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Rifle Slings Explained

"Don't leave home without it". Remember that old American Express slogan? That could easily be a rifle sling slogan as well. There are so many reasons as to why a sling is a great tool for your rifle. There are many variations of slings, such as a strap. I use that term loosely because I consider a strap and a sling two very different accessories. We will talk about both. If you are in the market to purchase an accessory, for your rifle, that would also help improve your shot, I would highly recommend a sling.

SLING vs. STRAP vs. HOLSTER

Fully Adjustable Single Point Tactical Sling

I have heard of references comparing a sling to a holster. I suppose that I can see the similarities. There are back holsters that are big enough to hold a rifle. There again, back holsters have a different function than slings do. Back holsters require several movements to retrieve a rifle from it. Slings become an extension of natural movement and require less movement and a more fluid movement while acquiring your target. 

Carry straps are just that; a strap attached to a rifle for the purpose of aiding an individual in easily carrying the rifle. A carrying strap is not designed to function as a sling. A rifle strap is a great accessory if you are looking for aid in carrying your rifle, usually on the shoulder of your shooting arm.

So, if a sling is not a carry strap, and is not exactly like a holster; then what the heck is it? 

WHAT IS A SLING?

A sling is like a carry strap in that it allows the shooter to easily carry a rifle, shotgun, carbine, or a submachine gun. To aid in carrying the rifle is just one function of a sling. Slings are also harnesses and stabilizers. Slings aid the shooter by functioning like a brace when aiming the rifle. The brace aids the shooter by offering more stability when aiming and firing. It also allows for a quick and simple retreat during a transition from a rifle to a sidearm. Simply let go of your rifle and get on target with both hands quickly for your sidearm transition.

New Mosin Nagant Tactical Sling

HOW A SLING CAN HELP IMPROVE YOUR SHOT

I cannot emphasize enough how much a good fitting, quality sling will help you with your shot placement. A sling will not offer an immediate improvement of accuracy, you will have to practice with your sling. 

The magic happens when you master a technique with your rifle sling. Techniques will provide a solid stable shooting platform in various stances and positions if you know how to use them.

We can go over some of the most popular so you can decide which sling and which sling technique best fits you.

Outdoor Connection Original Padded Super Sling

SLINGS FOR SHOOTING

Although there are several slings that could fall under this category, we will focus on the most common; detached loop slings and integrated loop slings. 

USGI Web Sling - If it is good enough for the United States Marine Corp, it is good enough for me. This technique is taught to new recruits as part of their firearms and weapon systems training. To use this sling for shooting support, you have to detach it from where it is attached at the rear of the rifle. Doing this will allow you to create a loop with the end of your sling. Use the loop to anchor the rifle to your supporting arm. USGI Web slings are easy to adjust. They are also inexpensive and can be found in our military surplus or newly made. These slings are usually made out of lightweight nylon or cotton so that they do not add a lot of unnecessary weight to the rifle.

Whelen Sling - The Whelen Sling is an integrated loop sling. It offers all of the support as the USGI Web Sling but with the convenience of leaving the sling attached at both the front and rear of the rifle. The shooting loop for the integrated loop slings is created by doubling over itself at the front swivel and attaching back to itself at the rear of the rifle. You will have to make adjustments between different shooting positions to maintain proper sling length. These slings are not as easy to adjust as the USGI slings. Commonly made of leather the integrated loop sling can add some weight and a little difficulty in transitioning to various positions.

Ching Sling - This sling is an integrated loop sling but better! The Ching sling was designed to overcome all of the problems that plagued some of the other styles of slings. It also has a built-in loop that does not need to be detached from the rear of the rifle. In addition to this, designers incorporated a third sling swivel to assure that the shooting loop is always open and accessible for quick target acquisition. This sling is popular within the hunting communities.

 

UTG Deluxe Universal Rifle Sling

RETENTION SLINGS

Slings don't just give the shooter support, they can also retain your weapon during tactical situations. Slings that fall into this category are defined by designation as a single point, two-point, and three-point sling.

Single Point Sling - This sling is designed to securely retain the rifle on the front of the shooter rather than on the shoulder or back. From this slung position, the shooter can quickly lift the rifle and get on target, while retaining the rifle to the shooter's body and protecting it from being dropped, ripped away, or snagged away by a foreign object. These slings are not used like the traditional slings talked about above, as they will dangle while not engaged. These slings offer a great soft stock when shooting an AR-15 platform based pistol. The tension created by standing in a normal shooting stance distributes some of the weight of the gun to your body, which creates less arm fatigue and a more comfortable shooting point.

Two Point Sling - While not as rugged as a shooting sling, the two-point sling does offer some support. This sling is easy and simple to work with. It is also very versatile and actually looks a lot like a carry strap. This sling allows the individual to comfortably and securely carry their rifle across the front of their body, as well as on their back. The sling also acts like a traditional carry strap. These slings are mounted on the side of a rifle and have quick-adjustment mechanics. This sling can be wrapped around the body and rapidly tightened to give a pretty stable shooting platform to the shooter.

Three-Point Sling - 

This design has a loop of material that wraps around the body, and two straps; one to the front of the rifle and one to the rear of the rifle. More parts = more complications. After adjusting strap length to fit the weapon comfortably to your body, you could have an extra strap just flapping beside your rifle. This moving strap in a tactical situation could interfere with the operation of your rifle or just flat out get tangled with the movement of the shooter and their other gear. It does, however, allow you to drop the rifle and transition to other equipment and easily resume use if needed. If you are of smaller stature, the released rifle will bounce and beat you all over your legs, making you feel less secure in your footing. Can you tell this is my least favorite sling? It may be for you, but its operation worries me, it’s complicated and bulky, and it literally gets in the way of my shooting, but with that said, I would rather have a three-point sling than nothing at all.

Tapco Intrafuse Adjustable Sling

 

COMING IN FOR A LANDING

I cannot express in words about how effective the right shooting sling can be with a little practice. A sling is not intended to be used as just a carrying strap. Utilize your sling to its fullest potential by learning sling techniques to steady your rifle. Steady shots equate to better accuracy. You don’t need shooting aids like optics or other accessories to make you a better shot, use your strap. If you own a rifle, there is undoubtedly a sling that will make your rifle better. Slings are not obsolete, and the same brace that slings offer today are the same techniques that made our forefathers great shooters. Don't overlook the utility of slings and the advantages that they offer to the rifleman.

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