling is much wider than before and easier to grab.
The new and improved sling is much wider than before and easier to grab.

Best Applications


The Black Diamond Positron is a great quickdraw for new climbers or those looking for a durable product that don't mind a little extra weight. The updated and thicker sling made it a fraction heavier than before, but we think it's worth it for the better ease of grabbing. They also make for an economical choice for hanging on a longterm project where weight is not so important, but you don't want to leave a heap of expensive gear up for ages. Due to their weight we would not use them while traditional climbing.

Does this scenario look familiar? If you've ever found yourself stuck at a bolt on a steep sport route desperately trying to unclip the draw  you know that keylocking carabiners can make this arduous task a lot easier.
Does this scenario look familiar? If you've ever found yourself stuck at a bolt on a steep sport route desperately trying to unclip the draw, you know that keylocking carabiners can make this arduous task a lot easier.

Value


The Positron retails for $18-19 depending on the sling length you choose. That's still around a $5 per draw savings over our Editors' Choice winner, the Petzl Spirit Express, but compared to the new budget picks on the market that cost between $11.50 and $14 per draw, these are starting to look a tad expensive! If you want the least expensive options out there, then the Mad Rock Concorde ($11.50) and the Cypher Firefly II ($11.50) are worth looking at. However, if you are looking for a highly useable draw with better functionality, particularly for beginner to intermediate sport climbers, then the Positron is an excellent choice. BD sells these in six-packs as well for additional savings.

Conclusion


The Black Diamond Positron has been around for a long time now — our lead tester first purchased a set around 15 years ago — and up until this year, they've largely been unchanged. We appreciate the small updates that BD recently made to this draw, making them even more user-friendly. If you're starting out in the sport, these are an excellent choice, particularly if you see yourself mostly sport climbing.


Cam McKenzie Ring