Quite some time ago, John posted this article about single-point slings. I must confess that, in my pre- and nascent training days, I dabbled around with a single-point sling on my first AR-15. Truth be told, perhaps I had watched a little too much Costa and Haley coolness in the Magpul videos!
Probably not surprisingly, my first sling was the Magpul MS3 sling, which is marketed as a two or one-point sling (user choice depending on the moment). This was the sling that was on my AR-15 for my first two carbine classes. Soon after the second class (see here), I sold it at a slight loss and replaced it with a dedicated two-point model. Why? Well, in two-point mode I felt like the quick adjust was far from quick. The slider through which the sling is supposed to slide just seemed to hold the sling much too tightly, creating a bit of a wrestling match for me. As for the one-point mode, all I can say is that I rarely used it in that mode, so why bother? I had thought I might at least like the single-point sling on my AR pistol. However, even on that, I came to prefer the two-point system, which allowed me to push against it better for more support (necessary on such a stockless firearm).
The primary advantage of the single-point is the ability to rapidly switch shoulders in close quarters environments, such as might be necessary when shooting around cover. The disadvantages of such a sling, however, are many and varied. First, during transitions to a secondary weapon, the rifle/carbine will swing down and either impact the more sensitive areas of the male anatomy or, at the very least, whack the knees. Second, because of this, it is usually necessary for one hand to secure the rifle/carbine during transitions or at other times when it is slung, such as climbing a fence, ladder, etc. A sling that still requires a hand in order to secure the weapon makes as much sense as a folding knife that requires two hands to open. Third, there really are no options with the single-point; it is strictly made to utilize in some sort of action. I cannot swing the firearm to my back or other location when I do not immediately need it.
I made a rough list of those instructors who advocate or regularly utilize a single-point sling, and the list was short. Conversely, the list of those who prefer a two-point sling is quite extensive: Larry Vickers, Kyle Lamb, John McPhee, Paul Howe, Kyle Defoor, Pat McNamara, Mike Pannone, etc. Perhaps these guys know a thing or two about carbine slings? So my thought was, if the single-point has so many negatives, AND the MS3 sling does not work very well as a two-point sling, then why not get a dedicated two-point sling?
The first two-point sling I purchased was the Blue Force Gear Vickers Combat Applications Sling (VCAS), and it remains my favorite; I now own several. However, I also own examples of the Viking Tactics (VTAC) and Sheriff of Baghdad (S.O.B.) slings, and they also work very well. What these slings all have in common is that they are two-point, rapid adjust slings. Once set up for the user’s body size, they can be employed with the sling loose enough to allow easy and rapid manipulations of the weapon system (reloads, malfunctions, etc.). With the sling set up loosely, it is also easy to rapidly switch shoulders if needed (and a thank you to Mike Pannone for showing me exactly how to do this during this class). All of these slings include some device or provision for rapid adjustment, so that the user can quickly tighten the sling across the chest, back, etc., allowing free and easy use of both hands for climbing, carrying or treating a casualty, etc. Also, with the sling going over the strong side shoulder and under the support arm, when the rifle/carbine is released in order to transition to a pistol, the rifle/carbine will tend to fall beneath the support-side arm, out of the way of the pistol holster (as well as away from the knees/groin).
Though all three of these slings are excellent, I prefer the VCAS to the other two for the following reasons. First, I like the wider and thicker webbing from which it is made. It’s not an issue about durability as much as that it spreads the weight just a bit more and also is not as slick. Secondly, I like that there is only one thing—in this case, a piece of webbing—that one has to manipulate in order to tighten or loosen the sling. Both the VTAC and S.O.B. slings have one thing to grab to tighten the sling and another to loosen, and I prefer the simpler system.
In the case of both the VCAS and VTAC slings, I prefer the non-padded versions. If I was using some sort of heavier firearm, I might prefer the padded versions. But, for a weapon like an AR, AK, etc., I’ve stood around in class for 8 hours and not suffered any ill-effects from the non-padded versions. The padded versions are more likely to get hung up on other gear (straps from hydration systems, chest rigs, etc.), so unless you are using one to carry your SAW, it is probably overkill.
For all of the reasons outlined here, when someone asks me what type of sling to get for their rifle/carbine, I always suggest a two-point and usually recommend the VCAS first. Accordingly, though I am also a fan of the VTAC and S.O.B. slings, the VCAS now has a spot on our Recommended Gear page.
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