Saturday, August 10, 2013

Boltsnap selection

Bolt snap Selection - what to look for

Whether you are a technical scuba diver or fresh out of your open water class, odds are you will need to purchase some boltsnaps over the course your diving career, as items will always need to be secured (for example, your GoPro).  
Gopro Hero3 Black
Not all snaps are created equal, though.  A cheap bolt snap will usually have sharp edges, not a serious issue topside, but these become tiny razors at depth ready to flay your fingers.  

The area you want to examine is around the gate, since your thumb will be moving along these edges, you want to ensure they are  smoothed.  
bolt snap gate edge
This is a shot of a bolt snap I had to grind down myself after slicing my thumb open.  Later I'll  post on the process of fixing these, but today lets focus on doing it right the first time.

Once you have determined you have a safe piece of hardware, next you''ll want to examine the closed gate.  What you are looking for is an un-exposed spring.  

The reason being, while diving, especially when in a cave or wreck, there is a real chance of debris entering the exposed spring and jamming the gate closed.  In an emergency, this could prevent you from deploying your backup light, or regulator.
bolt snap gate opening

Bolt snap size largely comes down to personal preference.  I like a roomy 3/4" to 1".  These are easy to grasp while wearing gloves, and seem to find D-rings with ease.

When it comes to material, the debate is stainless steel vs brass.  While both metals are excellent for marine applications, brass is very soft, and can wear easily with repeated use.  This causes gates to slide erratically and can potentially cause a failure.  Steel is the stronger of the two and hence does not present such problems.

A good steel snap can be purchased at most dive shops (online or otherwise), although some only carry brass, in which case I would look elsewhere.  Your local hardware store can be a valuable resource for stainless steel bolt snaps as well, just be sure and check for the features outlined here.

Once you have purchase your snaps, you'll need to attach them, here's a post to show you how.


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