BRD (belay/rappel device)
The Metolius BRD (Belay/Rappel Device) should have everything going for it. Machined from solid 6061 T-6 aluminum, it has double slots to allow single or double rope use. Cooling fins dissipate the heat generated by a rapid or long descent and the attachment-loop is really beefy. Still, with one notable exception, the BRD is just another belay device. That exception is its "ergonomic horn," which is intended to give the user extra control when lowering or rapelling. When the device is weighted and locked off the device tilts in the direction of the belay hand. Pushing down on the horn with the free hand straightens the device, taking the weight off the rope running to the climber and reducing the friction, allowing the rope to run smoothly. It's a nice concept and it works.
Over a month last summer I took the BRD out climbing with me in a variety of scenarios and it performed admirably in every situation, even while I was repeatedly whipping off a sandbag 10c. I also loaned it out to several friends and always got a good report when it made its way back to the gear room. The horn is a nice touch for adding extra control when lowering someone, but I personally didn't find it all that useful for rapelling. In fact I found the BRD to run a bit fast when rapping with my usual rope configuration, a 9.2 mm climbing rope and 8 mm rap line. I just didn't have the control that I have grown to expect. I did one short free rappel with it and I felt quite insecure. A person less used to the vagarities of thin different sized ropes might get into trouble. I only used it once in the winter and it seemed ok with cold and snowy ropes.
I must admit that I already had 3 or 4 devices laying around when I got this one and I wasn't really looking for another. The Trango Jaws had been my device-of-choice for years, mainly because it works really well with the combination of ropes that I normally use. I switched to the Reverso late last summer because of its flexibility and auto-locking capabilities.
Look, there are tons of devices out there. At a nickel less than a double-sawbuck it is only about a dollar cheaper than a Reverso or Jaws and a lot less flexible than the Reverso. All of them are also about the same weight, around 3 ounces, so you don't save anything there either. So, unless you just like the horn, you're probably better off spending your cash elsewhere. It works fine but not great, so I only give it two thumbs. Sorry Charlie!
Single or double rope compatible (8 mm to 11 mm ropes), cooling fins, machined from 6061 T-6 aluminum, 2.9 oz. (82 g), assorted colors