Today we accessorize long guns with lights, lasers, variable magnification optics and slings. While some of these things may be unnecessary, I feel like the sling is the most important. With all the things that it helps a shooter to accomplish, you can’t go without a sling. When in serious use in a fight, you need a sling that will be durable and flexible enough for a variety of tasks. For this reason, there is a category of slings I call combat slings that are worthy of serving you in a fight. In a gun fight, a sling may end up being the difference between a hit and several misses. There are some methods of using a combat sling to include using it as a stabilizing brace for long range shots, having a way to retain your rifle while doing other things like shooting a pistol, climbing, or doing things that would require you to have both hands involved. Heck, if nothing else, a sling is nice just to be able to hang your rifle from your shoulder as nonchalantly as women sling on a purse.
There are three sling types that are most common, and each of these slings offer a different set of advantages. First you have the one point sling. When I was in the Marines, I noticed alot of one point slings on veterans of Iraq. Some of these guys had braided 550 cord as one point slings even. The general consensus that I got from these guys was that they found that the other sling types got in the way and didn’t quite keep the rifle in a consistent area where it was ready to use. Also they liked how the one point sling didn’t get in the way of manipulation of the rifle or snag up. I personally agree that the one point sling does allow good readiness in a consistent position. I also agree that it limits the interference the sling has in the manipulation of the rifle. BUT, I did notice that movement and letting the rifle hang while using both hands elsewhere causes the rifle to flop around like a fish out of water, and punish the knees and legs. That said, the one-point sling became a proven combat sling in urban warfare where your rifle is pretty much going to have to be ready for use at all times.
The next type of sling is the two-point sling, which is gaining a bunch of traction and popularity for a variety of reasons, as best I can tell. This design offers an interesting balance of functions, with a few exceptions. The sling allows you to let the rifle hang without letting it flop around loosely. It offers you the ability to have retention of the rifle, and also allows low amounts of interference is manipulation and reloads. I also appreciate the fact that the one point sling is also good for a hasty sling support for long range shots without a rest. There is also the fact that it is easily adjusted with most of these types of slings to offer versatility and be specifically set to support the shooter in a variety of roles to include the nonchalant slinging over the shoulder that we discussed earlier. The uses and advantages sure do stack up quickly for the two-point being pretty much the best combat sling, but not without facing some harsh truths. At times, the two-point sling can make shouldering a bit uncomfortable and tight if you don’t have the tension and slack on the sling reined in properly at the time. Though this is minor, it can also affect manipulation by causing limited range of motion and therefore even greater interference in manipulation.
The last is the three-point sling, which is what I spent 99% of my time on while I was in. This concept is an interesting one to say the least. It offers great benefits that the two point sling offers, but with a few quarks. The three-point sling is similar to the two-point sling, but with an extra length of the sling staying tight along the length of the rifle being routed back to the first point of attachment, or close to it, while using that excess length to be slung around you. The first thing I noticed is that the three-point sling did a great job at allowing the shooter to have all the same retention and versatility of the two-point sling, but with one slight difference. If you are going to go from a proper configuration and slung position, to an administrative slinging across the back, you are better off taking the sling off, and bringing the entire length of the sling into the form of a two point sling. Other than that, you may find that the three point sling does very well as a combat sling in close quarters.
In my view, a sling is a great asset to anyone looking to run a rifle with any seriousness. But my recommendation to you is to get a sling that is made of good strong materials and will be able to take a beating. This includes the attachment points, of which there are numerous to choose from. Choose wisely, train with it, get used to using it, and remember that the combat sling is an important part to the combat rifle or shotgun.
What kind of sling do you think is the best to serve as a combat sling?
David Served in the USMC, deployed twice and got wounded. Retired and moved to Alaska. Has a passion for reviewing and testing guns and gear of all kinds. Enjoys working to dispel myths and show that you can train and practice in a realistic, safe, and practical way.
Photos by author
If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting our Veteran Editorial by becoming a SOFREP subscriber. Click here to get 3 months of full ad-free access for only $1