To sling or not to sling, that is the question...

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by Alexandro Faria, May 11, 2016.

  1. Alexandro Faria

    Alexandro Faria AH Enthusiast

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    Hello again,

    As I'm sure most of you know, most of my knowledge on rifles and hunting is self-taught and mainly academic. As a result, I have another question that needs answering by those of you that spend a lot more time in the field than I do. So, here it is- Is it worth putting a sling on a big bore bolt action? The one thing I do spend a lot of time doing is shooting at clays and though I know there's a big difference between a shottie and a bolt rifle and tracking all day and shooting clays, is it really worth compromising accuracy (barrel band) or having a swivel cut into your hand?

    As always, thanks in advance :)
     

  2. spike.t

    spike.t AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2013 AH Ambassador

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    never used them as they annoy me dangling around, but thats only me. never heard of the barrel band compromising accuracy as most big bores have them fitted as standard .
     
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  3. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    I find a sling very handy in the field. First, I believe it encourages safe gun handling. On a guided hunt, you will be number two in line - in Africa, you may be number three or four. Keeping the muzzle in a safe direction is extremely difficult. I cringe every time I watch an outdoor video where the client has his rifle by the muzzle on his shoulder in an "African carry". The average PH probably has that thing pointed squarely between his shoulders a dozen times in a half mile stalk. On a sling, on your shoulder, the weapon remains aimed at the sky most of the time. If you do have to do a follow-up into the thick stuff, there is usually time to dismount it.

    Secondly, I am ex-military and so was trained to use a sling as a shooting aide. Even a basic carry strap makes a wonderful device to steady any free-hand or sitting shot. Generally, I can shoot as accurately out to a hundred meters with a sling as I can with sticks. And any effect on accuracy at African ranges is not enough to matter.
     
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  4. petrusg

    petrusg AH Elite

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    i would fit a band with a detachable mount.
     
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  5. Alexandro Faria

    Alexandro Faria AH Enthusiast

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    Great, thanks guys. The old 270 has always had a strap and it's what I grew up with. But a bigbore is a whole new ball-game. Think I'll go a little more research on the inpact of a barrel band on accuracy. Perhaps my initial findings were off.
     

  6. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    There is target accuracy and practical field accuracy. I have never had an issue with a shooting "minute of antelope" on up with a barrel mounted carry sling. My true long range rifles have stock mounted studs.
     
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  7. Philip Glass

    Philip Glass AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    I like a lightweight sling with quick detach swivels. Some days I want a sling and some days it's a pain. On my recent safari in Zim the jesse was so thick that my sling would get caught at times. On the ore hand I am just not tough enough to carry over my shoulder for weeks at a time!
    Regards,
    Philip
     

  8. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Stopped using the sling last hunt by necessity but learned to like it! And I was carrying a big bore bolt rifle!
     

  9. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I strongly second this post! Only thing I'd add to using the sling while shooting in addition to steadying the rifle, by having the sling good and tight wrapped around my forearm it greatly reduces muzzle jump and with it felt recoil.
     
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  10. Kano

    Kano AH Senior Member

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    I find slings to be an annoyance on the rifle as far as carry is concerned, I hate them dangling around and they seem to always be in the way at the wrong time. I'm used to carry my rifles without a sling.

    On the other hand, a properly set sling is a terrific help in steadying the rifle for an aimed shot, no matter what your position is. I don't like sticks, and much prefer to use the terrain, a tree, or get into a steady seated position. Having a sling in these cases greatly improves your accuracy. It has to be the right type, set to the proper length - which is usually not the right length for carry, so you need a good adjustable one.

    If I could give myself some advice, I'd say to always carry a good shooting sling on quick-detach swivels in the backpack... Wish I'd listen more often.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
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  11. buy-a-donkey

    buy-a-donkey AH Member

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    A sling is an encumbrance on a DG rifle. Too many thorny vines and branches to grab at your barrel only to "slingshot" off the barrel into your face. I like to be able to "snake" my gun through brush silently when we have to creep through a tight spot and a sling makes it inconvenient or worse. Some people are luckier than I and hunt in open spaces?..
    I will admit, it feels awfully weird carrying a rifle on your shoulder while holding the barrel, but after a while you begin doing it automatically. It WILL wear a hole in your shoulder when you aren't used to it.
    Yes, a sling is a wonderful steadying aid while shooting, but no real advantage at DG distances.
     
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  12. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Clearly, this is going to turn out, as many things do, to be a matter of opinion and personal preference.

    I have hunted with a sling, and without. There are two situations where a sling is more trouble than it's worth: 1. When you aren't going to go to far from a truck to hunt (self explanatory); and 2. When you hunt in the jungle. Here, it would just catch on everything, and be far more trouble than it would be worth.

    On the other hand, there are situations where a sling is a great thing to have. The main one is when you are tracking dangerous game, such as buffalo and elephant, and the distance might be long. I've tracked both for hours, and I can tell you, the gun gets heavy. You can move it from one shoulder to the other if you like the "African carry", but it's a lot easier and more comfortable to have a sling and just carry it the way God intended - with the muzzle pointing up, safely out of the way.

    Of course, there are some who get someone else to carry their rifles . . .
     

  13. Bert the Turtle

    Bert the Turtle AH Fanatic

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    I'm with Red Leg. As far as I'm concerned, a rifle without a sling is like a pistol without a holster. I haven't ever found a sling to be an encumbrance and I use quick-detach swivels so I'm ready if I ever do need to take the sling off. A sling need not be flopping around when shooting. With practice, it becomes second nature to control the sling with the small finger while the rest of the hand holds the fore end.

    With practice, a slung rifle can be brought into action very quickly. I understand that a rifle in hand will be in theory slightly faster; in practice fatigue from carrying it in the hands all day may slow down that time somewhat.

    A lot of the classic writers formed their opinions (which generally seem to run toward not using a sling) during a time when one had a dedicated gun bearer and they only took the weapon in hand when they felt they needed it. They may have had a different opinion had they been carrying their own weapon.

    I'm of the opinion that a man should take care of his own weapon. I'm happy to let someone carry my pack, but I'd no sooner ask someone else to handle my weapon that I would ask someone handle my wife. Some things a man should do for himself.

    A sling is also a shooting aid although as already mentioned at dangerous-game distances it is not often needed.

    Finally, a slung rifle is much easier to keep on one's person than is a rifle without a sling. Presumably if one is carrying a dangerous game rifle, there is dangerous game afoot. I'd hate for my son to have to tell his friends that dear old dad was killed while taking a leak because he didn't have a sling so he propped his rifle against the truck and walked off into the bushes unarmed.
     
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  14. siml

    siml AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I will agree with @Hank2211 , matter of opinion. But I can promise you, you don't want to track elephant through bamboo with a sling, you don't have time to keep playing with attachable slings. One thing that does irritate me when I don't have a sling, is every time I want to use my binocs, my hands aren't free.
     

  15. Kano

    Kano AH Senior Member

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    With all the advantages that a sling can have for a hunter, when it comes to DG hunting in Africa there is a quiet consensus: the vast majority of professionals do not use a sling.

    Out of the two dozens or so that I'm personally acquainted with, old, mature, and younger, not a single one uses slings on his DG rifles.

    That's just the way things work out - or don't work out. Apparently, any reasoned advantage is heavily outweighed by the blunt reality of the job - which entails months on end carrying rifles from dawn to night under all weather and terrain conditions.

    I guess these guys must have noticed a few things over the course of time... :cool:
     
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  16. Patrick R

    Patrick R AH Fanatic

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    and a side-by-side can get heavy if not on a sling...:whistle:
     

  17. Kano

    Kano AH Senior Member

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    That's one of the reasons I prefer carrying a 9.3 for ordinary duties... :D
     

  18. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Let"s see Nick Nolte, Dries Alberts, and Len Taylor all do use slings. They represent a pretty broad age spectrum of very experienced PH's as well.

    I'll return to the issue of safety again. Most clients (most North American hunters at least) have not hunted without a sling very often. Adjusting to an "African carry" for a ten to fourteen-day DG hunt simply adds one more variable to an already challenging experience. In the last few years, at leas two PHs have been gravely injured when shot by following clients. Would a sling have made a difference - who knows - but I am fairly confident a sling would not have made the events more likely.

    What is particularly frightening to me is the loaded double rifle in an African carry as the number three or four person in line - particularly going through brush. Inevitably the tracker or PH will have those muzzles pointed between their shoulder blades multiple times during the course of a day's hunt. And controlling barrel direction becomes ever more difficult the more fatigued we become.

    Moreover, Safties are notoriously fragile things. Those of you who are quail or grouse hunters know how carefully you watch that safety during a day of walking up birds. That sort of constant attention is impossible with an African Carry.

    In really thick brush, I'll switch to a muzzle down sling carry. The rifle is welded to my right side, and I am confident that I can move through anything more quietly than someone maneuvering an 11lb 2x4 without a sling. And though I have never timed it, I suspect I can also get an aimed shot off every bit as quickly from that carry as anyone can from having their rifle across their shoulder.

    Again, my recommendation is to make a virtue of what you already have as a pretty well perfected skill. Particularly when trailing DG.
     
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  19. spekieries

    spekieries AH Senior Member

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    My opinion. Sling for bushveld hunt or ordinary plains game hunt. The moment You follow the big ones that can gore and bite in the thick stuff you don't want a sling that can hook up if you need to get that rifle in your shoulder.
     
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  20. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I found my sling to be as useful in Africa as I find it to be in Canada: An upside down carry when walking, across my back when climbing or descending a steep hill, slung to allow me to crawl without dragging it, off hand I use it to steady my hold etc. I used it a lot this safari and was glad I did not try to go without.
     
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