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I’ve been faffing around with VTAC style, two-point adjustable wide padded slings for a little while now. I bought the LBT version a few months back but didn’t really feel it. I sold it on. I didn’t give it a fair chance, so when I came back around to the idea of a two point adjustable sling I couldn’t really remember what it was about the LBT which put me off. VTAC style slings all work in the same way, so it’s unlikely that VTAC branded variants are nuanced to the extent that I could tell them apart from an LBT branded sling, in use. Or so I thought.

The first VTAC style sling which stuck with me was VTAC’s own Upgraded version of their MK2 adjustable wide padded sling, in coyote. I next bought the standard version of the same sling in Multicam. Then, my friend Rob sent his LBT VTAC style sling to me for comparison. These slings all work in the same way, but there are marginal differences which could allow a potential buyer to decide between them. I know which my favourite is, but it’s not like the other two are unusable – far from it.

First I looked at the general presentation of the three slings. The Upgraded VTAC and LBT slings have supple webbing straps. The standard VTAC has thicker webbing. I gather this is a newer feature and there may be some advantage to thicker webbing, in terms of stiffness and twist prevention. I notice that thicker webbing is also a feature of the VCAS sling – a competitor adjustable two point system.

Of the two Multicam slings, only the LBT features the Multicam logo on its webbing. It’s a nice touch. It’s not like VTAC would use knock-off Multicam, so no dramas there.

The LBT differs from the VTAC branded slings in that it comes complete with good quality steel HK snap hooks. Personally I’d ditch those, as they are heavy and clunky – but it’s a bonus for anyone who likes HK snaps. The VTAC slings don’t come with any mounting hard wear at all, because VTAC recommends the sling ends are fastened direct to fixed sling loops or sling swivels.

The next most obvious different is shoulder pad width. The LBT and Upgraded VTAC have similar width pads. The standard VTAC is a little narrower.

Upgraded VTAC, left. LBT middle. Standard VTAC, right.

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The Upgraded VTAC’s shoulder pad is enveloped in seamless, tubular nylon. This is a very nice feature and avoids any notion of drag/chaffing. The standard VTAC has a raised seam running down the middle of its pad, throughout the entire length. The LBT has a flush seam which is sort of offset, but again runs down the entire length of the pad. The seamed pads appear to be composed of fine denier Cordura.

Upgraded VTAC, top left. LBT middle. Standard VTAC, bottom right. This is the top of the shoulder pad and you can see the raised seam of the standard VTAC as opposed to the flush one of the LBT.

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However, on the reverse of the seamed shoulder pads (the side which contacts the shoulder) the situation is reversed. I’m surprised LBT put a raised seam in this position, when it had the option to put it on top, away from contact, like the standard VTAC. Having said that, I’m sure it’s fine in use.

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I also noticed the style of stitching differed, in general, with the LBT. Take this example here. LBT is middle.

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The LBT lacks the additional sling length adjustment point of the two VTAC slings, between the shoulder pad and adjuster mech. I’m guessing LBT set this portion at a length suggested by real world users. Sometimes I think fewer adjustment options is a blessing, not a curse. However, I did use this facility on my Upgraded VTAC in order to extend the adjuster mech to where I found it easiest to reach.

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All three slings feature a small keeper strap on the free running end of the sling. It’s composed of a combination of Cordura and Velcro on the two VTAC slings and composed of Velcro only on the LBT. I suspect LBT chose Velcro only, because it’s easier to break the seal on the keeper when you want to detach the free running end of the sling, when you want to make it super-tight.

LBT, middle. Keepers closed.

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LBT, middle. Keepers open.

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Not much to say about the adjuster mechs, except the LBT’s is black. Both VTAC slings have green mechs. All are steel and I’d go so far as to say that the mechs share the same OEM. The Upgraded VTAC sling exhibits the Viking Tactics logo on its mech.

Upgraded VTAC, left. LBT middle. Standard VTAC, right.

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The Upgraded VTAC is the only one of the three slings which has steel hardware throughout. The other two slings have some polymer elements. This is no bad thing.

Lastly, the big difference between the two VTAC slings and the LBT is the ‘tail’. The free running end of the sling on both VTAC variants terminates after the keeper – giving the user a tail to grab on to to tighten the sling. The LBT has no tail after the keeper, so the sling can only be tightened by using the free running end of the sling itself, prior to the keeper. I’m not really sure why LBT decided against the tail feature, but I’m sure you get used to it and it works just the same. It’s all preference, after all. It may simply be that LBT dispensed with the tail after feedback or to differentiate their product, for whatever reason (tidiness? Infringement of VTAC’s copyright?)

As for the VTAC tails, the standard version is composed of the same webbing used throughout the sling. The Upgraded version uses some kind of rubbery polymer with a VTAC logo.

Upgraded VTAC, left. LBT middle. Standard VTAC, right.

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Which would I choose if I was buying again? The Upgraded VTAC; given that it’s only a few dollars more expensive and it features a raft of cool extras – from the tubular webbing shoulder pad sheath to the grippy tail.

However, the Upgraded version is only available in black and coyote, which rules it out for many. To me, the two Multicam slings are the prettiest here and, quite rightly, most wouldn’t compromise the Gucci Crye Or Die look for a few potential marginal gains. And they really are only potential gains.

Would I buy the Upgraded VTAC if I was already using the LBT or the standard VTAC? No I wouldn’t. I don’t think the gains are great enough to ditch a perfectly good sling in favour of one which may (may) be slightly better. But, if I was buying fresh, there is only one choice for me.

A big thanks goes out to Rob for the loan of his LBT sling for this review.

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