Lie down and relax as Richard Saunders takes advantage of the warmer weather to get down and super-stable with the help of a few bipods
It’s that time of year again. No more shivering away in the corner of a barn somewhere, waiting for a rat to put in an appearance. It’s summer! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and rabbits are causing havoc by digging holes and eating crops. For many, that means only one thing – it’s time to set up that ambush.
Today’s air rifle is a super-accurate and effective hunting tool, especially when paired with a decent scope. A good air rifle and scope combination zeroed properly will hit the mark 99% of the time.
The only weak point in the equation, and you know what I’m going to say, is the squishy organic thing behind the trigger – that’s you and me.
Yes, we’ll get the odd dodgy pellet, and sometimes a fluke of the wind will push a shot wide, but most of the time a miss is down to us. So it stands to reason that when we’re hunting we make use of every accessory and improvisation, added to hours of practice, to make ourselves as consistent as our equipment.
Shooting sticks and tripods are invaluable, and who hasn’t made use of a handy tree stump or fence post to steady their aim? But for many of us, summertime is when we lie in ambush for rabbits as they enjoy the late afternoon and early evening sun.
More often than not, that means lying prone in a field somewhere, all camouflaged up, ignoring aching backs and shoulders waiting for the fluffy pests to put in an appearance.
In such a situation for PCP users, one accessory reigns supreme – the bipod. Like everything else, there’s a whole universe of products to choose from, but it really comes down to three basics. Do you want a bipod that is fixed or tilts? How high do you want it to extend? And finally, what kind of attachment do you need so it can fit onto your rifle?
Of course, it would be a mistake to assume that bipods are the exclusive preserve of hunters. Indeed, many range shooters and garden plinkers find them preferable to bean bags and other gun rests to shoot from.
And let’s not forget that for some shooters there’s some bling value in a bipod. For them, aesthetics are as important as function.
There are many other considerations of course, and in this issue’s group test we’re taking a look at six different products ranging from £49.95 to £369.95 to give you an idea of what’s available, and the pros and cons of each.
So pick yourself a nice comfortable spot, lay down and read on.
HAWKE SWIVEL AND TILT BIPOD – 9-13 INCH WITH LEVER
“Sturdy and reliable”
This product from Hawke is fairly typical of many of the Harris-style bipods manufactured in China, which is in no way meant to be any kind of criticism. It’s well-made and sturdy, and should give many years of dependable service.
Made from aluminium, the Hawke weighs just 473 grams, and while you’d certainly notice the weight if you were shooting freehand, it is of course a moot point, given the intended shooting scenario that you’d use it for.
I tested the 9-13 inch model (other sizes are available) but found the legs measure just less than nine inches when retracted, and 15 inches to the tip of the rubberised foot when extended. That extra length is, if anything, a bonus.
The sprung legs are released by pushing a button, and have notches every 10mm or so allowing plenty of adjustment. However, if you need a little more to achieve a perfectly flat platform, a tilt mechanism will help avoid any remaining cant, and also allow a degree of left to right pivot. A lever locks the mechanism in place.
If you don’t already have one, you’ll need a sling stud to attach the Hawke to. A set of jaws clamp around the stud and locate in the holes to provide a secure hold.
A pair of thick rubber pads prevent any damage to the underside of the stock, and there’s provision for you to attach a sling via a mount at the top of the bipod.