You’ve all heard the adage “a sling is to a rifle as a holster is to a handgun.” It seems like a trite piece of range wisdom, right? Spoiler Warning: It’s 100% true. A sling is an absolutely essential piece of equipment for any long gun, especially a rifle.
A sling allows you to control the rifle more effectively, gives you a way to go hands-free without relinquishing control of the rifle entirely and, depending on the design, can also help you stabilize the rifle, allowing you to shoot more accurately.
Single point slings have fallen somewhat out of favor in recent years thanks to advancements in technique and expertise for using a rifle combatively, but they still have their fans. Somewhat more importantly, the advent and explosion in popularity of 10” barreled or shorter AR pistols has seen these little-bitty AR’s become the go-to choice for those who want the quick handling and efficacy in confined spaces of an SBR without all the “Mommy-May-I” kowtowing to the ATF and extra expenses involved.
Single point slings make a lot more sense on these short barreled guns, and so in the interest of always bringing our readers the best, most relevant info to solve your problems we will be re-examining the single point sling and making our recommendations for best-in-class performance.
General Sling Considerations
My long time readers have read my scribbling on slings elsewhere, but to keep new and long-runner readers alike on the same page I will discourse briefly on what a good sling will do for a shooter and the rifle it is attached to.
A sling is predominately used with a long gun (in our case a rifle, carbine or shotgun, or non-long gun like an AR pistol) to allow the shooter an easy way to carry the gun without it being in their hands the entire time. There is more to using a gun than just shooting it, and for the contingent of people that think slings are a waste or a snag hazard cause they’ll always have their rifle in their hands, well, the real world would like a word with you.
You may need to sling your rifle to draw your secondary weapon, use another piece of equipment, render aid to someone, climb or negotiate an obstacle or lower your threat posture. I could go on but let it suffice that there are dozens and dozens of reasons you’ll need your hands free and don’t want to set your rifle down.
A good sling will be durable, have adjustments to allow for a precise fit to both shooter and host gun, and allow the shooter to instantly stow or “drop” the gun in order to free up his hands. Among slings there are several types, and among those types there are myriad variations, some better for certain specific tasks or techniques than others.
The topic of this article is of course single point slings, and so we will discuss their advantages and disadvantages to the exclusion of the others.
Advantages of Single Point Slings
A single point sling connects to the rifle at only one location, hence the name, from a loop around the shooter’s shoulder. This connection is almost always at the rear of the receiver on an AR. The hardware connection itself can be any of a number of designs depending on the mating hardware on the AR; it might take the form of a QD swivel, HK clip, shackle or some other type of connector.
This single connection allows the gun a very high degree of mobility with little risk of the sling limiting its traversal or movement. Moving the gun from one shoulder to the other is very easily accomplished by lifting the stock up and over to the opposite shoulder. A two or three point sling greatly hinders this technique due to their being more connection points on the gun, which can bind or trap when switching shoulders.
Overall, a single point sling is an excellent choice if one anticipates needing to switch shoulders regularly, or wants a sling with as minimal a profile as possible.
Disadvantages of Single Point Slings
The principal disadvantage of a single point sling is its lack of control over the gun when it is hanging from the body. Due to its single connection point on the gun, a single point sling will dangle it vertically with no additional restraint. This can be problematic when needing to get the gun well out of the way.
For tending to an injured comrade, conducting a two hand carry, climbing, crawling or conducting any activity where you do not want a rifle flopping wherever it may, this is problematic. Additionally, this lack of “cinch” against the shooter’s body may make control of the muzzle when going hands-free difficult, as this can permit the muzzle to gouge the dirt or a hot barrel to rest against their body. Ouch.
These issues are magnified on longer barreled weapons, and minimized on shorter ones. Even a 14” barrel AR will feel like a girder and shin most shooters when dangling from a single point sling. A little gun, say with a barrel under 10” (and preferably more like 7”) will be much more at home on a single point sling than a larger, longer one.
The Best Single Point Sling for an AR
For most users, a certain amount of flexibility is a good idea. Again, a sling will help you carry and control the gun, something that will be occurring out in the world. You may not need a sling on the rifle range, but you surely will when you are hoofing it across half of creation and don’t want the full weight of the gun borne on your arms.
For most shooters, the Magpul MS4 Gen 2. Multi-Mission sling is ideal. This sling is a convertible single point sling, able to switch modes from single to two point and back again without disassembling the sling and using all built in hardware. This is ingenious, and efficient, as it allows one sling to cover all contingencies.
Need more control over the gun? Disconnect the working end of the sling from the connector, click it into the front of the gun, cinch down the adjustment to take out slack and giddy up. Need maximum mobility and ease of handling? Disconnect from the front of the gun, and click back in to the connector on the sling. Slick, easy, and sure. Now you can get as much or as little control over the gun as you need on demand. This same capability also makes it an ideal sling from going from one gun to another (so long as it has QD sockets).
The sling also benefits from Magpul’s excellent design and materials, featuring melonited metal hardware, swift adjustment of length thanks to a one-handed adjustment slider (with over 12” of adjustment) and soft nylon construction.
Like everything Magpul makes, it is built to last, backed up by great customer service and is undeniably awesome.
Maintaining the same versatility as the Magpul sling above, the Blue Force Gear Vickers 221 sling is another great option, though more expensive than the Magpul offering and, in my opinion, not executed quite as elegantly as Magpul’s, though this is probably splitting hairs.
The Vickers 221 (two-to-one. Get it?) uses the same convertible hardware arrangement as the Magpul MS4 but the front QD swivel is BFG’s own RED, a swivel with a large knobbed cable configuration for certain, sure release in emergencies. If you are working over water, or around anything that may dangerously entangle your rifle and trap you, the RED swivel makes a ton of sense. It is also quickly adjustable, and also made in many colors and camo patterns for the discerning purchaser.
Blue Force Gear does not have quite as much cool-guy cachet among the uninitiated, but they make dead-hard gear for professionals. If you are unfamiliar with their gear, go give them a look.
The single point sling is alive and well today and while not an ideal solution for a general purpose rifle or carbine they still work well on short barreled breeds of gun, old and new alike. Magpul and Blue Force Gear make superb single point slings that do not restrict you to single point mode. Using either of these great pieces of gear you can truly have your cake and eat it, too. Give them both a look and see which one will work best for your application.
Charles Yor is an advocate of low-profile preparation, readiness as a virtue and avoiding trouble before it starts. He has enjoyed a long career in personal security implementation throughout the lower 48 of the United States.