How to Use the Sling, Part 4: Getting it Tense (but not two tents)

Now that the half twist is put into the sling let’s adjust the sling’s loop tension.  One of the things that will easily mark someone as a novice with a shooting sling is a lack of proper tension.  This renders the sling ineffective.  Why take the time to loop up if it’s not going to help?

If you get right down to it, every position will have an amount of sling tension that is appropriate for a specific shooter.  That’s why competition folk use slings that adjust.  They also have the luxury of shooting predictable courses of fire at known distances and a measure of time to setup their equipment.

If I really nitpick about it, I find that as my position gets higher (prone→sitting→squatting→kneeling) I require more sling tension.  It gets pretty easy and quick to adjust if you do it a lot and your sling adjusts easily.

Sling tension is kind of a preference thing and varies a lot from shooter to shooter.  Competition guys have a reputation for liking it very tight.  I don’t think this is as practical in the field as a sling that is “snug”.

I think a good amount of tension requires that the rifle’s butt be pushed forward in order to get it into the shoulder pocket.  I use the firing hand as I’m getting into position and push from the top of the butt.  As I push it all the way forward it doesn’t become so tight that it simply won’t go forward any more, but it’s tight enough to push back on my shoulder after it’s been placed there.

A problem with adjustable slings is that they can un-adjust.  I have experienced on multiple occasions a 1907 frog escaping from its holes, or a cam buckle on a USGI sling just coming undone.  This can cause your rifle to fall (which is undesirable generally, unless your rifle is Russian).

Other slings do not easily adjust for tension.  This type of sling is more suited to the user who does not expect to have the luxury of foresight to know what position he will shoot from or the time to make the adjustment.  For this type of sling you can find one length of loop that is a compromise that will work across the spectrum of positions, perhaps not optimally, but it will work.  I call this class of sling “set it and forget it”.  These are generally simpler and more secure.

The way I adjust a “set it and forget it” sling is to set it slightly tight for the lowest position, which is prone.  This setting should make for almost ideal tension in the sitting position.  In rice paddy prone and kneeling, the tension will be less than optimal, but still very useful.  I have considered setting the sling tight for sitting and just using the bipod in prone.  That  would give me better tension in rice paddy prone and kneeling, but I keep thinking I should leave the slung prone option open.

Incidentally, I have a friend who was able to shoot a 249 on an AQT using a fixed loop length (set it and forget it).  Also incidentally, my sling design is also a set it and forget it.  Hmmm…

7 thoughts on “How to Use the Sling, Part 4: Getting it Tense (but not two tents)

  1. I keep my USGI sling duct taped to a tension which causes just a bit of discomfort in prone in the hasty configuration, which is (as you mention) perfect for the other positions. The duct tape is necessary because that cam buckle really does like to come undone.

    • RS, excellent post. I think you nailed it perfectly.

      For those readers new to the loop sling, I think one clarification is in order: ‘tight’ does not refer to how tight the loop is around your upper support arm, but rather how short the overall length of the loop is – as measured from the rear of the loop where it contacts the back of the support upper arm, to the front swivel.

      The longer this measurement is, the further forward the front swivel (rifle)/support hand can be, away from the rest of your body, because the longer length lets your forward support hand/forearm/rifle swing more forward (and down), from the support arm elbow joint. This provides lesser, or no, support, because it lets the rifle fall forward and down, away from your shoulder, and the sling no longer holds up the rifle.

      The shorter the loop length, the more the rifle/support hand is forced to be higher and rearwards, which is what forces the rifle butt back into your shoulder. This is what is referred to as a ‘tight’ sling, and gives the greatest support of the rifle. The sling can be set so short that you cannot get the butt into your shoulder (that’s obviously too short). Just enough length so that it ‘pops’ into your shoulder without a struggle, but with rearward pressure, is just right for field use.

      This length will vary as you wear different thicknesses of clothing, so if you set the length in shirtsleeves, you’ll have to lengthen the loop to fit properly over your winter hunting coat, and vice-versa. Something to remember when you get out of the car on a cold season-opening day.

      Competition shooters like slings ridiculously tight, since they have the time to squeeze into it, and need every fraction of a minute of angle more of steadiness they can get. Field shooters need speed and ease of loop-up more than they need a half-minute less wobble.

      There is a way to ‘fudge’ the ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ type slings for tension. If the loop is too short/tight for a given shooting position, you can nudge the loop a little lower/forward on your upper arm, which acts as though you added a little length. This puts the loop in a slightly less-optimal position/angle on your upper arm per RS’s earlier post, but with enough tension, works well for a two-second ‘cheat’ to get the shot off. Similarly, a slightly loose-feeling sling can be nudged higher up/back on your support arm, which adds tension. This lets you adjust tension a little when you don’t have time to actually change the sling loop length.

    • Hey, I didn’t get a box today. RS, you holdin’ out on me? Just kidding. Though I will likely drive my wife insane before it arrives: “Did my package arrive today?” She will probably be almost as pleased as I am when it gets here.

    • Mark,

      I do have instructions, but I don’t have an email for you. Did I put in a note saying that was a test fit prototype?


      Yours is not a prototype, but is on the way (if you are who I think you are).


    • Got down on the living room floor last night, did not read any instructions.
      Was useing a Marlin XT .22 mag with modified stock. The butt end was stretched to 15 1/2 lenght of pull, large vertical pistol grip, with the forend stretched 4″. Two front swivel studs installed one 12″ from trigger, one 17″ inches from trigger.
      I could good support in sitting and high prone with the sling attached to the rear stud.
      Low prone with the swivel attached to front stud, the loop just slipped. Pretty much expected the M1 sling does the same.
      Maybe tomorrow I can take rifle and sling for a walk.
      Much shame on me for getting Springfeild Armory so anixious. SA, I feel your pain I ordered a bullet swaging press and dies, having a real hard time not flagging down the UPS gut and asking him about MY package.

    • Mark,

      The webbing on that sling is one I rejected, so I’m not surprised that it slipped. I was almost embarrased to send it out, but I wanted to get the fit right.

      Can you email me?


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