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BD X4 vs. C3?

Original Post
Andy McQuillen · · Mesa, AZ · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 0

I'm a huge fan of the Black Diamond X4s due to their reinforced cables, weight, and axles and haven't yet bought any C3s. How do they compare overall? From what I saw on BD's website, the set of X4s covers the same range as the C3s. Is that comparison accurate? If so, do you recommend supplementing my rack with C3s, or is that a bit of overkill?

Jonathan Dull · · Boone, NC · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 405

C3s are stronger (in comparable sizes) and fit in placements no other cam will. Really just depends I suppose, C3s were my first small cams so I've always been pretty partial to them. I carry the red and yellow C3s on the same biner and the green and purple on the same biner to cut a little weight. Since there're pretty light I wouldn't think it would be won't either when you need a piece and a C3 is the only thing that fits. I guess it also depends on where you climb most often...I climb primary in WNC and there're great!

Dow Williams · · St. George, Utah; Canmore, AB · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 240

Andy, if you are climbing at the grade to need double cams of 000 to 0 sizes, assuming you already have nuts in that size range on your rack, you will want one set of off set cams in those sizes before you add another parallel set. Metolius Master and BD X4 make good off set choices.

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,729

Depends on what your rack currently consists of. X4s do basically cover the same range of C3s with the exception of the 000 size of C3. Nothing in the X4 range gets that small. Both C3s and X4s will be better when loaded in a horizontal orientation than Metolius MasterCams. The X4 is more flexible than both the C3 and MasterCam. In a horizontal orientation, this is a plus IMO. In a vertical placement- it depends. I have had a trigger wire pop on a C3 because of the rigidity in a vertical orientation, but I'm the one that placed it so that's on me. Still though, I doubt that would happen on an X4 due to the flexibility. Who knows.

The X4s are a bit heavier and not as strong as the C3 (by one or two kn) but we're only talking about a few grams- nothing that's going to break you.

Head width for X4 is a bit wider than the C3 but only by a hair, so that's negligible. C3s are cheaper. You can find MasterCams and C3s in the $45 range so that's a consideration if finances are a factor.

All of them are good cams, and none of them are perfect. They all have some limitation. The biggest limitation of any cam is the person placing it.

Dow has good advice on offsets. I have placed a few, but I would say only about half the time were my offset placements imperative to the point of a parallel cam not doing the job. YMMV.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,861

If you get the larger X4's (size .4 and up), make sure you examine them before buying. The early units had a problem with the way the kevlar trigger pull cords were glued in that prevents full retraction of the cam. Cams that suffer this defect are prone to being hard to remove from tight placements. The smaller units have wires for cam retraction and are outstanding little cams.

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,729

My .75, .5 and .4 were all like this. You just have to work it loose from that weird "glued angle". If you cam them to the point where the trigger no longer retracts, you still have plenty of usable range to remove them- you just can't do it with the trigger, you have to get in there with a tool to get them out. After breaking that glue loose a bit, they now have much more usable range- with the backs of the lobes being parallel when totally overcammed. It is something to be aware of though before you purchase. It's unfortunate that this was overlooked by QA processes, but not a deal breaker IMO.

Daniel Chambo · · Chapel Hill, NC · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 60

I've got some of both, as well as some metolius, and personally I like having the variety, not only for the slight variation in size (for example the red c3 is just a bit smaller than a blue tcu), but also because stem flexibility can help you or hurt you depending on the situation (and this is the attribute which most differentiates c3's and x4's). There's been many a reachy placement where I've loved the stiff stem of the c3, and many a strangely oriented horizontal where a floppy stem helps the cam stay in place.

I haven't had any of my x4s very long, just been replacing old cams with them as they wear out. If you're not sure, maybe just buy one of each in a size you use most and see how you like it?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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