I took the wife and son out shooting this last weekend which gave me the opportunity to test out several tactical slings for our AR’s. I borrowed some from Gunguy, wasted my money on a couple, and also borrowed a few from another friend of mine. Here is the list of what all slings we tried out:
- Specter 1 Point Sling
- Ultimate Arms 1 Point
- Magpul MS3
- Blue Force Gear 2 Point
- Blackhawk! Swift Sling
- Viking Tactics VTAC
Let me preface this whole post by giving you guys an idea of what I wanted in a “tactical” sling for our AR’s before I really get too far into things. We wanted slings where we could carry our rifles in a manner that would allow us to use both hands if needed without slipping off our body. This immediately discounted traditional hunting slings. These type slings tend to slip off the shoulder when using both hands to perform various tasks. You can carry it across your back, but this makes it difficult to still under or around objects (read trees and brush) without getting caught up. This left us only a few options, most of them “tactical” type solutions. Our main requirements were as follows:
- Allow easy transition from using both hands to having rifle ready for usages
- Make movement in and around brush/trees easy without getting caught up
- Be adjustable
To add to the confusion and difficulty in finding a solution, my wife also wanted to make sure that the sling was comfortable to use and easy to adjust……. Now you see my dilemma.
Our testing facility was quite vast and really tranquil. We took a trip up to the mountains above the city we live in and picked a nice, open valley to test and shoot. Between our two rifles we blew off around 750 rounds of .223. I also carried 2 9 mm pistols to see if the slings interfered with shooting or carrying my pistols. Between .223, 9 mm, 30-06, 12 gauge and .22lr we expended around 2000 rounds in total. Not a whole bunch, but enough to give us an idea of how restrictive these slings really were overall.
The first thing that we found was that 1 point slings were not for us. Not only did they allow the rifle to bounce around hitting us with the barrel while we did other things, but when we slid the rifle to our side to be out of the way my wife would jam the muzzle in the dirt while bending. These definitely did not fit the “easy movement” aspect of our trial. My bruised shin also agrees with these findings……
Now on to the 2 point slings: Quickly, we figured out that the adjustments on the Viking and the Blackhawk! were not as easy to maneuver as we had hoped. The Viking’s adjustment mechanism was reminiscent of the ALICE pack. It was not just a simple slide to loosen or slide to tighten type scenario. Neither my wife or I could fully get the process down that well. We both did, however, love how wide the strap was that went across the shoulder. It was by far the most comfortable system for her. If she never had to adjust the length, she would have picked this strap hands down. The Blackhawk! strap adjustment uses a plastic cam lever clip thing. It takes some true manual dexterity to operate this device with one hand and not drop your rifle. It looks similar to this (my picture didn’t come out very well so I had to shop Google for something you could actually see).This left the Magpul and the Blue Force slings. I love the slide adjustment on both. There is a little webbing handle that you grab hold of and just slide into position. The sling actually stays put when adjusted as well. The Magpul used a loop for a handle while the Blue Force had a piece of webbing that was sewn back upon itself to make an actual handle. The top sling in the picture below is the slide and handle for the Blue Force. The bottom one is the Magpul. As you can see, they are both very similar in function and design. Well, they are close enough that I don’t really see that much need to debate or investigate their design. They both work quite well. The two things to note about these slings is as follows:
- The Magpul has built in clips. It doesn’t work efficiently when clipped to normal rifle sling swivels. The clip binds a bit if you are not careful.
- The Blue Force does not have easy disconnects. You will have to attach the webbing to the rifle using old school slider clips. This isn’t a huge issue for me, but might be a deal breaker for others.
Here is a good picture of the Magpul attachment clip. These are on both ends so having a good ring to attach to seriously cuts down on the binding issue.As it all turns out, I like the Blue Force and will purchase one of those next paycheck. The wife really liked the Magpul, but wants me to figure out a way to pad the straps for her. This might be another post in the making as I figure out how to modify the strap with pads. Hopefully she doesn’t want it Hello Kitty or something creepy like that……
My final words regarding the different slings we tested are quite simple. The slider type adjustment systems are far easier to operate than the other systems we played with. Lastly, webbing is webbing. It is all very uncomfortable after a while. As long as it met my original criteria and didn’t damage my rifle, I was happy. When you go shopping for yourself, make sure you set a couple of criteria that meet your needs and weigh all the options available against those metrics. These