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 just got a military style leather sling from Springfield for my M1A.
Whats the recommended way to season it and any break in tips?...
Well, the old way - used on gunbelts, holsters, slings, harnesses, saddles, cinches, and reins that have remained pliable and useable for - in some cases - a 100 years, was to 1) use saddle soap - it will clean and make the leather more pliable; then 2) treat with pure Neatsfoot Oil... which is not the same as "Neatsfoot Oil Compound". Pure Neatsfoot oil is an organic animal byproduct and is leather-friendly. Neatsfoot Oil Compound has additives in it (some companies use a petroleum-based product - not good) that are not always the best treatment for leather and stitching. My grandfather lived in the true horse and buggy / mule and wagon days and he taught me well about preserving leather. I pass this on for whatever good it may do. I've used this method for 60 years with success.
First, get the best leather product that you can afford. The cut (what part of the animal the leather came from), the animal type (not all leather comes from cattle or horses), and how it was processed makes a big difference. There is a lot of junk out there.
Last edited by DudleyDR; January 20th, 2017 at 03:13 PM.
I run it through the dishwasher for one cycle if its one of the repro slings. It gives it a steam bath to add some age to it. Then apply Fiebings leather dye to give it some color (the slings when new are generally too light for my taste). Lastly, some leather conditioner will give it a softer feel and protect it. I have done several. I had one on a Garand on my gunshow table once and a guy was looking as hard as he could to find the date markings. I knew what he was looking for and just said "you aren't going to find it, its a repro". It looked original (that one got a bonus two weeks in the salt marsh to help age it more).
I have two Leslie Tam slings, one for the M14 and one for the AR 15 and bought both of them in the mid 90's and through steady use they are broken in just where I want them.
Occasionally will use saddle soap to refresh the finish on them, but no other treatment used for neither have been exposed to rain storms enough to worry about their condition.
When working the pits and obviously away from my rifles, put them in large plastic trash bag to keep the weather off both the rifle and the sling. Also use one over the shooting stool/bag. As mentioned, the original quality of the leather sling is important to long life and no stretching issues.