an M1907-Style Rifle Sling
by Roy Seifert
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Please defer all firearms work to a qualified
gunsmith. Any loads
mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have
been carefully worked up using established guidelines and
special tools. The
author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of
these loads, or use or misuse of this article.
Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith,
just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a
article explains work that I performed to my guns without
the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.
Some procedures described in this article require
special tools and cannot/should not be performed without
Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may
void the warranty. I
claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.
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and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark
of their respective manufacturers.
Now that I’ve restored a
1903-A3 drill rifle to shooting condition (refer to my article
a Springfield 1903-A3 Drill Rifle) I wanted to put a
military-style sling on it.
This would be both for looks and for function.
During WWI and most of WWII the official sling used by
military was the M1907 sling.
This is the sling that looks like someone dropped a
bowl of noodles onto the rifle because it has multiple
overlapping layers of leather.
This sling can be used to both carry the rifle and
provide support in different shooting positions.
the Internet brought up plenty of information about the
installation, use, and care of the M1907 sling, as well as
numerous suppliers of original or “authentic” replicas.
Just about every shooting supplier on the Internet
offered a replica sling, and there were many original WWI or
WWII slings for sale, especially from online auction sites.
I decided to purchase a replica at what I thought was a
reasonable price, but was very disappointed when the sling
arrived. It was
much wider than 1 1/4” inches so it would barely fit in the
sling swivels, and it was covered with some type of colored
hard finish which would not take any oil.
Rather than send it back I decided to use the hardware
from it and make my own sling.
I drilled out the copper rivets to remove the frogs,
and cut the stitching on the short strap so I could remove the
crafting leather now for over 33 years as an extension of my
shooting hobby. In
the late 1970’s – maybe 1979 – I read an article in Guns
and Ammo magazine where the author showed how to make a
custom leather holster. That
year my wife bought me a leather crafting set from Tandy
Leather and I’ve been making leather gear ever since.
Tandy Leather was absorbed by The Leather Factory and
Leather Factory (TLF).
They still produce leather crafting kits; a good basic
one is #55509-00.
This skill has
come in handy especially since it’s so difficult to find
holsters that fit handguns that have additional accessories
attached like lasers. Refer
to my article Making
a Custom Leather Holster for a Taurus® 24/7.
sling is made up of seven parts:
claw hooks called frogs
I found a
general description of the sling on the Internet which gave me
some broad specifications.
short strap is about two feet long, an inch and a quarter
wide, and quarter inch thick. [This
is way too thick!] A claw hook [frog]
fastened with three strong rivets is at one end and a metal
‘D’ ring is sewn on by means of a loop on the other end. Between
these two pieces of hardware are 16 pairs of punched holes. This
is the end of the [sling]
that attaches to the lower sling swivel of the rifle. Until
1938 the metal parts were made of blackened brass. This
was replaced by Parkerized steel, although some parts
manufactured during World War II were blackened steel.
long strap is about 46 inches long with a claw hook, also
called a ‘frog’, on one end and the opposite end, the feed
end, rounded off. The
sling weighs in at about a half of a pound. Ten
pairs of holes start from the feed end and progress toward the
center with another 18 pairs originating at the claw end. This
leaves about 16 inches of unpunched leather in between. The
long strap also includes two three quarter inch wide leather
loops known as sling keepers which are used to keep loose ends
tidy and the sling snug around the shooter’s arm. It
is [attached to] the
forward sling swivel.”
reference indicated that the short strap measured 1 1/4” x
24”, and the long strap measured 1 1/4” x 48” inches.
The short strap requires an extra 2.5 inches to make
the loop to hold the ring, so all together I needed about
75-inches of 1 1/4” leather.
Through trial and error I discovered that the short
strap needed to be 22” for the
1903-A3, and 24” for the M1 Garand.
Because I couldn’t find original drawings or complete
specifications for the sling I purchased a WWI “relic” from
ebay for $7.00 including shipping. The keepers were missing
and the short strap was torn in two places; however the
metal hardware was intact which I can remove. I used this
1918-dated relic to get the measurements I needed.
Leather is sold by thickness but it is measured in ounces.
One ounce is 1/64 of an inch.
8-9 ounce leather makes the best rifle slings; 8/64 =
1/8 which is half the thickness of 1/4 as stated above.
TLF sells natural cowhide leather strips in different
widths and lengths, all are made of 8-9 ounce leather.
Their longest strips measured 72 inches which was
perfect for what I needed.
I purchased one 72-inch strip 1 1/4” wide #4530-00
which gave me enough leather to make the sling.
It is my understanding that the original military
slings were made of raw leather and frequently oiled to give
them that deep, rich brown color, so I decided to make mine
out of natural leather and would apply my own oil and finish.
good choice for sling leather would be latigo leather which
has already been oiled. TLF
sells these in 72” lengths #4764-00
and they are also made of 8-9 ounce leather.
Latigo leather can leave oil stains on clothing so it
needs to be sealed with some type of finish to prevent the oil
from leeching out onto clothing.
I cut a
48” strap from the 72” blank and rounded one end leaving
one end squared. I
will attach the frog to the square end.
That left a 24” strap with square ends that I left
alone. I will
attach the second frog to one end, and the other end will be
split and folded over to make a loop for the metal ring.
order to get the holes properly and evenly spaced I created
a template from heavy card stock. After measuring the relic
sling I spaced holes 1/2” apart, with
1 1/4” between each pair of holes. The template also
provided the pattern so I could round off one end of the
started marking holes 3” inches from the frog end of the
short strap; refer to the specification drawings above. I
used the template to mark the locations of the holes using
the pointed end of a modeling tool
#8039-06. I moved the template so the holes at the end
were centered over the two marks I made previously, then
marked the next set of holes. I used a 3/16” x 9/32” oval
hole punch from the oval punch set
#3005-00 to punch 16 sets of holes. On the long strap,
I punched 16 pairs of holes 1 1/4” apart starting 2 3/8”
from the frog end, and 10 pairs of holes 3/4” from the round
I took my
grooving tool #8069-00
and adjusted it to 1/8” and cut a stitching groove
completely around each strap.
This gave it an authentic, professional look.
To give the
strap a rounded edge I first took my #3 edge beveler #8076-03
and beveled both the front and back edges of both straps.
This removed the sharp, square edge of the leather.
Then I took a small wet sponge and moistened the
beveled edge, then rounded the edge with an edge slicker #8122-00.
This process also gave the leather a finished,
The last 1
1/2 inches of the loop end of the short strap I split to 1/2
the thickness so I could fold over the leather.
I split the flesh (rough) side of the leather, not the
smooth (hair) side. I
used my Heritage leather splitter which apparently TLF no
longer sells. Their
is a fairly expensive tool, but you can do the same with a
skiving tool #3025-00
or a single-edge razor blade.
There are many types of leather finishes available including
dyes, waxes, creams and lotions, and even varnish or lacquer.
Based on my research, original M1907 slings were made
of unfinished leather, but treated with neatsfoot oil to make
them supple and to provide some protection against drying out.
Later slings were treated with a mildew-resistant
chemical, but I don’t plan to have my sling out in the rain.
oil will discolor the leather, which is exactly what I wanted.
One resource on the Internet showed how one coat of
neatsfoot oil turned the leather to a rich brown color, but it
seemed for my leather one coat was not enough.
Even after three coats of neatsfoot oil, once the oil
dried the leather returned to its pale, but somewhat darker,
original color indicating it would take many coats of oil to
get to the proper shade.
In order to
get the color I desired I poured some neatsfoot oil into a
plastic bowl and submersed the leather into the oil.
I didn’t let it soak, just left it there long enough
for the leather to change to the color I desired.
I removed the strap and wiped the excess oil off with a
paper towel, then hung the strap up to dry.
oil dried I applied a coat of Fiebing’s Aussie Leather
which contains beeswax. This
sealed the leather to prevent any oil from leaching out of the
leather and made it somewhat waterproof.
It also made the sling slide through the sling swivels
and keepers easier because of the wax finish.
Although I used the hardware from an existing sling,
Brownells sells the frogs
#084-270-006WB. Ryan Loeppky, a reader of The Kitchen
Table Gunsmith found an unusual source for the sling rings.
Ryan discovered that Home Depot sells a steel chain that the
individual links are the correct size for the ring. The
model number is
806446 #2/0 Steel Straight Link Chain store SKU#
263436. I found it in the aisle that sells bulk chain for
$1.15/foot. Their web site states this must be purchased in
the store, which makes sense since they are going to cut it
off of the bulk reel.
courtesy Ryan Loeppky
the two adjoining links to separate one link. He polished
the weld so it wouldn't cut into the leather, then sanded
off the zinc plating. Finally he cold-blued the link so it
would match the frogs he purchased from Brownells as
described above. Because the link is welded this makes a
very strong sling ring. Thanks Ryan for sharing this great
the leather was finished I attached the hardware I removed
from the poor quality sling.
I laid the frog on the square end of each strap, marked
the locations of the three rivet holes, then used my rotary
hole punch #3240-00
to punch the holes for the rivets.
were attached to original M1907 slings with copper rivets.
I used small, black double-cap rivets #1371-13
to attach the hardware. I
used black to match the color of the hardware.
I inserted the stem of the base through the frog and
into the leather. I
set the cap onto the stem through the back of the strap using
my rivet setter #8105-00.
I set the cap deeply into the back of the leather strap
so it was flush with the leather.
In this way it wouldn’t drag against the other strap.
the split end of the short strap, installed the ring, punched
two holes, then installed two of the black double-cap rivets.
The loop was sewn on original M1907 slings but I
decided to use rivets because they’re easier to install.
The M1907 sling has two keepers to help keep the straps in
place. I cut two
strips of 8-9 ounce leather 3/4” wide by 2 1/2” long.
I grooved, beveled, and slicked each strip as
previously described. I
split both ends to 1/2 the thickness; the end that would lay
on top I split the flesh side, the end that would lay on the
bottom I split the hair side.
I split the ends because I didn’t want the keeper to
be so thick where I riveted the ends together. I soaked each
strap in water for about 30-seconds, then wrapped it around
two thicknesses of sling strap.
This wet-molded the keepers to the proper shape so they
fit perfectly and would be nice and tight.
leather dried I dunked each strap into neatsfoot oil, wiped
off the excess, allowed it to dry, then applied the leather
each keeper around two thicknesses of sling strap as I did
before and marked the outside end where I wanted to punch the
two rivet holes. After
I punched the holes, I again wrapped the keeper around two
thicknesses of sling strap and marked the inside end and
punched the rivet holes. Once
the holes were punched I attached two of the black double-cap
rivets to hold the keeper together.
Ok, so now that I have this “spaghetti” of leather, how do
I attach it to my rifle? It’s
really not so difficult once you do it a couple of times:
Run the hook of the short strap through the rear sling
swivel so the ring is against the rifle and the hooks of the
frog are facing the rifle.
Put one keeper onto the long strap so the rivets are on
the back (non-stitching groove) side of the strap.
Feed the round end of the long strap through the ring
of the short strap so the front (stitching groove) side of the
long strap is against the rifle and the hooks are facing the
rifle. Note the orientation of the long strap in the
Feed the round end of the long strap through the keeper
you installed in step 2 above.
Attach the hooks of the short strap into the first set
of holes below the frog of the long strap.
Put the second keeper onto the long strap so the rivets
are on the front (stitching groove) side of the strap and
against the rifle.
Feed the round end of the long strap through the front
sling swivel, then back through the second keeper you
installed in step 5 above.
Attach the hooks of the long strap to any hole in the
rounded end of the long strap.
I found the third set of holes from the rounded end
worked best for me by loosening the strap and inserting the
frog into the set of holes so the strap was loose enough to
sling the rifle over my shoulder.
The sling can easily be loosened or tightened (dressed) by
pulling on the inside and outside sections of the long strap
in opposite directions.
to the above photo, pull the outside of the long strap towards
the muzzle, and pull the inside of the long strap towards the
butt to tighten the sling.
Pull the outside of the long strap towards the butt,
and pull the inside of the long strap towards the muzzle to
loosen the sling. (The
beeswax conditioner I applied to the leather makes this fairly
easy to accomplish.)
the Sling for Shooting Support
The purpose of the sling is to not only allow you to
conveniently carry the rifle, but to also provide additional
support in the prone, sitting, and kneeling positions.
Loosen the sling, then remove the lower frog and attach
it to the second or third pair of holes on the frog end of the
short strap. This
keeps the strap anchored and prevents it from flopping around.
Move the upper frog to an appropriate pair of holes in
the rounded end of the long strap.
For me I found I didn’t have to move this frog at
all. You will have
to experiment to find what pair of holes and sling adjustment
works best for you.
Move the lower keeper up the strap to expose a loop of
Rotate the sling 1/2 turn to the left for a
Place your left arm through the loop and pull the loop
up above your bicep. Tighten
the keeper so the leather loop stays in place.
Tighten the upper keeper close to the upper sling
Place the back of your left hand against the sling and
grip the stock close to the upper sling swivel.
The sling should be fairly tight, but not
Once you have attained the prone, sitting, or kneeling
position move the butt of the rifle to your shoulder.
You should have to push the butt forward against the
tension of the sling to get the butt to fit snuggly against
your shoulder. The
sling should be tight in order to provide proper support.
If I had a shooting jacket and glove there would be no
space between the back of my hand and the sling in the above