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Monday, 16th October 2023 Rigging

Bow Shackles vs. D Shackles: Understanding the Differences

Introduction to Shackles

What Are Shackles?

Shackles are U-shaped bits of metal, typically steel or alloy, fastened with a clevis pin or bolt across the opening. They act as connecting links in a range of rigging, lifting, and towing setups.

Importance in Rigging and Lifting

Shackles play a key role in a host of rigging and lifting activities. They offer a blend of durability and flexibility, linking chains, ropes, and other lifting mediums to the objects at hand.

Bow Shackles: An Overview

Key Features

Bow shackles, also known as Omega shackles, have a more rounded, “bow” shape. This design allows for a bit more wiggle room for side-to-side movement, making them suitable for applications involving multi-directional loading.


Bow shackles excel in applications that involve distributive loads, reducing stress concentration. Their rounded structure allows for angulation without a significant drop in strength, making them ideal for handling forces coming from multiple directions.


The downsides largely centre around their chunky design, which can be awkward in tight spaces. Also, they’re often a tad pricier than their D-shaped counterparts.

D Shackles: An Overview

Key Features

D shackles, or chain shackles as they’re often dubbed, have a more streamlined, “D” shape. They’re generally narrower than bow shackles, a design aspect that limits lateral movement.


D shackles are generally sturdier in single, inline force applications. Their sleek geometry makes them well-suited for jobs where slipping is a no-no and room is scarce.


D shackles aren’t as versatile when it comes to handling multiple directions of force due to their restricted design. Misaligned forces could weaken the structure, leading to quicker wear and tear or, in extreme cases, failure.

Critical Factors for Selection

Load Direction

Knowing the directionality of the load is crucial. If you’re expecting forces from various angles, a bow shackle is your go-to.

Space Constraints

In operations with limited room to move, the sleeker form of a D shackle might be more advantageous.

Cost Considerations

Although the price difference is generally marginal, D shackles are often a smidge cheaper, making them a more cost-effective option for large-scale tasks.

Applications and Use-Cases

Bow and D shackles are utilised across diverse industries, from construction and maritime settings to the automotive and aerospace sectors. Bow shackles are commonly employed in rigging systems where multiple ropes, slings, or chains need to be hooked up. Conversely, D shackles are frequently used in towing operations, industrial lifting, and anywhere a robust, single-direction force is the order of the day.


The choice between a bow shackle and a D shackle isn’t just a matter of looks; it calls for a thorough assessment of your operational requirements. By understanding their inherent traits, advantages, and downsides, you can enhance both the efficiency and safety of your rigging and lifting operations. Choose wisely, because in the subtle details of these seemingly straightforward bits of gear lies the success or failure of your entire setup.

About the Author

This blog article was authored by Kebles Trading, a leading supplier in lifting equipment, wire rope, balustrade fittings, and other industrial hardware. With years of experience in the industry, Kebles Trading is committed to providing high-quality products and expert advice, helping you achieve optimal results for all your rigging and lifting needs. For more information, visit Kebles Trading.

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