Andy McLachlan runs through his options when it comes to shake-free shooting, and ends up using a high-end bipod for extra support.
One of the most important items of equipment for the keen benchrest shooter is a solid support designed to hold the rifle securely when in the shooting position. It’s obvious really – the last thing you need is for the outfit to become unstable when you are attempting to send your pellet to an often incredibly small target, sometimes at long range.
It’s all well and good owning a rifle and scope combo worth a few thousand quid, but if you cannot keep the thing stable, your scores will not reflect what the outfit is truly capable of – unless it’s truly supported.
Many serious benchrest shooters will spend large amounts of money on superbly engineered gun mounting platforms that are infinitely adjustable and provide a mega-solid shooting position on which to position their guns prior to competition.
Some will also use extremely wide Forth Bridge-type front rests that also provide additional levels of support due to the great width between the supporting structure, sometimes up to a couple of feet wide.
Shooters using such items swear blind that the additional width does indeed provide unparalleled levels of front-end stability on the bench, although they will not be practical if you are looking for additional stability in a gun for the field. I also know many benchrest shooters who prefer to rest their guns on a sandbag at the front, with one usually appearing at the rear as well.
This provides a super-stable shooting platform for a high majority of those of us looking for the ultimate in shake-free shooting. Any wobbles become even more noticeable when the shooter is using high magnification benchrest-type scopes with additional considerations such as your beating heart allowing the image to be almost constantly on the move as you attempt to time the shot. This is certainly what I notice when using my 45x magnification Leupold scope!
Such movement is much less likely to influence the shooter, or for that matter the fall of shot, if the gun is “locked in” to a sometimes large and heavy gun stand that allows the shooter to just touch off the shot via the trigger blade without touching the gun anywhere else.
I am sure that some super-serious benchresters possess equipment that will allow them to do this, but for me and most of the shooters I know, we much prefer to use rests that just provide us with some additional rather than total stability.
With this in mind, and the rather unique long-range benchrest rules established by our club secretary, Ian Jones, the shooter is allowed to only use “normal” bipods of the type found used in the field, with no rear supporting bags or rests, thus meaning that the shooter remains totally responsible for the rear of their gun’s stability via their resting hand.
This of course makes the challenge far more taxing and was introduced by Ian to allow shooters not being able to afford high-end gun rest solutions to compete within our local long-range league.
With this in mind, many of us have purchased examples of rifle bipods of various standards of quality that have been manufactured all over the world, including, like most things these days, the Far East.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with equipment from countries such as China, as it usually provides shooters on a limited budget the opportunity of purchasing fairly good copies of Western-produced goods at a fraction of the price. However, while they might look similar, the engineering and function of the copied items bear little resemblance to what the original items are capable of.
Like many shooters, my friends and I have succumbed to copies of high-grade and expensive bipods such as those made by Atlas and Accu-Tac. Very often, shooters such as my friends Dave Pilkington and Jim Edge have resorted to heavy modification of “blag” products in order to get them to operate at improved levels, although they will rarely if ever be as good as the genuine item.
I have owned lots of bipod front rifle supports over the decades. For a long time, the one to have was the superb Harris, which was available with its extending legs and tilt facility.
These fitted via an adapter that fitted to a front-mounted rifle stock swivel stud, and in the smaller leg lengths provided me with superb support for field shooting for decades. I also owned cheaper copies, but these were never as good or as sturdy as the original item and tended to fall to bits following severe use in the field.
Recently, I have been impressed with the products of the American manufacturer Accu-Tac. Having owned a cheap copy of one of their smaller bipods (which has now been modified by my friend Dave to work much more effectively), I thought it would be sensible to take a closer look at a genuine Accu-Tac product to see if they really are as well made and stable as reviewers have made out.
A swift email to Shaun at Optics Warehouse (www.opticswarehouse.co.uk) – the national distributor of Accu-Tac products via their wholesale business
Elite within the UK – secured me a WB-4 model for reviewing purposes. I had requested this newly introduced model due to its ideal specifications for my type of shooting.
Not only would it be practical to use the rest on the indoor range, but also outdoors in the field, as I do not need a large bipod and its additional weight. What arrived from the ever-swift Optics Warehouse team was the most solidly built and bomb-proof bipod assembly I have ever seen.
I don’t usually comment on considerations such as packaging, but when a company like Accu-Tac goes the extra mile to produce such a high quality box with its foam insert to ensure each product arrives in perfect condition, you can usually be sure that attention to detail and overall product quality will be very high. Let me say that I wasn’t disappointed when I opened the box and handled a genuine high-quality bipod of this standard for the first time.
What you see and feel when you first pick up something of this quality is the overall standard of workmanship and attention to detail. Unlike the cheaper imitation products, the legs and body assembly can be locked absolutely solid, allowing no movement whatsoever when used for benchrested shooting.
The first time I used the new bipod I was genuinely amazed at the difference in stability this provided on aim. No more play in the supporting legs allowed far superior accuracy, and the item made a genuine difference in my own ability to shoot from a super-steady position.
I had chosen the wide-bodied platform to increase the load-bearing footprint of the bipod, with this certainly appearing to assist with the super-steady positioning.
As you would expect, the telescoping leg height adjustments (for which a couple of spare feet are provided), the moveable legs and cant adjustment facility all fit perfectly into position.
Everything is constructed from 6061 aluminium alloy, hard anodised matt black to a Type 3 military specification, manufactured and assembled in the US with a limited lifetime warranty. This all means that it’s an item that you can genuinely imagine being used in a few hundred years’ time, still looking and working as well as it does now.
The only problem with this review bipod is that I will now have to find the funds to buy it. It’s one of those items that genuinely does make a difference to your ability to shoot accurately and is a joy to use.
This model is not cheap at £389.95. But when you consider how much many of us pay for a decent gun and scope, nearly four hundred quid doesn’t sound so bad for an item that provides such solid support. It’s most definitely the best bipod I have ever used and is very highly recommended!
More on target shooting from Airgun Shooter Magazine
- Long-range target shooting with Andy McLachlan
- High-end airgun hardware with Andy McLachlan
- Shooting advice: using a dot sight
- Benchrest shooting with Andy McLachlan
- Choosing an optic