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Rifle slings are available in a variety of configurations to suit different purposes. To gain the most from your sling, you should understand the differences between the carrying strap and the shooting sling and how to use both.
The rifle sling is typically made from leather or ballistic nylon that attaches to the rifle in several different ways. The sling falls into two categories: carrying strap and shooting sling.
The carrying strap allows you to carry your rifle comfortably for protracted periods. These slings may have additional padding to distribute the weight over your shoulder. Some have elasticized loops for holding spare cartridges.
The shooting sling allows you to bind the rifle to your body, steadying your aim for more accurate shooting.
How to Use a Rifle Sling
Using a rifle sling depends on whether you use it for carrying the rifle or stabilizing the rifle to aid in marksmanship.
The ways you can attach the sling to your rifle include the following:
1. Single point
A single-point sling attaches to one point on the rifle. While the single-point sling increases accessibility and range of motion, this comes at the expense of stability, allowing the rifle to sway from side to side as it hangs in front of you. If you need to run, your rifle is likely to collide with your body and other equipment.
2. Two point
A two-point sling attaches to two points on the rifle, typically fore and aft. Traditional sporting and military rifles typically use sling swivels affixed to the fore-end and toe of the stock. On modern tactical rifles, you’ll also see them attached to the handguard and receiver extension plate. A highly versatile option, the two-point sling offers the best balance between stability and ease of use.
3. Three point
A three-point sling attaches to two points on the rifle but has a third strap. Three-point slings offer the greatest degree of weapon retention; however, they’re also the most complicated to use.
How to Carry Your Rifle
The way you carry your rifle depends on the application. Hunters typically employ one of the following carry methods:
- American carry
In American carry, you sling the rifle over your strong-side shoulder with the muzzle pointed upward. While comfortable for carrying a rifle for a protracted period, the muzzle pointing above your head can catch on tree branches or other foliage and exposes the muzzle to rainfall. This method also slows deployment and can interfere with your draw stroke if you carry a handgun on your strong-side hip.
- African carry
In African carry, you sling the rifle over your weak-side shoulder with the muzzle pointed downward. This protects the barrel, allows you to draw from a strong-side holster, and enables fast deployment for an emergency shot.
- Cross-back carry
In this method, you sling the rifle diagonally across your back. This is comfortable, retentive, and leaves both hands free. However, it’s also slow.
For tactical applications — combat training courses, competitive matches — when using a two-point sling, you can have one end laying over your right shoulder, crossing your back, and attaching to the rifle under your left arm. You can pull the free end of the sling forward to adjust the tension with your left hand. This is an effective method for deployment but can make shoulder transitions difficult.
How to Use a Sling for Stability
Shooting slings let you use straps to fasten the weapon to your support arm, increasing tension on the rifle for increased stability. For the best results, you should use a shooting sling from a supported position rather than offhand.
When shooting from the prone or kneeling positions, you’re able to bind the rifle to your support arm and relax your muscles. This reduces fatigue and allows you to find your natural point of aim.
The first type of sling position is the hasty sling. As a right-handed shooter, hold the rifle in your right hand, allowing the sling to hang loosely. Place your left arm through the gap between the sling and the rifle. Raise your left arm and place it behind the sling. Grip the fore-end of the rifle with your left hand, placing it over and above the sling. Keep your elbow outward to increase the tension between the sling and the rifle.
The extent to which the hasty sling is beneficial regarding marksmanship is a matter of debate; however, many hunters and shooters practice this method because it’s expedient in the field.
The second type of shooting sling position is known as the loop sling. This is comparatively slow to employ but provides a far more stable foundation for precision shooting. The USGI sling is simpler to loop up with than the M1907.
Detach the sling from the rear sling swivel and produce a loop by pulling the sling outward from the center of the buckle. You want enough of a loop to slip your support arm through it (your left arm if you’re right-handed). Twist the sling one-half turn to the right if you’re right-handed, left if you’re left-handed.
Tighten the loop around your biceps — the higher, the better. With your support arm on the outside of the sling, wrap the sling around your forearm, and grasp the fore-end of the rifle. The sling should be pressing tightly against the outside of your support hand.
To answer the question of how to use a rifle sling, it’s necessary to discuss the Ching sling. This can be considered a compromise between the hasty sling and the loop sling.
The hasty sling is faster to employ but doesn’t provide many shooters with a significant improvement in accuracy potential. While effective at tightening shot groups when employed correctly and from a supported position, the loop sling is slow to employ and remove. It’s also complicated.
The Ching sling uses two straps. The second strap, which attaches to the center of the rifle stock, slides along the main strap using a buckle until it contacts an adjustable stop.
Similarly to the hasty sling, begin by holding the rifle in your right hand (if you’re right-handed) and allow the sling to hang in front of you. Place your left hand through the loop formed between the main strap and the center strap.
Raise your arm and loop the strap around your forearm, placing your hand on the stock. If you’re assuming this position correctly, the sling should be pressing against your left triceps muscle, and your left hand should be between the main strap and the rifle.
Slings are useful for several purposes, but there are other options available for those uninterested in the stabilizing effect of using a shooting sling. One of the most common alternatives to the shooting sling is the bipod.
Using two retractable legs that fold down, the bipod provides a stable firing platform on varied surfaces for shooting. However, this is necessary for supported shooting — you’ll need to place the bipod feet on a flat surface, such as the ground.
Slings can be highly useful for maneuvering and stabilizing your rifle when shooting. There are various ways you can set up a sling — either for carrying or shooting.