Phill Price tries out a bipod for comfort and accuracy in particular hunting conditions
Is this simple tool the key to ultimate accuracy? The editor asks
In the search for ultimate hunting accuracy, many people believe that the humble bipod is the answer. If you look at the world of long-range, centrefire shooting and military sniping, they are king, but what does that mean to you and I looking at a rabbit in a field 40 yards away? That’s a long shot for an airgun, and maximum stability is what we need. Lying flat on your belly with the gun supported is a good place to begin, but it’s not without its drawbacks.
Bipods come in many shapes and sizes; some simple, some complicated, but they all seek to achieve the same thing, which is to support the front of your rifle above the ground. Some fold, some clip on; some are steel whilst some are plastic; some are very expensive, and some are homemade. The key to understanding their performance is to try them and find out what works for you.
Every shooter’s body is unique and some people are very flexible whilst others are as stiff as a poker, so cranking your neck back to see through the scope might be very difficult. My neck was damaged in a motorbike accident when I was 22, so although I can use a bipod, I become very uncomfortable if I stay on aim too long. The second drawback I find is that any vegetation can become a barrier between you and your quarry, and in the summer months when the rabbit population explodes, the grass and weeds are at their tallest, so using a bipod anywhere other than a well- grazed paddock can be impossible.
I own one of the many copies of the classic Harris bipod that has been the staple of the rifle-shooting industry for decades. It clamps onto the sling swivel stud in the fore end of my rifle’s stock, for a safe and sturdy connection. I’m pleased to report that it has a built-in stud that my sling swivel can attach to, so I can still carry the rifle on my shoulder. The legs are adjustable from 9 to 14½” and the cradle that snuggles up to the stock has slim rubber pads that prevent damage to the finish. It’s robust and well made, so despite my appalling lack of maintenance, it’s lasted well and looks like it has plenty of good service ahead of it.
The build is rugged, verging on agricultural, but the fact that they’ve been so popular for so long across all rifle sports, speaks volumes. Perhaps it’s the use of strong metals in generous quantities that’s the key to its success. It looks like something the military would design.
The cradle has a tilt mechanism that allows us to hold the rifle perfectly vertical, even when the feet of the bipod are on uneven ground, and this is a very important feature that any buyer should look for. It incorporates a friction device that you set manually, so left-to-right movement is possible, but wobble is reduced. Tipping the rifle to one side or the other is known as ‘cant’ and is responsible for many misses, so being
“the fact that they’ve been so popular for so long across all rifle sports, speaks volumes”
able to avoid it should be well toward the top of your list of requirements.
As I get older and less flexible, I’ve become more interested in bipods with longer legs that can be used from the sitting position. This allows us to keep our neck in a more natural and less uncomfortable stance, which in turn allows us to stay in position longer when waiting for quarry to show.
John Rothery Wholesale has a 13 to 23” model that I hoped would let me sit with my back to a tree or fence with the rifle on aim, so remaining reasonably comfortable. It follows all the other copies of the original Harris, which bodes well. What I needed to know was, could I get settled for a long period, and more importantly, remain stable on aim?
With the legs fully extended, I still needed to squash down a little bit to get onto the scope properly, but once there the stability was excellent. I spent some time plinking the heads off dandelions in a paddock and my hit rate was very good. Of course, longer legs add weight and make it rather unwieldy to carry, but I see this as a special-purpose item. For me, it would be ideal for those times when I’m going to settle in and watch an area like a busy rabbit warren, or waiting for pigeons over decoys. Being able to sit rather than needing to lie down means that I’ll be able to stay ready for longer periods, and that can be the difference between success and failure. This is another tool in my armoury that will improve my bags on specific hunts.
“I still needed to squash down a little bit to get onto the scope properly, but once there the stability was excellent”
Main: My usual bipod (right) looks tiny by comparison
Below: Set at the shortest length, it was still perfectly usable from prone
Above: A field target sitting position combined with the long bipod was very stable
Below: There’s no mistaking that this is the long-leg version