Under appreciated, barely a second thought is given to the bipod. A mistake, given attaching the right one to your rifle's fore-end tightens groups and extends your range.
What Are Important Factors In Choosing A Bipod:
- Style of shooting: hunting, target shooting, competition.
- Responsiveness to recoil management techniques.
- Weight of rifle.
- Fit to your body type.
Most people view bipods as an accessory where less is more; they don’t see the benefit or understand its true importance.
The majority of rifle systems I see average about $5,000 with scopes and bipods included. It’s $2,000 for the rifle, $2,400 for the scope, and $100 for the bipod. Looking at this trend, I tend to hurt a few feelings—mainly because they’re doing it wrong. The bipod matters, and putting the right bipod into context should be a top priority.
Why A Shooting Bipod Matters
Bipods have to support the rifle in a way that supports precision—not subtracting from it. Yes, a bipod does have a bearing on precision at long range. It’s physics; we want to balance inside the triangle of stability and not teeter on top of the pyramid.
The bipod should be as far forward on the stock as possible to minimize the shooter’s influence at the rear. If you follow the legs in a straight line toward the barrel, the triangle should be over the bore … not under it. We want to hang the barrel, not balance it on top.
Many new shooters default to a Harris bipod style because it’s cheapest and most common, and people feel it works. Sure, it does—if you don’t mind working harder instead of smarter. Harris bipods have been around a long time and have barely changed since the beginning.
And that should be your first clue: Because they’re stamped metal, they’re often out of square just enough to throw the recoil pulse off; plus, they don’t give under recoil. There’s a lot of movement unless it’s adequately managed.
Recoil management is quickly becoming fundamental to accuracy and consistency—so much so that the Army includes it as a fundamental in their sniper training. Having a bipod that responds to the shooter’s recoil management technique makes the job easier and more consistent. You find you’re resetting your position less often, and shot placement is more consistent.
Finding Your Style Of Bipod
The first problem is people tend to set up too low. When you hear the overplayed mantra, “Get as low as possible,” it’s related to the other positions, not just the prone. Kneeling is lower and more stable than standing, sitting is lower and more stable than kneeling, and prone is lower and more stable than sitting.
Once you’re prone, set the bipod to your body type and not some arbitrary idea that you have to be as low as possible. Super-low prone isn’t a thing. If we wanted to get super low, we’d use the Hawkins position, which balances the front of the rifle on our fist and has the shooter laying on top of the stock. It was meant for shooting over a slope, which keeps the sniper’s head from being too high on the skyline.
Set the bipod to your body type. Many shooters feel Harris-style bipods will bounce. That’s due to the unforgiving nature of the legs. They don’t flex with recoil, allowing it to be managed correctly. Not to mention, there are springs in the feet; you need to be a notch up.
The Harris is the lowest common denominator, and most people who enjoy using them have a lot of rifle on top. You’re working much too hard for positive results. In more than one of my classes, I’ve taken fundamentally good shooters, where we see the groups don’t match the action, replaced their bipod and immediately noticed a decrease in group size. It’s a neon sign.
Get On Target With Frank Galli:
- Mils vs. MOA: Which Is The Best Long-Range Language?
- Buying the Perfect Precision Scope
- Shooting Positions: Variety Is The Spice Of Life
- Riflescope Tracking: Why It’s Crucial To Test It
- Long-Range Shooting: Becoming Your Own Spotter
Compare a top-tier options like the Elite Iron Revolution Bipods: This is the pinnacle of excellence in bipod design. In my world, the hierarchy of bipods starts with Harris and ends at the Elite Iron. In between, I default to the Atlas Bipods or the ThunderBeast Arms.
The Atlas CAL is currently one of my favorite bipods, along with the TBAC, due to the size and stability factors. They manage recoil much better than most other bipods of that size and style. It’s the small amount of flex in the legs and the increased bridge size to move the stance wider that makes the difference. After all, a little goes a long way.
Choose a bipod based on your intended use:
- Target Shooting
- PRS/NRL-Type Competition
Considering the above situations, each discipline has a specific set of needs.
Hunting rifles have to be maneuverable. Smaller, lighter bipods are the preferred choice. If you’re hunting and have the opportunity to take a prone shot, it was a gift. Take it and use what’s on hand. This a discipline where bipods have the least bearing when playing the odds.
For target shooting, we want the best bipod money can buy. You want the utmost degree of accuracy. There’s a reason F Class bipods are very wide; it increases stability and matches their rear rests. Here’s where I’d recommend the Elite Iron Revolution.
In competition, the PRS/NRL have their own set of specialty bipods, like the MDT Cyke Pod. This design is meant to bridge the obstacles the shooters will encounter. Many times, the shooters will remove the bipod to use the bags so quick-releases are preferred. Smaller and lighter, many matches offer limited prone shots.
Tactical shooters: The Atlas, with the first models being the lowest consideration, and the Atlas CAL being the current leader of the pack. TBAC made a huge splash with their entry, and it has a lot of design features that were hand-chosen to solve problems encountered by the Harris. It’s the Harris-style we were waiting for, and it’s a game changer.
The Bottom Line
Bipods should not be an afterthought. They’re an important piece of the puzzle. Recently, we had a discussion on Sniper’s Hide about essential accessories, and the bipod is even more important than a level. A level just points out a problem; the bipod is the tool that fixes it. If you’re finding yourself canting your rifle, the answer is: Get a bipod you can tighten down in order to prevent yourself from pulling or pushing the rifle over. The Elite Iron, Atlas CAL, and TBAC all have superior locking features. It’s nearly impossible to cant if you set it up correctly.
Although it seems like a small piece, don’t skimp on your bipods. They’re an important part of the shooting puzzle. The money invested today will pay dividends tomorrow.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.