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.
Black Diamond Positron Quickdraw Review
Cons: Heavy, more expensive than before
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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