This is by far the most common type of sling. It consists of a simple strap that attaches to the front and rear of the rifle on the underside of the stock. The carry strap sling may also have a padded section to help ease the discomfort that comes with carrying a rifle over long periods of time.
If all you need to do is occasionally toss your rifle or shotgun over one shoulder then this may be the best option for you. You’ve got some flexibility with how you carry your rifle with a carry strap as well, such as muzzle up or muzzle down, and whether you wish to carry on your strong side, support side, or across your back.
Typically carry straps don’t adjust easily though, so it’s best to pick one style of carry and leave the sling adjusted for the appropriate length.
Even though it is not necessarily intended to be used as a shooting aid, the carry strap may be wrapped around the support arm to provide a small amount of stability. This technique is known as the “hasty sling.” Different shooters will likely experiences different levels of confidence in this technique, but in my experience the added stability is very slight due to the fact that most of the tension merely serves to pull the rifle sideways rather than deep into the shoulder.
There are several slings that fit into this category such as the USGI web sling, the Whelen sling, and the Ching sling. For the purposes of this article we’ll broadly categorize these slings as either “detached loop slings” or “integrated loop slings.” All of these slings function just fine as carry straps but have the added advantage of allowing you to steady your aim significantly by anchoring the rifle more securely to your body by means of a loop around the supporting arm. I cannot emphasize enough how effective a proper shooting sling can be with a little training and practice.
The USGI web sling is an excellent example of a detached loop sling. It is typically cotton or nylon and is designed to attach to the rigid sling mounts found on the M1 Garand, M14, and M16 series rifles. The USGI web sling adjusts easily and can be purchased as military surplus or as new production.
To use a GI style sling as a shooting support it is necessary to detach the rear end from the rifle, thus the “detached-loop” designation. Doing this allows you to create a loop with the end of the sling that you can use to anchor the rifle to your supporting arm. This is the method taught to all United States Marine Corps recruits during rifle training as well as to civilians through programs like the CMP and Project Appleseed. Other surplus web slings such as the standard Mosin Nagant web sling and the Lee Enfield web sling can be used in a similar fashion.
Integrated-loop slings such as the Whelen sling and M1907 sling offer the same type of support as the USGI web sling but with the added convenience of remaining attached to both the front and the rear of the rifle at all times. The shooting loop on these slings is created when the sling strap doubles back over itself at the front sling swivel and attaches back to itself towards the rear of the stock.
These slings are typically of leather construction and are less common and more expensive than the USGI sling. Integrated-loop slings tend to be more difficult to adjust than the USGI style slings so if you plan on shooting from a variety of positions you may want to skip this one since proper sling length will change significantly between shooting positions.
The Ching sling is a bit of a special case sling and was specifically designed to address the shortcomings of other rifle slings. Like integrated-loop slings it incorporates a built-in shooting loop which avoids the need to detach the rear of the sling from the rifle. It improves upon other sling designs even further by utilizing a third sling swivel in order to keep the shooting loop open and accessible for quick use in the field. For this reason the Ching sling is a favorite of large game hunters, though it does require the installation of a third sling swivel.
Patrol slings deviate from the previously discussed slings in that they are designed primarily to retain the rifle on the shooter’s front side rather than on the back or over the shoulder. They offer excellent weapon retention while also allowing the shooter to quickly bring the rifle on target from a slung position. There are three primary types of patrol slings:
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