'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

26 March 2013

RifleCraft RS2 Sling - First Impressions

A bit back I stumbled upon the blog Art Of The Rifle written by Rifleslinger. It's a wonderful blog written by a man who takes his long range, precision shooting seriously. He's dedicated, intelligent, logical, methodical, open minded and talented. Mix those ingredients together and you have source of instruction and information pretty much unmatched anywhere else on the web. I have been an avid reader and consumer of his rifle knowledge ever since. He also has some great comments and interviews. If you're not following Rifleslinger let me recommend his blog in the most enthusiastic terms possible.

Let me back up just  a little here. A few years ago, just prior to my retirement, I bought a Springfield M1A. I got it for several reasons. The first was because I've always liked them and wanted one. The second was because California was, even then, actively campaigning against and banning all semi-auto magazine fed rifles. Among many others ARs and AKs were right out but the M1A was grandfathered in due to it's being what they considered a historic firearm. Much like the Garands. The last is because I know these rifles can be made to shoot long distances very accurately and the idea of having a rifle capable of accurate 600 yard shots while carrying 20 rounds in the gun really appealed to me.

The problem is I've just had too much to do. I've put off the build and made excuses for my lack of range time and effort. As a school trained police marksman who held the sniper slot on our Tac Team this was clearly unacceptable. Plus, as I read Rifleslingers posts I was reminded how rewarding and just plain fun accurately engaging distant targets can be. Work yes but difficult things mastered make the accomplishment all the sweeter. The big plus was when I found out that not only does Rifleslinger shoot very well and write even better he also makes his own custom rifle slings, the RS1 and RS2. I decided it was time to complete the M1A build and get to shooting again.

To that end I ordered a Bassett Machine low base scope mount and a new Rifleslinger RS2 sling. The scope mount has yet to arrive but I got the sling today. I want to say we finalized the order last Monday or maybe Tuesday and it was in my hot little hands today. It almost certainly arrived on Saturday but our post office does not do Saturday delivery and Lu and I were gone on Monday. That said, shipping was expeditious and appreciated. There's nothing a gunny hates more than waiting for a new toy to arrive.

I was after a practical loop style sling. I hate those that have the pad at the shoulder area for carry. They've always felt uncomfortable and awkward to me. Plus, no loop! I prefer straight slings that are adjustable and easy to both tote around and sling up with. Something simple and comfortable but effective for it's intended use, toting around a rifle and as an aid to accurate long range shooting.

Here's what I got. That's a Rifleslinger RS2 in black. Since I don't anticipate painting the rifle (at the moment anyway) I decided to go all evil black. Scares the antis better that way anyway. The main difference (that I can tell anyway) between the RS1 and RS2 is the loop. On the RS1 the loop stays more open where on the RS2 it's flat. More like a conventional sling until you need the loop. Rifleslinger advises that the RS1 is a bit quicker to get into and out of the loop but the RS2 is more to my liking and the extra time is pretty small and acceptable to me. It looks just like a conventional sling with a big old loop at the fore-end when you need it.

It's made by Rifleslinger in America from all U.S. sourced and purchased materials.

It comes complete and assembled. I didn't need sling swivels (the M1A comes with fixed swivels) but if you do he can supply them as well. I'll have to take it apart to get it on my swivels but Rifleslinger included detailed reassembly instructions.

You can get it with or without swivel silencers. I got mine with. In the interest of complete reviewer honesty I have to tell you that Rifleslinger threw the silencers in gratis. Not because he's trying to buy a good review (he's most emphatically not nor would I under any circumstances) but because he's a very nice guy I have gotten to know and respect and because he loves cops, even retired ones. Like yours truly. Plus there's my winning personality and natural charm to consider. If you want them they're only 5 bucks a set. More on cost later. The silencers are neat, well stitched together and made of what I suspect is more heavy duty nylon. I've had other slings and range bags where the silencers/webbing holders were cheap and quickly stretched to uselessness. These are an order of magnitude better though I'm going to test the heck out of them to see if I can make them fail.

The materials are quality and the manufacture first rate. I've got a Michael's holster and rig so I know good workmanship when I see it and I see it here. There are two buckles. One adjusts for overall length and the length of the loop plus holds the two sections of sling together. It's metal because it's going to be under the greatest stress and is a potential single point failure source. The other adjusts for length and is made of heavy duty plastic both for cost and because the plastic slides along the sling easier for quicker length changes. I have no idea how they'll do long term but that will come during testing. Both look and feel solid. Frankly, I was expecting both buckles to be plastic. The metal one where it needed to be metal was a very pleasant and welcome surprise.

The stitching is straight, clean and heavy. Nothing light, cheap or erratic. Nothing irritates me more than to order something custom and find it wrought with sloppy workmanship. None of that here. Multiple lines of stitching where you'd expect to need it and everything neat and tidy. The cut webbing ends were even melted and done professionally. It's a thing of beauty and it looks like you could pull a car with the thing. He includes sufficient extra webbing length to fit a wide variety of rifles. I'll end up fitting mine as exactly as I can and then trim off any excess though with the silencers it would be simple to keep the excess tucked in. The sling came so configured and the extra webbing was unobtrusive.

The webbing is actually kinda soft. It's a milspec nylon that feels, to my hand anyway, a lot like the old cotton GI slings we used way back when. I like it. It feels good and if it's anything like those old web slings should last forever. I still have an old M60 sling that must date to the 1960s. It's 1 1/4 inch wide and nicely thick. That thickness doesn't translate into stiff though. It's pretty supple right out of the box. I anticipate it'll get even better as it wears in.

This is the rifle the RS2 will be going on. As soon as I get the scope mount I'll put the whole thing together and get it out to the range. Scope is a Leupold 4.5x14 with mil dot reticle and target turrets. RS2 sling. Blackhawk cheek pad. I may or may not put a bipod on it. I'm trying to keep this already pretty hefty rifle as light as I can but only time will tell if I can get by with a shooting pack for a rest or not. Frankly, I'm beginning to have my doubts.

 My out of the box impression of the RS2 sling is overall very positive. It's light, sturdy, well built and is made of visibly quality materials. It is everything Rifleslinger has advertised. The icing on the cake is it's price. The RS2 I bought in black without swivels was just $22. The silencers add $5 and shipping was just a hair over another $5. My total was just $27.15, a very good bargain if you ask me. With sling swivel silencers the whole thing would cost out at $32.15, the price of a decent meal. Rifleslinger has done his homework on the cost/benefit analysis and put his effort and money where it's needed the most and kept the cost very reasonable. If you check your local big box outdoor store for slings you'll certainly find he's either at or below prices for slings nowhere near as well built nor as job specific. It comes in a variety of colors (depending on material availability) but I think he can get just about any color. I may test him someday and order one in Hot Pink for baby Girl. The RS1s run about 10 bucks more but for my money and what I need the sling to do the RS2 is nearly perfect. Hey a practical, beautiful, custom made loop sling for just a hair over 20 bucks? Pretty dang hard to beat.

Rifleslinger was also a pleasure to deal with. Responsive and positive. He even gave me some tips on my build since he's also an M1A owner. With his background, experience and knowledge it's fairly safe to assume he can help you with yours as well. I've always said I'll spend a little more to get good customer service as opposed to buying from the big box guys who don't really care about you or your needs. Hence my preference for dealing with folks like Michael. Rifleslinger is now in that category for me. He's my go to guy for long range shooting advice and has now become my sling guy as well. If I can spend a little less and still get outstanding customer service on a first rate sling? Yeah, I gotta admit I'm pretty much sold. Unconvinced? Here's an example of his attention to detail. He sent the sling with two zip ties attached. Simple line them both up at the swivels (with the muzzle up and the swivels facing you, to the right for right handed shooters) when you install it and the sling will be set perfectly with that half twist he recommends.

If you're at all interested head on over to this page and peruse the offerings. He has an options and pricing guide. Take the time to read about the inspiration for his creation and how he builds each and from what. He has detailed instructions on how to use a loop sling and why. He also sent along a PDF with my purchase giving instructions (with photos) on how to put the sling on the rifle. Which is good because I are a Luddite. Rifleslinger recommends a half twist in the sling for proper and comfortable placement of the forward hand when 'looping up'. He explains his rationale and gives a how to for that sling option. I'm going to give it a try myself.

As soon as I get everything together for the M1A I'll head out for a field shoot evaluation, not only for the RS2 but for the Bassett mount as well. I'm going to do my best to put the sling through it's paces and wring it out as thoroughly as I can. I'll do a write up on that soonest.

If you're like me and you need a sturdy, practical, field loop sling I encourage you to give Rifleslinger and his RS1/RS2 slings a look. If you're unsure whether or not a loop type sling is for you take a few minutes and go through his archives. I think you'll be convinced. I know I was.

Great sling. Thanks Rifleslinger.



Rev. Paul said...

I look forward to hearing how it works. Good review, sir!

Six said...

Thanks Rev. I am too!

Paladin said...

Awesome review. Every time i would think of a question you answered it :)

Old NFO said...

Nice! I'm an old fart, so all of mine have 1903 slings, but those DO look a lot easier to use! Looking forward to the report also!

Six said...

Thanks Paladin. I do very few of these so I'm never sure whether I'm putting in too much or not enough. Thanks for the feedback.

Same here NFO. I've been strictly a wrap the sling around my arm guy. It was reading his posts on shooting that got me to considering. I'm hoping to get the shoot done very soon.