It’s the number one accessory purchased for any rifle: the sling. It can serve as a way to help carry your weapon, or it can serve as a shooting aid. It can look flashy or subdued. It can have many colors. Most rifles do not seem complete without a good sling attached to the underside. Let’s say that you just purchased a shiny new AR-15 or some other modern sporting rifle and now you need some sling action. You ask, “What kind of sling should I choose? What configuration do I need?” In this article, we will discuss the finer points of this versatile firearm accessory.
The first thing you should consider when looking to purchase a sling is what kind of rifle it is going to be attached to, and more importantly, what you are going to do with it. A traditional basic two-point sling is the most common found in the hunting arena. With the two-point sling, you can carry the rifle over one shoulder, across your torso or draped over the back of your neck. This type of sling typically aids in carrying your weapon across distances. As a small boy growing up hunting with my father, I carried a 20-gauge shotgun without a sling over the toughest terrain that Texas has to offer. I remember being exhausted by lunchtime from lugging around that huge hunk of metal and wood through briar patches all morning. At 10-years old, I wanted to act tough, however, so I never complained. I was overjoyed the day he brought home my first deer rifle; a brand new Savage 110 .270 with a decent scope and yes, a nice leather strap on the underside. I thought about putting a strap on that old 20 gauge once, but somehow, sentiment took over and now I just carry it by hand. Twenty years later, it seems a whole lot lighter, too.
Aside from the standard two-point sling, there is also the two-point quick-adjust sling. This type of accessory is similar to a standard two-point, but has a pull-tab for adjusting on the fly. This is useful in the field when time is of the essence.
Jeff Cooper, the famous firearms expert, promoted a strap called the Ching sling. This sling was primarily a shooting aid and not a carry device. The Ching sling was a component of the scout rifle concept. Its purpose was to stabilize the rifle with a minimal adjustment.
Some law enforcement and military operators prefer the three-point sling. This sling functions like a harness and is strapped to the shooter. The purpose of this sling is to allow you to let go of the weapon to perform other tasks. With a three-point sling, a large loop goes around your torso, and then two straps go to the front and rear of the weapon. However, they have a reputation of being a bit confusing to the novice.
If a shooter is in a situation where he might have to fire from the opposite shoulder, such as in weak-side barricade shooting, a specialized sling called a single-point sling may be useful. Primarily used for short-term tactical use, it will not allow for anti-fatigue weight support.
Whether on the deer lease, at the range, or on the battlefield, slings have helped us carry and aim our weapons since the early days of shooting. Whatever your situation, a sling has most likely exists to assist you in putting those rounds in their proper place downrange.
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