Platforms for Precision Shooting

A quality tripod will help your customers wring optimum accuracy from their hunting rifles.

Platforms for Precision Shooting

Experienced hunters don’t cut corners when it comes to delivering ethical shots. Doing so requires that the gun remains steady, however, and few have match-grade stability offhand. 

The mere mortals among us, particularly those who stretch distances, assume a sitting position, go prone or find a solid rest. Logs, branches and boulders are some of Mother Nature’s finest choices.   

Manufacturers also offer portable and lightweight solutions — everything from rapid-deployment shooting sticks to tripod-mounted cradles and vises to hold the gun in the ready position. The latter is ideally suited for the growing number of handgun-hunting enthusiasts and those of us whose passion includes patient waits in ambush along a well-traveled trail. 

Using rests is not a new concept, although the technology poured into some of today’s versions borders on groundbreaking. At a recent media event one version allowed a bolt-action pistol chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor to print sub-MOA groups at 250 yards consistently, with different shooters, and throughout lengthy range sessions. That caught our attention. 

While it’s impossible to overstate the effectiveness of shooting sticks, tripod-mounted rests provide a steadier foundation. Add some manner of gripping or cradling the entire firearm is hard to beat. Bulk makes these setups less than optimal for spot-and-stalk, but if you’re calling or remaining stationary the approach might be ideal for your hunting style.

A Solid Foundation

Both the Bog and Primos models reviewed here are also available in full kits, tripod included. Odds are good, though, many of your customers have a long-retired spotting scope tripod in their garage or closet that will work. Camera enthusiasts will have one, likely two or three, collecting dust as well. For those reasons I didn’t test all-in-one setups. 

Don’t use a cheap and flimsy tripod. It’s a critical component, the primary motivation for bringing one out of mothballs for this review. Beefier construction and sturdier legs minimize movement and, more importantly, prevent your rifle and scope from unwanted crashes. The added weight and bulk improve stability and ensure the kind of crystal-clear sight picture needed to deliver accurate shots. 

The tripod legs need to be adjustable in length, with locking mechanisms firm enough to hold the weight of your gun and optic. That allows you to pre-stage at the appropriate height for shooting from the standing, seated and prone positions. It also means the ability to adapt to your natural surroundings — such as when you’re on uneven terrain — or need to adjust for elevation of windows in the blind. 

It’s a huge bonus if you can spread and lock the legs independently to lower the setup close to the ground. Yes, a bipod can be every bit as stable, but that approach isn’t nearly as repeatable when you’re zeroing the gun. It’s not an asset you’ll press into service when hunting, but an advantage to consider. 

Most people will appreciate the convenience of fine-tuning camera/gun mount elevation if they can do so by turning a wheel on the side of the tripod. It’s a common feature on many tripods designed for photography, mainly because small adjustments using the locking devices can be frustrating. Again, it’s certainly not mandatory and will likely increase the price, but it’s a time saver when slight changes in shooter position are a possibility. 

Throughout testing, the rifles never fell or felt unstable with any of the reviewed equipment. Follow-up shots were fast and there’s no denying the stability added to precision and confidence.

Bog Tripod Head

The Bog Great Divide tripod head locks directly to any firearm or device equipped with an Arca-Swiss rail. Nothing else is required, other than the gun and tripod. In testing it performed beyond expectations and its $59.99 MSRP doesn’t put an undue strain on the budget. 

The head’s body has a standard 1/4-20 tripod stud on the bottom, which allows it to mount directly to most tripods and/or quick-release plates. It also ships with a spare Arca-Swiss plate with a standard stud and 3/8-16 adapter. That allows fast mounting and removal of spotting scopes or other optics without needing to purchase anything else. 

It’s constructed from aluminum, weighs 10 ounces and the design makes it obvious the company has precision in mind. A dial on the left side of the head’s body adjusts the amount of tension required to tilt the head. Rotate it fully clockwise and it locks. An identical setup on the right side of the unit controls panning speed. Both stay firmly in place when tightened. A brushed aluminum scale on both sides provides tilt readings from 0 to 60 degrees. 

The relative panning angle is displayed at the back bottom of the unit. It provides hash marks every six degrees, but numbers are stamped at each 30-degree increment. 

The “all-weather damping grease” — as the company terms it — makes moving the Great Divide tripod head in any direction glassy smooth. It comes close to some of the fluid-filled video versions popular today and is certainly a pleasant change from the performance of most heads designed for surviving the elements. The 5-inch-long handle, with generous foam over half its surface, enhances that feel as you pan and tilt. 

It measures 2.75 inches tall, 2.75 inches wide (including tension knobs) and, without including the removable handle, length is 2 inches. That’s almost small enough to get lost in backpacks teeming with calls.

Bog DeathGrip Ultralight

Not everyone’s hunting rifle has an Arca-Swiss rail. Bog recognizes that fact, and for those of us a little more traditional in our taste, offers the Bog DeathGrip Ultralight that mounts directly to the company’s tripod head. It’s constructed from magnesium and the tested model tipped the scale at slightly more than 18 ounces. It measures — including the lever that tightens the gun in place — 5 inches wide, 3.5 inches tall and 3.75 inches long. 

The approach is straightforward. An Arca-Swiss rail at the bottom affixes directly to the Great Divide tripod head. The firearm is placed inside the vice, which is padded with soft rubber inserts at the sides and bottom. The patent-pending dual-jaw closure is then tightened. The thickness of the padding and beveling at the fore and aft of the gripping surface minimize the chances of marring the gun’s finish. 

The DeathGrip doesn’t move once it’s tightened. It simply maintains a solid grip on the rifle while the existing tripod head controls panning and tilting. It’s simple yet provides a solution every bit as elegant as it is versatile. It was the model used when media members printed tiny groups with that handgun at 250 yards. 

The only drawback when used with the Bog tripod head is the added height — yet another reason for the tripod’s fully length-adjustable legs. If you have a tripod you trust, with a quality head, adding the DeathGrip Ultralight alone will set you back $94.99. 

To use the unit with standard threads on a tripod, simply remove the Arca-Swiss rail using the Allen wrench provided (Warning: the company doesn’t cut corners on thread-locking compound). Underneath you’ll find the familiar 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 studs for direct mounting. The unit even comes with a switcheroo if that’s the connection desired. 

The Deathgrip worked well during testing and point of aim remained rock steady, even during a gusty range session. It’s a nice setup, with or without the company’s tripod head.

Primos 2 Point Gun Rest

Primos Hunting is one of the industry’s foremost equipment providers, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that its simple 2 Point Gun Rest performs. The approach is straightforward — a pair of polymer V-shaped arms with rubberized internal padding to prevent marring the gun rise to hold the rifle. Height is independently adjustable on each and locked firmly in place by a polymer nut once adjusted. Their positions can move fore and aft along the tubular aluminum rail by flipping a lever on their sides. Depressing a bar near the frame mount allows the arms to fold flat for storage or transportation. 

The 2 Point Gun Rest mounts to any 1/4-20 thread-pattern tripod or quick-disconnect plate. It also tilts, and once at that sweet spot turning on knob on its side locks position. The unit weighs 9.2 ounces and measures 16 inches long by 3.75 inches wide. With the arms folded flat it’s 2.75 inches tall. When fully extended the figure comes in at 7 inches.  

This system performed flawlessly and defied abuse. It’s priced right, with an MSRP of only $43.99. It’s not cutting-edge cool, but it still provides a rock-solid rest that’s adjustable to just about every situation imaginable. The only drawback is the fact that the firearm isn’t held with a vise-like grip. There’s a tiny amount of jiggle possible in those V-shaped arms, although it vanishes after shouldering the gun. 

It also won’t attract longing stares at the firing line like the Bogs will. But then again, that’s not where this gear shines it’s brightest, anyway. Both systems work well, never failed in testing, and will provide years of service for any predator hunter.


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