Keeping Up With the Times, Introducing The RS-4 Freedom Sling!
A new product is on the way! Production is about to start on the RifleCraft RS-4 Freedom sling. This article will introduce the new products, go over the features, and explore a little of the design process. These were my main goals going into this project:
- non-dominant hand adjustable
- provide stabilization in shooting positions without the need for a shooting loop
- use less material
- make it field serviceable
- make it padded
I spent a week and a half working on different designs to make an adjustable sling that could be adjusted rapidly in either direction. There were several issues with simply turning an RS-3 backwards and using it as a non-dominant hand adjustable sling. The biggest problem was the slack. When tightened, however much material was pulled taut was now dangling from the sling in the front section, waiting to inevitably hang up on doorways, seatbelts, and other gear. The solution I came up with is a simple one, a sewn nylon webbing loop that allows the slack to be kept parallel with the structural portion of webbing. The loop is sewn loose enough to allow the sling to be uninhibited during both tightening and loosening operations but still keeps the excess secure when the sling is tightened for stability. I used different materials in the pictures below to provide some contrast so the details are a little more clear.
The controls are the same as with the RS-3 and are intuitive and easy to identify. They have the same tactile contrast that allows you to quickly adjust your tension even in low light situations. The loosening control is the same 3.5 inch hand woven paracord pull as on the RS-3 sling. Pulling the sewn 3 ply nylon webbing tab will tighten the sling. This action can be done from three positions, the low ready, as you shoulder your rifle, and after your rifle is already shouldered. I tend to tighten it as I raise the rifle. Tightening or loosening your sling with your rifle at the low ready is an action that will be familiar to soldiers. Reaching for the controls is done in an action identical to a Close Interval Dress Right Dress. I prefer to loosen the sling as I lower the rifle from a shouldered position but really, it can be done at any position dependent on user preference.
Moving the adjusting controls to the forward section of the sling also gives the user the option to stow the sling. Loop the webbing around the grip, over the butt stock, and then pull the tightening control to secure everything in place. This is a vast improvement over the RS-3 where your sling is constantly hanging below the rifle unless being worn by the user.
All that remains is to pull the tightening handle:
The shift away from a shooting loop and removing the middle section that was present on the RS-3 saves 47 inches of material. The reduced material gives the RS-4 a weight of 165 grams (5.8 ounces), 62 grams (2.18 ounces) less than the 8 ounce RS-3. This weight reduction does not effect the RS-4s adjustability. It can be rapidly adjusted 10 inches and has a maximum length of 65 inches. The reduction in overall material and number of sewn sections also allows me to provide a traditional RifleCraft quality sling for less than the cost of the RS-3 Cross Body Carry sling.
I guarantee all parts of my slings, and the ITW Nexus acetal hardware is some of the sturdiest in the industry. I wanted a sling that was user serviceable so that a damaged part did not compromise the entire sling. My RS-3 and many other slings available like the Vickers sling, Tab gear sling, and GrovTec's slings rely on plastic parts that have webbing sewn onto them. These plastic parts are critical to the function of the sling and are sewn to each section of webbing. In the rare event that the plastic part on these slings breaks, this leaves you without a sling and the sewn webbing is too bulky to feed through adjustable buckles. On the RS-4 Freedom sling, none of the ITW Nexus hardware is sewn in. Repairs should be able to be made in the field in a matter of minutes, not days, not weeks. Acetal adjusters that are already included on the Freedom sling can be made to delete the quick adjust controls for a field expedient repair in an emergency. There is a an age old proverb with variations dating back as early as 1230 AD recorded by Freidank Bescheidenheit that goes;
For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost. For want of a horse, the rider was lost. For want of a rider, the battle was lost. For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost, And all for the want of a horseshoe nail
ITW Nexus and I (not in conjunction, mind) have extensively tested the acetal parts included on the RS-4 Freedom sling. But for the well-prepared shooter, I am offering a repair pack that includes all of the parts needed to get a Freedom sling back on your weapon. THIS is the horseshoe nail you keep with your gear. The repair pack is also a good way to customize your sling if you want a paracord pull tab in a contrasting color and each of the two part package will be available individually if you want a different colored tab without the spare Fastex triglides.
I kept the sling unpadded. I felt that keeping the sling open to user preference was optimal, and it keeps my newest sling within the design parameters of being modular/ parts replaceable. If you have made it this far in life without shoulder problems then congratulations, I have a sling for you. The rest of us will use a padded sling.
The RS-4 Freedom sling offers the ability to have a pad added to it, the Freedom Lightweight 8 Pad weighs 45 grams (1.6 ounces) and measures 8 by 2 inches. This keeps the padded weight of the RS-4 Freedom sling below the weight of the RS-3 but adds comfort for the shooter's dominant side shoulder/trapezius muscles. The added benefit of a pad separate from the sling is that you can adjust it for optimum comfort depending on the firearm you are using and where the sling mounting points are located. Pads will be available in 8, 10, and 12 inch lengths and feature a metal buckle and keepers that prevent slipping or the sling webbing hanging up on the padded part. These pads will be available in Black and Coyote Brown 498 and I hope to be able to offer a Multicam pattern pad in the near future, factory order minimums are preventing me from that for the time being. I think the Coyote Brown will look good with any of our camo patterned nylon webbing until then. The pad consists of 2 inch nylon tubular webbing and ultra high density foam. I will include a picture below of one of the prototypes below. The webbing attaching the metal buckle will match the pad color once they are available in store. Another benefit of the Freedom Lightweight pad is its ability to be used on "any other gear company's" 1.25 inch webbing sling that does not have the sling swivels sewn into the rear section of webbing. It is worth noting that the black tubular webbing pictured below is polyester and Chinese, it isn't solution dyed and that's why there is some whiteness showing at the stitching. The production webbing is coming from our American supplier and will be the same old recipe of solution-dyed, IR treated, Nylon goodness.
I hope to start production as early as next week. The coyote brown 2" tubular webbing is in transit from Los Angeles and the black 2" tubular webbing should arrive the following week. Those are the only two things I am waiting on at this point as the webbing and hardware is already on hand. If you've made it this far in my rambling promotion allow me to express my gratitude. Thank you for reading! I am very excited to be able to introduce a new product and could not have done it without support from customers like you.