How Does Sling Design Affect Precision On Target?

To those of us who are outside the competitive arena and using gear appropriate for the field?

Probably not at all.

There is a plethora of shooting slings on the market.  I often read about such and such being superior to other such and such sling when it comes to grouping downrange.  Precision is one area where sling design really doesn’t matter much for those of us who practice for use in the field and aren’t competing with specialized gear.  This assumes, of course, that the sling is a quality piece and set up correctly.

There are several varieties of loop slings that all function structurally in essentially the same manner.  I pointed out in my previous article that the loop sling is simply a taut connection that runs between the support arm just below the shoulder to the rifle just in front of the support hand.  This connection takes the place of the muscles within the span of the sling and allows them to relax.  Relaxation is much more better than tension if you want your bullet holes to be more closer together on the target.

The cotton or nylon USGI shooting slings, as well as the Tactical Intervention Slip Cuff are loop slings that constrict around the arm like a slipknot.  I call this variety of loop “constrictor style”.  This type of sling will constrict more tightly as it is pulled with greater force.

The other type of loop sling is simply a loop adjusted to a fixed length.  Instead of a slipknot, picture a simple closed loop that runs from the front sling swivel to the support arm.  Examples of this type include the 1907 sling, the Ching sling, the Tactical Intervention Quick Cuff, the TAB gear standard sling, and my RifleCraft slings.  I call this style of slings “static loop”.

The type of loop, constrictor or static, is irrelevant in determining whether the sling functions as a loop sling and puts the results downrange.  Sling design makes a difference in the technique of looping up and feel, but really only as a matter of preference, ease, and practicality of use.  That is to say that the process of setting the sling up to use may be vastly different between slings, but the final effect once in position is very similar.

Any of the following slings will positively affect precision similarly:


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USGI web sling, with constrictor style loop.  Great for target shooting at the range, when speed to loop up is unnecessary.

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1907 sling, modified configuration, static loop.  

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Tactical Intervention Slip Cuff constrictor loop.

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TAB sling on rabbit skins (my wife tanned them).  You have to admit that I have gotten better at taking pictures since I took this one in 2011.  The static loop is just right of the large side-release buckle.

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Ching sling with vast, static loop for rapid looping up.  

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RifleCraft RS-1 with large reinforced static loop for rapid looping up.

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RifleCraft RS-2 Sling with simple, large, static loop.  My favorite all around sling.

I have shot with each of the above slings extensively, except for the Tactical Intervention, which I only used for about a month (it was borrowed).  I can tell you that they are all capable of steadying the shooter, each about the same as the next so long as the sling will stay put on the shooter’s arm.  There is no voodoo about any of them that will cause it to magically do something more that what it’s physically capable of doing (no, not even the ones that are ‘tactical’).

Likewise, whether or not a keeper is used to close the loop tightly over the arm (which is not possible with a Ching sling) is not a critical consideration in understanding how the sling functions.  Another way of putting it is that the size of the loop is not a factor in its fundamental function.  The wide open loop of the Ching does the same thing as the comparatively difficult to produce and extremely tight loop of the USGI web sling.  Sometimes a keeper is a necessary aid for a sling to work properly by staying put on the shooter’s arm, but that it platform and shooter dependent.

As an illustration of the above two paragraphs, a common misconception is that the Ching sling functions as a hybrid of a loop sling and a hasty sling.  It absolutely does not.  The Ching sling, as defined by function, is a loop sling, with all the attendant benefits of a full loop sling, and will produce downrange results similar to any other loop sling.  The technique of looping up in a Ching sling, or a RifleCraft RS1 sling for that matter, looks and feels similar to the technique of using a hasty sling (although actually faster and more simple).  This causes some to mistakenly conclude that the function is somehow less than that of other loop slings that requires a more difficult and elaborate technique to get into.

Don’t make the mistake of confusing effective results with difficulty of use.  A difficult and more elaborate ritual won’t necessarily make for more powerful magic.  The 20 seconds that it takes to convert the USGI web sling to a loop and to get the loop on does not make it more precise than a Ching or RS-1 that can do the same thing in 3 or 4 seconds.  Easy can be just as effective (or more) as difficult.

Without understanding what the sling does and doesn’t do, a shooter can’t use it to its fullest utility.  Misunderstanding the function of the sling can also give a shooter a belief in benefits that the sling cannot convey.  I hope after reading you have a fuller understanding of the sling and its function.

3 thoughts on “How Does Sling Design Affect Precision On Target?

    • No. The regular Ching is better, and the Safari looks like a step back in my opinion. For a two point sling I may be biased, but I like my gear to be good, and I like my sling better.

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