Rifle slings offer an interesting conundrum. In essence, a rifle sling is essentially used to holster your rifle, however, over time they have been used as an aiming aid, a ceremonial device and a tactical ‘fashion’ accessory. Like most tactical equipment, they are also a personal choice; with comfort being the main factor in this decision. How many times have you seen a specific item used by a number of individuals, to then try it and realise it just didn’t sit right with you? Slings are very much the same.
A sling, akin to a holster, has to hold your rifle or shotgun securely and safely. Unfortunately, slings differ from holsters in the safety department, in which they do not cover your trigger, so to ensure safety, certain aspects need to be taken into account. For example, does your slung rifle point in a safe direction? When slung, is it pointing away from yourself and others? Is it out of the way when slung? These are all factors to take into account with a slung rifle.
Slings come in all shapes and sizes, but in today’s age, there are three main types of sling: single-point, two-point and three-point.
A single-point sling uses a chest strap, suspenders-like assembly or “corset” that you wear. There is an attachment strap that goes from the corset to the rifle. The rifle has a single point on it that the strap attaches to, usually at the rear of the receiver. The sole advantage is that you can easily switch from one shoulder to the other for firing. The disadvantages are many. First, the rifle is free to bounce around if you don’t keep a hand on it. It can bounce into you in…uncomfortable places. It can swivel and point in the wrong direction. Worst of all, it can be pointed at your feet or lower legs even when behaving itself. So, it is a single-point, but it is also a required-single-hand sling—you must keep a hand on it at all times.
Two-point slings can be mounted on the bottom of the stock or handguards (the traditional points) or on the sides or top. Rifles with two-point slings can be carried hunter-style (muzzle up, one shoulder) African-style (muzzle down, one shoulder) or tactical-style (diagonally across the body). The first two carry methods are quite safe, as they point the muzzle at the sky or the ground. The tactical method requires a bit of awareness. With this method, the muzzle is pointed diagonally, so you must be aware of who/what is a foot or so to your left (for right-handed shooters). The traditional slinging techniques are easy-on and easy-off, but using both hands for a task with them can require some juggling. The tactical method takes a bit more effort to put on or take off, but you can use both hands, still control the muzzle direction and not have the rifle fall off while moving or jam the muzzle into the dirt.
Three-point slings use a primary sling on the rifle. Then there is another sling—the secondary—that is anchored at the buttplate end, and a slider that slides up and down the first sling. The three-point sling offers just about every option for carry, but most of them end up with the rifle hanging down around your belt or knees. If you tighten the assembly so the rifle stays up at chest level, you end up with limited range of movement, limited modes of use and the feeling that at any moment your rifle will try to strangle you.
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