THE THREE-LEGGED MARKSMAN
FIELD OPTICS RESEARCH’S PROMAX ULTRA TRIPOD IS ON TARGET.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.