Things that are easy, convenient, and work well don’t come along very often. Things that are worthwhile usually aren’t easy, you have to break your damn back to get anywhere in life, blah, blah, blah. When I find something to the contrary, that is to say, efficiently effective, I’ll take it. Yes, I found something good during all my crazy experimentation, group measuring and staticizing (made that word up).
I’ll have to refresh your memory, so let’s do some recapping. In January I did a series of articles on the loop sling and how it works. I followed that up by analyzing how well it works in comparison to no sling at all in a few positions. Then I took a look at the hasty sling, even though I don’t like it, to give it a fair chance (and I’m still not a fan). About the last thing I did was to put up an introductory article about the potential for the cross body carry (what folks tend to call ‘tactical’) sling to be used as a marksmanship aid. I’ve had my analysis done since then, so the demo photos and shots of groups are old. That’s where we’re picking things up.
I’ll give up the punchline first: the cross body sling and the kneeling position are like chocolate and peanut butter. They go together like they were meant for each other. Some other positions with the cross body sling stabilization were potentially useful in certain ways, others were okay, and several were just not good at all.
Why does the cross body sling stabilize so well in the kneeling position? The broad answer is that it presents a happy confluence of factors. I’ll show you how.
Remember that the conventional loop sling, which we’ll consider as our gold standard of sling support, works to take the place of all the muscles within its span. Here are some photo reference reminders:
Hopefully that conveyed the point that the taut span of webbing from the arm to the front of the hand, coupled with the structure of the bones and connective tissue of the hand, arm, and shoulder, allow for a much greater degree of relaxation in the position, especially when the support elbow can be rested on a stable surface. It also allows for a freakishly consistent return to a finite natural point of aim because unlike a muscle, it’s a strap that ain’t goan stretch.
Let’s begin our examination of this cross body carry sling as used to support our position in kneeling.
A few things come to mind. I shaved the beard quite a while ago. Pity. If I ever buy beer again I’m probably going to get carded. Next, when am I ever going to learn about that strong side foot making me shaky when it’s planted too near to the center of my gravity? Also, I’ve lost about 20 lbs of fat since that picture was taken (I carried it pretty well, but I was riding at about 25%). Don’t worry, I decided to keep the muscle and to keep getting stronger.
So from what you know about the loop sling, you should be able to tell that in the above photo the cross body sling, having been tightened to a snug setting, is supporting the rifle in an extremely similar manner. The straight line of the sling from below the armpit to the support hand looks strikingly similar to that of the loop sling. The primary difference is that the origin of the sling is on the butt swivel, and that the back has to support the sling tension, rather than just the support arm.
The reason that this support works so well in kneeling is likely because of two things. In kneeling, the back is nearly vertical. This gives the sling something to hang on to. Other positions tend to lean the torso forward, which causes the sling to ride up to the neck and lose the tension it needs. The second factor is that the support elbow can be planted on the support side knee. Like I said, a happy confluence of factors.
The feeling of the cross body carry support was very similar to the loop sling. You may be able to see in the photo above that my support arm kept the sling from sliding up my back toward my neck. That did contribute to some discomfort (achiness) in my shoulder area for a while after. That’s not normal, but for shooting test targets and getting my photo taken by an eight-year-old, I spent some serious time in position.
The most pleasing part was the target. I had comparisons to my performance with the loop sling and without a sling. To ensure that I could record all my shots (i.e., not miss the target completely), I shot from 50 yards. The pace was neither slow, nor rapid, but at my natural pace (which tends more toward the rapid, but I wasn’t in a hurry). The black primary bull presents an 8 MOA (just a hair over 4″) target at 50 yards.
Kneeling, no sling:
Kneeling, loop sling:
Kneeling, cross body carry support:
Interestingly, the loop sling group was narrow and tall, while the cross body supported group was short and wider. Overall however, you can see that the cross body carry sling won this round. I don’t think it’s a definitive indication that the cross body carry sling is more stable than the loop sling, but I will take it as an indication that performance between the two is sure darn close.
Given the relatively comparable precision of the loop sling and the cross body sling in the kneeling position, you have to consider the time necessary to utilize the support. The loop sling can be fast, given a practical sling (or it can be unbearably slow, as is the case with the USGI web sling). If you figure it takes about 3-4 seconds to go from port arms to a slung kneeling position with a Ching sling or RS-1, it’s not really an apples to apples comparison to go from carry mode in cross body to a stabilized kneeling position:
Incidentally, within the last week I finally got my RS-3, which is the sling in the video above, up for sale here. I’ll say no more about it for now. If you want to see why the written word is my preferred mode of communication, there’s a video at the link.
I found the cross body support useless in prone and in sitting. There was a bit of support in squatting, but not so hot. It does do something in standing and I’ll probably get to that sometime relatively soon. It’s still nice to have a loop sling as a tool on the belt, and I think it’s definitely a necessity to have just in case, but for kneeling the cross body carry support is most definitely the way to go.