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

Air Gunner - - Contents -

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.

Har­ris clas­sic

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.

Get­ting stiff

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

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