My first photos of the RLO Custom Leather Butt Stock Cover With Integrated Sling were shared last month. They appeared on my Henry Classic Lever Action .22 Magnum’s “One from the safe” post. That was a bit of a teaser, and I’ve now done a full review of this particular model. Because I know that there are rifle owners interested in this quality accessory. The basic premise is a sling that requires no drilling. Beyond that, there are plenty of extra features that can be added to maximize the utility of your rifle. All without drilling into any wood. Everything is easily reversible. So whether you’ve got a vintage or “new classic” rifle, RLO Custom Leather has got you covered.
RLO Custom Leather and Fiddleback Outpost
Rick Lowe runs his family business, RLO Custom Leather, out of Bronson, Florida. While he started out making leather sheaths for his own knives, it’s his custom rifle slings that are now the big sellers. A customer asked for a “No drill” harness sling for his Henry lever action, and Rick came up with an innovative design. Rifle stock covers and cheek risers were later incorporated as well. Now there is a full menu of options for each sling. And they are all handmade upon order – nothing is stocked. Rick’s making yours for your rifle, not pulling something off a shelf and sending it out.
Fiddleback Outpost is an outdoor retailer based in Buford, Georgia. Rather than offer 1,000s of brands like most big retailers, they focus on a few select brands that vary from small custom outfits (like RLO Custom Leather) to bigger name brands. Even with the big brands, they seem to limit their selection to the “best of”. In other words, it’s hard to make a wrong choice while shopping at their site. Which makes it easy to see why Rick Lowe chose to partner with them. They can handle the marketing, orders and payment. This frees up his time to produce the high quality leather goods he’s known for.
Ordering the “No drill” sling
I really like the ordering process. First question is “Does your rifle’s stock already have a sling swivel or a stud for attaching a sling?” If you check Yes, a notice appears that you’re barking up the wrong tree. There’s another question about ammo tubes. If your rifle doesn’t have one, it’s on you to source a front mount. Otherwise, a caliber-specific clamp is included. From there, model and brand along with caliber or shot gauge is entered. Next, choose from Saddle Tan, Walnut Brown, or Charcoal Black leather. Hardware finishes include black, bright (stainless/nickel), or brass. Don’t forget to specify left or right handed.
Next options are no cheek riser (open sights), 1″, or 1.5″ cheek riser, to match your scope height. You can choose a smooth stock cover, or one with a pocket, ammo loops, or even both. I went with both for my .22 WMR. Note that each of these options has a nominal fee of $5 each. The pocket with ammo loop combo is $10. For the sling itself, you can add an ammo carrier, padded shoulder pad, or padded shoulder pad with ammo loops. Those are priced at $45, $60, and $75, respectively. With the combo on the stock cover, and a shoulder pad, I added $70 to the $155 base price of the sling.
My kit arrived well-packaged in a cardboard box, with everything needed to install it. After taking a few minutes to examine the handiwork, I was ready for installation. The butt stock cover was carefully laced onto the stock first. Although it looks fine, my OCD requires that I go back and redo it where some of the lacing rolled around a bit. Otherwise, it was easy and looks great. Lacing does make for a good fit, and by design, it’s not going to move much, even if the laces aren’t tight.
Moving forward to the ammo tube, the custom clamp fit perfect, and I used the included wrench to tighten it. Then it was just a matter of attaching the sling, standing back, and admiring how much better my already classic lever action looked.
One thing that I like about products where the maker puts their name on it – outstanding quality. Over the years, I have reviewed hundreds of stitched products from shoes to bags and backpacks with a very critical eye. The stitching here is as even and straight as I have ever seen. And the rest of the finishing work is up to the same high standards. Sometimes, lesser companies charge a premium price, but don’t deliver a premium product. That’s not the case here. I don’t think Rick Lowe is going to stamp his logo on anything that wouldn’t pass the most picky of all critics, Rick himself.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have centerfire taste on a rimfire budget. This sling optioned out at $225, which is nearly half the MSRP of my rifle. For quality leather on a rifle that I expect my son to hand down to his kids one day, that’s still reasonable. But Rick isn’t just making these for rimfire. The centerfire rifles, like a Henry Big Boy Classic, can easily cost $1,000 or more. Special editions run into the thousands. At that point, a couple hundred dollars for a sling that attaches without affecting the factory wood is hugely attractive. Add in more comfort and the utility of extra rounds, and RLO Custom Leather is a bargain. Short version: maybe not for all rimfire owners, but a must-have for centerfire owners.
Some notes about RLO Custom Leather products and fitment
Rick actually offers a full line of products, which can be ordered separately, or combined with a sling order. They include an ammo carrier for rifle slings, in whatever caliber or gauge you desire. His rifle sling pads and butt stock covers are sold separately as well. Sling pads and butt stocks covers specifically for shotguns are available too. There’s also a simpler, no-drill harnessed rifle sling that doesn’t cover the whole butt stock. And at opposite ends of the price spectrum are a lever wrap and a rifle scabbard. He’s got a little something for everyone.
I’ve mentioned and displayed photos of a Henry lever action, because that’s what I own. But RLO Custom Leather offers products for more than just Henry. If you have a Winchester, Mosin Nagant, Marlin, Rossi, Mossberg, Browning, Mauser, SKS, AK, or Ruger, Rick has something for you. Pretty much any rifle that would benefit from a custom leather sling, or any rifle that you don’t want to modify. Check them out at fiddlebackoutpost.com/collections/rlo.
I’d like to thank both Rick Lowe from RLO Custom Leather, and Robert Gilbert from Fiddleback Outpost. They were able to arrange some samples for me to review and photograph for this article. Check back soon for the follow up article on Rick’s No Drill Harnessed Rifle Sling. If you like the butt stock cover, but want something more minimalist, it might be for you.