Soft Shackle - Knot placement vs Strength

I'm still having a hard time buying into the soft shackle craze.
I've always used a properly rated steel screw shackle and never had any issues. If the Army uses them to pull their heavy equipment (M1Abrams for example) out of the mud then the concept is good for me ...
The M88 also has to winch out their main winch line with a smaller winch because everything is so heavy. I was also told once that a red dot sight was useless and only used by civilians because they didn’t understand proper sight alignment. Things change (and sometimes it is actually for the better)


Senior Staff
Founding Member
Good video illustrating your desire to stick with steel screw-pin bow shackles. I use them too and I can't see ever removing them from my kit. But the soft-shackle "craze" is here to stay, old-timer. :D

Different tools for specific tasks, and the soft-shackle just expanded users capacity to perform safe vehicle recovery, when used correctly. I also add that the video is focused to deliver a "gee-whiz" impression to casual enthusiasts, and doesn't give us too much specific information other than "rated TJM" steel shackle (who do not make shackles - they are re-branded from another manufacturer) and "cheap" soft-shackles; nobody cares about the non-rated stuff - which was the point of the video anyway. I've seen destructive tests of soft-shackles that exceeded rated steel bow shackles. It really depends upon the synthetic material, its diameter, and pattern of soft-shackle created (some patterns are infinitely stronger than others - in some cases - more than steel).

Bottom line, Eddie, your dollars won't be wasted purchasing the correct soft-shackle for your tuna-boat F-350, not that I care what you buy for recovery gear.

Image from a recent USG testing facility of a product line of synthetic recovery devices prior to testing; note the larger diameter units in the foreground. Some of the testing was performed with tracked and multi-wheeled heavy haulers (HEMMT) in mired conditions with 60% less personnel without failure and performed in a stupid less amount of time compared to legacy steel equipment. From a battlespace ORM perspective this means lives saved.

Not impressed with the video. It appears to me that he had a desired outcome, and set up his tests accordingly.

First off, that small "unrated" (his words) shackle was never intended for this application and/or load. No point in testing it. However, he used is as a data point to make his argument. Worthless.

Then, he wraps the soft shackle around 2 hard (sharp) corners. In no application using rope/line does one ever wrap cordage around a 90* corner. That is just not done. As kids, we learned (by experience) that rope gets cut and fails when wrapped around a corner. By doing so, he shows either great ignorance or an intention of forcing an outcome. Or both.

Yes, he did re-run the test by wrapping the soft shackle around a radius, but that seemed like an afterthought. At least the soft shackle failed in an expected manner.

What is missing is showing the shackles in the "about to fail" state. The soft shackle gives more warning than the hard shackle before failure.

What you have here are two tools with the same primary function, but each with its own advantages and disadvantages in a given situation. By disallowing one, you lose all the advantages it has over the other.

The key is to make sure the rating of your tool is greater than the load you apply to it. For American made products, the SWL should be 20% of the failure load - a 5x safety factor. The same does not hold true for (some) off-shore manufactured products.

Use the right tool for the job.
Top Bottom