I don’t know quite what to call this mode of carry. I most commonly see the word ‘tactical’ associated with it, but it’s an overused word that is often used in a way not in accordance with what the dictionary says it means. I think that using descriptors that are actually descriptive is a better policy. If anyone has a suggestion for a better standard descriptor for this type of carry please let me know.
The primary advantage cross body carry is that it’s extremely handy and secure. You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to see that, so I don’t feel that I need to address it. What I am more interested in looking at is its use to stabilize the rifle.
It has become increasingly common to use the cross body style sling as a shooting aid. People like my friend Russ Clagett, and Kyle Lamb (whom I do not know) have been using slings like the VTAC for not only carrying, but for stabilizing the rifle as well for years. It’s an interesting concept that seems as though it may have some merit to it.
One interesting aspect of the cross body carry sling when used as support that distinguishes it from other types of slings is that the sling is still essentially in carry mode during shooting. Standard forms of the 2 point sling involve shoulder carry and removal of the rifle from that mode of carry to shoot. Since cross body carry distributes the weight of the rifle on the shoulder and back, I wondered how much of the weight is distributed to these areas during shooting.
When the rifle is raised horizontally to fire at a target downrange, the weight distribution that the sling carries changes as compared to carry mode. Raising the rifle changes the position of the rifle and sling, and will remove the weight of the rifle from the back and shoulders. If the sling isn’t adjusted tighter as compared to carry mode the sling will not likely bear any of the weight of the rifle.
The type of cross body carry slings that are useful for stabilizing the rifle will have some type of quick adjuster that allows the user to rapidly tighten and loosen the sling. The range of adjustment needs to be rather wide in order to utilize the sling for support. The adjustment also needs to be reliable enough to hold when it needs to hold and to adjust when it needs to adjust (the other way around is bad).
I measured the weight of the forend of the rifle in shooting position by shouldering the rifle as normal, then removing my support hand from the forend and setting the forend on a kitchen scale. I measured both with and without a taut sling in cross body carry mode. The total weight of the X15 with sling, Atlas bipod, ACS-L stock, and SWFA SS 3-9×42 with a Nightforce Unimount is approximately 9.2 pounds. With the rifle shouldered the forend weight was approximately within the range of 4.7 and 4.9 pounds. With the cross body type sling cinched up the approximately forend weight was within the range of 3.9 and 4.0 pounds, or approximately 82% of the weight without the sling cinched. It would seem as though the slight weight reduction would be of benefit in the standing position, where the arm and shoulder bear much of the rifle’s weight.
In the loop and hasty sling variations tension is very important. Tension is what allows the redistribution of the rifle’s weight to stronger or more stable areas of the body. Tension also can have the effect of restricting the rifle’s potential movement to a smaller arc than it would be capable of if it were free of the tension. This has potential implications for flexibility in aiming, target acquisition, and target tracking.
I believe that sling tension can be detrimental if applied inefficiently. Modes of stabilization such as the so called “hasty hasty” sling simply induce isometric forces (muscle fighting muscle to maintain a fixed posture) into the position. This makes the position feel strong simply because of the muscle recruitment, but the idea of shooting is to be as efficient as possible. Doing the same with less is usually the ticket to better accuracy and precision in rifle shooting.
The way that the cross body carry sling affects the position varies a lot between positions. I’m going to break them down in the next few articles, starting with kneeling. I’ll see you next time. Same bat time. Same bat channel.