Author: Chuck Y.
The AR15 sling – how complex can it be? Not too surprisingly, it seems to be almost impossible to get any two shooters to agree on anything about slings. Why is that? How complex can the issue of sling selection and use be?
Let’s look into that question. What does a tactical AR-15 sling do?
For many shooters, it is simply a device to minimize the fatigue of carrying a rifle in your hands for hours when you’re out in the field on a hunt. Instead of carrying it around, you hang it over your shoulder.
More experienced shooters know how to use the tension of a sling strap to improve the stability of a rifle when shooting offhand without a bipod or support (kneeling for instance). Both of these objectives can be effectively accomplished with the correct type of AR sling.
TYPES OF SLING
Let’s look at the two most commonly used and most commonly disputed variants – the Two Point Sling and the One Point Sling.
First, let’s look at the Two Point Sling. Not too surprisingly, it attaches to your AR rifle at two points. In many ways, it looks like the old leather strap on your daddy’s war surplus hunting rifle.
Typically, this sling is attached to the rifle stock at the rear. It is usually attached using a quick disconnect clip and is usually attached to the side of the stock away from the shooter. The other end of the sling attaches to the handguard. The attachment point should ideally be as far forward on the rifle as possible.
The One Point Sling typically attaches to your AR15 at a point near the bottom rear of the receiver. Unlike its Two Point cousin, it does not require a quick disconnect although it may be convenient to use one.
Next, let’s talk about the uses of slings.
The first function of slings is transportation. Regardless of whether your AR platform gun is a bull-barreled monster with pounds of cool accessories or a light little AR pistol with a 7″ barrel and minimal accessories, you’re going to find out you want the ability to carry it safely and comfortably while keeping both hands free.
The Two Point Sling allows you to carry your AR carbine or rifle in several comfortable and convenient positions. If you have a heavy gun, you can always go with the Magpul MS1 Padded Sling.
Improvement of shooting accuracy
The second function of a sling is slightly trickier, and honestly, far less frequently used. When configured properly, the sling can be used to form a triangulated brace which significantly increases stability when offhand shooting.
Although this is an area where the Two Point advocates and the One Point advocates argue loud and long, the physics of the sling bracing is clear.
The Two Point sling offers the greatest improvement in stability. Of course, CQB (Close Quarters Battle) doesn’t require long-shot stability.
On the contrary, it requires freedom of movement which would be virtually denied by a Two Point sling rigged for battle. That’s why so many SOCOM units and Police units rely heavily on the One Point Sling.
How does the sling attach to your rifle or pistol?
At first glance, this looks confusing, but it boils down to the fact that you don’t want to tie the sling strap in a knot around the barrel.
You also don’t want to nail the sling strap to the stock. Both are really bad ideas.
The sling strap has to loop through something attached to the gun and the tag end needs to attach back to the strap. Either with hooks and eyelets or with a simple in and out keeper.
The only question is what is attached to the gun. In the simplest example, the sling webbing can pass through a slot molded into the rear of the stock.
The front connection for a Two Point Sling depends on the gun’s configuration. Some AR 15’s, especially in military configuration, simply have a lug at the bottom front of the handguard.
This lug has a horizontal hole through it from side to side. A loop of steel is pinned to this lug, and the sling webbing is attached to this loop. This is a very simple and secure connection, but it is very inconvenient for repositioning or removing the sling. The most widely used solution is the use of a Quick Disconnect (QD) sling loop.
This can be positioned or removed from the gun with the simple push of a button
As we previously discussed, the One Point AR pistol sling typically attaches somewhere near the bottom rear of the AR receiver.
The easiest way to do this is by the use of a receiver end plate with either an eyelet or a QD connection near the rear of the receiver.
What features to look for in an AR-15 sling?
For any application, durability is key. You don’t want a sling that frays or pulls on snags, barbed wire, blackberry bushes, etc.
Whether it’s taking up intrusive slack when you transition from carrying to shooting or adjusting your one-point sling to enable you to drop your AR and go to a handgun in a gunfight, you just can’t afford the delay of adjusting the sling unless it has a good one-hand quick-adjust feature. The cost can be a trophy whitetail that walks away, or you take the second to last shot in a gunfight (seldom a good outcome in either case).
The primary function of your sling is almost certainly going to be the transportation of your AR. If you’re going to use your sling to carry your AR pistol from your car to the range bench, there’s probably not too much sense in spending a lot of money on super soft padding. On the other hand, if you’re going to carry your bull-barreled 20″ 6.5 Grendel with big optics for several miles on a hunt, the extra padding might be a pretty good idea.
Don’t pay money for something you’re not going to use. A specialized sling like the Viking Tactics Sniper Sling, which provides a built-in cuff for shooting stability, might be great for someone doing the precision long-distance shooting, but would just provide another snag point for day-to-day sling use in the field. Similarly, as pointed out above, wide padded straps are worth their extra price if you spend hours and miles carrying your heavy gun
It’s obvious but overlooked. The right sling goes a long way towards making your AR look cool! The first test is whether or not you like it when you first see it. It’s also important that the look should be consistent with the gun. An AR15 dressed out in military furniture looks great wearing a Blue Force Gear Vickers Combat sling – and it should. That’s a sling issued to all US Military branches. It looks real because it is.
You can buy a sling for your AR15 for anywhere from about $15 to well over $100. The important question is how much should you pay and for what features. The table below shows comparative features and pricing for our favorite slings. Prices are accurate at the time of writing.
AR15 Sling Comparison
|Sling||Price||Quick-Adjust||Padded||One Point||Two Point||Rear Clip||Rear QD||Front Clip||Front QD|
|Magpul MS1 Padded||$57||x||x||x||x|
|Blue Force Vickers||$70||x||x||x|
|Viking Tactics Padded||$55||x||x||x|
Reviewing the above table, the Magpul MS1 Padded, the Blue Force Vickers, and the Viking Tactics slings do not come with standard hardware at the ends. Hardware costs about $15 per end for clips and about $20 per end for QD.
All of the evaluated slings were of very high quality, so this is not included in the evaluation.
BEST SINGLE POINT SLING and BEST TWO POINT SLING
Given the versatility, price, and value, our choice is the Magpul MS4 sling. As a bonus, the ability to quickly convert from One Point to Two Point enables you to buy just one sling to service various AR15 Rifles and AR 15 Pistols in your collection.
BEST PADDED SLING
If you have a particularly heavy AR 15 rifle, you may want to go with a padded sling. The Magpul MS1 and the Viking Tactic padded slings tied for top position here. Either one would be an excellent choice.
There is a challenging array of slings out there. We’ve evaluated many of them and made our recommendation here. We hope this helps, but ultimately, you have to decide what works best for you.
One Last Tip
If there’s anyone that knows the AR-15 platform, it’s the US military. As a special offer for our readers, you can get the Official US Army Manual for AR-15/M4/M16 right now – for free. Click here to snag a copy.