By Brad Steenrod
There’s more than one way to sling a rifle, and not all of them work for everyone.
The sling strap comes in all shapes, sizes, materials, and configurations. There are single-point slings for close-quarters defensive applications, two- and three-point slings for general use, and specialty slings designed for snipers, hunters, and precision marksmen.
However, regardless of what kind of AR-15 sling you have, they are all made up of the same basic parts:
- The strap (the nylon or leather material that goes around your body)
- The connector or attachment hardware (what joins the strap to the mount)
- The mount (the part of the rifle that connects with the attachment hardware)
The way you choose to mount your sling should be tailored to your specific needs as a shooter. But first, there are a few different types of attachment hardware to learn about:
- Fixed Loop or Swivel Loop
The fixed loop is actually not a connector at all, but a part of the rifle designed to attach directly to the strap. Many AR-15 stocks have some form of fixed loop built in to accommodate the rear portion of a two-point rifle sling.
The swivel loop is an oblong-shaped ring that attaches to mounting studs on the rifle. Important to note: some studs rotate and others do not. So it’s best to verify what kind of movement a particular model allows before buying.
- Buffer Tube End Plate
This end plate slips over the buffer tube and is one of the most useful sling connection points. The style shown is for quick detach connectors, but there are plats designed for clip mounts and standard loops, in single or ambidextrous configurations.
The clip is a metal or plastic carabiner-type hook that can be clipped onto a mounting ring. Clip mounts provide a quick and easy way to remove your sling when needed.
The quick-detach (QD) connector is a variation of the Swivel Loop & Stud design that allows the sling and connector to be removed at the press of a button. Quick-detach mounts are ideal for moving a sling from one rifle to the next, or frequently reconfiguring which mounting points. Just remember, the adage “you get what you pay for” is especially true for QD connectors… a cheap set might hold up just fine for the occasional range trip. But for any serious time out in the field, you’ll want a durable, high-quality QD set.
Which Type Should I Get?
Deciding which specific mount and connector to get is a matter of personal preference.
Some people like to have one sling work on multiple rifles, so they pick QD or Clip connectors. Others will buy one sling for each rifle, set it exactly how they like it using fixed loop or swivel loops, and never take it off.
The type of sling will determine your mounting options to some extent, so you should pick a sling first, and then decide how it will be attached to your rifle.
Mounting a Single-Point Sling
A single-point sling is typically mounted to the top rail or buffer tube of your AR-15, just behind and/or above the pistol grip. This positioning is important because the weight distribution of the rifle must be considered if you want it to function properly – mounting it too far forward will cause the rifle to hang unevenly, and too far rearward can cause the barrel to hit the ground when you walk.
It is recommended that you use a buffer tube sling mount with a single-point sling because it will keep the sling out of your way and allow the weapon to hang evenly.
If you don’t want to use a buffer tube mount, the rail mount is your next best option. It’s easily installed, and just as easily removed or relocated if needed, but remember that it must be mounted as far back on the top rail as possible.
A two-point sling requires front and rear mounting points. For the rear point, you can mount it to the stock, the buffer tube, or the rifle’s top rail, while the front point can be mounted anywhere on the handguard or quad rail forward of the receiver. With so many options available, experimentation is critical to finding the right mounting option for you.
The front connection point will almost always be a mounted to either the side or the bottom rails of your handguard. For the rear point, the buffer tube and rail mount options for single-point slings will work perfectly well for your two-point sling as well.
If you prefer to keep the sling close to the receiver, these are your best option. But attaching to the rifle stock is another consideration.
Most AR-15 stocks have some form of fixed loop, and some have clip- and QD-compatible attachment points built-in to them.
In this configuration, the connector used for a front point would be used for the middle point as well.
For those planning on having two front points (one close to the receiver, and another near the gas block), look for a low-profile QD or Clip mount for that third connection point.
There might be more sling mounting options to consider than rifles in your gun safe, but finding the sling to use first is the key. Once you have completed that step, then you can decide what mount and attachment hardware will be the best fit.
After you’ve installed your sling and mounting hardware, be sure try it out and make sure it works for you.
Practice — and often adjustment — makes perfect.
One Last Tip
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This article was originally published in AT3 Tactical AR Academy and is reprinted here with permission.