The General Purpose Machine Gun is a devestatingly effective weapon, but it could not be described as light. The GPMG weighs in at over 26lbs, before ammunition. As such, a good sling is needed to allow it to be man portable in any sort of comfort. A number of different slings have been issued over the GPMG’s extraoridnarily long life with the British Army and tonight we are looking at an example of the DPM version:
The first point to note is that my example is missing one of its spring clips, and there should be a second clip at the opposite end of the sling so that it can be attached to the weapon. The clip that is attached does illustrate what they should both look like however and is a simple sprung, black enamelled hook with a swivel attachment at the sling end:
Where the sling goes over the shoulder there is a broad, padded section that distributes the pressure and makes the sling more comfortable. The outer side of this is camouflaged in DPM:
The reverse is black and has a rubberised texture, presumably to prevent it slipping on the gunner’s shoulder:
Whilst the clip that remains on this sling is permenantly fixed in place, the opposite end has a set of quick release tabs and buckle:
The buckle allows the length to be adjusted and the tab allows the sling to be disengaged quickly from the GPMG at this end when going into action. The sling itself is printed with its designation, year of manufacture and NSN number:
Even with a sling, it is not easy to carry a GPMG as it is both heavy and awkwardly shaped! The GPMG Manual advises:
The gunner in the advance carries the gun either by using the carrying handle, or in front of the body supported by the sling over the right shoulder and holding the gun muzzle down and forward, right hand on the pistol grip and left hand under the gun or the folded bipod legs.
The sling is also used to fire the weapon in Close Quarters Battles:
The Position. (1) Loosen the sling, load, cock the gun and put the safety catch to safe. Lift up the gun and loop the sling over either shoulder. Fold and lock the bipod legs underneath the gun. Loop the belt over the left arm. When moving keep the gun cocked and the safety catch at ‘Fire’. To ensure safety, e.g., when crossing obstacles, put the safety catch to ‘Safe’, returning it to ‘Fire’ when clear. (2) When deciding over which shoulder to place the sling, it must be remembered that with the sling over the left shoulder it takes longer to bring the gun into its bipod role.
Photographs show soldiers using a variety of methods to carry this beast, regardless of how much it is cursed when being moved, none would be without the GPMG due to its ability to put huge quantities of rounds onto a target.
Any idea about why extra buttstock is being taken in the MOD photo?
Is the first pic of a British soldier? The weather looks like Britain in summer and the photo credit is Crown copyright. The Gun looks British, it might be Goretex MTP and the way he’s scrimmed his helmet looks like the British method – but I don’t recognise ANY of the rest of his kit!!!
Interesting to note that he’s cut off the index fingers from his gloves – such dedication to nose-picking!!!
I found this article when looking for a swivel spring hook: I’ve had a great deal on a mint-minus GPMG sling (£9 all in) but – like yours – it’s missing the forward spring hook!
I’ve tried a HK hook – works very well but the sling can’t swivel around on the forward sling ring of the Gun. Use the integral loop of the HK hook over the staple of the sling and use the tab through the staple as normal.
The first gunner with the spare butt – it seems to be hanging off a second GPMG sling. Did he start out with TWO Guns, just hasn’t noticed that the other one’s dropped off the butt… 😉
In my unit, we had something like 6 Guns but only 5 slings. Last gunner to the armoury would receive no sling. No sympathy, either, from the unapologetic armourer – very poor customer service! Happened to me a few times. You CAN carry the Gun without a sling and over days – you just have to be fit and strong enough to do it (not like I am now). Some of our gunners carried the Gun angled like an SLR: the idea is to disguise yourself as a gunner ’cause any half decent sniper targets the section commander, signaller then gunner.
Bought my sling a couple of decades too late… 😉
If you’re interested, once I find a source of suitable snaphooks, I can make a second. I’ll ideally check my collection (in deep storage) to dig out my original variant to get the short strap length. The intention is to make an exact duplicate.