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
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.
The Airgun Shooter verdict
“The Hawke Swivel and Tilt Bipod does exactly what the name suggests. It’s well made and designed, and gives plenty of adjustment options to ensure a flat and stable platform.”
Konus Bipod 6-9 inch
Like the Hawke and Bisley products, this 6-9 inch bipod from Konus is made in China, and shares many of the core features.
Once deployed, the legs lock into position very firmly. As with most Harris-style bipods, it is possible to make them collapse by moving your rifle backwards on the grass, but you’d have to give them a real shove.
As with the 9-13 inch version, which sells for £54.95, the legs are spring-loaded, and release at the touch of a button just above the rubber-booted feet. They are notched every 10mm to give you plenty of adjustment.
The Konus is engineered to enable your rifle to tilt left and right, and although there is no ability to lock the amount of tilt in place, the built-in resistance is just enough to make such adjustment a conscious decision, and you won’t find yourself canting by mistake.
Like other products on test, the bipod requires a sling stud for attachment. However, a supplied adapter rail means it can also be used on rifles with a Picatinny accessory rail.
A set of jaws fits over a stud screwed directly into a rifle’s forend, or on the adapter, and is tightened via a wheel to ensure a snug fit, while a pair of soft strips helps protect the stock.
One of the problems with some bipods is that by using the sling stud as a means of attachment, there is no provision for using a sling once fitted. The Konus gets around this by adding an additional anchor point at the front of the unit.
The Airgun Shooter verdict
“At £49.95 for the 6-9 inch bipod and £54.95 for the 9-13 inch version, the Konus offers great value for money. It is sturdy and compact, and offers more than enough adjustment to put you on target.”
Buffalo River Bipod 13.5-23 inch
Bipods will be used most often by shooters lying prone, so making sure that you have enough height to clear any obstructions is going to be a key requirement.
In fact sometimes, especially during the height of summer, the grass can be so long that lying prone isn’t even an option. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve rolled up for an evening’s ambushing session with a bipod on my rifle, only to wish that I’d brought my shooting sticks instead because the farmer had decided to let everything grow wild.
If that sounds familiar, you might want to consider one of the jumbo-sized bipods on the market – like this product from Buffalo River, available from Highland Outdoors.
With its legs fully retracted, you have enough elevation to deal with most prone shooting situations. However, a flick of the catches at the bottom of the legs gives you nearly two feet to play with – ample height to sit behind your rifle – with adjustment in 10mm increments.
Despite the giraffe-like proportions, the Buffalo River bipod’s aluminium construction means it weighs only 450 grams and with the legs folded up, you don’t even notice the added length when it’s attached to your rifle.
There’s a tilt mechanism, but no means by which to lock down on a perfectly flat platform. Attachment is via the standard sling swivel and studded jaw mechanism, and there’s provision for you to attach a sling.
The Airgun Shooter verdict
“Super-long bipods offer a versatility to overcome situations that other bipods can’t match and can be more convenient than having to carry a set of shooting sticks, especially if you plan to remain sitting in position for a long time. The Buffalo River product is a great example and won’t let you down.”
AirForceOne Adras Tilt & Swivel QR Lever Bipod
Air Force One’s Adras bipod is one of several that share design features with another well-known brand – the Atlas. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing; it’s priced at a level which makes the technology accessible to a lot more people.
Weighing 364 grams, and made from high-grade aluminium, alloy and stainless steel, there are two colour versions – black, which we have pictured here, and Champagne Sand, which is rather more on the golden side of the popular Coyote Tan.
Both are designed to attach to a 20/22mm Picatinny or Weaver rail via a clamp that uses a lever to lock on. A sliding collar extends the legs, which are capped with rubber feet, from 120mm to 230mm in 20mm segments. And pushing a silver button means you can further tweak the height by altering the angle of the legs in three different positions.
Doing away with any kind of spring system to hold the legs in place has the added benefit of ensuring that sliding your rifle over the ground won’t result in the bipod legs collapsing beneath you.
The Adras allows a tiny amount of movement to address any cant, and turning a large wheel means you can swivel your rifle through 180 degrees before locking everything down again.
The Airgun Shooter verdict
“The Adras may not be unique in terms of its design inspiration, but thanks to plenty of features, there’s no doubt that it’s highly versatile, performs superbly and will be able to meet the needs of most airgunners.”
ACCU-TAC LR-10 G2
Although there are more expensive models in the range, at nearly £370, the Accu-Tac LR-10 G2 is a hyper-car amongst bipods, and is likely to appeal to the most discerning of shooters for whom only the best will do.
Taking the LR-10 out of its box and wielding its 790-gram weight leaves you in no doubt this is indeed a quality item that will withstand the roughest of treatment. It’s big and chunky, and the quality of the materials, combined with the build and design, are second to none.
Made from aluminium alloy and finished in a non-reflective flat black anodised coating, the LR-10 is 254mm long, and uses a smooth lever system to lock like a vice onto Picatinny and Weaver rails.
Releasing a second lever means that you can pivot your rifle left and right to address any cant resulting from uneven ground before locking it down again.
That said, pushing a sprung catch at the bottom of the legs – which are finished off with round rubber boots – gives 10 different length settings to accommodate most terrain. You can make further adjustments by altering the angle of the legs into one of three different positions for a maximum height of 430mm.
The LR-10 has clearly been made to withstand the recoil from much bigger calibre rifles. However, it’s still good to know that it comes with a limited lifetime warranty. You also get a spare set of rubber feet, though you may also want to invest in a set of screw-in spiked feet if shooting on grass.
The Airgun Shooter verdict
“When you’re talking about a bipod that costs as much as some rifles, you need to be sure that you are getting the best product on the market. Investing in the Accu-Tac LR-10 G2, or any of its sister products, will give you that peace of mind. If you’re looking for the ultimate bipod to go with your ultimate rifle and ultimate scope, then look no further.”
Bisley Swivel Top Bipod
There’s no shortage of Harris-style bipods, and this one marketed by John Rothery Wholesale under the Bisley brand is an excellent example.
On test here is the 6-9 inch tilt version, which weighs 364 grams. There are 9-14 inch and 13-23 inch versions in the range, as well as a similar range of fixed bipods that don’t have a tilt function. All of them are made in China from black anodised aluminium.
Attachment is via the tried and tested quick-release ‘jaws around the sling stud’ method, and there are pads either side of the mounting tray to protect your stock from any rubbing or denting. Thanks to an anchor point on the bipod, you’ll still be able to attach a sling.
As with similar products, the sprung segmented legs are released and retracted by pushing down on a button, giving you the ability to select different heights for the legs, which are finished off with rubber balls.
The tilt mechanism provides further opportunity to compensate for uneven ground, and a lever at the front of the bipod locks everything down securely.
The Airgun Shooter verdict
“The most of the Harris-type bipods, this product from John Rothery Wholesale won’t let you down. The design is tried and tested, and it is well made from good quality marerials and is sure to give you many years of service.”
The basis for any accurate shot is a stable platform and without a doubt the humble bipod is the ultimate accessory when it comes to helping you get the most from your rifle.
There are plenty of options out there, and many of the successful innovations have been adopted by other manufacturers. As a result, costs have been driven down and there’s a product for every budget.
Like anything else, consider what you need from a bipod. For example, give some thought to the environment you shoot in. if you’re a hunter with a bowling green permission, the chances are a shot, non-tilting bipod will be sufficient. However, if your landowner lets the grass grow a little longer, you may well want the option of a model that offers plenty of extension.
All the products on test deliver the basic requirements of attaching security and helping to steady your aim. Some are more designed than others, some use higher grade materials and some offer features the others don’t.
The bottom line is that they will all do the job they are designed to do brilliantly, and will last a ling time. The trick is to choose the one that’s right for you.
|Supplied by||Deben||Range-Right ltd||Highland Outdoors||The Shooting Party||Optics Warehouse||John Rothery|
|Max deployed height||355mm||200mm||490mm||230mm||235mm||210mm|
|Tilt function||Yes, lockable||Yes, not lockable||Yes, not lockable||Yes, lockable||Yes, lockable||Yes, lockable|
|Swivel function||Yes, lockable||No||No||Yes, lockabe||No||No|
|Key features||Lockable tilt and swivel||Price; build quality||Versatility: tilt function||Lockable tilt and swivel; secure clamp||Bold quality and materials; versatility; durability||Lockable tilt|
More from Richard Saunders
- Daystate, Weihrauch and Webley – A look at Richard Saunders’ airgun collection
- Rabbit hunting with Richard Saunders
- Richard Saunders on bipods
- Best chronographs for airgunning – Richard Saunders’ top choices
- Best rangefinders for airgun shooting – top picks from Richard Saunders
- The best kit options for airgun shooting w/ Richard Saunders