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
A good bipod can help you squeeze out some more accuracy.

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
There’s always a balance between portability and stability.

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
A sturdy bipod can help you stretch further out.

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 do you look for in a bipod? 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!

Comments (5)

  1. My experience has been; Harris is like a Glock, in that it is functional, durable, simple to use, not sure if the leg angle is the same as a Glock grip angle, or as some would say, wrong angle, but also like a Glock, the is no escaping, the Harris is ugly. :-(. The ugly spring legs, and Johnson Rod mounting system, do seem to work well with precision shooting. They work.

    On the other hand, very light weight, more tactical than precision, also simple to use, and a clean look when mounted, Magpul makes a good variety, and their newest lightweight, most inexpensive, also like a Glock, plastic, are great for lightweight rifles, like a 10/22, or a Pistol Caliber Carbine.

  2. Thanks John, I quite enjoyed your article. I think that you gave us some good information and recommendations for choosing a proper Bipod long guns. I actually chose the first one that you mentioned (the Harris 6-9″ Bench Rest Swivel model) when I equipped my vintage Remington 700 in 30-06 with a Bipod and have found it to be quite well suited for my needs.

    Advanced age and certain conditions make even the shortest Hunting journeys no longer feasible and thus the old girl is relegated to bench rest duty but the Harris model serves just fine for this purpose.

    Now perhaps if you might pen a similar article on Muzzle Brakes???😊

  3. Thank you Mr. Bibby!
    I think your Research and Advice regarding the subject of Rifle Bipods will be most beneficial to those that are interested for their own Long Guns and Shooting Experience.

    The first choice you mentioned (the Harris 6-9″ Bench Rest Swivel model) is what I settled upon for my Vintage Remington 700 in 30-06. Not because of price or availability but mostly due to having experienced their performance with other shooters Rifles.

    Advanced years and certain infirmities negate the likelihood of extended Hunting Expeditions so the Old Girl is relegated to Bench Rest duty but for my purposes it performs quite adequately.

    Now to find a reputable, local Gunsmith that can equip her with a nice Muzzle Brake……

  4. I had a stroke in ’94, leaving me with a tremor in my left upper extremity that was most noticeable when I was trying to shoot a rifle sans support. Looking through a 3-9X scope would give you vertigo due to what appeared to be wild waving. I put a Harris bipod on my Remington 721 chambered in .270. That was fine if I had a place to set the thing, but I frequently found that there were too many limitations with the bipod. It was of no use if I was in an area of tall grass, weeds, etc. After a few years of not getting a shot at a deer because of things like that, I took it off. I still have it somewhere, but it hasn’t been on a gun for at least 20 years, maybe more.

    But I remedied the gun stability problem by buying two 4 foot long ¾” dowels at Lowe’s and drilling a hole about 6” down from one end on each of them. Then I threaded a washer on a long, thin bolt that fit the hole and ran it through one of the dowels, followed that with two small washers on the bolt, and ran it through the second dowel, followed by another washer and a nut. A dab of JB weld secured the nut in place.

    I covered them completely with camo Duck tape, (I used Duck brand stuff) and put chair leg tips on the lower ends for grip. I taped a length (roughly 12”) of camo 550 paracord a foot below the connecting bolt making the X to control how much the sticks spread at the base. It is far more functional for me than the bipod ever was, and it cost me less than $10. This has become almost the perfect set of shooting sticks and now essential for me in hunting. I have taken a bunch of deer using these sticks with several different rifles, some at distances exceeding 400 yards. I have also used them to take deer with my Crossbow.

    In January 2018, I began having non-stop vertigo. It felt like I was on a ship in the middle of a hurricane constantly. VA gave me a walker because I had difficulty walking across my living room without holding on to different pieces of furniture. I could not drive at all for more than two years. My best friend would take me out in the woods, (He would drive my truck because he did not have a 4wd.) and I was using those shooting sticks for assistance in walking because there is no way I could have done anything out there with a walker.

    The docs at VA were at a complete loss for a very long time, but I finally found a non-VA doc who pursued it further and did more advanced testing. After almost two years, it was determined that I had Lyme disease. Once I was given a diagnosis, I got on a program called Vital Plan and the vertigo has gotten better. I can now drive and go out by myself without assistance.

    I still use those same sticks when I am out there, for walking and to support my gun or crossbow. Even when I am not out in the woods, I take them any time I am out because I still have occasional episodes where I get a bit “tippy” from the Lyme. (For anyone wondering, I quit drinking in July ’76.)

    Anyway, I get a lot of comments from a lot of people about my sticks. I have just put new chair leg pads on them as the previous ones had worn through and I had bare wood hitting the ground, causing them to slip and slide on some surfaces.

  5. 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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