Black Diamond The Fin (factory second)

Black Diamond
The Fin (factory second)

Name:Black Diamond The Fin (factory second)
Shape:bent spine
Nose:notch & pin
Nose Guard:minimal
Rivets:flat spun
Gate Shield:none
Weight:57 g
Dimensions:Length: 119 mm
Width: 75 mm
Depth (basket end): 11 mm
Gate Opening: 27 mm
Strength Ratings:Major Axis: 23 kN | Gate Open: 9 kN
Other Markings:Forged: BLACK (c-diamond logo) DIAMOND • PATENT PENDING | (ratings)
Stamped: 2 [next to the bullet point/dot/registered trademark symbol]
Collection Criteria:★ Manufacturing, Engineering, or Design
Summary:BD's first hot-forged carabiner, patented finger grip
Description & Commentary:

The Fin was Black Diamond's first hot-forged carabiner, very light and large. Most climbers found it too large for practical use, except when ice climbing with mittened hands. It incorporates a finger stop on the spine of the carabiner. The patent describes this feature as:

The spine includes a fin or rib extending rearwardly therefrom, with the fin having a contact surface against which a person's thumb may rest when gripping the spine from the rear. This allows the person to orient, by feel, the carabiner for subsequent use.

Although heavier than many modern carabiner, the large size causes The Fin to feel light in the hand - but oddly balanced due to the light body paired with a large, solid gate. The gate spring tension seems light to me, although the carabiner feels like it would clip rope easily when hung on the end of a quickdraw.

The example pictured here is a factory second (see the stamped "2" next to the Black Diamond forged marking). In 2022, I acquired a factory first example in bright finish for comparison. In comparison with this factory second, the flash left from hotforging on the factory first example has been removed more thoroughly, uses domed rivets on the gate and has a stamped batch marking on the spine exterior. See also: The Fin (black)

The designer of The Fin, Andrew McLean, has written about The Fin, as part of an article on the history of the Hotwire carabiner (which he also designed). In response to a question I sent him about factory seconds at this time, Andrew had this to say:

"The stamped '2' does indicate a factory second.

Now that BD is ISO 9000 certified, I'm not sure they do this anymore, but at the time, a factory second meant that the item was full functional and strong, but had some cosmetic defect.

Seconds were generally sold at a discount and the stamp meant that the item couldn't be returned for full value.

Seconds were caused by the anodizing color being off, maybe a flash trim line not being fully buffed out or maybe a gate color mismatch that didn’t fit the catalog description.

On items where the BD logo was stamped incorrectly (pitons, etc.), if the logo was off, that would often be considered a second.

On clothing, a second was denoted by cutting the hangtags vertically in half."

The 1995 issue of Accidents in North American Mountaineering reported that this model of carabiner hooked the back of a climber's knee, impaling(!) him during a lead fall.

Relevant Patent:US5329675