Caring for Leather Slings
With more and more products being made from artificial materials the ability to care for leather is becoming a lost skill. Slings in particular are now being made from nylon, cordura, and all sorts of different types of materials. Due to the disposable nature of modern life many people don’t even know you have to care for leather. If a rifle or shotgun sling wears out these days, you toss it and buy a new one. A high quality leather sling can last forever…. If it’s taken care of.
Instead of waiting for a problem to show up you can take the time to treat a leather sling before a problem ever occurs. Preventive maintenance should be done on occasion, especially before you take it hunting the first time. The right treatment will make the leather water resistant and prevent dry rot and cracking from setting in.
I prefer Turner Saddlery Military Leather dressing. This treatment is similar to a grease and is applied via rag. If the sling is brand new and clean you can apply the Military Leather dressing directly. If you’ve used and abused the sling a bit, it needs to be cleaned before you apply the dressing. We’ll cover cleaning a little later.
Take a rag and get a little chunk on a lint free cloth or on your hands. The rag or your hands need to be clean! If they are dirty you will lock dirt into your sling! So make sure everything is nice and clean at all times.
Start from the bottom and work your way up. You want to apply with a few fingers, making small circles is best. Create a little bit of friction as you rub it in, the heat will really let it get in there.
The best way to ensure the chemical is deep in the leather is to apply a little heat. A few minutes with a hair dryer is a great way to really get the Leather dressing into the sling. If you don’t have a hair dryer hold it about a foot above a stove top burner with it on. Don’t get too close and only do it for a minute at most on each side. It doesn’t need to be hot, just warmed up.
Turners Saddlery Military Leather dressing is common and well known in the gun world. It has a good reputation for a reason. It should be used after anytime you clean your sling, which leads us to….
How to Clean a Leather Sling
A sling only needs to be cleaned once it gets dirty. Typically, it should be cleaned shortly after it gets any dirt, sweat stains, or possibly blood on it. The longer it sits the worse stain you’ll get. To start you’ll need some quality saddle soap, some warm water, and a clean rag or sponge, and maybe a toothbrush.
Fill a bowl with warm water and dip the rag or sponge in it. Wring the sponge out well. Wipe the leather down with the warm rag or sponge. This will open the pores of the leather, and clean the loosest dirt off the sling.
Rub your cleaning implement into the saddle soap until you got a little suds going on. Start rubbing down your sling, really get the soap in there. Stop when needed to suds it up again. Really get it in there, if your hands aren’t tired you aren’t doing it right.
Once you’ve covered the front and back of the sling, and really rubbed it down it’s time to dry it off. Use a clean, dry rag to dry the leather as much as possible. If you have some persistent stains, you’ll want to use a tooth brush and saddle soap to really get in there deep. Always dry the sling off after any and all cleaning.
Once you are done cleaning, applying some preventive material like Turner’s Saddlery Military Leather. That’s it, and really all there is to cleaning and keeping a leather sling working for nearly ever.