When conducting a snatch recovery we should always plan for the unexpected failure of a piece of recovery equipment.  Recovery dampers should be weighted, but more importantly, they should be effective.  Weight on the recovery strap when it fails will slow its progress and bring it to the group quicker than with no weight at all.  The more weight the quicker it falls to the ground and slows down.  A drag chain is an effective way to weight a recovery strap.  The advantages of one or two drag chains is that it will do a better job of staying with the recovery strap when the strap or a recovery point fails.

In this example below the drag chain is used on the end near the recovery vehicle.  When the recovery vehicle moves forward the drag chain is kept in position around the recovery strap.  At the other end is a recovery damper.  Inside the pocket of the damper is steel snatch block.  This is not as much weight as the drag chain but it is more weight than if the pocket was filled with sand.  It is important to have the recovery strap aligned from recovery point to recovery point, and that the recovery vehicle travels in line with the recovery strap.  This means that the recovery damper does not get flung sideways when the recovery strap stretches tight.  If it is not in line then whatever weight that is inside the damper pocket may become a projectile 90 degrees to the recovery strap.

At the bogged vehicle/recovery damper end we can see that in the event of a failure there is a slight chance that the recovery strap will go through the damper (see the Recovery Dampers post and Mad Matt’s video).  At the recovery vehicle end we can see that the chain is looped around the strap and unlikely to allow the strap to slide through.  Note that the chain covers a third of the snatch strap.


When attaching the drag chain start by attaching to recovery strap to the recovery point and then run the chain through the eye of the recovery strap so that it stays in position temporarily.  Loop the chain around the recovery strap 6 to 8 times.  Take the chain out of the recovery strap loop and keep the chain in position by attaching it to the recovery strap with an octopus strap or similar.  Tying the chain to the recovery strap can also be effective.  All you need to do is secure the chain so that it moves with the recovery strap and recovery vehicle.

The advantage of the drag chain is that it captures more of the recovery strap, therefore it will be effective if the recovery strap breaks at a point other than the stitching.