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This thread does have a number of photos that I never gotten around to posting with the "Mosin Nagant Sling Swivel" article on MosinNagant.net. To speed things along, I will use sections from that article along with photos taken from several European Museums as well as from my personal collection. All of these photos are known to be original period slings. This is the somewhat revamped version of the original thread. My apologies for the quality of the photos as the majority of these photos were taken years ago with my old, original "Hong Kong Special", crappy digital camera!

Split Tip Knotted Slings

One of the simplest designs can be seen in the collection of the Royal Belgian Army Museum in Brussels, Belgium. I know of no known official name for this sling, so I will simply call it the knotted pattern. The sling consists of a long leather or canvas strap, which has two tips which are thin enough to be passed through the slots of the stock. Both ends of the sling have been split lengthwise for a distance of approximately 3” to 5” from the tip. The sling tips are then passed through the sling slots on the side of the weapon opposite the bolt. They are then pulled through the slot to the other side and tied in a double knot. The knots prevent the tips from being pulled back through the slots. The net effect is that while this sling type is not adjustable, it makes a very simple and effective side mount sling arrangement for cavalry carbines as well as both the Cossack and Dragoon models. Slung in this fashion, the weapon rides on the back with the bolt side away from the body.

I can't find the photos I have of this variation, however, here is a version similar to the split knot sling. The only difference is that this sling has a rectangular leather keeper on the tips of the sling that have been pulled through the sling slot on this Model 1870 Berdan II Cossack rifle. These photos were taken in the cleaning room of the Belgian Royal Army Museum in Brussels. The rifle was being cleaned in preparation for a temporary display. The rectangular leather keeper from the upper portion of the sling had been removed for cleaning. This Berdan II Cossack rifle was among a number of Russian rifles that were on loan from St. Petersburg.
 

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Early Slings

The original buckle and button type slings (now most commonly referred to as Mauser type slings), which were first issued with the Berdan II, were in turn, the first sling patterns to be used with the Three-Line-Rifle.

The infantry pattern was similar in style to the typical Mauser pattern sling with a brass buckle and button. The sling passed through the bottom or top swivel, back through the brass buckle and was then attached to the other swivel through the use of two split holes in the end of the leather sling. A brass or iron button with a flat disc on one side and a wasted button on the other, was slipped through the slits in the leather and aligned with the holes. Tension on the sling kept the button from slipping out.
 

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On the majority of the early pattern rifles, the top swivel was permanently attached to the top barrel band. However, a percentage of the early sling had hooks that replaced the top swivel. The hook could be slipped in and out of the space between the barrel band tightening flange and hooked over the center of the tightening screw. This made it in effect, a quick detachable swivel arrangement. It is not known, however, how many of this type were produced and over what length of time. It is also not clear if this was an officially approved variation or a field expedient design. This photo shows the hook of one of these Russian issue slings permanently attached to the end of the sling with the hook stitched tightly in place. The hook, that at one time would have engaged the top barrel band, is instead being used to adjust the length of the sling now that it has been converted for use with sling slots. This particular example has been altered, most likely after suffering some type of damage, into the "dumbbell" pattern sling shown below for use with a slotted stock.
 

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Here is an early studio photo of a Russian soldier with a Model 1891 Three-Line Rifle that clearly shows a magazine mounted sling swivel and yet lacks a top swivel mounted on the barrel band. The stock is without question an early version and has no sling slots. This rifle could only be used with a sling that had the slip-fit hook attached to the end of the sling as pictured in the photo of the modified sling above. This is one of the reasons that a large percentage of the rifles with early stocks that turn up today are without a top sling swivel. They never had them in the first place. What percentage of rifles were produced for issue with these slings is not known, however it is clear that these rifles were reasonably common.
 

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Buckle and Button Style Web Sling

This sling is quite interesting and is of the buckle and button style construction with two small exceptions. 1) It lacks the standard retaining button and the end that would normally be secured by the button has instead been stitched to the lower swivel of this beautiful early pattern Model 1891 Three-Line Rifle produced by Chatellerault……and 2) It includes a leather keeper, which is not commonly seen on the early pattern Russian slings.

These photos are courtesy of my good Friend Karl-Heinz Wrobel, the Mosin-Nagant expert and well known author of "MOSIN-NAGANT, DREI LINIEN DIE GEWEHRE", Volumes 1 and 2. It is more than likely that this same pattern would have been produced with the normal button mounted through the leather reinforcing tip rather than resorting to permanent stitching all of the time.
 

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Bent Wire Ersatz Swivel

The following example from my collection was acquired in Belgium and has a bent wire swivel. Photographic evidence may suggest that this particular style of hook may in fact be German manufactured for use with captured Russian weapons and German slings. The sling shown in the photo is a Mauser export style of identical design to the Russian buckle and button slings. It is unmarked and may be of Russian origin.
 

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Dog Collars with Button & Buckle Sling

The Three-Line-Cossack, Dragoon and Cavalry Models, like the earlier Berdan II equivalents, were from the very beginning, equipped with sling slots rather than swivels. The most common type of sling issued with the slotted weapons has come to be called the “dog collar’” sling by today’s collectors. This type of sling employs two short (lengths vary, but most are approximately 6” to 10” in length) belts, generally equipped with roller buckles, which pass through the slot at either end of the stock. The loop formed by the “dog collar”, in turn, provides the two attachment point at either end of the stock, which the buckle and button type of sling can then be attached to. In this manner, the earlier pattern Russian buckle and button slings could be utilized with rifles equipped with slotted stocks.

Here are some photos of a WWI period dog collar sling with a buckle and button type sling attached to the dog collars.
 

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"Dumbbell" Slings

Next on the list is what I refer to as the “dumbbell” style sling. The tips of this version are made from very thin material whether constructed from cloth or leather. The tips of the sling are doubled over and then passed through the slots on the stock. The tip of the sling remains on the same side of the stock as the sling. Only the loop made by doubling over the sling tip passes through the slot. When the loop appears on the other side, a small “dumbbell shaped piece of leather is passed through the loop to function as a retaining bar, which prevents the loop from pulling back through the slot when pressure is applied. As with the knotted sling, by running the loops into the slots from the side opposite the bolt, the sling becomes in effect, side mounted.

For lack of a better term, I have referred to this ersatz pattern as the "dumbbell" sling, based on the shape of the small leather retainers, which are shaped like dumbbells. This is a very clever design that is both effective as well as simplistic.
 

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"Pass Through" Style Sling


This would best be called a "pass through" sling in that a single strip of leather, with a split in the lower tip of the strap, has been threaded through the sling slot of a M91, and passed back through the split in the tip of the sling, producing a slip knot type arrangement. The sling, when arranged in this fashion, will function similar to a side mounted sling. This same effect was created with a number of the early slings used with both the Berdan I, II and the M91 through the end of WWI.

The upper sling attachment, which passes through the forearm sling slot, appears to be of a similar design. This is a field expedient sling with no metal parts at all, i.e. it has no buckle or button, or other metal pieces. This is most likely a WWI vintage ersatz sling, designed locally in the field.


This is just about as a simple as it gets and would have been a common response to the realities of the Russian supply system during WWI. These old studio photos are always interesting to study!
 

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Summary


This is hardly a comprehensive study of Russian period slings. Much additional research needs to be done. The article on MosinNagant.net is actually geared more towards sling swivel variations, however, it does also touch upon the subject of sling patterns. Any and all addition information and or photos would be greatly appreciated. I will continue to update this thread as I uncover additional information regarding the pattern variations of early Russian slings.

For those of you that would like to have a WWI type look on your Mosins, the best way to display them is to purchase Mauser style, export button and buckle slings at one of the gun shows and then mount them, button at the bottom, in WWII or later pattern dog collars. This will give you the most accurate looking "repro" sling as used during WWI. If you can find a leather slide loop to add to this set up, as per the photos above, so much the better.

Hope this info helps.

Warmest regards,

JPS
 
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