I have amassed quite a collection of slings. I have a Turner AWS Biothane 1907 style sling, TAB Gear Sling, SAP shooter sling, Magpul MS2, padded VCAS, FTW multi-purpose, and most recently one of Rifleslinger’s RS2 slings. For the last year, I’ve spent the most time with the 1907 and the SAP, as they provided the most stability (by far) for slung up shooting.
As part of my transition back to a more practical everyday style of shooting, I’ve set aside my SAP Positional sling and have been practicing more with other common styles of tactical sling. This style of sling is characterized as being two point with some kind of sliding mechanism in the front half of the sling that adjusts tension. This tension is not particularly designed to be for shooting purposes, but rather how close the rifle rides to the body. That said, it still works well enough for adding stability when shooting from various positions. I’ve had the VCAS for several years now, as it served as my action shooting sling. The FTW is a more recent acquisition, it essentially performs the same purpose but with a section of very strong feeling bungee instead the padding.
In my opinion, these are two very good representatives of this category of sling. There are others that probably work equally as well such as Magpul’s MS1, Viking Tactics, and TAB Carbine Sling. But I don’t own any of those, and so I just can’t say much about them.
The Blue Force Gear Padded VCAS
This is a “go to” for much of the AR shooting world. Blue Force Gear developed it with Larry Vickers, and it is a shockingly good design. When I started this blog, this was the sling I started with. I haven’t used it much in the last year, as I gravitated towards the more traditional loop sling style.
The “killer feature” of this sling is the acetyl “carriage” with a nylon tail that the user can slide back and forth in order to adjust how closely the sling rides to the body. For more precision, I can tighten this slider and then get into position. This does actually add quite a bit of stability, but not as much as a loop sling provides.
The material itself is a very sturdy 1.25″ webbing. The pad is wider than the rest of the sling, and quite comfortable, and has never caused me issue. The slider is very easy to adjust, and stays in place well. The “tail” style slider is nice in that there is nothing really to get snagged o, but it’s always easy to locate.
I have experimented with shooting this sling in more of a “loop” style, and found that it works okay for most positions except prone, where it is just too tight to bring the stock to my shoulder. This is honestly not that big a deal, as this sling was is not designed to be used that way; the fact that I can improvise it into being a loop sling for most “practical” situations is a bonus. For the practical shooter, the ability to add tension between the sling stud and the shoulder pocket by moving the carriage forward is probably good enough compared to the rest of the conditions the sling excels at.
I will also add that the padded version of this sling was intended for SAW gunners, and it is very long. It is not a big deal for most people to cut the sling to length, burn the end, and carry on. I don’t like cutting my slings, so I folded up the excess and stuffed it under an elastic keeper, it works just as well.
FTW Multi-Purpose Sling
I received this sling as a Christmas present last year. To be honest, it hasn’t received a lot of use, I’ve spent much more time with the SAP positional sling. In most respects, the FTW sling is very similar to the VCAS, with a few key exceptions.
The back half of the sling is a very stout bungee material. This is actually nice for a few reasons, the most important of which is that the bungee pulls the stock of the rifle tightly into my shoulder from various shooting positions. As I tighten the slider all the way, the bungee pressure remains relatively consistent (and usable) without being uncomfortable.
The FTW sling also has a polymer cobra buckle in the middle, which provides a quick way to get out of the sling if needed.
The carriage mechanism on the FTW is metal instead of acetyl, which may or may not matter to some people. I don’t see either one breaking. Unlike the VCAS sling that uses a “tail” to adjust the front half of the sling, the FTW has a loop of the same 1.5″ webbing that comprises the rest of the sling. I note that the adjustment on the FTW is slower than on the VCAS, and the material itself feels “stickier” (though nowhere near as bad as my old Magpul MS2). Loosening the sling is relatively easy, but the bungee at the back half tends to stretch when I want to slide the carriage forward. This is overcome by supporting the rifle with my firing hand a bit and removing tension from the bungee around my back. It’s not a big deal, but it is slower than the VCAS. The adjustment loop is also a potential snag hazard (if that’s something you care about).
I can also use the FTW as a loop sling, but I find it works better in the prone. It is too long for effective use as a loop sling in other positions.
Which to I prefer?
It’s a tossup, really. They are both great examples of modern slings. Some people make a big deal out of snag hazards with the adjustments, but I figure the sling itself is a huge snag hazard already, what’s the difference if there is an additional two inch section of loop somewhere else?
The VCAS is comfortable, and the adjustment mechanism is a bit smoother and easier to use. It is very long, meaning you will have to find some way to deal with the excess material (either cutting/burning, or stowing it somewhere). It is probably best suited to go-fast action shooting, but can admirably assist with precision as well.
The FTW is also quite comfortable, due to its wider webbing, and the bungee material really helps with pulling the stock into the shoulder pocket for shooting. The cobra buckle is nice for getting out of the sling quickly, and the adjustment mechanism is only slightly more difficult to operate than the VCAS (mostly due to materials the sling is made from). It is probably better suited to a carbine/rifle that is going to be used for more accuracy-oriented work, but will work just as well for go-fast action shooting.
A Special Note for Setup
On both of my slings, I have IWC 2-to-1 triglide. This is put near the rear of the sling, and allows me to convert the sling back and forth between two point and single point configuration as needed. This is honestly not terribly useful on the Musket, since it is so long. But it is handy for some of my lighter/shorter carbines, and so I figured it was a good feature to keep.