SHOOTING TRIPOD BUYER’S GUIDE
Shooting Tripod Buyer’s Guide
Shooters needed tripods before tripods for rifles existed. We had to wait for the industry to catch up by manufacturing tripods for rifle shooting. Snipers and hunters have been shooting off of tripods or sticks of some sort for longer than anyone can confirm. But each group has vastly different requirements for the use of tripods.
Snipers often don’t have the best gear available, relying instead on creative problem solving. Since fighting has moved to a more urban arena, prone shooting is rarely possible. Snipers have used everything from makeshift shooting sticks to sturdier tripods. Modifying photography tripods to accommodate rifles was the norm, but the problem with using a photography tripod is that they aren’t meant for rifles. Misusing photography tripods leads to broken parts. The tiny clamp whose job was to hold the mounting plate attached to the rifle onto the tripod frequently broke. And, to top it off, photography tripods weren’t rigid enough to hold the weight of a large rifle. Although readily available, standard photography tripods were simply the wrong tools for the job.
Tripods intended for rifle use were first brought to consumers via hunting. Shooting sticks can be made from nearly any type of stick. They can use one, two, or three legs for support. Having more legs to support the rifle’s weight decreases the amount of wobble or movement you see when aiming in on your target. The less weight you’re trying to muscle into place, the more stable your shooting position, thus increasing your chance of success.
Shooters with heavier rifles or who need to be able to shoot further distances require strong tripods that can hold a position for long periods of time and can quickly pan or tilt when needed for a moving target. When weight matters, for example trekking up a mountain stalking an elk, a lightweight tripod is more ideal. Each tripod design has its own advantages and disadvantages, but there’s surely one that fits the job you need.
When deciding to buy a new tripod, the main question to ask is how you’ll use it. If you want to be able to shoot a deer within a couple hundred yards, a lightweight hunting tripod is the way to go. If you want to take precision shots out to a thousand yards, you’re going to pay a pretty penny for the tripod that’ll take care of you. Back in Issue 31, we covered “Problem Solving Shooting Positions.” Many of the key topics in the article apply to the use of tripods. You can catch that full article on RECOILweb.
For this buyer’s guide, we started by reviewing tripods commonly used by hunters, snipers, and competitive shooters, but quickly realized that so few are actually tailor-made for rifles. Instead of highlighting old adaptations, workarounds, and companies that don’t like guns, we’re featuring tripods that have been specifically designed, tested, and marketed for rifle shooting.