Slings are magical pieces of gear that make handling your long gun much easier. They are like a holster for your rifle that allows you to keep the firearm secured and safe when you might need your hands for another task. They are also basically giant seat belts, but for your rifle. They prevent anyone from taking the gun from you and make it hard to drop your rifle when navigating difficult terrain or situations. There are lots of great slings out there, but 1 of my favorites is the Blue Force Gear Vickers Combat Application Sling, aka the Vickers sling.
The Vickers sling gains its name from Larry Vickers, a former Delta Force soldier, a Master Sergeant, and 1 of the biggest innovators in the firearms world in decades. He a walking encyclopedia of knowledge, and he serves as a firearms instructor and consultant. He helped found IDPA and helped HK develop the HK 416 on top of publishing a series of guidebooks on various weapons. The man knows his stuff.
He teamed up with premier soft goods company Blue Force Gear to produce the Vickers sling more than a decade ago. The story is that it was adapted from a homemade setup Larry had. This sling revolutionized the tactical 2-point and created an entirely new sling concept. The USMC adopted them, as have various Army and Air Force units. It’s likely the most popular modern sling in the world.
How I Got a Vickers Sling
When I came into the Marine Corps, there were 2 slings. You had the Blackhawk 3-point and the various single points. If you carried an M4, you got a single point. If you had an M16, you got the Blackhawk. Those Blackhawk 3 points were an entire mess of straps and were generally dealt with, but not happily.
Luckily I packed an M240, so my M16 only came out for training purposes and certain field ops. By the time I had my hands back on a rifle, it was 2011, and the USMC had adopted the Vickers sling. We were told to hand in the single and 3 points, and they tossed us Vickers slings out the back of the duty van. We didn’t sign for them, and they were essentially gifted to us. So guess what? Over a decade later and I still have mine, and I still use it. I think, at this point, I’m fairly qualified to give it a review.
After a deployment, numerous training ops, and rifle ranges, I’ve put the time in with this sling. It sits on 1 of my favorite rifles to this day.
What makes the Vickers sling different?
2-point slings are about as classic as it gets. These things went back to the original slings and evolved slowly, but the transition to the Vickers-style sling was a massive jump. What the Vickers sling did differently was to add a quick adjust pull tab. It’s a tab that is a few inches long and 1.25 inches wide. Shooters can move it back and forth with ease, and it instantly tightens or loosens, depending on the direction you move it.
That 1 feature makes the Vickers sling stand out; especially back in 2008-ish when it was released. A quick-adjust feature is fairly normal these days, but it was revolutionary at the time. The ability to loosen or tighten the sling on command is an awesome feature when you are using your sling for more than a square range.
Blue Force Gear also designed a ton of different attachments for the sling. These different attachments make the sling adaptable to various weapons. You could toss a Vickers sling on anything: a rifle, carbine, SMG, braced pistol, shotgun, or dang-near whatever else you could ever want. It’s a sling that could jump onto a G3 and then be swapped over to an M4 with little issue.
Putting the Vickers Sling In Action
So after a decade of use, you’d think it would start to fall apart, right? Well, you’d be wrong. The sling hasn’t even begun to fray a little. Over its years and years of use, the only thing the Vickers sling has suffered from is some stiffening. It’s a little stiffer, but not enough to cause any issues. That’s the closest thing to a problem I could have with the sling. My Vickers sling has been to Africa, Spain, Romania, and dozens of Camp Lejeune ranges, and if that’s the only problem it has, I can accept it.
That tab that allows rapid adjustment is pretty handy. You can almost instantly go from maximum maneuverability to tight enough to go hands-free in a heartbeat. Going hands-free makes it easy to help a wounded comrade or climb a tree stand.
The ability to instantly loosen the sling makes it easy to maneuver rapidly with the weapon. To get this to work right, it does take some sizing experimentation. Adjusting the preset length is the key to success. Make sure you adjust the total length so that when the tab is pulled, things go tight, and when pushed, it gets loose.
I like just enough tension that somewhere in the middle, I could use the sling tension to help me steady myself for a longer-range shot. This makes using the Vickers sling a snap and makes it versatile. You can have the freedom to go hands-free without a dangling rifle, run it loose for clearing rooms, or somewhere in the middle to add a little stabilization. You can do all of this with the pull of a tab.
These days everyone is making great slings. Magpul, Viking Tactics, Arbor Arms, and many more are delivering solid, rapidly adjustable 2-points. It wasn’t always that way. There were the dark times, the times of the 3-point. Then the Vickers sling carried a light to show us the way to a proper sling. Even now, more than a decade later, the Blue Force Gear Vickers sling remains 1 of the top dogs. BFG produces the sling in numerous colors and camos and numerous special additions and padded and slim versions as well.