Perhaps I am dating myself, but I think most of us have seen RoboCop or Star Trek where the robot is capable of extremely distant, accurate shots.
That makes a lot more sense than the Cylons (in Battlestar Gallactica) having the shooting ability of Star Wars stormtroopers. The mechanical creatures do not have a pulse, muscle twitches or a flinch.
Those of us who are made of mostly flesh and blood, do have limitations to our ability to accurately shoot offhand.
Soldiers and hunters have been looking for mechanical steadying options since firearms became one of their tools.
When the mainstay was a 30-inch barrel with a bore larger than .50 caliber, it was as much for steadying as it was for helping to support the weight of the firearm.
For the military, especially since the American Revolution broke the soldiers out of the British Square, being able to shoot accurately at further distances has continued to grow in utility.
There are field-expedient options of course. I don’t know a single hunter that hasn’t rested the stock of his rifle on a downed log or a branch intersection for a steadier shot.
Those cannot be relied upon to appear when needed, so we have developed portable methods for steadying our long guns.
The most basic and most portable is the backpack. I have a Drago assault pack that has a gap between the external top sub-pouch and the lower one.
It is specifically designed to cradle the forend or stock to make a more stable shooting platform from the prone position. The backpack also has the advantage of being able to carry lots of other equipment.
It is still mainly a field-expedient option as a shooting platform. It is quicker and more adaptable than a rock or a log. Depending on what is inside, it may even provide some ballistic protection from incoming rounds.
A better use of it is as a means of carrying a monopod, bipod or tripod. Other types of bipods are directly attached to the rifle.
There are many options here. Some are designed for use under the front of the rifle. Others are used as a riser on the rear of the stock, usually in conjunction with a front bipod from prone.
Monopods are usually quite sleek, and the telescoping variants are usually compact to about 14 to 20 inches at their shortest, and 30 to 64 inches at maximum extension.
They are very quick to deploy, take up minimal space, and provide a good degree of vertical stability. Using a monopod takes a lot of practice to master and they provide very little in the way of horizontal stability.
Those like the Vanguard series provide some horizontal stability at the expense of being much larger and slower to deploy.
- Vanguard VEO – A “U” yoked shooting stick with retractable feet that provide a wide-based platform.
- UTG Monopod – Comes with a “V” rest and a “camera” adapter as well as a narrow-based foot.
The two-legged supports come in two major types. There are weapon mounted and the larger, non-mounted variety.
The mounted types are typically four to eight inches in length when compact, and eight to 18 inches when fully extended.
They are designed primarily for prone shooting, although they can be rested on any forward hard point while seated, kneeling or standing.
The methods of mounting are varied, but the most common manner are M-Lok, Picatinny or sling stud.
Most have independently telescoping legs to allow for variations in the terrain, some have a pivoting mount to allow for adjusting the cant while shooting.
These add significant weight to the rifle, but are always there, and most are very quick to adjust for use.
- Harris Ultralight Benchrest 9”-13”
- Caldwell AR-15 Sitting Bipod 14.5”-30.5”
- Grip Pod AR-15 V2 Forward Grip Bipod
- Magpul Bipod for ARMS 17 6.3”- 10.3”
This type of rest is often externally lashed to a pack and is used with something other than a modern sporting rifle. They are commonly seen in western stalk hunts or on safari.
They take some practice to deploy quickly and properly, but can be invaluable for taking long-distance shots, especially when the standing shot is the most common.
- Vanguard Scout V62 – Up to 62” height depending on telescopic adjustment.
- Swagger Bipod Stalker Lite XL – 45- 65” height dependent on how spread out the legs are.
- BOG Havoc Bipod 20”-40” – Depending on telescopic adjustment.
The three-legged rests are the hardest to carry around and take the longest amount of time to set up.
With the possible exception of prone bipod shooting, they also offer the greatest aid to precision, but are mostly used from long-term positions.
Great examples would be calling in coyote from a blind or when distance hunting at a prairie-dog town.
- BOG Havoc Shooting Stick/Tripod 18”-60” – U-type mounting yoke.
- Hog Saddle Compact Carbon-Fiber Tripod 8”-53” – Has a center hook to allow hanging a center weight (perhaps a pack), which aids stability – requires separate purchase of head type for attaching the rifle.
- BOG Deathgrip Tripod 7”-59” – Comes with panning adjustable clamping head and can clamp to most rifle stocks.
As with most things, there is no generic right answer. The best style to use depends on your weapon as well as where and how you utilize it.
My mother is older and likes to hunt deer from ground blinds. When she is in the pop-up type, she uses the BOG Deathgrip Tripod.
It allows her to set the tripod and rifle up when she first gets in the blind and keeps her arms from wearing out while she waits for a clean, ethical shot. It makes her hunt much less taxing and thus, more fun for her.
I have several attached bipods on rifles. My precision AR wears a Harris adjustable-cant rig that gets me about 13 inches of maximum ground clearance.
My Advanced Weapon Technology, Precision .308 wears a similar Harris which has enabled 0.450” groups at 100 yards, which is only about 0.050” larger than using my benchrest.
Her bigger brother, the AWT 300 PRC, also wears a Harris bipod and has shot an eight-inch group at 1000 yards.
What type of tripod, bipod or monopod do you use and why? Let us know in the comments section below!