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What use is a Rifle Sling?

 

For Tactics, Techniques and Procedures Thursday, we’re going to discuss something that is under-utilized for providing support: your rifle sling.

Most people think that a sling is used when you’re in line for chow in the field. They don’t normally sling their weapon, as they feel that when wearing body armor it makes it difficult to use. I would argue the exact opposite.

There are three major categories of slings: single-point, two-point, and a three-point. Each provides their own inherent strengths and weaknesses, which we will discuss in turn.

A single point sling is generally used if you are doing a lot of room clearing. The advantage it provides is that it is easy to transition shoulders in that environment, this comes at the expense of having no retention of the weapon when transitioning to a secondary weapon (i.e. the weapon flops around). Picture one illustrates this.

A two-point sling is what would traditionally be associated with a rifle. It is what is used on the parade field to keep your weapon on your shoulder. It is traditionally mounted at the front and rear sling swivels. Advances in this type of sling have made it much more versatile piece of kit. An Adjustable two-point sling like a VTAC or Blue Force Gear, can create a very stable firing platform for the Paratrooper to shoot from. The drawback to this sling is if you need to transition from shoulder to shoulder rapidly, it takes some training to achieve.

Three-point slings were developed originally for Sub-machine guns like the MP5. Three point slings became popular in the Army as a part of Rapid Fielding initiatives to try and make the M16A4 more versatile. The benefit of this sling type is, it keeps the weapon close to the body when transitioning from primary to secondary weapon. The drawback to this sling, is the strap that goes across the weapon from the front to back can interfere with the operation of subassemblies of the weapon. Picture two illustrates this.

The question is, ‘which sling is best for me?’ Each one of these slings has their own inherent strengths and weaknesses. A three-point sling might be useful for slinging a shotgun, the single point is realistically not a sling anyone outside of a SWAT team or Special Forces will train enough to use effectively. It provides no stabilization of the weapon. A good adjustable two-point sling will be the best solution for most Paratroopers.

So the answer to the question of ‘which sling is the best for me’? is: the one you are comfortable with, and most importantly, train with. Any sling is better than no sling, which is what most people are currently using.
#weaponsmastery #themoreyouknow

 

Raymond Miller
Raymond Miller is the former Small Arms Master Gunner of the 82nd Airborne Division. He is leveraging his operational experience training soldiers in Weapons Mastery to address Human Systems Integration issues for the United States Army.

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