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How to season and break in a new leather sling

This is a discussion on How to season and break in a new leather sling within the Gunsmithing forums, part of the M14 M1A Forum category; I agree with others. Just use it. That's all I have ever done....


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Old January 19th, 2017, 03:58 PM   #16
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I agree with others. Just use it. That's all I have ever done.

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Old January 19th, 2017, 04:24 PM   #17
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My experience with leather slings comes from years of competition shooting, slinging up tight in sitting and prone. If all I was doing was using it to carry the rifle, I'd probably oil it, but my slings broke in with use and lasted longer than I did. The biggest problem I ran into was checking my team members to make sure they didn't pass three layers of sling through the keepers which stretches them loose and causes the stitching to fail. Just leave the loose end loose... don't stuff it into the keeper.

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Old January 19th, 2017, 05:47 PM   #18
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I would avoid oil and suggest you heat it in oven at lowest setting and put small amounts of beeswax, then use it

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Old January 19th, 2017, 05:57 PM   #19
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Here's what Les Tam has to say about using Neatsfoot Oil (quoted from his website):

"Les on Neatsfoot

I've heard a few times from people who have used Neatsfoot oil on their leather and claim that it had ill effects on their leather. Below are some of my thoughts on their claims.

I have not had ill effects by using 100% Neatsfoot oil on the Hermann Oak strap leather that I have used to make slings with for the past 18 years. Then, the question arises as to why it is that those people have problems and I do not have problems. I suspect that those problems arose from other factors, like:

a. Using poor quality leather from a tannery that does not have a quality tanning process. Such is the case if the leather was tanned in Mexico or from some other specific tanneries in the US which I will not mention. I only use "strap leather" from the Hermann Oak Tannery in St. Louis, MO. That tannery has a good reputation for producing quality leather. Although their prices are significantly higher, their quality is hard to beat.

b. Using products to treat the leather which contain petroleum derivatives Those products tend to gradually break down the fibers of the leather and destroy the quality and strength of the leather over time.

c. Using too much Neatsfoot oil on the leather. Too much Neatsfoot oil will cause the leather to rot and will cause excessive stretch. One of the old Army procedures from WWI and WWII was to take new untreated leather slings and soak them in Neatsfoot oil and then hang them up to stretch out by attaching a full ammo can to the sling. That method produced excessive oiling and caused the slings to rot and stretch out excessively. It is important to use only the correct amount of Neatsfoot oil at reasonable intervals (a light coat of oil about once a year application) for proper maintenance of the sling.

d. Using the correct type of leather (the tanning process) for making the sling.
For making my slings I have found that "strap leather" produces the best slings in terms of the correct amount of stiffness and stretch. There is a type of leather called "sling leather", which is advertised for making slings, but is, in my opinion, totally unsatisfactory for making slings because of excessive stretching of the leather caused by the amount of oils and waxes used in the tanning process. A 54 inch long by 1 1/4 inch wide strap of that leather will take a permanent stretch of about 4 inches with the first day's use for a competitive shooter. There are a couple of sling makers who use "bridle leather" and "Latigo leather" to make their slings. Those two types of leather, in my opinion, are not suitable for making top notch slings for the competitive shooter because they stretch too much, even though they are good quality and soft and comfortable with initial use. I suspect that the excessive stretching is caused by the amount of oils and waxes that go into those types of particular tanning processes. For my slings, the tanning process used to produce "strap leather" has the right amount of stretch or "give" and strength for use on a competitive rifle sling. Different tanning processes have been developed to produce different leathers according to desired/intended use. A sling maker of competitive rifle slings needs to select the most appropriate type of tanned leather that will produce not just a good sling, but a great sling.

Hope these above thoughts give you better insight into the area of making not just good slings, but "great slings". Of course, the final proof of the pudding is to shoot with the sling and see how it performs. But before making any judgment on which sling is better than the other, one has to have the experience of having tried slings made by different makers. One can also talk with shooters who have tried various slings and get their opinions/comments on performance and longevity.

Les Tam"

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Old January 23rd, 2017, 04:18 AM   #20
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Bee oil from Wesco boots..

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Old January 24th, 2017, 08:34 AM   #21
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You could try this .Use a round piece of wood like a wooden dowel and stretch and pull sling across it rough side down don't be afraid to stretch and twist hard . Reattach sling to rifle take it to the range and do some shooting .come home clean rifle and wipe down sling . Any day you can't get to range " snap in " m14 slang for dry fire practice with rifle nd sling as much as possible again don't be afraid to stretch and twist sling . I have found some of the commercial leather is ok but it isn't consitantly good like Ron Brown ect but go ahead and use it hard when it starts getting broken in go ahead a get you a higher quality sling and use it for you snapping in practice by the time you are working with your second sling you should have seen your group size reduce dramatically .oh yea if you are married don't use your wife's dinning room table and chairs to stretch and pull leather sling on as leather will wear away finish .

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Old January 24th, 2017, 09:04 AM   #22
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So I just bought a Turner sling from Midway. I knew these slings arrive untreated. So, I add the product below in my cart as well.

Turner Saddlery Military Leather Dressing 6 oz

It's a really hard wax product that goes a long way. Many treatments per one container. When I applied it to the sling, it immediately softened the sling, yet didn't discolor it at all. I like it!

Thanks from Rich D
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Old January 24th, 2017, 11:53 AM   #23
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I find Turner slings get fairly flexible after a few uses in one season. I never liked their untreated "beige" look, so I would hit them with diluted Feibings or Angelus leather shoe dye to give them a richer color. Now I just use Ron Brown slings, and they have lasted a few years so far. Much better quality that doesn't need "seasoning" or breaking in.


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Old January 24th, 2017, 12:10 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoothy8500 View Post
Now I just use Ron Brown slings, and they have lasted a few years so far. Much better quality that doesn't need "seasoning" or breaking in.

I find it funny that all 3 men use the same leather supplier, Herman Oak....So I personally don't think there is a whole lot of difference if at all in the leather grade there buying. Remember they still have too be stitched, by hand.

I do know that Ron Brown pre-conditions his slings before shipment, that's right he runs them around a round table leg like a shoe shine for a few strokes.

FWIW.

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Old January 24th, 2017, 12:43 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil McGrath View Post
I find it funny that all 3 men use the same leather supplier, Herman Oak....So I personally don't think there is a whole lot of difference if at all in the leather grade there buying.
Their leather may come from the same vendor, but Turner's leather is much thinner. I did a quick side by side comparison of a Turner and one of the several Brown slings I have. The Turner is on the right, Ron Brown on the left. The Turner leather is 0.170" thick while Ron Brown average is 0.210 thick. The Turner was used very lightly while the Ron Brown has over two years of use. I shoot at least 1 match per month and a couple practice days per month either dry fire or live fire. Not heavy use by any means, but the Ron Brown slings are much better quality for the same price as Turner's. My other Turners was pretty well used after a year and I gave it away to a new shooter that didn't have a sling.

Other than a little diluted dye on the Turner sling to enhance color, they have not been treated with anything.
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Thanks from nra lifer 1980

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Old January 24th, 2017, 02:24 PM   #26
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One thing to remember when hides are tanned they remove the animals fats and oils. These oils would allow the hide to rot . So stay away from stuff like mink oil these work great as water proofing but over time will rot the leather. Bees wax based products have worked well for me.

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Old January 24th, 2017, 02:45 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil McGrath View Post
I find it funny that all 3 men use the same leather supplier, Herman Oak....So I personally don't think there is a whole lot of difference if at all in the leather grade there buying. Remember they still have too be stitched, by hand.

I do know that Ron Brown pre-conditions his slings before shipment, that's right he runs them around a round table leg like a shoe shine for a few strokes.

FWIW.
Ron does condition his with beeswax. Tam does not as far as I know.

They both come from the same Hermann leather however Tam slings appear slightly thicker to my eye sitting side by side.

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Old January 24th, 2017, 08:13 PM   #28
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Obenuauf's leather oil or Montana pitch blend leather oil! Both are awesome but between the two, I think Montana's is better but obenaufs is a little cheaper. I use both of them on boots, belts, holsters and lots of other things. I love well made authentic leather!

For everyone that says oils will make the leather rot, they are using way too much or using the wrong product. A natural oil product will re-hydrate the leather and keep It supple and strong. Leather that is bone dry will weaken and dry rot. Leather that stays wet from water too often will weaken and wet rot. You will get the best results by keeping the leather clean, dry and lightly oiled. If you are using a quality leather oil like the ones I mentioned above, you shouldn't need to oil but once or twice a year.

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Old January 24th, 2017, 09:12 PM   #29
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Just like boots, nothing better than using them to break them in.
When I was a youngster our saddle maker taught me to use pure 100% virgin olive oil. A very light coat about once a year (more often if needed) to prevent our reigns, saddles, chinks/chaps etc from drying out. I have done the same with my sheaths, scabbards, holsters, belts and slings. Some of my leather is far older than I am and still in great shape.
As far as it causing the leather to stretch, I could see that happening if the sling was oiled to often or too heavily. I never shot competition with a rifle so I really can't speak to the stretching issue based on personal experience.

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