Outlaw Sling Review

By Troy Adams

When I first became involved with long range shooting I remember being surprised at how heavy the so-called "carry" rifles were. Granted, some carry rifles are termed lightweight, but, as a rule, they lean more towards the heavy side than a lightweight mountain rifle configuration. Hmmm, I thought, maybe those PH's in Africa have something with that gun bearer idea.


To purchase the Outlaw Sling at the LRH Store, CLICK HERE

With the added weight, trying to find a good rifle sling becomes an issue for a number of reasons. First, if the shoulder strap is too narrow it becomes very uncomfortable and feels like it's cutting into your shoulder all the time. Second, the strap might be too slippery and it is constantly falling off your shoulder. (This has also been known to result in some very bad language depending on whether or not the handler caught his rifle fast enough or not.) Third, the strap needs to be strong enough to hold the rifle in place so the heavier barreled rifles don't lean back and down at the muzzle and the butt of the rifle moves forward and upward. (Note: If your rifle slips off your shoulder from this position it will land right smack dab on the scope. This will result in a whole new level of bad language. Don't ask me how I know this, just know that I know.) Bottom line, heavier rifles can be a real nuisance to carry in the field. So what can you do to make it a more pleasant experience?

This very question constantly rolled through my mind this past spring while bear hunting. I spent way too much time trying to keep my rifle on my shoulder while hiking in steep, wet, and slippery terrain. One hand seemed to have to always be on the sling to keep my rifle from falling off, and the other hand was hanging on to anything I could for dear life. All too often while trying to perform this balancing act I would fail miserably and wipe out. Fortunately I did not receive any serious injuries, but I sure came close a few too many times. I kept thinking there has got to be a better way of carrying a rifle.

Well, there is! Enter Gary Matthews of Timber Butte Outdoors and his awesome Outlaw Sling.
To purchase the Outlaw Sling at the LRH Gear Shop, CLICK HERE

Gary saw a need for a better rifle sling design, not just for those who carry heavy rifles, but for most any type of rifle or shotgun that uses a sling design for transport. Unlike me (the whiner), Gary (the innovator) decided to do something about it. He created a sling with double shoulder straps much like a backpack. His sling makes carrying a heavy rifle (or any slung shotgun or rifle) almost a non-issue. It distributes the weight over both shoulders instead of one, resulting in less fatigue on your upper body. Since it goes over both shoulders the rifle slipping off your shoulder is no longer a concern, as it is virtually "slip proof". (This improved my language.)


To purchase the Outlaw Sling at the LRH Gear Shop, CLICK HERE

The rifle, for the most part, stays centered between your shoulder blades and is out of the way as you bust your way through thick foliage. With the rifle and scope tight up against the center of your back it is well protected from bushes, branches, and all kind of other things that enjoy scratching up rifles and scopes. Sure, your body still takes a beating in those rough places, but your rifle is safe. Chicks dig scars anyway, right?

All the features listed above are great and it is truly an improvement over a single shoulder sling. However, I think the greatest benefit it offers is that it leaves both hands free. This is a HUGE plus for stumblebums like me. I now have two hands to hang on with for dear life. Actually, I usually have a hiking staff in one hand to help with balance in steep terrain, and now, the other hand free to "hang on" if needed. I figure, with the use of both hands, I have doubled my odds of saving myself from an unplanned whaaa-whooo trip down the mountain.

Overall the sling is fantastic. There were only a couple things that I thought would make a very good sling a little better. The sling does not come with any sling swivels and, as of right now, they have to be purchased separately. It would be very handy if they came with the swivels. I asked Gary about this and he said he was working on trying to find a good source in order to make sling swivels an option down the road.

Another problem with not having the sling swivels included is that the sling did not come with any instructions, and attaching the swivels quickly became a much bigger and more complex procedure than I anticipated. (I know us "he-man" types wouldn't read the instructions anyway. However, this is one time I probably would have gotten in touch with my sensitive side and peeked at the instructions.)

At the end of the strap, the ends were folded over and sewn, making it extremely difficult to pass the strap back through the sling's connecting brackets once the swivel is added. I pushed, pulled, tugged, sweated, and cursed a time or two, but I still couldn't get the strap back through the bracket opening. I even tried holding my mouth just right, but it didn't work. So I did what any mature, independent "he-man" would do. I asked my wife if she could figure it out. She did figure out the correct configuration for passing the strap back through the holes in the bracket, but we still couldn't get them to fit.

Finally, in frustration, I broke out a screw driver and a pair of needle-nosed pliers. I used the screw driver to push a corner of the strap through the opening, and the needle-nosed pliers to pull (read: "force") it the rest of the way through. I was worried that at any moment I would break the mounting brackets, but they held up despite my Neanderthal engineering skills. In the end, what should have taken ten minutes took over an hour. I called Gary and voiced my concerns regarding the difficultly in attaching the swivels. He said that they have since stopped folding over and sewing the end of the strap. Therefore it now passes through the opening much easier than the one I fought with. He also said that he had an illustrator currently working on a set of instructions that will be included with future orders. Apparently I was not the first to address the difficultly in attaching the swivels or the lack of instructions.

I give credit to Timber Butte Outdoors that they are working to solve both swivel issues. If you order a sling today, attaching the swivels should be considerably easier and more like the ten minute process I originally envisioned.
The only other suggestion I have is that once everything is all cinched up on the sling there is quite a bit of the adjustment straps left over. They tend to flap around a lot in the wind. Now, in areas where wind is not common, this would be of no concern. I live in "wind-central" so it is definitely a factor for me. I think either a belt loop to secure them or Velcro tags to pin them down would be useful. But that's a small complaint and one I could easily remedy with a quick trip to Walmart to buy some stick-on Velcro patches myself.
To purchase the Outlaw Sling at the LRH Gear Shop, CLICK HERE


Overall, it is a great sling design. There are a number of really useful options that can be added as well. One is the quick release buckles. With these, the rifle can be switched to a single shoulder sling for those quick, off-the-shoulder shots. Another nice option is that you can add up to eight shell loops to the front of the sling. This way you always have ammunition handy should the need to reload quickly come into play. Plus, it is a great way to carry your extra ammunition in a silent manner.

The extra loops are not limited to just ammunition. You can also order loops to use for holding predator or other wildlife hand calls. A couple other options that are available are D-rings and Molle' loops. So there is no shortage of options, and this clearly shows that Gary is very innovative and is always thinking of ways to improve his sling. The fact that he has already addressed those two earlier concerns I mentioned shows he is also willing to listen to his customers and make improvements. Way to go, Gary!

The Outlaw Sling is one of those products that once you use it, you really wonder how you ever got along without it. My only regret with this sling is that it I didn't have one years ago.

An avid big game hunter, Troy Adams has been hunting big game for nearly 30 years. Combining hunting and photography has helped him preserve many great memories. When not hunting, photographing, writing, or spending time with his family, Troy is usually found working on his wildlife art drawings.