Skip to main content

Rifle Strap or Sling: What's the Difference?

They're not the same, and which one you should put on your rifle depends on how you hunt.

Rifle Strap or Sling: What's the Difference?

Photo by Richard Mann

Most hunters don’t realize there’s a difference between a rifle strap and a rifle sling. A rifle strap helps to carry a rifle on your shoulder; a rifle sling helps to stabilize your shooting position. Though there are exceptions, straps and slings are mutually exclusive. A good carry strap cannot be employed as an effective shooting sling, and a good shooting sling usually sucks for carrying a rifle. Almost every rifle needs a carry strap, and most hunters could benefit from a shooting sling.

A quality strap allows you to comfortably carry a rifle on either shoulder for long periods of time. Hunting that way, however, is not a good idea. On one fall day when I was about 15, I was walking an old logging road. I’d just passed another hunter and didn’t expect to see anything. Guess what? A very nice buck jumped onto the road in front of me and watched me struggle to get my rifle into action. He bounded over the hill just as I was shouldering my .270.

A carry strap is very useful when walking to or from your stand outside of legal shooting hours. It’s also a must if you’re carrying gear like climbing sticks in your hands. And don’t even think about trying to drag a deer without a rifle strap. A good carry strap will be wide at the point where it goes over your shoulder, and the best ones have a bit of padding and a rough surface to keep them from sliding. If you cannot walk without holding on to your rifle strap, you’ve got the wrong strap.

Shooting slings are different. They have a loop that can be adjusted, enabling you to slip your support arm through it as you acquire a field-shooting position. When you’re looped up correctly, a true shooting sling is very tight. This stabilizes the rifle. For a support-arm shooting sling to really enhance stability, you need support for your shooting elbow, such as your knee. (Some hunters like to wrap their carry strap around their support arm. In reality this only serves to keep the sling from swaying around under the rifle, which isn’t a bad thing but doesn’t add stability.)


Some shooting slings allow you to tightly loop the end of the sling that’s attached to the butt of the rifle around the elbow of your shooting arm. This is the only method I’ve found that provides any real stability without additional bracing or support. It also works great in the reverse-kneeling position, or when you’re resting the rifle’s fore-end on shooting sticks or a log.


Do you need a shooting sling? If you hunt from a treestand with a safety bar that provides a rest, or from a shoot-house, probably not. However, if you hunt on your feet and suspect you’ll have to shoot from a field position, a shooting sling is a good idea. The conundrum is those who hunt on their feet are the ones who really need a good carry strap; it’s hard to carry a rifle in your hands all day long.

Rifle Strap or Sling
Top: Vero Vellini strap, Rhodesian sling. Bottom: RifleMann sling. (Photos by Richard Mann)

Carry and Shoot

The best carry straps I’ve found are made by Vero Vellini. Their neoprene makes carrying a rifle on your shoulder comfortable, but because it has some stretch, these are no good as shooting slings.

One of the best shooting slings I’ve used is the Rhodesian sling from Andy’s Leather. With it you can snug into a very tight and stable shooting position. On the other hand, you have to hold on to it at all times if you use it as a carry strap.

An alternative is the sling I developed with Galco Gunleather. The RifleMann Sling keeps the rifle on your shoulder, and you can use it to sling up with either the support or shooting arm.


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

Bear Archery's newest bows - Redemption EKO and Legit RTH - are light, adjustable and fast.

New for 2021: Rage Broadhead, Nockturnal Nock, Carbon Express Arrows

New for 2021: Rage Broadhead, Nockturnal Nock, Carbon Express Arrows

New for 2021, here's a look at the new Rage Trypan NC, Nockturnal Shift Nock, Carbon Express Maxima RED Contour and D-Stroyer PileDRIVER arrows.

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

After a fall of testing new 2021 Mathews products on the road as he filmed new episodes for Bowhunter Magazine's television program, editor Curt Wells had an exciting visit with Mark Hayes, Mathews design engineer, as the pair looked at the new V3 27 and V3 31 bows.

New for 2021: Excalibur Crossbow, BowTech Bows, TightSpot Quiver, Ripcord Rests, Black Gold Sights

New for 2021: Excalibur Crossbow, BowTech Bows, TightSpot Quiver, Ripcord Rests, Black Gold Sights

New for 2021 are several hunter-defined products, such as the Excalibur TwinStrike Crossbow, BowTech Solution and Solution SS Bows, TightSpot Pivot 2.5 Quiver, Ripcord Cage and Code Red X arrowrests, and Black Gold Pro FX and Pro Hunter HD sights.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths.5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

The new bolt gun with a synthetic stock is available in several popular hunting chamberings.Accurate, Affordable, Rugged: CZ-USA 557 Eclipse Bolt-Action SHOT Show

Accurate, Affordable, Rugged: CZ-USA 557 Eclipse Bolt-Action

Game and Fish Staff - December 02, 2020

The new bolt gun with a synthetic stock is available in several popular hunting chamberings.

Smart technology offers crossbow hunters instantaneous decision making capabilities.Field Tested: TenPoint's Vapor RS470 XERO Proves Itself on Ohio Hunt Crossbows

Field Tested: TenPoint's Vapor RS470 XERO Proves Itself on Ohio Hunt

Dr. Todd A. Kuhn - November 18, 2020

Smart technology offers crossbow hunters instantaneous decision making capabilities.

With the Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system, anglers have ultimate kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and the ability to move their boat in any direction desiredAmazing Kayak Power and Control: Hobie's MirageDrive 360 Propulsion System Other Fishing

Amazing Kayak Power and Control: Hobie's MirageDrive 360 Propulsion System

OSG Editorial Staff - November 01, 2020

With the Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system, anglers have ultimate kayak control...

See More Trending Articles

More Other Hunting

Built with duck hunters in mind, Realtree Timber also has uses for turkey, deer, elk.New Waterfowl Camouflage Design Not Just for Ducks Waterfowl

New Waterfowl Camouflage Design Not Just for Ducks

Game and Fish Staff - December 22, 2020

Built with duck hunters in mind, Realtree Timber also has uses for turkey, deer, elk.

These 7 gear items will keep you accurate, prepared and comfortable.Quick List: Great Gift Ideas for Upland Bird Hunting Upland

Quick List: Great Gift Ideas for Upland Bird Hunting

Game and Fish Staff - December 18, 2020

These 7 gear items will keep you accurate, prepared and comfortable.

Bring the tradition of Argentinian-style wood-fired cooking to your backyard or any deer or fishing camp with the Ñuke 60, a hand-crafted outdoor oven.Up Your Outdoor Cooking Game with a Real Wood Burning Oven The Deck

Up Your Outdoor Cooking Game with a Real Wood Burning Oven

Jessyca Sortillon - September 22, 2020

Bring the tradition of Argentinian-style wood-fired cooking to your backyard or any deer or...

Featuring sights, release aids, quivers and much more, there's a plethora of new bow accessories this year.New Bow Accessories for 2021

New Bow Accessories for 2021

Jon E. Silks - January 11, 2021

Featuring sights, release aids, quivers and much more, there's a plethora of new bow...

See More Other Hunting

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now