First, let’s clarify something: If that thing hanging off your rifle doesn’t help you shoot better, it isn’t a sling—it’s a carrying strap. Slings aid marksmanship by bracing and supporting the rifle; straps just help you lug the rifle around.
The classic shooting sling is the M1907, which was the standard-issue sling that adorned M1903 Springfields, M1917 Enfields, and M1 Garands during the two World Wars. It works by creating a tight loop around the upper part of the shooter’s support arm, pulling the buttstock into the shoulder, and dampening movement of the sights.
Countless sling designs have appeared since then. These two new models incorporate smart refinements that allow them to be deployed quickly during dynamic hunting and shooting situations.
Rifles Only FTW Sling
A heavy-duty bungee cord is sewn into the back half of this sling. Because it absorbs shock as the shooter moves with the rifle, it helps reduce fatigue over the course of a day. Also, when the shooter goes into a “hasty” position—usually while shooting off-hand or while kneeling—the bungee sucks the stock tight to the shooter, making it both stable and fast.
In addition, there’s a forward loop the shooter can use if there’s time to “sling up.” This loop system solves a problem that exists with nearly every other type of shooting sling out there—namely, that no matter how tight you make the loop, it eventually slides down your biceps, compromising the shooting position. The locking tab, once tightened, keeps the sling in place.
This sling is tremendously versatile. I use it on my heavy precision rifles, my hunting rigs, and my AR-type carbines. ($130; riflesonly.com)
This one is a refined version of the Ching sling. Like the Ching sling, the Peabody has a strap that forks, forming a Y. The shooter’s lead elbow drops down into the fork of the Y as the rifle is brought up, and by pulling his arm toward his body, the shooter secures the stock in the pocket of his shoulder.
I hunted with this sling extensively last fall and was very satisfied with how it worked. It is nice and light, and it doesn’t get in the way like bulkier slings are apt to do. It is also intuitive to use and fast to deploy.
The only problem I had was with the screws that secure the base of the sling to the rear swivel. They worked loose during a backcountry hunt in Alaska, and I had to thread the sling back together with a leather thong. Had I known this would happen, I would have used some Loctite to keep the screws in place. ($90; barrantileather.com)