Tony Burkea didn’t believe me when I told him that my favorite present from Christmas was the sling he sent me for the sniper match I’m competing in for the next few days. The bottle of vintage port that my lovely ex-wife gave me didn’t count due to the speed with which it disappeared–along with a wedge of stinky Stilton cheese–on Christmas day.
No, the rapid adjust T.A.B. Gear rifle sling is by far the best gift I got. (It costs $110 and you can find it at tabgear.com)
At first glance, the sling seems to be festooned with a confusing array of buckles and clips, and if you’ve never used a sling for anything other than propping a rifle on your shoulder, you could be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by it.
But everything on the sling serves a justifiable and valid purpose.
The sling is constructed of 1.5-inch nylon webbing that is broad enough to distribute the weight of my 13.5-pound JP Enterprises .308 gas gun when the rifle is being slung for carry. The webbing is flexible so that it moves and conforms easily to the hand, wrist and arm of the shooter, depending the position being employed.
At about the midpoint of the sling is a quick-release buckle. This buckle is handy when slinging or unslinging the rifle, especially if the shooter is wearing a pack or wants to sling the rifle crosswise over the back.
The front half of the sling, forward of the mid-point buckle, has three important features. One is a buckle that allows for some adjustment in the length of the sling. Once set, the shooter won’t mess with this much. I didn’t even fool with it before putting the sling on my rifle and I doubt I ever will.
The second feature is the quick-adjust buckle that gives the sling its name. The buckle is positioned naturally under the shooter’s hand so that reaching up to manipulate it happens instinctively. By yanking on the tail of webbing that feeds through the buckle, the shooter can snug the sling up so that the rifle is pulled tight against the body while being carried or the shooter can use it to quickly take the slack out of the sling when using it as an aid during positional shooting. A small tab on the buckle, when pulled outward, releases the webbing to lengthen the sling just as rapidly as it can be shortened.
Lastly, there is a keeper buckle on this portion of the sling that is used to tighten the loop that the arm goes through when using the sling for positional shooting. It slides easily up and down the webbing, yet stays firmly in place when snugged up against the upper portion of the arm.
The back half of the sling has a fixed buckle to adjust the overall length of the webbing — I didn’t mess with this either — and a quick release buckle near the rear end of the sling. This buckle lets the shooter attach and remove the rifle when it is being carried in a muzzle down position.
Lastly, there is a segment of webbing about six inches long that has been tripled in thickness right where the sling attaches to the butt of the rifle. This short, stiff portion, when grabbed by the rear hand of the shooter, acts as an impromptu squeeze bag of sorts, adding stability to the butt of the rifle and letting the shooter make fine adjustments to the elevation of the crosshairs when shooting prone.
These slings can be ordered with whatever types of attachment points are required. In the case of my rifle, this meant an attachment for a flush cup up front and just plain webbing at the rear.
The quality in the construction of these slings — as with all the items from T.A.B. Gear I’ve used over the years — is top-notch. I’d use this sling to tow a car out of a ditch without hesitation.
Merry Christmas to me.