Words and Pics: Rich Norman
I first became interested in DMM’s ‘tactical’ carabiners when I saw the Sentinel Screwgate (A262) on eBay, in the Tactical Sand colourway.
True, I love a bit of tanodize but it wasn’t only this that reeled me in. The main selling point was that the carabiner was being auctioned by a seller who specialises in UKSF-legit items; and I was shocked at just how much the item sold for, which was way, way over the retail price of the ‘civilian’ version.
Paying a very high price for a seemingly innocuous item is sometimes a clue that specialist collectors – those in the know – are very interested.
I mentioned this to a few mates at the time and one of them (John Danter – owner of one of the best L119A1 clone builds out there) leveraged his strong Welsh accent to ask DMM for more info on its tactical carabiners.
The tactical tag is simply down to the ano dyes used and the fact that the screw gate is colour matched. Aside from these features, the tactical line is much the same as the civilian one.
So, back to John’s strong Welsh accent and it may be relevant because DMM is a proudly Welsh manufacturer, which makes the entire carabiner range in the U.K. from U.K. materials.
John found out that DMM makes the tactical line in batches of a certain quantity, and that the Tactical Sand colour is particularly difficult for them to get right; which absolutely fits with what I’ve heard from guys like Tan Rifle (builder of one of the best CAG 416D clones out there), who have had items tanodized. HAO also concurs, and you only have to look at H&K’s RAL8000 ano to know that it can range from brown, to grey, to green.
Meanwhile, I happened to see that FRV Tailoring’s eBay store was offering DMM carabiners in both Tactical Sand and Tactical Grey – so I ordered a couple.
I have to say that the Tactical Grey Sentinel carabiner is the more handsome of the two and, really, this is what the article is about; not how cool DMM gear is for climbing (although I’m told that it is, by a friend who climbs).
Obviously carabiners have many more uses than just climbing: I carry one on my EDC backpack for all eventualities to and from work, and one on my Crye AVS belt to hang my gloves.
No one needs tactical carabiners for this – the more disco civilian colours will do just fine. The subdued tactical colours are just a nice to have.
Aside from preferring the Tactical Grey of the Sentinel, I also really like the aggressive grip pattern of its screw gate assembly:
It’s really grippy wet or dry and it’s so deep I can feel it through my gloves – which is great when you’re not looking directly at it, while manipulating the gate one handed.
Indeed, the asymmetric shape of the Sentinel itself is ideal for use with gloves.
The Tactical Sand Ultra O is a touch heavier and is, of course, symmetrical. Before I bought this and the Sentinel I didn’t realise I’d develop a preference, but I find the latter easier to use.
These carabiners cost the same as the ones available on the high street. So, if you need a carabiner, why not pick up a ‘tactical’ one?
It’s all about the details.
Lastly, back to how this all started: as to whether DMM’s tactical carabiners are in fact UKSF legit, there’s a very good chance. But, until we see definitive pictorial evidence, they probably won’t be considered canonical.
Please get in touch if you know more.