Safety First: How to Install and Use a Shotgun Sling

Safety First: How to Install and Use a Shotgun Sling

Most gun enthusiasts understand that a decent shotgun is a fundamental piece of any gun collection. Shotguns are the weapon of choice for many people -- both for hunting small game as well as home protection. Of course, everyone that has tracked the little critters knows that it's not a waiting game like deer. Rather, hunting small game means you are on the move as quickly and quietly as possible. Well, to cut through the forest or brush safely and efficiently and get a quick and steady shot off when something pops up, you will need a shotgun sling on your weapon.

Whether you are new to owning a gun or you are a seasoned pro, installing and using a shotgun sling isn't as simple as you may think. First, many shotguns don't come ready for a sling, so you have to install special hardware before you even get to the other part. Second, the sling itself can be a little tricky, and there are several different methods you can use as well as different slings. Since a shotgun sling is first and foremost a safety issue, you don't want to get it wrong.

What Is a Shotgun Sling?

girl equipped with shotgun

Image by klimkin from Pixab​​​​ay 

Simply put, a shotgun sling is a type of harness or a strap that allows a shooter to carry their weapon over their shoulder conveniently. Occasionally, a sling could also help the person brace and stabilize their shotgun while they aim.

On top of that, a sling will allow you to carry your weapon safely. Proper use of a sling means you will have free use of your hands while maintaining perfect muzzle awareness. Overall, a shotgun sling will ensure that your arms aren't tired after a long day hunting or target shooting. After all, you don't want sore arms getting in the way of a perfect shot.

The different types of shotgun slings

Currently, there are three different types of shotgun slings on the market. You can opt for a one-point, two-point, or three-point sling. The best sling for you largely depends on what you will use your shotgun for the most.

1. One-point sling

First, a one-point sling will attach to your gun at a single point located behind the trigger. The sling then wraps around the person's neck and under one shoulder. Mostly, soldiers and police officers use this type of sling, so they have quick access to their weapon. The downside for a one-point sling is that, to maintain muzzle control, you still need your hand. Naturally, with only one point of attachment, the gun will swing around down there unless you have a hold of it.

2. Two-point sling

Second, a two-point shotgun sling is the one that is used most commonly by hunters and target shooters. This type of sling attaches at two points on the gun -- usually under the stock and the barrel cap. You can use this sling to hang the weapon across your back or on your torso. Unlike the one-point sling, this type is adjustable.

3. Three-point sling

Finally, only people with a specific use for a three-point sling will get one of these. A three-point sling attaches to the gun much like the two-point sling. However, it has an additional strap, and that's what you loop around your body. Using a three-point sling will hang the gun straight down your back. Hunters that also climb will use this type of sling.

Different Shotgun Sling Techniques

Man holding a shotgun

Image from  ​Pixabay

Since the two-point sling is the most popular kind with gun enthusiasts, let's quickly talk about how to put one to use. According to Jeremy Stafford, police firearms instructor and former combat medic, there are three main "slinging techniques." Remember, it's essential when you are slinging your weapon that you maintain constant awareness of where you point the muzzle.

The sling

First, the "primary side, muzzle up" technique. To carry your firearm this way, first, you need to hold it out in front of you with the muzzle pointed straight up at the sky. Then, using your dominant hand, put it through the sling and place the gun at your back. Using this technique, you can control the weapon with either hand on the sling.

Second, if you are going to need both your hands, consider the "climb and carry" technique. To put the weapon in this position, first, place the gun in the primary side muzzle up position. Second, lift the sling up off of your shoulder to create a space large enough and stick your head through there. This technique will place the sling at an angle across your body and leave you entirely hands-free.

The third sling technique is called the "support side, muzzle down." This carry is like the support side muzzle up, obviously, except the muzzle is pointed towards the ground. According to Stafford, this technique is a great way to carry his weapon into a tense situation without causing too much alarm.

How to Install Sling Swivels

Before you can install a shotgun sling onto your weapon, it's likely you will need to install some other hardware on there first. Every shotgun will be slightly different depending on who manufactured the weapon. However, each manufacturer generally also makes easy-to-install sling swivels you can put on your gun yourself. You just use those to attach your sling. Though, you have to get them on your shotgun first. Let's figure out how.

First, for most shotguns, it's likely that you will need to drill a hole for one or both of the swivel mounts. So, if you don't have a drill, you are going to need to borrow one. Also, you will need a bit to bore out the hole as well as a tapping tool. Check the instructions on your package to see what size drill bits you will need.

Additionally, the package with your sling swivels may also include a magazine cap. You will need to replace your current magazine cap with that one or make an additional borehole in the cap you already have.

Installation

As you can see in the video below, first, place the weapon into a vice to keep it stable. Then, to find the proper location for the swivel stud on the bottom of the stock of the shotgun, measure 2.5 inches from the back of the recoil pad or butt plate. Do your best to get the hole in the center of the bottom of the stock. After you drill the first hole, you will need to bore it out.

After you create the borehole, use a tapping tool to create threads in your hole. Additionally, if you desire, you can use a sealer on those new threads. After that, you screw the rear swivel stud into the new hole. In the video, you can see that the instructor drilled out the magazine cap himself. You will have to do that if your swivel mounts did not come with an additional cap. Simply bore out another hole on the cap.

How to Install a Shotgun Sling

Finally, let's get to the main event and figure out how to get the shotgun sling on there correctly. We will assume your sling is directly out of the package. You will see the sling itself as well as several "keepers." Keepers are little metal brackets that you will thread your sling through. You want to take those keepers off the sling entirely before you get started.

Next, lay your gun out on the table flat. Then, lay your sling (without the keepers) beside it with the long end down at the gun's butt and the folded part, or sling body, next to the trigger assembly. Third, you want to take two of those keepers and thread them onto the sling from the bottom. This action will create two loops on the sling itself. Obviously, this process will be much more straightforward with a video, which is why we included the one below.

Fourth, you put your first sling swivel stud on your sling at the bottom. Thread the swivel on and place the sling back through those first two keepers. After you get the swivel in the right place, tighten down the sling. Then, you just attach the sling swivel stud into the swivel you drilled the hole for in the first step. After that, you repeat the process for the other end of the sling, and you're all set.

A Shotgun Sling Just Makes Sense

In summation, a shotgun sling just makes sense. Instead of tiring out your arms and taking a chance of losing track of your muzzle, merely install one of these slings. Remember to check your weapon and make sure that you unload it before you start to make any modifications. If you feel like you are in over your head, you can also always take your shotgun to a gunsmith. Regardless of how you get it on there, we hope your next shoot is more successful than ever.

About the author

Tammie Eller

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