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Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:30 pm
by Admin
What do you use, a standard figure 8 or a mechanical decender like the petzel STOP?
And what height have you rappelled from in a real mission.?

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:00 pm
by cronek
all depends on the situation. I've never been a big fan of 8's, so I carry a petzl pirahna which is similar in use but gives you more control and is faster to anchor in place should one need to remain stationary, both the 8's and the pirahna do get very hot when used for fast or long rappels. For more controlled descends a petzl grigri (needs some application of electrician's tape to stop it from making noise) can be used, which is similar in function to the stop, but smaller in form factor (and doesn't eat so much of the ropes). I'd use the stop only for really long descends or for extra safety during training because of its prohibitive size and weight.

Posted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:51 pm
by geryban
we can use figure eight, or petzl ID. before we used petzl stop. my favorit is the fig eight: simple, you have direct contact with the rope, i dont need to grip the descender, i can fix it, easier if i would, and i can move fast, if i would...

Descent Control Device - Rappel

Posted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:25 am
by A-5
Our team has several "approved" options but most commonly used are:

- Petzl Pirana
- Omega Pacific SBGII (in tactical black of course)
- Black Diamond ATC-XP

All three provide variable friction so that depending on the angle of descent and load, the operator can select the most appropriate option.

Our SOP is to descend with a self belay (two wrap Prusik of 7 mm) attached below the descent control device & attached to the leg strap of the harness. We prefer this option due to the safety "back up" it provides as well as the quick one handed "lock off" it provides for situations such as explosive forced entry where your hands are full. The downside is the time required to come "off rappel" when you arrive on target but like most choices in the tactical environment, its all about risk assessment and "trade off."

The problem with any "8" but especially the Pirana, is that when working out of a leg bag (which is our SOP in most tactical vertical operations), the rope gets significantly twisted. This can result in the self belay unintentionally locking as the twists become tighter and more frequent. This does not occur with a tube device such as the SBG or ATC-XP


Auxilium dēsuper lātum

BTW - One of my favorite sites for a comprehensive overview of almost everything that is "out there" in descent control devices is: ... e2007.html ... e2009.html

Posted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:21 am
by tgace
While I have never had the opportunity to rap during a live tac op. I did do quite a bit of recreational/sport rappelling once upon a time. Mostly in association with getting back down after a rock climb. I think the longest was a 6-7 multi-rope length rap descent from some 800-900 ft cliffs in the Adirondacks that had no walk down from the top.

I tended to favor the Black Diamond ATC..especially for when doing double strand raps; which is pretty common for sport use since you have to pull your rope down if you wish to continue. Since I also used the ATC as a belay device it served double duty which is also a plus as it minimizes gear carried.

I have used the assault-8 with the ears and while it does work well I find it just a wee bit over-sized for my taste. The Grigri worked pretty damn good too, but I tended to avoid it because I observed a few accidents where a piece of gear or a loop of rope caught on the lever and sent some climbers for some nasty falls.

I also highly recommend knowing a few variations of the carabiner wrap technique as a back-up plan.

Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:39 pm
by Cheetah
Well I did a lot of rappel descends in a variety of situations but never in a life-fire mission. I can tell, I will never use a non-blocking device in a real situation like an "eight" or ATC. I strongly recommend something like:

1) Petzl-Gri-Gri (
2) Petzl-Stop (
3) Petzl-I'D ( ... nders/id-s)
4) Petzl-RIG (
5) Anthron ( ... ender.html)
6) Trango-Cinch (
7) PMI-Powerlock ( ... terID=1167)

Because you have to be able to release both hands in any moment and very quickly.

In stead of Petzl-Pirana I recommend Rock Exotica MiniEight ( ... nders.html) or russian Orion Alp ( ... t&Itemid=1)

But if you looking to go down very fast you need something like "SMC Rescue 8" ( ... p_681.html) or "CMC Rescue 8" (

Any way, all depends on situation.

Be safe.

Re: decender

Posted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:02 am
by geryban
fig8 and friends are faster, have more controll, work every type of ropes (!!!), lock is one single movement, little, easy, lightweight, packable, etc. pros, cons. be carefull with the word: "never"... :)

Re: decender

Posted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:26 am
by Cheetah
Thanks man! I appreciate your comment, please go on. Now, as everything in this life - IT DEPENDS.
First - "fig8 and friends are faster" if you look velocity "tuba" is even faster than fig8.
Second - "have more control" only if your both hands are available for descending and not carrying an AK, for example.
Third - "work every type of ropes" only big figure 8 can handle almost every type of rope.
Fourth - "lock is one single movement" it is not truth, lets think again: with both hands it can be a single movement.
In everything else I totally agree.
P.D. I said: "I will never use a non-blocking device in a live-fire situation" what I mean is: One, If I'm forced to do it - so be it. Two, any other person can do otherwise.

Re: decender

Posted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:51 pm
by geryban
I think its a little bit complicated, not black or white.

its not about how fast can you go down. If you like the fastest, cut the rope, and you ll be the winner guaranteed. I only used Grigri, STOP, and ID, but speed rapelling with these is harder than figure8, because with the fig8 you can controll your speed better (especially in real situations). Or, with other words: You "feel" better the rope with figure8. Fact: if your rope thinner than 11, your device became work "on-off" mode, so you can stay, or you squeeze 2mm and you will freefalling. And when you would like to freefall, you can not controll the breaking enough precision for entry. This is the controll, what i talking about. And: Who like to use 11.5 or wider rope in military? We use 9.5, but we have 6.5 carbon rope. I tried the figure8 with 5 and 8 mm paracord, and it works...

With figure 8 if I drop the rope, the rope moving in the device. In fast entry its a big pro.
Cheetah wrote:Because you have to be able to release both hands in any moment and very quickly.
Why?? For outside covering team, maybe yes... For entry: not.

Re: decender

Posted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:19 am
by Cheetah
Good point. I understand you. You right about entry, it's better do it with 8 when both hands working for the procedure. But if you doing distracting staff from outside you can not trust that you will not release the rope if something happen.
Another interesting point is: I usually do rappel with my right breaking hand having a primary on the left hip and normally get into a hole (or window, etc) a little bit "lefted". What I could not avoid is friction of the rope against the secondary. Look at these beautiful marks.
Rappel marks 1.jpg
Rappel marks 1.jpg (130.26 KiB) Viewed 21579 times