New Keylock HMS Karabiners

Given the choice, if they could have only one karabiner with them, most guides and paddlers would choose a pear shape one. Designed so that you can use an italian hitch, they are also known as HMS karabiners from the German, Halbmastwurfsicherung, and so are the most versatile karabiners available. We are looking at how the two new keylock models from Edelrid, the Magnum and the Strike as well as the high quality Pirate from Rock exotica hold up against the Attache and William from Petzl.

Edelrid - Magnum

Edelrid Magnum

Size: length - 120mm x width - 77mm Weight: 84g

Strength major axis: 24kN - Strength minor axis: 8kN

Strength gate open: 9kN - Gate opening: 23mm

Rope bearing surface: 10.9mm diameter

Recommended Price: € 13.00 inc. 20% VAT

This is a large HMS karabiner which is slightly asymmetric so that the direction of pull always shifts towards the load bearing side. It is large enough that you can easily use an italian hitch even with a stiff half inch rope. Due to it's I beam construction it is very light for it's size while still remaining strong. The rope bearing surfaces are nicely rounded and are slightly thicker than the rest of the karabiner. It's large size makes it easy to use when wearing gloves or with cold hands.

Petzl William

Petzl William

Size: length - 116mm x width - 79mm Weight: 90g

Strength major axis: 25kN - Strength minor axis: 7kN

Strength gate open: 7kN - Gate opening: 25mm

Rope bearing surface: 10.9mm / 10.1mm diameter

Recommended Price: € 17.90 inc. 20% VAT

The Petzl William is a similar size to the Edelrid Magnum, with similar strengths. Petzl screwgates have a red marker to show if it is not locked, however this does wear off with time. Despite the nice handling of the William, we prefer the asymmetric style of the Magnum which will make it stronger in a real world applications, where the load is always shifting across towards the gate in HMS karabiners causing some minor axis loading.

Edelrid - Strike

Edelrid Strike

Size: length - 101mm x width - 70mm Weight: 65g

Strength major axis: 22kN - Strength minor axis: 8kN

Strength gate open: 7kN - Gate opening: 22mm

Rope bearing surface: 10.8mm diameter

Recommended Price: € 12.00 inc. 20% VAT

The smaller brother of the Magnum the strike is the lightest karabiner of the 3 at only 65g. It is only slightly smaller than the Pirate but 15g lighter. It has the same I beam construction of the Magnum but despite it's compact size it is the weakest of the three with only a 22kN rated major axis certification. It is also the cheapest of the three so definitely value for money for poorly paid river guides.

Rock Exotica - Pirate Screw

Rock exotica Pirate

Size: length - 107mm x width - 70mm Weight: 80g

Strength major axis: 26kN - Strength minor axis: 11kN

Strength gate open: 7kN - Gate opening: 25mm

Rope bearing surface: 12.0mm diameter

Recommended Price: € 13.05 inc. 20% VAT

This is a very nice karabiner and our new favorite to work with. It is the strongest of the five on everything except open gate strength vs the Magnum, and although a bit heavy for long alpine tours where every gram counts, a great work horse of a karabiner with some nifty features for swiftwater rescue. First off is the skull and crossbones markings to tell you that the gate is still open and the arrow to tell you which way to try and unscrew the sleeve if it gets jammed. Next is the fact that rock exotica have beefed up the locking sleeve to hold 6kN of inward force! This is almost 10 times what most other manufactures karabiners hold, and as a result a real increase in safety when using a figure of 8 abseil device. When you open the gate for the first time you notice that it is slightly angled for a larger gate opening and to make it more ergonomic. Lastly is the use of full round bar stock which is more effective to pull a rope or webbing over, when not using pulleys.

Petzl Attache

Petzl Attache

Size: length - 100mm x width - 69mm Weight: 80g

Strength major axis: 23kN - Strength minor axis: 7kN

Strength gate open: 6kN - Gate opening: 20mm

Rope bearing surface: 11.9mm diameter

Recommended Price: € 15.90 inc. 20% VAT

This is favorite with a lot of guides when it come to handling and ease of use and has stood the test of time since Petzl brought it out a while ago. Unfortunately for Petzl the Rock exotica Pirate is stronger in all areas, has a larger gate opening and is even cheaper for the same weight!

All of these Karabiners are great for Swiftwater Rescue, however the Pirate wins hands down as the best overall HMS karabiner, with the Magnum and Strike being better if you need a bigger or lighter karabiner for your needs.

Regardless of which karabiners you have with you don't forget to "lock 'em and check 'em" before relying on them 100%.