British Slings Overview Page

 

In this page, we try to break down the British slings by type, as there was some overlap on what rifles they were issued to

 

Information Below Courtesy of John Thorne

As for pre-1908 British web slings. A bit of background here. You are probably familiar with the story of (US) Col. Mills and the invention of web gear. After the US accepted it, the British decided to give it a trial, I think this was in late 1903 or early 1904. This was shortly after the introduction of the new short rifle - the famous SMLE (Short, Magazine Lee Enfield) so-called because it was 5" shorter than the previous Magazine Lee Enfield. The Brits decided to develop a web sling for the new rifle as a test of the new material. The test was extraordinarily successful, and in Britain as in every where else web gear suddenly took over from leather. The first pattern British soldier's gear to use web was the Pattern '08, introduced in 1908, natch. The 08 pattern slings are somewhat different from the early trial pattern ones. Slightly longer and the rivets, as I mentioned, are the type with a hole all the way through them after they are installed.  08 slings were so successful that the pattern was never changed and the sling was used until the last Enfield was discontinued. Pre-1908 web slings are really tough. I don't have one, there are few around outside of museums, and the only person I know who has one for sure is in Arizona and doesn't have a scanner! I'll try to get him to send me a photo that I can scan.
 
Ian (Hamilton) is one of the good guys. The earliest one he shows is a 1913 dated Mills Equipment, which is of course Pattern 08. I bought one my own early slings from him a while back, a 1916 Wrights in ANZAC green blanco. It's a good match with my 1908 LSA SMLE Mk. III, which has markings indicating long service in Australia. I don't have any web slings he hasn't already listed, but I just this week developed a new source in UK and I have high hopes for some early ones.
 
The Pattern 14 slings were part of the 1914 "Austerity Pattern" leather and canvas gear. Due to the massive military buildup in 1914, web gear was in short supply, and the Brits re-introduced leather with the Pattern 14. Pattern 14 slings are just like the Long Lee slings but shorter, about the same length as 08 web (43-44"). I'll do a proper scan my best one, a 1919 dated HG&R, this weekend and send it to you. For today, here are two scans, front and rear, of a Pattern 14 mounted on a 1908 SMLE Cd. Mk. IV. The next sling is an American one - an early 1913 dated M1907 (no manufacturer's mark). The last scan is another WW I Brit variant. When they ran out of web they used leather. Leather rotted immediately in the trenches, so they delegated Pattern 14 gear to second line and rear echelon use as much as possible, and made Emergency Pattern slings of layered canvas sewn together.
 

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Very early SMLE Mk. I - same as Long Lee

 

Picture courtesy of Ken Hallock and information courtesy of John Thorne

Sling Length -  49 inches

Sling Width -  1 3/8 inches

 

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Pre-1908 web - recognized by open -ended rivets

 

PICTURES HERE

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WW I era Pattern 1908 web - dates on brass ends

SMLE_Sling16.jpg (25200 bytes) SMLE_Sling17.jpg (34489 bytes) SMLE_Sling11.jpg (22136 bytes) SMLE_Sling15.jpg (18831 bytes) SMLE_Sling6.jpg (26216 bytes)
ME Co 1913 ME Co 1914 Wrights 1915 Wrights1916 Wrights 1917

Pictures and information courtesy of Ian Hamilton

(Click on Pictures to Enlarge)

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Later web - printed dates or none

Typical WWII issue SMLE sling.  The "broad arrow" is the British Government property mark.

 

Picture and information courtesy of Robert Roy

This is a Enfield rifle sling, dated 1945 and made by the M.E.Co. With broad arrow. Sling has brass ends with canvas material and measures roughly 42 inches long

 

J. & A. H. 1944 with broadarrow

 

M.W. & S. LTD. 1940 with broadarrow

 

SMLE_Sling4.jpg (49091 bytes) SMLE_Sling2.jpg (28528 bytes) SMLE_Sling5.jpg (38589 bytes) SMLE_Sling7.jpg (38647 bytes) SMLE_Sling8.jpg (52762 bytes) SMLE_Sling12.jpg (42319 bytes) SMLE_Sling13.jpg (14812 bytes) SMLE_Sling20.jpg (30562 bytes) SMLE_Sling19.jpg (26050 bytes)
TTO 1940  (hard to read) Hugh Carson  Co LTD H&S LTD Maker? Z L & T  1942 Woods Mfg Co LTD  1941 ME Co 1941 T R & Sons Stamp S1942 (Info added - Savage - details below)  T R & Sons  1942
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T R & Sons  1942 (date) Hugh Carson Co LTD (stamp) T R & Sons Brass Ends W.H. 1949 JP 43

Pictures and information courtesy of Ian Hamilton

(Click on Pictures to Enlarge)

 

Other Stampings

A British broadarrow (government property mark) over "30".  The 30 is likely an inspectors number of some type, as this particular sling was also marked with a date of 1943 (M&S is the maker)

 

A tan colored Enfield sling stamped "S1943"

UPDATE on the "S" marked Enfield sling

By Bob Crisman

I believe these are made by Savage.  I doubt if they actually made the webbing, but most likely assembled the blued steel ends.   I've seen them marked with both the "S" as shown on your site as well as the Savage "square" S.  To the best of my knowledge these are the only ones made with blued steel ends.  Also, every one I've seen with readable markings is marked with the Canadian /|\ in a C.

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Emergency patterns - WW I era layered canvas, etc

 

Picture and information courtesy of John Thorne

This is a WW I Brit variant. When they ran out of web they used leather. Leather rotted immediately in the trenches, so they delegated Pattern 14 gear to second line and rear echelon use as much as possible, and made Emergency Pattern slings of layered canvas sewn together.

 

 

Picture and information courtesy of Steve Webb

Another latex-core sling for the British Enfield.  This one is nicely marked H.H.C. & Co. LTD 1942.

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Pattern 14 - leather copy of the Long Lee sling but shorter.  Early ones in (dark) London Brown, Later ones in (lighter) Service Dress Brown

 

 

Pictures and information courtesy of John Thorne

Here are two scans, front and rear, of a Pattern 14 mounted on a 1908 SMLE Cd. Mk. IV.

 

 

Pattern 14 Sling on a #1 MKIII

Picture and information courtesy of Ken Hallock

Sling Length -  43 3/4 inches

Sling Width -  1 1/4" inch

This is a SMLE, MARK III* with the sling. The sling is marked "John Boyle & Co. 1915".

 

Sling marked Davidson & Smith (this and next two pictures from an Australian collector)

 

Another WWII era Commonwealth sling.  This one is marked 1940 over a broadarrow.

 

Marked D Mason & Son over WALZALL? over 1940

 

Other Markings

CLIFF  WALSALL 1940

See this link for more info on this manufacturer - http://www.barnsby.com/home-f.htm

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Others - black naval, odds and sods

Picture courtesy of Brian J. Burns

Three various colors of the SMLE web sling - black painted, khaki, and drab

 

Picture and information courtesy of Neil Weiner

British military ceremonial sling for the SMLE.  White in color with chrome ends.

 

 

Picture and information courtesy of Jessica Frankland

Two Lee-Enfield white naval slings

 

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Picture and information courtesy of Terry Duncan

Above is a very rare British Enfield 303 cotton web with a inside layer of latex for jungle warfare.  According to the collector, it is a nearly impossible sling to find.  It too is 1 1/4" wide.

 

Comments, corrections, questions, or if you have a rifle sling you would like to share with the world:

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