Bipods are a favorite tool of long range shooters. Other than the bench rest, I would argue the bipod is the most stable shooting rest available. Since there are very few natural bench rests in the field and one should avoid shooting without a rest whenever possible, it’s clear why many hunters and shooting enthusiasts have attached bipods to their rifles. With some practice one can achieve better than ¼ MOA accuracy shooting prone with a bipod. You can use them in a great variety of situations, though there are definitely many situations were they are impossible to use. One of the greatest advantages, is that it can simply fold up and out of the way, allowing one to use traditional rests and shooting positions. The biggest draw back of the bipod is added weight to your rifle.
Employing a bipod in the field is very simple. If a you have a shot opportunity where there is significant advantage to shooting from a more stable position, (like long range or for additional accuracy to ensure you miss an obstruction) you must find a platform where the bipod can be rested. This can be a any thing from the ground beneath your feet to a stump or a boulder. They can then be adjusted for uneven terrain and height. With some of my harder recoiling rifles it is necessary to push forward just a bit to put tension on the legs. I have other rifles, especially those with less recoil, where pushing forward is unnecessary and excellent accuracy can be had with a more neutral hold. One must experiment when practicing to see what is required to get the most accuracy. If the bi-pod is not tall enough it can be set on a back pack or other artificial means of gaining elevation. Don’t let the bipod become a crutch, there are many situations in the field where you will have to resort to position shooting or natural rests due to the lay of the land.
There are many different brands of bipods available, most of these fall within two basic categories, the Parker Hale style, and the Harris style. Most brands have multiple heights and options available, most work fairly well but there are specific options one should seriously look for. One of the options I consider important is the ability to swivel. Swiveling will allow you to deploy quickly on semi-uneven ground and simply twist the rifle to get the cross hairs plumb. Believe it or not there is a quality difference between brand names like Harris and cheaper versions like Outers, and Shooter’s Ridge. When testing cheaper brands you may notice a more sloppy feel, and occasionally bolts may start to work loose. If you take care of your equipment and perhaps lock-tite important nuts and bolts, you may be fine with the more economical brands. If you don’t want the bi-pod to be another piece of equipment to maintain and worry about you will be better off with one of the nicer brands, despite the added cost.
There are accessories available like ski, and claw fee which allow you to tailor the bipod for the specific terrain you’re shooting in. I will admit that the claw feet can be very nice when you want to put a little forward tension on the legs. Many of the Parker Hale style bipods like Versa-Pod are available with different feet options from the factory. For Harris-style the claw and spike feet are available through other companies. My favorite accessory for Harris swivel models is the “pod lock”. This is simply a ratcheting lever that replaces the swivel tension knob. You can set the tension much heavier by hand that would otherwise be possible which gives you a more stable hold on target. The tension can quickly be released allowing ease of movement into the proper position and you can quickly re-lock.
My favorite bipods at this time of writing are 9″-13″ Harris Swivel with notched legs and the 6″-9″ Harris Swivel with notched legs. The notched legs work differently than standard so that when depressing the release button on each leg it will spring out usually to full length (standard version contract when release is depressed). Instead of having to lock up the legs by twisting the adjustment knob, you simply depress the release button, pull/push the leg to the approximate desired length, release the button so that the notch “clicks” into place. This model is much easier to adjust and saves time which can be very important for hunting or shooting in timed competition. I also have the standard leg version with swivel and it’s a very nice bipod as well. I’ve owned non-swivel versions in the past and wouldn’t consider buying one again. The swivel is well worth the extra cost. I also have fairly nice Versa-Pod model with claw feet and swivel tension adjustment. It’s not as high quality as the Harris in my opinion and Versa-Pod’s require adapters since they don’t attach directly to your sling stud. These adapters may be expensive depending on your application. I’ve had the opportunity to use bi-pods that don’t fall into the Harris or Parker Hale categories. The Accu-Shot in particular was very nice and has a wide adjustment range since the legs can be canted to achieve a very low profile. At a more competitive price with Harris I would certainly buy one. I’m not sure it’s quite nice enough to justify the extra cost. shooting Budapest