When I was younger I didn’t give much thought to a sling on a rifle or shotgun. When hunting afield, I simply carried my rifle or shotgun at the “ready” position – ready to shoulder it and fire on game. When I went into the military in 1969, I sure appreciated a sling on my M14 in Basic Training. In Infantry School, we were issued M16s, and while quite a bit lighter than the M14, I still appreciated a sling on the gun for long road marches. Over the years, I’ve tried all manner of sling on long guns, and to this day, I still can’t say there is one particular brand or style of sling I prefer over another. I’ve tried single-point, two-point and three-point slings and they all have the good and bad points.
To be sure, not all slings are made the same – some are made out of leather, some canvas and some Nylon – again, I’m not sure which I prefer. I know for long-distance high-powered rifle competition, I preferred the leather competition sling, it really locked the rifle into my shoulder and with the arm loop, made it all that much more secure.
I recently received the Echo Sling for testing for SurvivalBlog readers. My first impression, upon opening the package was “gee, nothing special here…” What we have with the Echo Sling is a heavy-duty, 1-inch wide Nylon sling – made in the USA – and that always tends to swing my opinion on many things. I still think we can manufacture better products in this country than most other countries can produce. Sure, we pay a bit more, but we get better products. I don’t mind paying more for something better made.
The Echo Sling has durable stitching, and an easy to adjust polymer buckles – no worries about them rusting. The sample I received is the Dark Earth color, but they also have Safety Orange, Neon Pink, Hazmat Green, Autumn Orange, Salmon/Princess Pink and Desert Tan. They also claim that the Echo Sling will fit any rifle – guaranteed. I tried it on a variety of different sling swivels and attachments, and it fit them all. I would like to see Echo Sling offer their products in a 1.25-inch width too, in the future – for slinging heavier rifles – that little bit of extra width really helps out if you’re carrying a rifle or shotgun at sling arms for any distance.
Okay, I have a box full of slings, some are leather, some Nylon some canvas, and a few made of other synthetics. I did note that the Echo Sling is much better made than many of the nylon slings in my collection – it is heavier stitched and the Nylon is a bit thicker in my humble opinion – hard to measure, I tried. I do like the simply two-point attachment system – some slings take a PhD in engineering to figure out how to attach them to a rifle or shotgun – you all know what I’m talking about, too. And, to make things easier, the Echo Sling comes with printed instructions and photos to show you the proper way to attach it. And, on the reverse side of the instructions, are photos and an explanation, as to how to use the Echo Sling as a belt – don’t laugh, a belt can and does break, when you least expect it – this is an outstanding idea and secondary use for the Echo Sling.
One thing I don’t much care for with most Nylon slings is that, they tend to slip and slid on the shoulder. The Echo Sling stayed in place, and I believe this is because if is a heavier grade of Nylon, and the tighter stitching that the material has. Okay, so how does one go about testing a sling, other than to put it on a rifle or shotgun and carry the gun at sling arms? Well, I knew there had to be a better method for testing this sling – other than to just carry a long gun around the house – we’re in the rainy season in this part of Oregon – and I didn’t feel much like hiking the logging roads in the monsoon rains to test the sling – I know it works, but there had to be a better way to test this sling’s durability.
It hit me! Or should I say, one of my German Shepherds, “Sarge” showed me a method for testing the sling. Sarge isn’t quite a year and a half old, and he loves to chew-up cardboard boxes that FedEx and UPS bring me almost daily – he honestly believes UPS and FedEx come to bring him new toys to destroy – and destroy them he does. While examining the sling, Sarge decided it looked like a new chew toy and grabbed an end, and the tug-o-war was on – he loves playing this game with “Arro” one of my other German Shepherds. (We have four in our house right now, but we’ve had more than that in the past.)
Sarge and Arro – and even Fanja, our little female, got into a three-way tug-o-war with the Echo Sling – my older main male doesn’t much get into this game – he’s Schutzhund 1 trained and certified, and he likes to bite – not play tug-o-war. So, over the course of a month, I let Sarge and Arro play with the Echo Sling – and these boys can really pull – they’ve destroyed a number of pull tug ropes in the past year. Over the course of this “test” the polymer buckles were chewed on pretty well – but still functioned, though they had teeth marks on them. The Echo Sling was looking worse for wear, but the dogs never did break it – and these boys can really pull and pull hard against each other. There was some fraying, on the ends of the sling, where the boys usually grabbed it in their mouths, but the sling didn’t fail. Now, if a high-quality Nylon sling can take this kind of abuse, over a month, and still function – I’m impressed. I never let the boys chew on the sling – I know it wouldn’t last but a day if they did – but I let them play tug-o-war several times a day with the Echo Sling.
I have lesser-quality Nylon slings and I know, if I had given them to my German Shepherds, they would have made quick work of them – they’d be destroyed inside of a day or two. So, all Nylon slings aren’t the same quality, or made out of the same high-quality and thicker material. What started out as a “ho-hum” product to test for SurvivalBlog readers, turned into a lot of fun testing – and I didn’t have to do much of the testing – my dogs helped me out quite a bit. A slightly different way of doing an endurance test, but it was a lot of fun – for the dogs – and for me – watching them. The sling held-up to the testing and a close examination of it, shows it is better made than most other nylon slings. A simple product, that works and stands-up to abuse! I like that! The Echo Sling retails for $18.99 each and as mentioned at the beginning of this article, it comes in a variety of colors, too. I’ve paid this much for lesser quality Nylon slings, so I think the Echo Sling is a good investment, if you are looking for something simple and durable – something that will stand-up a lot of abuse, and still safely carry your rifle or shotgun. Check it out. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio
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