Rifle Sling Positions: Front and Rear Slung

Richard L.
by Richard L.
Using a rear sling position allows the shooter to maintain positive control of the rifle while enabling them to get it out of their way and fully use their hands for other tasks.

When transitioning to slung positions, the users need to use their hands for something other than holding their rifles. There are two slung positions, front and rear slung. Today we will discuss some key takeaways on these positions.

Front Slung

Front slung is a sling position that allows for use of both hands without interfering with the use of the rifle. This is used for both non-emergent and emergent uses. Often it is simply to set the rifle down for a short amount of time while maintaining quick access if needed. Another common application is an emergent use where the rifle runs dry or malfunctions. This results in a hasty transition to a secondary weapon. By practicing transitioning to and from this position, it can be done effortlessly. This allows the shooter to focus on problem solving and not the act of transitioning to a secondary.
When in front sling, the weapon is tied up in the sling. If you are right-handed you are turning the ejection port into the body. If a magazine is in the rifle, the sling will catch the magazine and press the rifle into the body. It is important that the rifle is not dropped directly in front of the body. Directing to the side prevents the rifle from getting in the way of your legs.
From a firing position, we let go of the fire control hand and turn in towards the ejection port. This is done while directing the rifle down and off to our non-dominant side. Releasing the fire control is essential as this hand should be available in case of an emergency transition to a secondary weapon. The support hand will maintain control of the direction the muzzle is pointed throughout this movement.
Here we see the magazine catching the sling properly. The rifle is also pushed to the side correctly with the ejection point facing in.

Rear Sling

Generally, I run my gun with my sling around my neck and not with my non-dominant arm swam through the sling.
Here we see the support hand is not inside the sling and the sling is simply draped around the neck.
Below is the other way people often use their two point slings, with the sling between the support side arm and their chest.
For those using their sling in this manner, simply swim out with the non-dominant hand first while the muzzle is directed at the ground so the sling is draped only around your neck as in the picture before.
Either option works, but having your non-dominant arm swam through will add an extra step when transitioning to rear sling. From an on target or ready position, I swim through the sling with my fire control hand.
Here the fire control hand swims out of the sling. Notice also the placement of the support hand and the direction of the muzzle.
My fire control hand then grips the front half of my rifle and controls the muzzle so as not to sweep other people when moving to a rear slung. During this transition, it is important to be cognizant of where other gear is in relation to my sling.
Slings are important, but can easily get caught if you are not careful during your transitions between positions.
As most have their holster on their dominant side, it is easy to snag on the pistol grip, holster or numerous other tools on your belt. Once on my back, I tighten the sling to secure in place.
To get the rifle back into play from rear slung, grab the rifle in front of the magazine well. Control the muzzle, gaining control with the support hand forward on the rail.
Notice the grip is in front of the magazine well and the muzzle is carefully positioned in a safe direction.
Finally swim through with the fire control hand and assume a proper rifle position. The situation will dictate if this is a ready, carry or on target position.
The primary benefit of the front slung is the ability to easily access the rifle and quickly transition to a secondary weapon.
Rear slung also gives full use of both hands. With rear slung, it is easier to go hands-on with a subject and keeps you between the rifle and the subject. Rear sling is a great position for note taking, going hands on, or other situations requiring both hands without weapon interference. Situations could also include rapid or vigorous movements such as climbing ladders or obstacles. Even clearing tight dead spaces, or areas where a human could be hiding, can be done well by transitioning to rear sling and drawing a handgun.
While these sling positions work well in a team environment, they also work well for anyone with a rifle. After engaging an intruder you may need to start providing medical aid to a family member. You would want the rifle accessible but out of the way. It might seem like small or trivial differences. However, would you not want to stack the deck as much in your favor ahead of time to prepare for the worse? Practicing these sling positions costs you nothing. Not practicing them could hold you back when it matters. Try it out yourself and learn how to get in and out of the position. For more information and courses check out an article on Making Ready or courses at Alliance Police Training.

Special thanks to @marlisphotos for the pictures in this article.

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Richard L.
Richard L.

Richard lives in southern Indiana and has a strong interest in training, modified pistols, optics, and low profile gear/tactics. Some may consider it hoarding or some form of addiction, but he never tires in his pursuits as a stamp and lumen collector!For any corrections, input, or interest in posts, you can reach him at rlidelldsg@gmail.com.

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2 of 14 comments
  • ShootCommEverywhere ShootCommEverywhere on Mar 07, 2020

    Definitely not the manual of arms I use, and that looks extremely awkward and overly complicated.

    Pistol transitions just involve moving the rifle out of the way as expeditiously as possible with the support hand while simultaneously drawing the pistol. Typically ends up slightly more on the support side of the body than the tactical carry.

    The front sling is just the tactical carry with more tension on the sling to keep it closer. I use a sling that allows for overtightening beyond what's used for shooting support to make for better retention.

    The rear sling is just grabbing the buttstock while in the front sling and rotating the entire weapon around your body to the back by going from high on the strong side to low on the support side, after taking out even more slack from the sling. Yes, you must be very aware of your muzzle as you transition here. Getting the rifle back to the tactical carry is just the opposite motion, grab the buttstock and rotate back around the body. No need to do the hokey pokey with your arms in and out of the sling, a much simpler movement.

    The only time to have the sling just around the neck is partial or full shoulder transitions. That's not a method of carry.

    Another note, you want your sling mounted far forward on the forend to facilitate using it as support around your support side elbow in what is best described as a modified hasty sling that does not involve weaving the whole support arm through. That's why all these two point slings are rapidly adjustable, so you can take tension out while presenting the weapon and using it for support. When you have it mounted so close to the receiver, it's basically just a carrying strap.

  • Larry  Potterfeeled Larry Potterfeeled on Mar 08, 2020

    im gonna need a glazed donut now.