Author: Deven C.
Magpul Slings Explained: The Rifle Sling as a customizable accessory
The rifle sling is the most basic and arguably oldest rifle accessory. In this golden age of firearms, the rudimentary ‘old school’ leather strap has evolved into yet another rifle accessory with a myriad of options to suit every long gun enthusiast’s needs. It’s not just about lugging a long-barreled rifle around anymore, but about finding the ideal method of carrying for each rifleman – to maximize comfort, utility, and quality to make the next shot count.
Magpul Sling Background
Magpul has several rifle sling offerings to assist in a variety of useful purposes. For the new rifle owner, finding the “right“ sling for your rifle may seem a little intimidating–especially since Magpul’s naming convention is admittedly, a little unconventional (MS1 vs. MS3 Gen 2 vs. MS4 Gen 2, MS1MS3 Adapter, MS1MS4 Adapter, etc.) – but once you learn Magpul’s system, it is very simple.
Magpul’s sling system revolves around its versatile and innovative MS1 design. This design aims to provide as many carry options and attachment preferences as possible to suit each rifle carrier’s purpose–while at the same time delivering a durable and tested product designed to withstand the harshest conditions. Magpul’s proprietary sling weave material, made of ½” nylon webbing, is wear-resistant and even prepared with Near Infrared (NIR) treatment to help reduce an IR signature. It is also anti-chafing. Each feature is purposefully considered and meant to assist the rifle bearer to carry and manipulate their firearm with maximum comfort and confidence.
In addition, Magpul’s rifle slings are customizable to multiple possible configurations for the user’s preference and convenience. These adjustments allow for quick and easy transitions off the shoulder, rapid adjustability for hands-free rifle carry, and shooting support for various positions. The bottom line is, whether you are a heavy-duty experienced operator, casual shooter, or just someone that wants a tough, American-made product that you can rely on when you need it, Magpul has an option to meet your needs.
Magpul Attachment Hardware
First off, the attachment hardware is the piece that is affixed to the sling and is the method of attachment that connects the sling to the rifle.
Each piece of hardware is made with durable construction and materials designed to withstand the most rugged situations. Some sling models have a combination of attachments, so you need to confirm what attachment you need that will work with your rifle and accomplish the main purpose (i.e. hunting, recreational shooting, or tactical) of your sling.
Magpul offers several different attachment hardware options: para clip, QD (quick disconnect), QDM, and a locking swing swivel.
The para clip is a clip-style attachment hardware for loop attachment points. The para clip has quick-release capabilities or can be locked down for added security. It is made of melonite steel and heavy-duty polymer material.
Why do we like it?
The para clip is one of the more cost-effective, secure, and traditional hardware pieces, but not necessarily designed for speed when transitioning your connecting points or from 1-point to 2-point sling conversion or vice versa.
The QD sling swivel is a push-button quick detach system attachment compatible with QD attachment points. It is made of manganese-phosphate finished steel.
Why do we like it (with one caveat)?
The QD is a small step up in price from the para clip, but you get a major increase in convenience. A quick press of the thumb is all that is needed to release the QD swivel. However, it is sometimes possible for a mistaken press to accidentally release the QD swivel at inopportune times. Magpul solved this issue with their QDM hardware device.
The QDM allows for one-handed manipulation. Simply squeeze the side buttons of this attachment, and the QDM can be inserted or removed as necessary.
Why do we like it?
This is Magpul’s “heavy-duty upgrade” to the traditional QD swing swivel. The QDM has a lower mounting profile than the QD swivel and comes with dual side release tabs that prevent accidental release as both release tabs need to be activated before the swivel can be released. This is another small increase in price from the QD swivel, but the return is the added confidence that comes with the safety and security of the QDM hardware.
Locking swing swivel
The locking swing swivel attaches to a swivel stud and allows for a secure fit, while still allowing for rotation. This is an updated take on the GI swing swivel and is sold in pairs.
Magpul Attachment Point Devices
The attachment point or mounting devices are affixed to the firearm and provide the point of contact to secure the attachment hardware. Some AR handguards have a traditional front loop, (aka the GI swing swivel), and most AR-platform specific buttstocks will have some kind of mechanism built into the stock to attach a sling without attachment hardware (Magpul stocks are especially known for this feature).
If your rifle only has certain mounting or attachment point devices–such as GI swing swivels–and you prefer another attachment method, Magpul has you covered there too. If you want to change over to a different method, there are several options for attachment point mounting hardware that can be fastened to your rifle. Some can be attached directly to your MLOK or Picatinny handguard. For rear attachments, you may need to remove the buffer tube. Most 1-point sling operators prefer an ambidextrous attachment point at the base of the buffer tube for a 1-point sling operation. In sum, if you need a connecting point at a certain place on your rifle, there is likely an attachment device available that can be installed to match up to the attachment hardware at that point.
Magpul Slings for AR-15
MS1 – Building Block to the Ideal AR-15 Sling Setup
The MS1 is Magpul’s bread and butter, versatile 2-point sling with its patented “slider” that allows the user to quickly adjust (slide) the sling to a preferred length and then hold at the new position with no give.
The slider’s patented design also eliminates any messy loops or extra material that gets in the way, unlike traditional sling adjustment hardware. Out of the box, it comes as a 2-point sling, but can be converted to a 1-point sling with an adapter. The MS1 also comes in a padded version for extra-level comfort and protection. The padded sling comes in especially handy when hauling heavier rifles.
While the MS1 is categorized as a 2-point sling, it allows for maximum customization because any attachment device can be added. The entry-level MS1 comes with a slider and no attachment devices. In addition, Magpul offers a version of the MS1 with QDM attachments.
MS3 vs. MS4 – Single Point Setup
The MS3 and MS4 are “generation 2” because Magpul applied its slider from the MS1 across its MS sling platform. So, if you were worried about losing the extra capability with the slider, never fear, they are available on all of the MS-style slings.
The MS3 Gen 2 is Magpul’s “multi-mission” platform and arguably their most popular sling. The MS3 is designed to provide maximum flexibility and durability for rifle operators that require multiple options and quick changes in their modes of carrying. The MS3 can be used as a 1-point or dual-point sling.
The MS3 Gen 2 comes with para clip attachment hardware. Alternatively, the MS3 QD Gen 2 comes with a version with one QD swivel and one para clip. It also comes with the slider found on the MS1.
The MS4 Gen 2 is Magpul’s “dual multi-mission” platform. The MS4 is a 1-point sling with QD swivels as end attachment hardware. It also has Magpul’s slider feature and the option for QDM attachments. The MS4 takes the MS3 and adds QD or QDM swivels for rifle operators desiring the smoothest and quickest transitions to different methods of rifle carry or shooting positions.
The benefits of the MS1 include its entry-level price point and the ability to upgrade. As such, the MS1 is a customizable 2-point basic sling that can also become any version of the MS3 or MS4. The choice of configuration is yours. Add whatever attachment device you prefer or need for your rifle. In addition, converting an MS1 sling to an MS3 or MS4 is as easy as finding the appropriate adapter and your 2-point sling instantly transforms to a capable 1-point sling.
2-point to 1-point Sling Conversion
Further, the MS1MS4 Adapter also allows for 2-to-1-point sling conversion. This adapter has a QD attachment point and includes QD “receiver” hardware on the D-ring for even faster sling transitions. The MS1MS4 is designed for use with the MS1 that has QD attachment hardware and accepts QD (or QDM) hardware.
Want to go old school?
Magpul’s “rifleman’s loop sling” is a more conventional rifle strap for a hunting rifle or for those who want an affordable and lightweight take on the traditional sling. The RLS provides proper retention while carrying and an adjustable forward loop to secure the hunter’s support arm for a steady shot. The sling is made up of Magpul’s proprietary nylon webbing mesh and strong polymer hardware found in its other sling platforms. The RLS is compatible with whatever attachment points you need.
Which Magpul rifle sling is best for me?
Well, as with most things in life, it depends on what type of firearm it is going on and what you are going to use it for.
If you want the ability to manipulate your sling one-handed, with options to quickly change between one and dual-point slings, then you need to look at the MS4 or MS3. Then you need only choose your preferred attachment method and ensure you have the proper mounting hardware for your attachment points.
If you are a weekend shooter and most familiar with the traditional 2-point sling–but still like the idea of having the future option of converting to a 1-point sling–the MS1 with an adapter will work. This is also a good option for the beginner, the cost-conscious, and those who may be unsure whether they will ever want a 1-point sling, but still allows for a cost-effective future option to convert should the desire arise.
Whatever your preference, whatever your mission, you can’t go wrong with a Magpul sling.
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.