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Paul Durrant

Rifle Slings: Loose or tight?

Recently, in training with some new recruits, it really became obvious how annoying the loosened strap was when performing basic Manual of Arms and Presenting Arms.

It had always been presumed we carried our rifle with its slings loosened but it wasn't until recently, when someone asked for the evidence, did we take a serious look to see if that was the case.

The obvious point of having a loose rifle sling would be to enable the casual 'slinging of arms' that became a trade mark of Light infantry and, of course, the various firing modes of the Rifleman;

Hudson & Kearns c1803    J.Jones, 1804

However, the only written evidence we have found to date is that in Sjt Weddeburne's 'Observations on the Exercise of Riflemen, etc...", S24 where he states;

"The manual Exercise will be performed with quickness and spirit, and the slings of the guns should at all times be loosened."

That seems straight forward but when I looked back at photos of the slings of Rifles we base our reproduction upon, I noticed that they were all pulled tight. These belong to privately purchased (Ketland) 'Bakers' belonging to the Wallsend Volunteer Rifle Corps. These slings were buttoned at the rear loop and buckled through the forward loop. The slit you can see is the slit for the button. All these slings had a punched hole and the buckle tightened to maximum (shortest) length.



In the 95th, Quarter masters were expected to have arms chests for storage;

"Every company will have an arm-chest, which is to be made so as contain twenty-five stands of arms, accoutrements and appointments complete."

It's likely that the rifles of the Wallsend Rifle Corps had their slings tightened for storage as we imagine that stacking/storing these with loose slings - in rack or chest - could cause problems.
Ben Townsend

The blurb about model 1800-1815 is the usual meaningless and misleading waffle. In 1815 some battalions may have carried the bayonet as well as the sword, and this may have included a mod to the rifle. There are details on the research archive here.
Of course, this sling may have been attached to a Baker rifle at some point. The British army go to the Brunswick in '37 IIRC and start supplying the old Bakers to allies and puppet states in the indian sub-continent. They were selling Bakers or copies of Bakersin the bazaars in Afghanistan in 1994, and for all I know they are still in service along with AK 47s and jezzails today.  it could be dated post 1850 and still be a Baker sling Smilie_PDT)
Eddie

Re: Rifle Slings: Loose or tight?

Paul Durrant wrote:
However, the only written evidence we have found to date is that in Sjt Weddeburne's 'Observations on the Exercise of Riflemen, etc...", S24 where he states;

"The manual Exercise will be performed with quickness and spirit, and the slings of the guns should at all times be loosened."



Bear with me going off at a quick tangent but picking up on that - drill wise - 'quickness and spirit' does not accord with the timings of drill being in ordinary time - a subject we have pondered on before.
Paul Durrant

Re: Rifle Slings: Loose or tight?

Eddie wrote:
Bear with me going off at a quick tangent but picking up on that - drill wise - 'quickness and spirit' does not accord with the timings of drill being in ordinary time - a subject we have pondered on before.

It does if you there was the 3 beats of ordinary between each movement which Dundas prescribes, no?
Ben Townsend

I think that in Weddeburne the context of with quickness and spirit is in juxtoposition to the regular mode. The idea being that perfection in paradeground movements can be lead to brevity later, if becessary. But riflemen should be able to do both. One is not a substitute for the other.  Paul, can you supply the rest of the text?
Paul Durrant

Sling: Like ours but reversed;


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