Loop Sling vs Tactical Sling as a Shooting Aid

I’ve been running a prototype tactical sling that also allows for an easy loop sling, a la the RS-2. I think that the design is slightly too complex, and I’ve been considering eliminating the loop sling portion of it. Before I did that, I needed to see if a tactical sling could be used as a shooting aid to the same effect as a loop sling. I was hoping it would work as well or better so I would feel fine with eliminating the loop from and start with a new simplified prototype.

What I mean by using the tactical sling as support is that the sling goes from the buttstock, over the firing side shoulder, diagonally down across the back, under the support side arm, and attaches on the rifle’s hand guard. To use the 2 point sling as support in this manner the sling, which as a quick overall length adjustment is pulled taut. The effect is that the weight of the rifle is supported to some degree, although the geometry is not as simple and sound as the loop sling setup.  This does seem to provide quite a bit more stability than nothing at all.

I set up two identical targets on my board. I decided to use a sitting position. The field was completely muddy, so I used open leg sitting because I had a wooden block to sit on. The block was 98 yards from the target. My ammo was Federal XM193. I fired one shot per breath on for each group. I fired the loop sling first and took a slight break in between before shooting the tactical sling group.

Subjectively the positions felt about equally stable. In the scope I could see about twice as much movement in the scope with the tactical sling used for support.  Finding one’s natural point of aim with a loop sling is a cut and dried process.  In the tactical sling configuration I was not able to bring that to as finite a point.  With the loop sling most of the shots appeared to break with the reticle well centered. With the tactical sling about half of them appeared to do so, as there was a significantly larger “wobble area”. 

Loop Sling Vs Tactical Sling
Loop sling group on top. Tactical sling group on bottom.  The point of aim was the target immediately below the ‘157’.  My zero was obviously not on.  The extreme spread is illustrated by the black rectangle and the group’s center and deviation from the point of aim is indicated by the small crosshairs and black and white hashed line, respectively.

On paper, the loop sling group was clearly smaller, at 2.8 MOA. The tactical sling group came in at 3.6 MOA. One group each is not enough to tell me the whole story, but it was indicative of what I saw and felt behind the rifle. One position is not enough to be conclusive, but it was enough information for me to form a hypothesis.

The positive attributes of using the tactical sling for support are that it’s easier and quicker to use, and allows for normal weapon manipulation with the AR (support hand manipulation of the charging handle and magazines during reloads).  In a lot of situations that is enough to outweigh the precision of the loop sling.

The loop sling is a pain to get into when it’s worn around the body and does not allow for support hand manipulation of the charging handle. The tautness of the sling, which is necessary for support, also significantly changes the ability to get the correct eye relief, which is not the case with the tactical sling support.

I need to do some additional research to see if I can make the sling work in roughly this configuration, or if it would still be better to change it. The tactical style sling is very nice to use with an AR. The ability to instantly adjust overall length in a tactical style sling is a must. The ability to loop up with this rifle is more of a luxury, in my opinion, but it is apparently more precise a means of support than the tactical sling. I’ll provide an update when one is justified.

23 thoughts on “Loop Sling vs Tactical Sling as a Shooting Aid

  1. This is something of great interest to me. I have a couple of your RS1 and RS2 slings and a couple of them I use on my ARs that are oriented for precision shooting. I have changed the controls on those ARs to do more with the right hand, but it is still not optimal. It works though. However, for the lighter weight AR carbines I have, I could really use a tactical sling that also provides some level of shooting support. It had not occurred to me to try the stabilization method you mention here, but I am going to give it a shot (pun intended).

  2. I’m curious to hear more of your observations as well. I have one of your RS1 slings on my a 10/22 and have enjoyed using it for Appleseed events. I am just starting to set up my 1st AR and it is currently more carbine orientated (16″ 1/7, MidLength Gas, A2 front sight). I have been looking for a sling that might also offer some aid as a shooting support but it sounds like I’ll have to wait a bit for a RifleCraft one. Of the current slings on the market, I’m currently leaning towards the new Magpul MS1 since it seems like a simple 2point sling with easy length adjustments. The Vickers Blue Force Sling (VCAS) was the other I was considering.

    • The Vickers is well made, and I like that the quick adjust is a closed system, but I don’t think that there’s quite enough range of adjustment. I’ve found that it’s useful to have a LOT of adjustment. I’ll have to take a look at the Magpul.

      • Thanks. I see what you mean about the long maximum adjustment length being important. I maxed out a USGI cotton sling and attached it at the FSB swivel and at the buttstock swivel. Attempting to carry the rifle across the front of my body resulted in the buttstock at nose-level.

        • Nose level is unacceptable in my opinion. I’ve managed to get mine down to upper lip level, which is a huge step in the right direction 🙂

  3. Very interesting RS. As you say, not enough to be conclusive but certainly indicative – would you care to comment (subjectively is fine) about how the results compare to the same sitting position but without using a sling for support at all?

    cheers, jonno

    • I think you are right. I should have done a control group. It is possible, though I think unlikely, that the tactical style support did nothing for me at all.

  4. I have purchased more RS slings than I care to admit and am a strong believer in the utility of the loop sling as a shooting aid.

    I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to make the RS sling that I like so much into a “tactical” cross-body sling for an AR. Eventually, I had a special bracket machined to replace the front sling swivel, and it did work in principle, just not with my particular combination of AR handguard and scout scope.

    Ever since that experiment, I’ve been waiting for RS to reveal the simple and elegant solution that has eluded me for so long. Based on this post, I suppose I’ll have to wait a little longer!

    • My mind is working through it. You know when you walk into a room and you don’t know why that your mind must be solving some serious issues.

  5. I used my RS2 in a 3 Gun match in December. The way we used slings was simply to sling it behind the back when moving from one string (pistol usually) to the next. Then I unslung the rifle and shot that string before abandoning it and moving on. In that context the RS2 worked very well. It carried the rifle where I needed it and I could then loop up and shoot the rifle portion. I’m very interested in a tactical sling for 3 Gun but my desire would be to keep the loop. I run mine loose enough to get into and out of quickly but the stability it provides allowed me to shoot long targets offhand that others were either bracing or going prone for. I think such a sling has real potential as a competition multiplier. Drop me a line if you want more feedback. I took the RS2 off but I think I’ll put it back on and run the next match and see how it compares to the last 2 matches where I didn’t use it. I’ll let you know.

  6. Interesting pursuit there RS. If you can come up with a combo speed loop/tactical sling that would be a game-changer for the CQB crowd.

    Have you thought about using a part of the sling that can attach/detach from the rifle, or the sling itself, so that a tactical sling can be converted to a loop via some sort of “unclip this and clip it to that” adjustment, and then back again? More complex, but……

    • This would be similar to the Tactical Intervention “Quick Cuff” sling. It would solve some problems, but like you said it would add complexity. My issues with my prototype are relatively minor, and I think with some mental wrangling I can sort them out to my satisfaction. I like simple. A am simple (minded) 🙂

  7. Hi RS. I have learned a lot from your blog. If you do a follow up post on the tactical sling please consider adding a picture. I am not seeing how a tactical sling gives any more support than the hasty sling. Fwiw I just use old USGI cotton web slings on ARs. I have a Turner sling for target work. The perfect sling is like the holy grail or something eh? First the Ching Sling, then the RS Riflecraft. If you can figure this out you may not get rich, but your work will sure be appreciated.

    • Ray,

      I don’t know that the sling in this configuration gives any more support than the hasty sling. I do find this mode of carry advantageous with the AR, as it allows the weapon to be basically at the ready and the hands to be used for other things at the same time. It’s also nice that the mode of carry is also usable for some support it it’s pulled tight. I really like the ability to cinch it close to the body when I walk around so it doesn’t bounce, then get some slack quickly and easily.

      On a rifle with swivel studs in the standard location I still like a regular sling.

  8. I’m very happy to see you experimenting with this idea. I have asked many of the same questions over a number of years without coming to a firm conclusion. There are obvious advantages to a good tactical sling, especially for weapon transitions and retention in a dynamic scenario. Obtaining an equally stable shooting position may, or may not, be possible. I’ll bet that you’ll have to come to some reasonable compromise in the final design, and will be very interested to see how you resolve the competing criteria. Thanks for exploring this.

  9. One additional thought. The KISS principle has to apply, but perhaps should be modified to Keep It (as) Simple Stupid (as is possible).

  10. The hasty sling is what it is…it either works or it doesnt because it is either the right length or it’s not…….while the tactical adjustable has the option of jumping into the position and simply pulling it tight….

    Look closely at the VTAC sling by Kyle Lamb of Viking Tactics….lots of adjustment….plus a breakaway feature in case the truck blows up and starts to burn and you need to get away from your rifle….granted not everyone will need that but…….

    There’s also a padded loop for us old guys, or for those who will be carrying the rifle all day for days…….

    • Russ,

      I haven’t used the VTAC before, but I understand what it does and why it dominates the market for that type of shooting. It obviously sets the standard. I don’t know that I can make a better tactical sling than that, but I won’t give up until I really hit the wall. I’ve used the Vickers, and especially like that the quick adjust is a closed system, but I don’t think it offers quite a large enough range of adjustment. I think that even my prototype, imperfect as it is, works better for me than the Vickers. Really the hardest part in getting a really functional and ergonomic design going is finding the right parts to make it work without the capital that Blue Force and Viking Tactics have.

      • Gotcha bro….personally I think you should give the Vickers away and get a VTAC to study…you will be much happier with the range of adjustment…then you can design yours and sell them to all of us….

  11. If it helps any. The vickers sling can be used to the same effect if not better then the loop. You need to swim your arm from outside to in and then wrap it around like a hasty. This puts the main anchoring points in the same place with the added benifit of grabbing the sling and pressing it to the forend or handguard. This eliminates barrel flex as well. The first time ive used the sling for USMC table 1 i shot about 15points higher the first time. Its just as usuable and a hell of a lot more comfortable to work with. Just may take from dry fire practice

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