By Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU
One of the previous TRS blog posts discussed why cheap scopes simply don’t cut it when it comes to long range precision shooting, and especially extreme long range (ELR) shooting at multiple targets positioned at various distances. Similarly, cheap bipods can severely degrade accuracy and speed at longer ranges.
I’ve lost count of how many shooters have turned up to STTU precision rifle classes with cheap, wobbly bipods only to invest in a better unit before the end of the program. For decades, the Harris Bipod has been the standard for most recreational shooters, including military and law enforcement snipers, but unfortunately numerous companies produced cheap knock-offs, usually made in China, that were little more than junk. To this day, the Harris Bipod is still a good choice for hunting rifles and military snipers where weight and cost are an issue.
However, in recent years, just as rifle scopes have made huge advancements in quality and precision with models such as the Leupold Mark 5HD and Nightforce ATACR, bipod manufacturers have risen to the demands of precision shooters. Atlas and Accu-Tac are two such manufacturers.
The features that are desirable in a bipod include:
- Quality construction and materials
- Adjustable legs with positive locking
- Quick adjustment of leg length that allow for a comfortable prone position
- A solid form of attachment to the rifle – either rail or sling stud
- A lockable tilt adjust that allow the rifle to be leveled on uneven terrain
- Manufacturer warrantee program an good customer service
Other features may include:
- A swivel head to allow tracking of moving targets or transition to other targets without moving the feet
- Extra wide footprint to better stabilize large caliber rifles such as 338 WinMag, 338 Lapua Mag, .375 H&H Mag, or 375 Chey Tac
- An option of rubber or spiked feet
- An option of skid or ski type feet
- Extra long legs for field use where scrub and tall grass can be an issue
The width of the bipod footprint is particularly important with calibers that generate considerable torque as the heavier bullets pass down the bore. Following the law of “equal and opposite reaction,” when the bullet slams into the rifling in a right-hand twist barrel, the rifling forces the bullet to spin to the right. Conversely, the bullet is trying to force the barrel and rifle to twist to the left. With a narrow bipod, this toque to the left can cause the rifle to rock onto one leg and the whole rifle to twist to the left. A wide bipod and an effective muzzle brake can go a long way to taming that torque. This is particularly important when engaging multiple targets with multiple shots at varying distances and angles, as found in PRS and ELR matches.
For calibers such as .308 Win and 6.5 Creedmoor, with 168-175 grain and 140-147 grain bullets respectively, do not generate much torque so a standard width bipod will do the job. But when a shooter begins running 250 to 350 grain bullets in .338 and .375 calibers, then the toque needs a little more taming. The Accu-Tac WD series of bipods are particularly effective at this.
So is the added cost worth it? You bet. Once you’ve shot a quality, stable bipod, it is hard to go back to anything less.