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Article Title: BENCH TOPICS: My Homemade Rifle Sling Projects

Date Published: 03.05.2011

Author: Jamie Mangrum

Author’s Email: jamiemangrum@hotmail.com

 

A couple of years ago I started making my own rifle slings. The internet is a wonderful resource when it comes to finding ways to be self sufficient and also save money. This is true for just about any hobby, including firearms. I stumbled upon a website called http://www.strapworks.com where you can purchase pretty much all of the components to make your own slings, pistol belts and other shooting related straps. Another great and inexpensive resource for 1.25 wide webbing in different styles and materials (cotton, nylon and polypropylene webbing) is All Island Webbing & Trim (http://www.allislandwebbing.com/). As a result of my internet searches I can manufacture a high quality two point sling for only $3.99 (including shipping and handling). My favorite commercially made sling of similar quality is a simple nylon two point sling produced by Blackhawk called the “Blackhawk Universal Tactical 1.25 inch Gun Sling”. You can find them online for about $9.99 plus shipping and handling.

 

Definition: Simple/Traditional sling (Two-Point)

The oldest and most familiar design, this sling design has two connection points that attach to the front and rear of the weapon, and allows the shooter to carry the weapon over his/her back, with the sling draped across the torso, around the neck or over one shoulder.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sling_(firearms)

 

 

My project dimensions are based upon my body’s frame size. The Blackhawk sling is 64 inches in length. My two point slings are 73 inches in length. I have found that this length allows the sling to be used on M1A, FALs and AR style rifles with sling length enough left over to fit over my body frame and arm length.

 

My first slings in this project are made using cotton webbing. Some folks will argue that the cotton slings will not last as long as a synthetic material based sling and this is true if we are planning on carrying our rifles in the jungle or other very high humidity environments. I like the cotton material for a couple reasons. In my opinion the cotton webbing provides a better surface for the plastic slide to grip onto. Also there is a larger selection of colors and patterns available for the cotton based webbing. There are even camo patterns and camo in different color schemes.

 

FIGURE 1, BLACK COTTON HEAVY WEBBING

 

FIGURE 2, OLIVE DRAB (OD) GREEN COTTON HEAVY WEBBING

 

 

FIGURE 3, DIGITAL CAMO COTTON HEAVY WEBBING

 

 

1.25 Cotton Webbing Two Point Slide Sling

Quantity

Description

Unit Price

Total

2 Each

Small Mouth 1.25 Plastic Slide

.43

.86 (Inc S&H)

2 Yards (72 inches)

1.25 Heavy Cotton Webbing

1.57

3.13 (Inc S&H)

 

$3.99

Comparable Nylon Two Point Sling

$9.99 + S&H

 

 

FIGURE 4, HOMEMADE $3.99 TWO-POINT RIFLE SLING

 

1.25 Heavyweight Nylon Webbing Two Point Slide Sling

Quantity

Description

Unit Price

Total

2 Each

Small Mouth 1.25 Plastic Slide

.43

.86 (Inc S&H)

2 Yards (72 inches)

1.25 Heavy Nylon Webbing

1.73

3.46 (Inc S&H)

 

$4.32

Comparable Nylon Two Point Sling

$9.99 + S&H

 

 

FIGURE 5, DIGITAL CAMO SLING ON FAL CARBINE

 

FIGURE 6, DIGITAL CAMO SLING ON FAL CARBINE

 

I do not use a two point sling for just carrying my rifle slung over my shoulder as Wikipedia suggests. With the 73 inch length I have the ability to create a large sling loop at the rear of the sling that fits snuggly over my left shoulder (figure 7).

  

FIGURE 7, SLIDE REAR LOOP OVER LEFT SHOULDER

 

Next I make a smaller sling loop at the front of the sling and place my left hand in as shown in figure 8.  If I have adjusted the sling properly when I bring the rifle down into place as shown in figure 9 and 10, I have a secure grip on the firearm.

 

FIGURE 8, SLIDE FORWARD LOOP OVER LEFT HAND

 

FIGURE 9, BRING RIFLE DOWN AND LOCK IN TIGHT

 

FIGURE 10, BRING RIFLE DOWN AND LOCK IN TIGHT

 

Another material choice/selection in my two point sling project is the size of plastic slide. Figures 11 and 12 show the two readily available 1.25 size choices that I have found. I use the Small Mouth slide because it more securely grips onto the surface of the sling material when you pull the sling tight. The Wide Mouth slide works on very heavy thickness webbing materials but has a tendency to fit loosely on thinner fabrics when heavy pressure is applied. This is all right if all you intend to do is carry the rifle over your shoulder. But if you want to use the sling to help brace the firearm securely so you can shoot the rifle more accurately then you do not want the slides moving as soon as you tighten things up.

 

FIGURE 11, SMALL MOUTH 1.25 PLASTIC SLIDE

 

FIGURE 12, WIDE MOUTH 1.25 SLIDE

 

 

FIGURE 13, USING AN ALREADY CUT SLING AS LENGTH PATTERN

 

FIGURE 14, MEASURE OUT 73 INCHES

 

FIGURE 15, CUT WITH VERY SHARP BLADE

 

If you leave the ends of your cut sling material untreated the material will fray and come apart quickly. Depending upon the fabric type the webbing is made of drives your choices. They make machines that will cut nylon based webbing with heat and simultaneously seals the end at the same time. The only problems is they start at around $100 and unless we are going into business selling thousands of slings retail it is kind of difficult to justify the expense. The least expensive way to cure artificial fabric based webbing is with a lighter. You quickly melt the end of the fabric and you are good to go. With cotton webbing this is not the case. I have tried several ways before stumbling onto what I use now. I first tried heat, super glue and other treatments. Finally I was at one of the hardware superstores and found a product made by Loctite. It has a really original and descriptive name for a product. I really wonder how many marketing folks were paid to come up with: Loctite: Vinyl, Fabric & Plastic Flexible Adhesive (figure 16)? None the less for under $5 you can buy a tube that will be more than enough to fix many dozens of cotton based sling ends.

 

FIGURE 16, LOCTITE VINYL, FABRIC & PLASTIC ADHESIVE

 

FIGURE 17, COATING END OF CUT WEBBING WITH LOCTITE

 

The Loctite product works really well like very flexible super glue. When I tried superglue it worked at first but then became too brittle actually facilitating pieces of the slide to break off revealing raw fabric that would start to fray. To use the Loctite fabric product  I place a dab on a piece of cardboard in a very well ventilated area (fumes are really strong) and then I drag the ends on my slings through being careful to wipe off any excess and then I hang the slings to dry for about an hour.

 

FIGURE 18, SLIDE SLING WEBBING THROUGH BOTH HOLES OF THE SLIDE

 

FIGURE 19, LOOPING THE SLING WEBBING BACK YOU SLIDE SLING BACK THROUGH BOTH HOLES

 

FIGURE 20, LOOPING THE SLING WEBBING BACK YOU SLIDE SLING BACK THROUGH BOTH HOLES

 

FIGURE 21, PULL INSIDE WEBBING TIGHT

 

FIGURE 22, PULL OUTSIDE WEBBING TIGHT

 

FIGURE 23, SIDE VIEW OF ONE END OF THE TWO POINT SLIDE SLING ASSEMBLED

 

FIGURE 24, TOP VIEW OF ONE END OF THE TWO POINT SLIDE SLING ASSEMBLED

 

FIGURE 25, SIDE VIEW OF THE TWO POINT SLIDE SLING ASSEMBLED. THIS ONE IS MADE WITH BLACK WEBBING

 

For my next sling project I wanted to try something much more complex and risky than my simple two point slings. I decided to make a combo type of sling using quick disconnects that allow you to have either a single point sling or a two point sling.  For this project the materials are still fairly inexpensive. In this project I was going to have to do some sewing and normal needle and thread was not going to cut the job. I spent $10 and ordered a Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl. I had never used one before and had some other projects that I could use it for like repairing backpacks and other thick fabric based products that I had managed to rip.

 

FIGURE 26, TWO POINT/SINGLE POINT DETACHABLE/CONVERTIBLE SLING USING BLACK NYLON 1.25 WEBBING

 

Definition: Single-point sling

A specialized sling design that easily permits the shooter to transition to firing from the opposite shoulder. Like the 3-point sling, the single-point sling permits the shooter to drop the weapon and let it hang downwards while still attached to their body. This sling design is not as good a general purpose sling as the 3-point sling, and is best suited for short-term tactical use (particularly forced building entry by a police tactical unit).

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sling_(firearms)

 

 

1.25 Heavyweight Nylon Webbing Point/Single Point Detachable/Convertible Sling

Quantity

Description

Unit Price

Total

1 Each

Steel 1 1/4" HK Snaps

2.75

2.75

2 Each

Single Adjust Side Release Buckles

1.51

3.02

2 Each

Small Mouth 1.25 Plastic Slide

0.40

0.80

2 Yards (72 inches)

1.25 Heavy Nylon Webbing

1.73

3.46

 

 

S&H

2.66

 

$12.69

 

 

FIGURE 27, DETACHABLE METAL AND PLASTIC HARDWARE FOR SINGLE POINT DETACHABLE END OF THE CONVERTIBLE SLING

 

 

FIGURE 28, DETACHABLE METAL AND PLASTIC HARDWARE FOR SLIDE (TWO POINT) DETACHABLE END OF THE CONVERTIBLE SLING

 

FIGURE 29, SPEEDY STITCHER SEWING AWL

 

FIGURE 30, SPEEDY STITCHER SEWING AWL ASSEMBLING AND INSTRUCTIONS

 

FIGURE 31, SPEEDY STITCHER SEWING AWL TEST AND TRAINING

 

I first cut a short stretch of the sling material so I could practice using the Awl.  Follow the Speedy Stitcher’s manufacturer supplied instructions closely. Once you get the hang of using the tool and you have enough holes poked in your finger tips you have a useful tool to have around the house.

 

FIGURE 32, PROPERLY THREADED SPEEDY STITCHER SEWING AWL

 

FIGURE 33, PROPERLY ASSEMBLED SPEEDY STITCHER SEWING AWL

 

FIGURE 34, SPEEDY STITCHER SEWING AWL PULLED BACK TO CREATE LOOP TO SLIDE THREAD THROUGH

 

FIGURE 35, PULLING LOOPED THREAD BACK THROUGH AND SECURELY TIGHTENING

 

FIGURE 36, SINGLE POINT DETACHABLE END OF THE CONVERTIBLE SLING

 

FIGURE 37, SINGLE POINT DETACHABLE END OF THE CONVERTIBLE SLING

 

 

FIGURE 38, MY IDEA FOR SECURING THE LONG END OF THE SLING ASSEMBLY

 

FIGURE 39, SEWING SLIDE IN PLACE FOR LONG END OF SLING ASSEMBLY

 

FIGURE 40, TWO POINT DETACHABLE END OF THE CONVERTIBLE SLING

 

FIGURE 41, TWO POINT DETACHABLE END OF THE CONVERTIBLE SLING

 

FIGURE 42, 1.25 HEAVYWEIGHT NYLON WEBBING POINT/SINGLE POINT DETACHABLE/CONVERTIBLE SLING

 

My sewing will not win any awards in beauty but surely makes up in durability. The waxed heavy thread that comes with the Awl really makes for a secure fastening of fabric. I tried my best to pull my stitching apart to no avail. My convertible sling is made from three pieces of sling. I first cut two short sections at around 16 inches each but once assembled came to the conclusions that I could have reduced this length down to about 12 inches each. The longer sling piece was cut to 48 inches in length. Figures 27 onward show my design idea and how I assembled the sling.

 

Was I satisfied with the end product? Yes, it is serviceable and matched what I had in mind for functionality. Would I make another combo type sling? Probably not. I have found other commercially made single point slings with bungee type extensions that I think are better than my end product starting at around $20. I will however continue making my two point slings instead of buying the commercially made versions. Mine are just as functional for half the price. I really like using something that I know I made with my own two hands.

 

 

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