THE THREE-LEGGED MARKS­MAN

FIELD OP­TICS RE­SEARCH’S PROMAX UL­TRA TRI­POD IS ON TAR­GET.

American Survival Guide - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Will Dabbs, M.D.

Field Op­tics Re­search’s PROMAX Ul­tra Tri­pod is on tar­get.

Field Op­tics Re­search makes cool stuff. In­deed, “We make cool stuff” is plas­tered all over its pack­ag­ing. Field Op­tics Re­search prides it­self on the prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion of ad­vanced en­gi­neer­ing and ma­te­ri­als sci­ence to the art of shoot­ing, trekking and photography. Light­weight, rugged and em­i­nently prac­ti­cal, Field Op­tics Re­search gear makes good shoot­ers great.

WAR STORY

I pulled in be­hind my cus­tom hand-built, heavy-bar­reled bolt gun, ready to drop a tuned 6mm Creed­moor hand­load onto a 12-inch­square steel plate 800 me­ters dis­tant. The gun cost more than my first car and rep­re­sented the finest pre­ci­sion ri­fle hu­mankind could pro­duce. I had negated ev­ery imag­in­able vari­able. Tug­ging the gun in tight, I dropped into the zone and fo­cused on my breath­ing.

My spot­ter called the fall of my round. The im­pact was a bit left and up. Com­pen­sat­ing, I cy­cled the ac­tion, re­peated the drill and launched an­other. This bul­let dropped slightly low and right. The third it­er­a­tion was good left to right, but now, it was high again.

Why was I strug­gling so? I have un­told thou­sands of rounds un­der my belt. I’ve run ev­ery­thing from .22 pen guns to tank can­nons. How­ever, pre­ci­sion long-range shoot­ing is no­to­ri­ously in­tol­er­ant of inat­ten­tion. Ad­di­tion­ally, while I was a steely-eyed killer in my youth, I am now more than 50 years old, and I ac­tu­ally kind of suck at this.

As a species, we can put ro­bots on Mars, build fake body parts and treat both male-pat­tern bald­ness and erec­tile dys­func­tion with com­pa­ra­ble ef­fi­cacy. Surely, this deep into the In­for­ma­tion Age, there is some kind of me­chan­i­cal con­trivance that can help an old guy like me do this kind of stuff bet­ter.

It turns out that Field Op­tics Re­search makes just such stuff.

FIELD OP­TICS RE­SEARCH MAKES AN EX­TRA­OR­DI­NARY CAR­BON-FIBER TRI­POD THAT IS AS RUGGED AS A MAIN BAT­TLE TANK WHILE RE­MAIN­ING STRIK­INGLY LIGHT­WEIGHT.

IT ALL STARTS WITH A PROPER FOUN­DA­TION

Ev­ery­one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, be­cause it had been founded on the rock. —Matthew 7:24-25

Any suc­cess­ful pur­suit has to have a proper foun­da­tion. Whether it is build­ing the world’s most im­pos­ing ed­i­fice, land­ing the ul­ti­mate job, run­ning any of the world’s many gov­ern­ments or pre­vail­ing in your run-of-the-mill mar­riage, if it lacks a sound foun­da­tion, it is des­tined for fail­ure. The same can be said for shoot­ing.

FIELD OP­TICS RE­SEARCH—FRESH, IN­SPIRED AND SMART

Field Op­tics Re­search makes an ex­tra­or­di­nary car­bon-fiber tri­pod that is as rugged as a main bat­tle tank while re­main­ing strik­ingly light­weight. It col­lapses down to a man­age­able, 2-foot size and comes with a nice ny­lon car­ry­ing case and a shoul­der strap.

To ex­tend the legs, you sim­ply un­screw a knurled ring, stretch the leg out as far as you wish and tighten. Spring-loaded catches hold the legs in place. The height ad­justs from 5 inches to more than 5 feet. Am­ple rub­ber feet yield a sta­ble foun­da­tion on al­most any sur­face. There are spikes for harsher spa­ces.

In keep­ing with the com­pany's “cool stuff” mantra, the Field Op­tics Re­search tri­pod is also a mul­ti­func­tional tool. De­pend­ing upon the model, these tripods will have ei­ther one or two re­mov­able legs. At­tach a cork trek grip, and each

re­mov­able leg be­comes an in­de­struc­tible trekking pole. The same modest weight, rugged con­struc­tion and sta­ble foun­da­tion that make the tri­pod a rock-solid shoot­ing or photography plat­form can also keep you from bust­ing your melon on a hike through the rocky tun­dra.

The Field Op­tics Re­search tri­pod is made from eight-layer woven car­bon fiber. It is ro­bust enough to use as a club but light enough to pack for long dis­tances. It is well rea­soned, end­lessly ver­sa­tile ... and cool. The real magic, how­ever, hap­pens up top.

ACCESSORIZING

Tra­di­tional tripods pro­vide a sta­ble ba­sis for photography. I’ve used my cheap, crappy ver­sion for gun ar­ti­cles for decades. This far into the In­for­ma­tion Age, how­ever, a proper tri­pod can be­come so much more.

Strap­ping your fa­vorite firearm to the top of one of these hard­core tripods solves your sta­bil­ity prob­lems. Once it is prop­erly con­fig­ured, you

can dial in minute ad­just­ments to tighten your shot groups or fa­cil­i­tate first-shot hits un­der cir­cum­stances that might oth­er­wise not be prac­ti­cal. Pro­fes­sional hit­ters who run pre­ci­sion ri­fles for mil­i­tary and law en­force­ment agen­cies use such stuff all the time. In the Field Op­tics Re­search tri­pod, we find a wide va­ri­ety of mount­ing so­lu­tions for a sur­pris­ing ar­ray of weapons.

Sundry weapon sup­port sys­tems in­ter­face with all stan­dard rail sys­tems. For this ad­ven­ture, I used an M-LOK in­ter­face, as well as a Pi­catinny fit­ting and Field Op­tics Re­search’s uni­ver­sal GUNPOD mount. The M-LOK at­tach­ment lets you fix the gun to the tri­pod via any handy M-LOK slot. The gun snaps on and off the tri­pod in­stantly with­out tools while still pro­vid­ing a no-wig­gle shoot­ing plat­form. This is the at­tach­ment to use for proper long-range en­gage­ments with an M-lok-con­fig­ured ri­fle.

The Pi­catinny at­tach­ment grabs onto the south­ern por­tion of your railed fore­arm via a stan­dard mech­a­nism. The rail adapter tight­ens via Allen screws. The mount will in­ter­face with the tri­pod via a Man­frotto or Arca Swiss in­ter­face. It also ac­cepts a stan­dard ¼-20 threaded, cam­era-style mount. While this al­lows at­tach­ment of any long gun that uses a stan­dard rail, it also fa­cil­i­tates “stranger” things.

Have you ever won­dered how your fa­vorite 9mm Glock 17 might group at 200 me­ters? How about en­gag­ing 1,000-me­ter tar­gets with a hand­gun by lob­bing your rounds along a par­a­bolic arc? The Pi­catinny mount at­taches di­rectly to the railed dust cover of your fa­vorite mod­ern com­bat hand­gun and locks the pis­tol in place as steady as a sniper ri­fle. By tweak­ing the tri­pod ad­just­ments, you can con­trol the lay of the gun and see how it re­ally per­forms in­de­pen­dent of the hu­man com­po­nent.

The uni­ver­sal GUNPOD weapon sup­port sys­tem squeezes onto the stock of your fa­vorite ri­fle in­de­pen­dent of rails or fore­arms. The rub­ber “grabby bits” are spaced to ei­ther in­ter­face with fore­arm rails on the sides and bot­tom or pro­duce a tight, im­mo­bile squeeze fit on guns with­out rails. This al­lows you to drop Grand­dad’s old deer ri­fle into the tri­pod mount and put the fam­ily ar­gu­ment to bed (did your grand­fa­ther miss that leg­endary big buck be­cause his gear was de­fec­tive or be­cause he was just a lousy shot?)!

There is a quick-re­lease fit­ting that mounts your fa­vorite pair of binoc­u­lars atop the sys­tem as well. This Rapid Re­lease Tri­pod Adapter leaves no pro­trud­ing ditzels on your bi­nos while keep­ing them rock­steady for dis­tant view­ing, stargaz­ing or sur­veil­lance. By mix­ing and match­ing at­tach­ments, you can mount al­most any­thing atop a sin­gle tri­pod.

A pre­ci­sion ball head mount in­cludes a pair of bub­ble lev­els and fa­cil­i­tates pre­cise ad­just­ments in

three axes. But­ter-smooth bear­ings al­low you to make ad­just­ments to the tri­pod head as pre­cisely as you would tweak a mi­cro­scope. Once in place, lock­ing brakes hold ev­ery­thing steady.

TRIG­GER TIME

I re­ally wanted to as­sess the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of this equip­ment across a wide va­ri­ety of plat­forms. As a re­sult, I mounted my cus­tom heavy-bar­reled Rem­ing­ton 700 pre­ci­sion ri­fle us­ing the uni­ver­sal GUNPOD weapon sup­port sys­tem. This de­vice clamped around my ri­fle’s over­sized Ar­changel stock for a rock-solid shoot­ing foun­da­tion.

With the Field Op­tics Re­search tri­pod un­der­neath my sniper rig, such stuff as breath­ing and body rigid­ity are not nearly as crit­i­cal. Just tweak the lay of the ri­fle, sit still and squeeze to put your rounds right where you want them.

The M-LOK mount went on my SIG Sauer MCX Vir­tus ri­fle. This ro­bust, pis­ton-driven smoke­pole sports plenty of fore­arm space and su­perla­tive ev­ery­thing. With the gun locked into the Field Op­tics Re­search tri­pod, I could keep my rounds on tar­get out past 200 me­ters quickly, eas­ily and pain­lessly. The MCX’S 5.56mm load­ing means the lay of the gun changes very lit­tle un­der re­coil.

I slapped the Pi­catinny adapter onto the bot­tom of an FN SCAR 16S at roughly the cen­ter of grav­ity and turned this close-com­bat ma­chine into a pre­ci­sion beast. The PROMAX Ul­tra tri­pod shrugs off the weight, and the in­ter­face is as solid as the prover­bial rock.

For se­ri­ous fun, how­ever, try run­ning a hand­gun as a sniper sys­tem. I chose an HK P30L long-slide 9mm for its ex­tended ge­om­e­try and su­perla­tive trig­ger. By lock­ing the gun in at 25 me­ters, I could read­ily de­ter­mine the ac­cu­racy ca­pa­bil­ity in­de­pen­dent of my many man­i­fest frail­ties. As long as I kept the sights steady and di­rected at the same spot, the gun

per­formed to its ul­ti­mate me­chan­i­cal ca­pa­bil­ity. Mount­ing up a proper set of binoc­u­lars or a spot­ting scope kept these op­ti­cal de­vices locked on tar­get as well.

THE PRAC­TI­CAL AP­PLI­CA­TIONS OF THIS GEAR ARE LIM­ITED SOLELY BY YOUR IMAG­I­NA­TION.

RU­MI­NA­TIONS

Un­like a con­ven­tional bi­pod, the Field Op­tics Re­search PROMAX Ul­tra tri­pod rig lets you ad­just the cir­cum­stances to your unique anatomy rather than the other way around. With this tri­pod, I could ring steel out as far as my guns might rea­son­ably shoot while sit­ting com­fort­ably in a lawn chair, en­joy­ing the shade. The tri­pod takes all the weight and does most of the work. All I had to do was tweak the gun’s lay and squeeze.

The en­tire sys­tem is light­weight enough to pack eas­ily, no mat­ter the ter­rain. The same tech­nol­ogy and su­perb en­gi­neer­ing that ex­cise so much of the mean­ness out of pre­ci­sion shoot­ing on a shoot­ing range of­fer sim­i­lar ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the field while hunt­ing. Two-thirds of the tri­pod comes off to serve as trekking poles, and the whole thing screws back to­gether in sec­onds. Once the tri­pod is set up in the field, you can as­sem­ble it, mount your ri­fle and stand ready to pop that tro­phy buck at ranges well be­yond what you might rea­son­ably at­tempt off-hand. This might seem like cheat­ing, but it’s re­ally not.

The prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tions of this gear are lim­ited solely by your imag­i­na­tion. Mil­i­tary and law en­force­ment snipers can use this tri­pod from a static po­si­tion to con­duct sur­veil­lance and en­gage tar­gets with­out in­cur­ring the bone-grind­ing fa­tigue that stems from hours locked in be­hind a pre­ci­sion ri­fle in the prone po­si­tion. I’ve been there be­fore, and that pegs the fun me­ter in short or­der. Any­thing with an M-LOK slot, KEYMOD at­tach­ment, Pi­catinny rail or handy fore­arm locks into the tri­pod as rigidly as if it were bolted into be­drock.

That which sep­a­rates us from the apes is the ca­pac­ity to make tools. Your run-of-the-mill chip­munk is bet­ter equipped to pre­vail in a world dom­i­nated solely by tooth and claw.

How­ever, our mag­nif­i­cent brains con­trive the tools we need to ce­ment our po­si­tion atop the plan­e­tary food chain. In the Field Op­tics Re­search PROMAX Ul­tra tri­pod sys­tem, we find me­chan­i­cal grace in bountiful mea­sure. Field Op­tics Re­search re­ally does make cool stuff.

Mid­dle left: Bolt­ing your fa­vorite com­bat hand­gun into the Pi­catinny mount lets you see what the gun is re­ally ca­pa­ble of. Long-range pis­tol shoot­ing with this plat­form is just a hoot.

Bot­tom left: Bub­ble lev­els help keep ev­ery­thing ori­ented.

Top left: A stan­dard threaded cam­era mount will ac­cept any con­ceiv­able video or still cam­era.

Be­low: Field Op­tics Re­search's PROMAX Ul­tra tri­pod packs small but ex­pands in the field to pro­vide a big ben­e­fit for your shoot­ing and ob­ser­va­tion plans.

Far right: Like the over­sized flanges on this nut, all the ma­jor ad­just­ment knobs on the tri­pod are over­sized and easy to use.

Near right: The bear­ings on the pre­ci­sion ball head mount are but­ter-smooth and fea­ture lock­ing brakes to keep the de­vice in po­si­tion.

Bot­tom left: The uni­ver­sal GUNPOD mount will at­tach al­most any­thing that shoots to your tri­pod, whether it has a rail or not. The rub­ber bits in­ter­face with railed fore­arms of al­most any sort but will also cre­ate a fric­tion mount in the ab­sence of rails.

Top and mid­dle left: Built tough like the PROMAX Ul­tra tri­pod, the uni­ver­sal mount is con­structed of rugged 6061 T6 alu­minum and al­lows pre­cise and se­cure at­tach­ment to the weapon of your choice.

In­ex­pen­sive cork trekking han­dles con­vert the de­tach­able legs on the PROMAX Ul­tra tri­pod into sure-footed trekking poles.

Mid­dle: The Bino Adapter is pre­cise in its fit and al­most el­e­gant in its min­i­mal­ist de­sign, al­low­ing you to view your tar­get with­out dis­trac­tion or con­cern about your equip­ment.

Be­low: This sim­ple ac­ces­sory, the Rapid Re­lease Bino Adapter, al­lows you to go hands­free and vi­bra­tion-free when view­ing ob­jects at any dis­tance.

The Field Op­tics Re­search PROMAX Ul­tra tri­pod is a heavy-duty, hard-use piece of kit. Whether the mis­sion is to sta­bi­lize a pair of binoc­u­lars, take world-class pic­tures or pro­vide a rock-solid pre­ci­sion shoot­ing foun­da­tion, the PROMAX Ul­tra is a rugged, light­weight and user-friendly so­lu­tion.

The Pi­catinny rail mount is com­pat­i­ble with any small length of Pi­catinny rail and al­lows the weapon to be mounted and dis­mounted from the tri­pod in­stantly with­out tools.

The Field Op­tics Re­search M-LOK mount at­taches to any handy M-LOK slot for a solid in­ter­face with the tri­pod. The mount is un­ob­tru­sive enough to be left in place.

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