Sling, a warriors best friend and his greatest enemy. Well, in reality it?s not so dramatic, it does come close though. Weapons of all kinds as well as accessories have always been the constant companion of soldiers. To make it?s use and transportation easier, gear of all kinds has been attached to soldiers themselves or to parts of their gear.
Weapon slings have been a part of the gear for centuries, in the beginning slings were more or less used to carry the weapons while marching and only later on their use evolved in helping to create a more stable platform for the shooter. As years past by, slings went from carrying to creating more stable platforms to eventually making it possible for the modern operator to have their weapon on them at hand reach and still have the ability to use their hands freely.
In tactical situations operators are mostly envisioned with a classical 3 point sling, MP5 slung over their chest and they are either holding a pair of handcufs or are transitioning to their secondary weapon.
Well all?s nice and well and 3 point slings are not bad, but they are not that good, at least not as good as the general non professional shooter community would like to think. There are more than just the 3pt slings out there. Besides the 3 point sling, there are single point slings as well as the old trusty 2 point sling…
The following few sentences will probably sound very familiar, since they can be read on Lary Vickers?s webpage; Mr. Larry Vickers on slings (…used with permission from Mr. Vickers himself)
Single Point Slings – As many of you know I am not a fan of this design. In my opinion it has far too many negatives for very few positives. The one big plus of the single point design is it is very easy to switch from shoulder to shoulder for weak side barricade shooting. It is a big advantage in that situation. However I honestly cannot think of another attribute it has; everything else in my opinion is negative. It tends to make the rifle dangle and hang off of you like a dead cocker spaniel. When you are shooting on the move after a transition it tends to interfere with your movement as the carbine wants to hang in front of your body. It also likes to hang up on kit as it is tight around your upper torso. When you take a knee it is guaranteed you will muzzle strike the ground unless you control it. Also if you are trying to climb anything it wants to hang in front of your body and prevent you from climbing efficiently. Single point slings are great if you are static at the 7 yd line and play bullet hose but other than that, in my humble opinion, they suck. As far as I am concerned all the negatives greatly outweigh the sole positive feature.
Three Point Slings – I very rarely see these in classes anymore as I think everyone has gotten the word on them. With an AR style carbine they are about the worst possible choice. They offer none of the advantages of an adjustable two point with almost every negative in the book. They tend to hang up on kit big time. For a right hander they can interfere with controls and for a left hander they interfere with ejection. If you are standing around with no body armor on they may be cool (I don?t think so) but with any gear on shooters quickly figure out they are lame beyond belief. Like I said fortunately most people have gotten the word on three point slings so they are scarce in the circles I run in.
Two Point Slings – Non adjustable two point slings like a standard USGI M16 sling offer real advantages in the ability to transition easily and keep the sling from hanging up on kit but suffer from the fact they are rarely the ideal length for any given task. They are generally too long or too short depending on a shooters position. Enter the quick adjust two point sling; in my opinion the best all around choice for a carbine sling and the overwhelming favorite in the Spec Ops circles I run in. It offers the best features, all things considered, with one negative vs. a single point design. Most of the time you will have to unsling one shoulder to do weak side barricade shooting. This of course depends on how you wear it and the kit you have on at the time. I used a two point quick adjust sling for nearly two decades with excellent results.
Brief History of the Blue Force Gear VCAS by Larry Vickers himself.
So, here you have it, the awful truth about slings, from the man who knows more about these things than most of us combined. I guess the saying I once heard applies here; he can forget the same amount you think you know on this subject and he?d still be lightyears ahead of you. Well I have nothing but the utmost respect for Mr. Vickers and this Sling design proves he knows a thing or two on guns and accessories. At this point we will stop using his words and switch to using his sling only and tell you all about how it performs in the simulated field.
I have used single point slings, three point slings and as in the begining two point slings and found these the best option of them all. So far this just means I have a personal preference to two point slings. Since I transitioned back to two point slings I have used two different quick adjust models and again I found them both superior to any other type of sling. I switched to Blue Force Gear?s VCAS sling for a simple reason, the VTAC had a feature that did not sit well with me, namely the “tail” that remains hanging when you quick shorten/adnjust the sling. But this is not a comparison test, justa review of an excellent product.
The model I tested is the non padded version of the VCAs and it cam in black. I am using QD mounts on all of my replicas so I equiped the VCAS with a set of push button QD swivels.
The VCAS is a two point quick adjust combat sling, designed to offer the user the ability to quickly adjust the length of the sling with a single pull on the adjustment handle. The adjustment handle comes in a different color than the rest of the sling and that goes for all the colors that the sling comes in. To mention the available colors: BK, OD, FG, CB, MC, ACU. Moving on… The sling is made of a soft nylon webbing. The webbing might look somewhat rough, but the material is actually quite soft so it will not cut into your neck. The webbing is 1.25″ or 3.175 cm wide, which makes it wide enough so it won?t be cutting in into your shoulder during prolonged use. This is especially true if you are using any kind of tactical gear. For any competition shooter the padded version might be more usefull.
All the buckles on the sling are plastic, ITW except for the quick adjust buckle which is patented Blue Force Gear/Larry Vickers and is made of metal. The label on the sling seems glued onto it and will wear off with use, so after some time, people will have to believe you you are using the original and not a replica, not that there is a replica available at the time this review was written, but the ACM lot is quick to jump on any bandwagon that sells. The fact that there are currently no replicas available is very good, as the original is not that expensive and I doubt that the Asian copy/paste crew is willing to pay for licensing. Some might not share this point of view but I prefer to have a good, quality product to help me carry my AEG instead of a cheaply made one for I have seen a few broken or damaged replicas due to sling failure. So paying a little bit of extra cash for a quality functional product, not that big of a deal.
Now you know what the slings advantages are, you know who designed it, who?s making it and what it?s made of and how. But it?s in the field, real one or a simulated one that this product really shines. A sling usually needs to be adjusted when used in conjunction with tactical gear almost every time you change the setup or the amount of clothes you wear due to the weather or time of year. You also need to adjust the length of your sling every time you transition your weapon from one shoulder to another or from primary to secondary. And in airsoft this can be a frequent doing especially if your name of the game is Mil-Sim.
Adjusting the length of the sling is simple, in my opinion simpler than on it?s closest competitors the VTAC sling, for having just one adjustment strap. You simply hold your replica in your shoulder, hold the adjustment strap and either pull the replica to the side to extend the length or pull the strap to shorten the sling?s length. Sure you need some force, but this is due to the fact that the quick adjust buckle is held in place by friction. This might be the weak point to someone but I have found this to be of no problems for me, the sling has never missed a beat, stayed at the exact length as I adjusted it. It might take some practice but nothing too serious, a day of use on the range or in a skirmish and you should do just fine.
Vickers Tactical offer s nice YouTube video where the advantages of quick adjustable sling can be observed while transitioning from shoulder to shoulder as seen bellow:
And now for the conclusion; what can I say, the best sling I have ever used. Am I biased, probably a bit, but this does not change the fact that the Blue Force Gear VCAS is a superbly engineered and executed design that is well thaught of and that actually works. It does cost a bit more, but it will not bleed your wallet dry and having a piece of kit with the name Larry Vickers on it will mean a lot to some. I can only warmly recommend this product to anyone who is looking for a quality sling.