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Field Test: Tactical Sling Comparison

Weapon slings can prove to be critical for officer safety. Tactical Response

sought nine of its readers to test nine different tactical slings. The reviewers are current or former tactical or special operations group operators or supervisors from agencies throughout the United States. They came from a wide cross-section of law enforcement, including both rural and urban departments and both large and small departments. They came from all over the country, including Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Washington, Nebraska, Delaware, California and North Carolina.  

Tactical Response

magazine asked eight of the top weapon sling manufacturers in the United States to submit slings for testing and review. The following slings were tested: 5.11’s VTAC Two-Point Padded Sling; BlackHawk’s CQD Sling #71CQS1BK; Eagle Industries Unlimited’s TAS-3 Tactical Sling M-4/ CAR-15; Sling’s Combat II Sling; Specter Gear’s #136 BLK SOP Sling M-4 Black; Tactical Tailor’s CQB Single Point Sling BLK #61019-2; Urban-E.R.T.’s Urban-Sentry; Wilderness Tactical Products’ Giles Sling CAR-15 Type-2 Oval RH Black and the Giles Sling Car-15 Type-2 Tri-Glide RH Black.

To be sure we were comparing the same type of sling, each company was asked to submit its standard tactical patrol rifle sling. Each company knew this was going to be a direct, head-to-head comparison and that the slings would be rated and ranked. In addition, each company knew what the others were submitting.

The slings were used during SWAT training exercises and on patrol. After the 30-day test period, the officers were asked to evaluate the slings, which were each specifically rated in 10 categories: Range of Adjustment; Fit; Comfort; Flexibility; Employing the Rifle; Ease of Installation; Sling Removal; Durability and Strength; Silence of Operation; and Function using a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = Poor, 5 = Excellent). They were also asked for their overall opinion of each sling. Following is a detailed description of each sling and a summary of the results and how each sling ranked.

5.11 Tactical Series®

The VTAC Two-Point Padded Sling from 5.11 Tactical allows the shooter to adjust the overall length of the sling for transitions from strong side to support side and back. By pulling the free-running end of the sling, users can position their rifles up to their bodies, and by pulling the release, the sling goes back to its original length. The sling comes in a padded and standard version. Additional features include: high-impact plastic slides; heavy duty nylon; and high-impact clips. The MSRP is $44.99.

5.11’s VTAC tied for second place overall with BlackHawk’s sling. Out of all the slings tested, it scored the highest in the Fit category. Sergeant Gary Taylor’s SWAT team members from the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office, Waynesboro, VA, thought 5.11’s sling provided plenty of room to get their weapons slung.

Sergeant Scott Burkett of the Mountainlake Terrace, WA Police praised the VTAC’s silence of operation. “I make more noise than the sling,” he remarked. A few of the reviewers felt 5.11’s sling was a little more difficult to remove due to the thick webbing. “Definitely not a quick release,” said Lieutenant Scott Lucia of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Ft. Myers, FL.  

For overall function, Sergeant Taylor’s sniper team members deputies preferred 5.11’s sling because it was easy for them to deploy the rifle and move on to the next target. Officer Randolph Mellinger of Sheriff Terry Martin’s team, LaGrange County Sheriff Department, LaGrange, IN, gave the VTAC sling all 4’s and 5’s. “I hope our tac team switches to this sling,” he stated. 

BlackHawk!® Products Group™

BlackHawk’s CQD Sling #71CQS1BK is constructed with 1.25-inch T-13 webbing. It is adjustable for all operators, with heavy-duty elastic assists with strikes and point shooting as well as quick adjustment for difficult situations. Metal snap hooks attach to most weapon systems, brackets or attachment buckles. In addition, it can be configured as 1-PT or 2-PT. The MSRP is $51.99.

Tied for second place overall with 5.11, BlackHawk’s sling scored the highest in the Range of Adjustment category out of all the slings tested. “It is very adaptable to a wide variety of body types,” said Sergeant Shane Flynn of the Nebraska State Patrol. Most of the testers said the BlackHawk sling was easy to maneuver over gear and body armor. Captain John Chaffee of the Presidio of Monterey, CA Police Department thought it could use a padded sleeve when asked about its comfort.

In the Flexibility category, Sergeant Flynn said the sling allowed for “sliding your long gun to the rear and then reacquiring quickly if necessary.” In terms of durability and strength, Lieutenant Lucia described BlackHawk’s sling as “well built, sturdy and durable.” In the Silence of Operation category, with no Velcro or plastic buckles, most of the reviewers thought this sling was relatively quiet to use. However, one tester said the metal on metal clip rattled only when there wasn’t enough tension between the sling and the weapon.

Eagle® Industries

The TAS-3 Tactical Sling M-4 from Eagle Industries can be carried in an assault position, then with a one-thumb release be shouldering the user’s weapon. It also may be slung over the back for hands-free carry. Additional features are that it quickly disconnects from the weapon; it is adjustable for size and clothing; it has anti-noise features; it has quick connect / disconnect buckles (with elastic over them for added security); and it has elastic loops for securing excess webbing. The MSRP is $29.02.

Most of the reviewers thought Eagle’s sling had plenty of range in adjustment. “Adjustments are very easy to make and fast from one deputy to another,” Sergeant Taylor’s SWAT team said. Even though it had a low overall ranking, the TAS-3 sling scored a 5 in the Fit category from Taylor’s team. “It is very user friendly and is easy to sling the weapon to the rear to go hands-on,” Officers Donald Smith and Jeremy McManaway said.

On the other hand, some reviewers did not score it very highly in the Comfort and Durability and Strength categories. “One-inch nylon webbing is not comfortable around the neck,” Lucia commented. Additionally, in the Function category, Martin said the sling got in the way of the mag-release button on some of their rifles.

Sling Master

The COMBAT II Sling Collapsible Stock is a heavy-duty, three-point tactical model with a secure wraparound Velcro hand guard collar, 1.5-inch webbing, and rugged compression-molded nylon buckles. It can be mounted on all Colt-style rifles, carbines, subguns, and variations with collapsible, skeletonized, or tube-frame stocks. The hand guard collar will also fit AKs, SKSs and more. The MSRP is $24.99.

Some of the reviewers liked the thickness of the sling and felt it was comfortable over long periods of wear. Still others did not score this sling very high in the Comfort category. “The thin webbing began rubbing my neck,” Lucia said. 

In the category of Employing the Rifle, Officer Lee Evans of Sheriff Martin’s team thought the COMBAT II sling was “easy and fast to put your weapon on target from the carrying position.” Some of the reviewers disagreed on its ease of installation. Sergeant Burkett liked the front buckle connect but thought the back strap made it more difficult to install. Other testers said it was very easy to install and hook the rifle around the body.

For function, Taylor’s SWAT team thought the COMBAT II sling could be used for all law enforcement applications, adding that it was easily converted from right to left hand positions. Burkett added that “it will work and do its purpose on a no-frills budget.”

Published in Tactical Response, Mar/Apr 2009

Rating : 8.9

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