So… be honest. All of you who have a primary (or even secondary or any redundant) long gun, have some sort of weapon retention system built onto your firearm? I’m talking slings here, folks, and they are as important to have on your long gun as a holster is for your handgun. Not only do they serve the same purpose as the holster, i.e keeping the long gun on your body in a manner that allows your hands to be free for other operations, but it serves other purposes.
Related article: 8 Problems with Single Point Slings on AR-15s
Firearm stabilization when shooting offhand and firearm storage when not on your person come to mind as being on the top of the list. There are literally hundreds of different designs and makes of long gun slings, but the majority fall into two types: single-point, and two-point. I’m going to separate the two-point design further into two types: the tactical sling and military/hunting sling. Let’s dig deeper.
The single-point sling attaches to your long gun at one point, hence the name. It is generally a large loop that goes around your body, over one shoulder and under the other, with a bungee-type tether with a hook on the other end. The hook attaches to your rifle via a special point, usually behind a pistol grip so it will stay out of your way and ensure that it hangs muzzle-down when you let go of it. It’s a system that has been in use a while, but only has relatively recently come into popularity as the whole “operator” fad has started to become prevalent. It is a pretty useful system, especially for pump-action shotguns, because there isn’t a sling going forward to hinder your support arm from actuating a shotgun pump. It’s simple, easy to adapt a rifle or shotgun to, and it allows you to really just let go of the long gun if you have a malfunction, run out of ammo, etc., and transition to a secondary arm. it’s fast, and most higher-end single-point slings will have removable attachment points that you can leave set right up on the gun.
You can then unbuckle the sling and snap it to another gun with an attachment point set up on it. It’s handy, they’re relatively inexpensive. Mine is a Specter Viper, which I got on Amazon for about $35.00. You can also see the Slingmaster Tactical Attachment System as an option. The Magpul ASAP Single-point sling adapter for an AR-15 is about $26, but you can get others for far less, in the $10 range. For my 870 shotgun, I use the GG&G attachment point, and it’s been very sturdy, even through rigorous training classes. The only real drawback to this system is that once you let go of the rifle, it’s relatively unsecured, and if you’re moving a lot or running, the gun slaps around and can get tangled in your feet or bang your shins. But if you’re in a secured area or not moving much, it’s a great setup.
The what I’ll call “tactical” two-point sling (to differentiate it from the “field” sling) is a pretty slick rig. It’s far more specialized than the field sling setup, in that it uses a system of sliders and tensioners to allow you to lengthen or shorten the sling length with just a tug. You wear it in the same fasion as a single-point sling, i.e.with it slung over your weak-side shoulder, across your body, with the rifle resting on your strong side. It has two attachment points, usually on the side of or on the top of the rifle. This is so when you let go of the rifle, it stays oriented top-up…if you attach the points on the bottom, the rifle will lay over on its side or top-down, which is horrifically clumsy. Some two-point slings tie through slots in the rear stock and through the front sight tower of an AR-15, while others are set up like mine, with push-button quick detachable sling swivels in the side of the stock, and a rail-mounted swivel in the front, so you can take the sling off when not needed.
I have a Viking Tactics MK2 sling on my AR, and I friggin’ love it! It’s all set up so that when I pull the tensioner tab, the sling pulls out to the perfect length for me to get it out and shoot, but if I’m on the move or need my hands free, I can pull the tightening tab and the gun snugs right up to my body.
It’s a great system, and very intuitive once you get used to it. I find it’s great to use snowshoeing with a pack, because you can secure the rifle tightly to your body, and it doesn’t slip off if it gets caught on a tree branch or if you lose your balance, yet if a coyote pops up, it’s very quick to put into ready action. The sling was about $45, and worth every penny, with the push-button sling swivel for the rear stock about $4, and the HK clip and Magpul RSA rail mount for the front running me about $25 at my local gun shop. I have to say, this is how the rifle stays 99% of the time; the single point setup doesn’t really get used on my rifle, but that’s my preference. In the pictures, it doesn’t look like the sling retracts much, but it’s all the difference in the world between the two settings. Some two-point slings don’t have the sliding setup, but I prefer the ones that do.
This is the type that most people are familiar with; it’s the leather or nylon sling that everyone takes afield with them when they go hunting and don’t want to keep a rifle in their hands all the time. They’re time-tested, battle-tested, and still the most practical addition anyone can make to their long gun. They can be adjusted to any useful length, and most long guns come right from the factory ready to go for a sling. If your rifle doesn’t have a sling setup, Uncle Mike‘s has a kit to adapt your rifle to take one.
These slings can also be used to help you shoot better. I don’t have another person here to help me take pictures, but this article I found online shows the techniques very well. Check it out and try it, you’ll be surprised how well it can work.
Anyone out there use a different setup, or tried out different DIY methods to retain your rifle? What do you think of all this jazz? Shout it out below!
Want to know way more? Check out Steve Markwith’s book, Centerfire Rifles: A Buyer’s and Shooter’s Guide – Special AR-15 Section Included