The Top 5 Advantages of a Good Rifle Sling

The Top 5 Advantages of a Good Rifle Sling

An excellent rifle sling is a key piece of gear for any hunter who takes a holistic view of hunting. Honing in on having the right gun and executing the kill are the highlights of any hunt, but the nuances of a successful one lie in the details of planning, efficiency, and execution. To that end, the hunter who is intentional about optimizing his or her hunting experience knows that the fine points add up, and has thoughtfully selected the right rifle sling for their pursuit.

Shoulder Sling vs Backpack Sling

This article makes a differentiation between the shoulder version of a rifle sling and the more effective backpack rifle sling. A shoulder sling sometimes (somewhat) accomplishes the advantages listed below but leaves the gun flopping loosely about, affecting the comfort and proficiency of hiking and hunting hands-free. An excellent backpack sling affixes the rifle securely and comfortably when not needed (most of the hunt) and incorporates a quick-release system that gets the rifle in-hand immediately when ready.

Because our company’s rifle sling, the Slik Sling, was created specifically to help overcome the disadvantages of basic shoulder slings, this article is intended to highlight the benefits of quick-release backpack slings for hunting rifles. 

1. The Obvious Advantage: Hands-free hunting is a clear benefit

The dominant advantage of an excellent rifle sling is also the most prevalent. Having your hands-free while hunting is a massive benefit across pretty much all hunting tasks from post-holing, side-hilling, deadfall-scuttling to packing out your kill. The only time having your rifle in-hand actually benefits you is when you are prepping or taking the shot. The rest of the time, carrying your rifle in-hand is simply an impediment that can be clumsy, inconvenient, even dangerous.

Hunter in orange and camo using his rifle sling's quick-release strap

2. The Accessibility Advantage: The ability to easily perform other hunting tasks without detracting from rapidly having the gun in-hand when the taking the shot becomes the priority

A quick-release backpack rifle sling places a premium on all the components of the hunt that lead up to the main event—glassing, hydrating, hiking, waiting comfortably and quietly, checking a hunting app, scrambling or stalking, chasing—without losing the ability to almost instantly access your rifle when needed. (Check out this video at 0:10 to see how quickly a rifle can be accessed with the right backpack sling.)

Of all the alternatives for carrying a rifle, a quick-release backpack sling is the only option that offers the best of all worlds: a superior choice for comfort and task flexibility that doesn’t compromise rifle accessibility.

3. The Comfort Advantage: Maximizing the enjoyment of the hunt maximizes the overall experience 

In the words of at least one hunter, “Traditional shoulder slings are @#$%&?! miserable!” 

You may take a less strongly worded view, but although the challenges of a hunt: the cold, the rain, an unexpected downwind, the mud, can make it exciting—staying warm, dry, comfortable, and snug through it all makes them easier and more enjoyable to overcome. The feeling of a loose shoulder strap slipping off while navigating thick brush or a gun banging against your side while scrambling up and down coulees is best avoided. A firmly secured gun essentially redistributes the weight of the rifle to your pack. The physical comfort a good rifle sling brings to the hunt matches the mental composure of not having to worry about your gun shifting around.

4. The Efficiency Advantage: Every slight improvement in mobility and energy conservation from using a rifle sling creates a corresponding improvement in stealth and focus

When you’re an experienced hunter, the smallest tweaks in mobility and energy conservation create big payoffs. The psychological principle of cognitive load essentially states that all distractions, additional details, physical effort, and mental work required for a task add up. Minimizing distractions (like a shifting gun) frees up mental capacity. Minimizing physical exertion (like sore arms from carrying a gun), likewise, frees up mental capacity. The more mental space that’s created by toning down these extraneous components, the more highly focused the hunter can be on the main task. Sports psychology places a huge emphasis on focus as the main tool of successful execution. Focus and precision in a hunt are the primary components of a favorable outcome and the right rifle sling can optimize both.

Closeup of the butt of a gun in a rifle sling while a hunter hikes in winter

5. The Safety Advantage: A secure gun is a safe gun

Plain and simple, the more secure your gun is the less of a potential danger it is. A properly secured gun in a rifle sling will be pointing in a safe direction and will minimize the likelihood of the gun slipping or shifting to point in an unsafe direction. Carrying a gun in any of the basic gun carry positions (trail carry, elbow carry, shoulder carry, cradle carry, ready carry) have a direction to avoid if you are hunting with others. A good rifle sling, properly attached, will safely point directly up.

The recommendation with a standard shoulder sling carry is to keep one hand on the shoulder strap to help with safety. Using a backpack rifle sling eliminates this requirement while keeping safety at a premium.

Get Started with a Backpack Rifle Sling

This article has emphasized five ways that a quick-release pack sling can benefit your hunt. Make sure that any rifle sling meets these criteria. Along with accessibility, comfort, efficiency, and safety, we additionally recommend that you prioritize a lightweight design with high-grade materials. It’s important to check the universality of a rifle sling that’s intended to affix to a backpack; double-check that the design of the sling works with most packs. For any additional questions or help getting started, feel free to reach out directly to Creative Outdoors.

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