Rifle Slings For The Total Beginner

If you have a long gun, one of the best accessories to have for it is either a shotgun or rifle sling. The humble sling is a tool that can either do a simple task or can be used for so much more, if the shooter wishes to.

For those of you who already know it all already, proceed to the comments section! For those who are just getting into long guns, let's go over what you should know.

Types Of Rifle Slings

There are a number of types of rifle slings, but they break down into one of three categories. They are:

  • Single Point: attaching to the gun at a single point
  • Two-Point: attaches to the gun at two points, usually the rear stock and fore-end
  • Three-Point: attaches at three points, usually at the rear stock and at the front and rear of the fore-end

Single point slings are commonly AR slings, looping around the neck and under the arm, allowing the rifle to hang free, usually vertically. This is popular for 3-gun competitive shooting events. Or, the sling is used in conjunction with having one hand on the grip.

Two-point slings are pretty simple. You have the connections - usually via swivels - and a keeper/adjuster somewhere on the strap. This is the most common design, and two-point slings range from simple nylon web affairs to custom-cut top-quality leather, like what would be used to make high-quality gun belts.

Three-point slings get a little more complicated, with three connections. During World War II, this was the standard sling design that US soldiers carried M1 Garand rifles. Later refinements include the "Ching sling" design and other three-point tactical slings.

What A Gun Sling Is Used For

There are two primary functions for any gun sling.

First is as a gun bearer, namely a strap with which you carry the gun. This is pretty self-explanatory. You slip the sling onto your shoulder and off you go.

AR-style slings will bear the gun across the front of the body, allowing for easy access so the gun can be gotten into action in short order. Traditional slings, however, carry the gun on one shoulder.

Make sure to select a sling that's comfortable to carry. Those equipped with a wide neoprene pad are quite popular, but a good top tip is not to use any loops for carrying ammunition. You'll just lose bullets that way.

The other use is as a stabilizer when it comes time to shoot. This is where the design of the sling comes into play.

A great many rifle sling designs belong to the "speed sling" or "tactical sling" variety. Instead of simple straps, these sling designs feature a loop at the fore or rear of the rifle or shotgun. The loop has to be adjusted by the user to get the proper fit, but the general function remains the same regardless of the design.

As the shooter assumes their shooting position, the elbow of the shooting or support arm is placed into the loop and hooks the loop of the sling. The sling loop pulls the gun tight either to the right or left side of the shooter, stabilizing the gun to a certain degree.

Again, which depends on what sling you buy from whom. The Ching sling design - a three-point sling design popularized by Gunsite and Jeff Cooper - puts the loop on the support side. A similar design, called a Rhodesian sling (supposedly it was favored by professional hunters in Rhodesia, an African colonial territory which was absorbed into modern-day Zimbabwe) is a two-point design with a support-side loop.

This provides the shooter with a certain amount of stability, though assuming a sitting or kneeling position for additional support is usually required to get the best of it.

Speed slings take some practice to be able to quickly assume a firing position, but aren't terribly difficult. The user must also take time to adjust the straps to find the optimum setting for strap and loop lengths. You'll find that just like gun belt size, it works best if it's the right length for you.

Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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