Competitive Shooting

Throwback Thursday: How To Choose the Right Bipod

bipods hunting rifle

For all of you who have not owned a rifle with a bipod, let me start by discussing one of the best-known names in the industry: Harris. Harris makes a ton of different choices and have been a go-to for many of us for several decades. That being said, your best bipod option is up to you and your preferences. Let’s go over how to choose the right one.

Hunting Options

My specific preferred Harris bipod on a hunting rifle is the Harris Ultralight 6-9” benchrest notched leg, swivel bipod. I find this works very well, both in prone and box blind hunting applications. The confirmed non-sliding effect of the notches makes for a solid platform and the swivel helps to account for any minor terrain irregularities.

Rifle on Bipod

That being said, (despite the name) this is not a benchrest application bipod. We will cover that later. But, it is a very solid choice to significantly aid in steadying the rifle for a shot under less-than-ideal conditions.

When not in use, it folds mostly out of the way, which a convenient. The bipod weighs 10 ounces, has height adjustments between 6”-9” and has a maximum width of +/- 8”. This basic bipod comes in 9”-13” and 13”-27” heights. These choices allow you to buy the bipod that fits your shooting style and needs. Prices vary by options from about $100-180, but this is a solidly-built, reliable option and a good value for the price. This is probably why it is commonly found on rifles at hunting camps across the country.

Benchrest Bipods

For something close to a “benchrest” bipod, the cost is going to go up, sometimes by a lot. Now notice I am not talking about a benchrest gun vise or a shooting rest. Those are completely different animals, but there are bipods that enhance shooting in much the same manner as a shooting rest, but are still a bipod.

Sinclair makes a bipod that is not very field friendly, but in shooting disciplines that require a bipod, it fits the bill and greatly increases the steadiness of the rifle. This is the Sinclair F-Class. It is huge and does not fold into place along the stock. The process is to bring it along separately, and attach and detach for use. The bipod weights in at 26 ounces, has a height adjustment between 5”–10” and is over 16” wide.

Having described how cumbersome it can be, it provides a much more stable platform, which reduces group size by greatly decreasing rifle wiggle, even in comparison to the Harris. This bipod runs towards the higher end of the Harris line or a bit above. It trades convenience and broad utility for bulkiness and calmer shooting.

Sinclair F Class
Source: Sinclair International

Two-Part Systems

For something even more stable than the Sinclair, you need to open up your checking account even more. Sometimes that is what it takes to get the composure you need. It may also require a mental shift in what a bipod means.

Accuracy Solutions provides a two-part bipod system that not only provides a solid base, but also extends the bipod’s location out past the muzzle of the gun. This consists of a carbon-fiber telescoping bipod mount that has the ability to move the fulcrum point roughly 16” forward of the standard bipod mounting location. This greatly decreases the lever effect of any movement of the rifle.

In rough terms, this means every twitch is reduced in amplitude by about 50%. Or described another way, the movement of the scope reticle and the muzzle of the gun is reduced by half, which should lead to 50% smaller groups (not accounting for wind-reading abilities).

I couple the BipodeXt TAC III Gen2 with an Accu-Tac SR5 G2 bipod. This setup adds 32 ounces and 22 ounces (respectively) to the weight of the rifle. It provides a height range between 6.25”–10.25”. The leg angle can be set at 45 or 90 degrees (forwards or rearward) with a maximum width of 15.75”.

Unfortunately, all of this forward-thinking and innovation comes at a price. For the setup mentioned, you can easily buy four Sinclair bipods. However, when you extend out past 600, 1,000 or 1,500 yards, the wiggle reduction of moving the fulcrum point forward, can be priceless.

Rifle on Bipod

Conclusion: Choosing a Bipod

For me, it comes down to this. What is the mission of the rifle? Will I be driving and spending money on a hotel to compete in an extended-range competition (PRS match or similar)? Do I need absolute precision? Then, the cost of the Accuracy Solutions option becomes less of a hurdle. Will I be shooting prone in a field with no real time constraints or need for the bipod to stay mounted? If so, the Sinclair may be the way to go. I know I shoot better groups with it than with any of my Harris options. Will I be shooting deer or 3-Gun targets at 100–200 yards? If so, a Harris bipod is an excellent choice.

Quite honestly, I am a buy-once, cry-once kind of guy. I don’t see much use to buying things of lesser quality. In this case, not that Harris is a lesser-quality item, quite the contrary. I see very little point in saving some money on the front end to be frustrated to the point where I scrap the copycat option and buy a Harris on the second go-around. Some of you may have a different take and that is OK too.

What are some of your favorite bipods? Share your answers in the comment section.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June of 2021. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

About the Author:

John Bibby

John Bibby is an American gun writer who had the misfortune of being born in the occupied territory of New Jersey. His parents moved to the much freer state of Florida when he was 3. This allowed his father start teaching him about shooting prior to age 6. By age 8, he was regularly shooting with his father and parents of his friends. At age 12, despite the strong suggestions that he shouldn’t, he shot a neighbor’s “elephant rifle."

The rifle was a .375 H&H Magnum and, as such, precautions were taken. He had to shoot from prone. The recoil-induced, grass-stained shirt was a badge of honor. Shooting has been a constant in his life, as has cooking.

He is an (early) retired Executive Chef. Food is his other great passion. Currently, he is a semi-frequent 3-Gun competitor, with a solid weak spot on shotgun stages. When his business and travel schedule allow, you will often find him, ringing steel out well past 600 yards. In order to be consistent while going long, reloading is fairly mandatory. The 3-Gun matches work his progressive presses with volume work. Precision loading for long-range shooting and whitetail hunting keeps the single-stage presses from getting dusty.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

1 Comment;

  1. Your article leaves out other brands and types of bipods, giving the novice a bias to 3 brands only.
    I don’t like exposed springs, so wouldn’t have a Harris. Have great results with Atlas and Command Arms bipods. Even the Magpul is a step up from Harris for us spring haters.
    And, Atlas has a nice benchrest model too. I put a Phoenix Fortmeier with 12:00 mounting on my Ruger Precision-is beefy and steady. Could use on a .50. And they make a benchrest that beats the Sinclair hands down.

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