One of the nice things about this blog is that it gives me a place to point folks when they ask me for advice about firearms-related items. While I do not consider myself a true expert I do have significant experience with lots of these systems. The result is that I can post what I really like and why. Tactical, three-point slings are a very important part of any long gun setup for me and so deserve careful consideration.
I’ve always used slings to carry long guns and also for steadying the weapon during firing. It was only in recent years that I began to try anything other than the classic two-point sling. For me the single-point sling is not very useful. I do have one on my Kel-Tec SU-16c because that gun is very light, small and can be carried with the stock folded under my strong arm. For my other long guns I find it is just too much weight on my neck to be comfortable and there’s just not enough control of the weapon. Once I tried a three-point sling I understood why they are so popular: nice weight distribution, the gun can drop across my torso without any guidance and it still offers great support for firing.
My first three-point sling for an AR-15 was a Blackhawk Universal Swift Sling. It is a fine sling that offers good features and costs around $40. It offers the usual 1.25″ nylon webbing and decent plastic hardware but I did have a failure with one of the buckles. As many of you know I am a big fan of the Blackhawk folks but in this application I felt I wanted something a bit more robust. I do tend to be pretty hard on gear.
After looking around a bit I found a sling that I have not been able to break and that I like a lot: The Wilderness Giles Tactical Sling. The folks at The Wilderness are very conscientious about their products and it shows. The Giles design has been around for decades but this incarnation seems unbeatable. The nylon webbing is the toughest I’ve seen in 1.25″ and is non-reflective and makes almost no noise during adjustment and the hardware is very tough. Getting one with the quick release buckle is essential in my opinion. I would wager that many folks would be very happy with this sling and find it meets all their needs. After using one for a long time I was still thinking that there was a better sling out there for my particular needs. Eventually I got my hands on a Spector SOP sling and I now believe I have found the perfect sling for me.
Specter is another outstanding company that has put a lot of time and energy into developing not just a few models but a whole family of three-point slings. The Special Operations Patrol (SOP) sling is based on their CQB sling which is a fine sling using excellent materials and featuring a weak-side transition clasp that can be activated with the weak-side thumb (or any other digit) without losing attachment to the weapon. This is critical when one needs to quickly transition to the weak side for say, shooting around a corner. After the weak-side need passes the weapon can be transitioned to the strong-side quickly and the sling locked back into its original configuration instantly. While a number of vendors have a similar feature I have found the Specter implementation to be the best. The CQB is also very quick and easy to adjust for different carry needs without removing it from the weapon or needing to re-thread any buckles.
The difference in the SOP is that it switches to 1.5″ webbing. This makes a big difference for me in terms of comfort. It might not sound like much but that extra .25″ does distribute the weight better for me. The SOP uses transition webbing at the front and rear so that you have a 1.25″ loop for attachment to the sling mounts. My first use of the SOP was with a standard AR-15 that had round handguards and a standard stock. The heavy-duty loops wrapped completely around the stocks and was very secure. Later versions I’ve used have been “universal” units made to work with 1.25″ swivel mounts. The inclusion of a quick-release buckle make this unit the ultimate three-point sling for my applications.
A word should be said here about why I find this beefy setup to be best. With my Ruger SR-556 weighing in a about eight pounds, and the addition of a GripPod, sling mount, optics and tactical light, the working weight of my primary carbine when loaded is over ten pounds. That’s significant weight to have hanging and banging around my neck and shoulders. If I was carrying a stripped down Colt patrol carbine I would likely be happy with the Specter CQB but given my choices for the setup the SOP is a distinct improvement. What works best for you might be different of course.
Lastly, I want to mention sling mounts. Many rifles sold today don’t have the bottom-mounted sling swivel (or the vestigial bayonet lug) which is fine with me. Three-point slings don’t work well with those because it makes the gun tend to roll forward as it hangs freely. Having the magazine jabbing me in the gut is no fun, especially if I am going prone or otherwise encountering an immovable object. I think that the forward mount should be at least even with the bore axis. In fact I prefer it to be above-axis by about an inch. Yankee Hill and GG&G make good mounts but I really like the Daniel Defense units. These
of course require a quad-rail but that is becoming standard anyway. With the Magpul CTR stock on all my carbines I already have a mounting hole right in the stock, ready for another Daniel Defense favorite: the Heavy-Duty quick-release swivels. These push-button swivels are very tough and will not come loose unless you really push in on the release button. I’ve never had one come loose by accident. They also have a built-in limit of about 120 degrees of travel arc so that the sling can’t get twisted by spinning around in the mount. Another nice feature of using these mounts is that I can attach or remove the entire sling quickly. This allows me to swap slings between guns too.
So with my Specter SOP on DD mounts I’m very happy. Will I find something better in the days ahead? That’s a tough question, but for now I really feel I’ve got the best setup going.