Posted By Mac66 on July 28, 2013
Being involved in Appleseed we use USGI web slings on our rifles for teaching purposes. If you’ve never used one as a loop or hasty sling as a shooting support you would be amazed how much stability they bring to your shooting. The GI web slings are not expensive at $15 or so plus shipping plus another $12 or so for swivels. However, I liked them so much I started putting them on hunting rifles, shotguns, plinkers etc. It got to be expensive to put one on every rifle. If however one could find a less expensive way to do it, it would save a few bucks. Basically a GI web sling is just a cotton or nylon strap 1.25″ wide with an “H” buckle sewn on one end. Add the swivels and an adjustable buckle on the other end and you are good to go. It stands to reason therefore that any strap equipped with the proper hardware would work.
USGI web sling
Recently while going through some stuff in the basement I ran across a box that had some stuff from my youngest sons room after he moved out. Included in the box were a couple nylon belts with metal buckles on them from his skateboarding days. One of the buckles is the type you insert the belt tail through and then is held in place by friction. The back of the buckle has teeth on it. It clamps down on the material and holds it in place. It essentially works the same way as the sling keeper. Another of the belts had a clamp on both ides of the buckle. In my own closet I found another OD green cotton belt. It had the same type of friction buckle that had a clamp on the back. It was too ratty looking to use as belt anymore but certainly would serve as a sling if needed.
Cool blue belt with friction buckle
The belts were long enough but could I use the buckles as adjustable buckles? Could I find enough hardware to not have to buy anything except for sling swivel? The quest was on. I started looking through boxes of old slings and holsters, nylon straps, bags etc. I found about half a dozen “H” buckles both in plastic and metal, some were 1″, some 1.25″. I also found a yellow nylon strap that came from a broken tie down rachet strap. Hmmm, another sling perhaps?. In the end I found enough “H” buckles to put 4 slings together.
OD green web belt
The first thing was taking the buckles apart. Two were simply held together with metal tabs. Prying the tabs out separated the front and back. The black buckle was cut in half. The front side became one keeper while the back became another. I had to file the teeth on all of them so that the double thickness of the strap would pass through. A little tweaking here and there got them so they would clamp down on the straps without slipping.
This belt buckle has clamps on both sides. Not sure what the design is supposed to be.
The next step was sewing on the H buckle. I showed up at my wife’s sewing machine with straps in hand. I begged (I mean asked) “honey, while you’re at it, could you sew these for me, please?” A couple quick passes through the machine with what she happened to have loaded (red thread) and the buckles were in place. To put the swivel on you simply slip it on the strap and then pass the strap back through the “H” buckle for the bottom. For the top you put the strap up through the keeper, slip the swivel on and then back through the keeper.
Back side of one of the buckles
Belt buckle taken apart to make sling keeper
H buckle loop. Sew here.
A plethora of slings made from 3 belt buckles.
These slings won’t likely make it on to line at Appleseed but they will free up some of the GI slings I already had that were on other rifle. I did take the green one to an Appleseed and had a student use it. Nobody noticed that it was different. The blue and yellow one might get some attention on the line. A couple of notes…the thickness of material varies widely. Some of the buckles were too tight on some slings and too loose on others. If you try making your own sling this way you will have to match and/or adjust the buckle to the sling.
One last note: I’ve learned since I wrote this article that the buckles are called cam lock buckles AKA jam lever buckles. If you don’t want to make your own you can find sources for them by searching using those terms.