In this, the second part of my review of bipods, I’m looking at bipods that are primarily designed for use in events such as F-Class.
We all know that in an ideal shooting world all rifles would shoot into the half minute, there would be no wind, ammo would be free and we could easily buy a perfect bipod. In such a world, the perfect bipod would be easily recognized because it would be as stable as a front rest; it would be light; it would attach easily; it would be solid; it would manage elevation and cant and it wouldn’t cost more than the rifle it was intended to support.
Sadly ideals are rarely attained and so, while most of the better bipods achieve some of the attributes desired in a perfect bipod, it is up to the end user to decide which feature is most important to them and then figure out which bipod best delivers that feature and at a price point they are prepared to pay.
Over the last few years I’ve looked at and used a number of bipods designed for F-Class and while some have starred in their own reviews, I thought I would bring my observations together into one article so that shooters – especially those newer shooters just getting into F-Class – can have a one document reference to help them make a good selection. I will be looking at each bipod in turn and looking at features like, stability, size, ease of deployment and price.
The Bipods Reviewed
Dolphin Trakker 2
Mystic Precision MPOD
The Dolphin Trakker Bipod is manufactured by the Dolphin Gun Company http://www.dolphinguncompany.co.uk . Dolphin is a UK company that provides a full range of precision products – up to and including full rifle builds – and appears to be well-regarded amongst the very active community of British F-Class and target shooters.
What I had for review was the standard model of the Trakker which, since the time of my review, has been on a diet and now only weighs 550g. My initial impression was that this was a really nice piece of kit – it came fully assembled and had its’ own handy little carry case.
A criticism of some bipods is that once attached to a rifle and with the shooter in the prone position, they cannot easily be adjusted for height or elevation with any degree of precision or, if they can be adjusted, the adjustments are in pre-set graduations. One way to solve this problem is by way of a capstan turn wheel under the center of the bipod which adds some mechanical complexity and, more importantly for a game like F-Class, the dreaded weight of extra machinery. The Trakker takes a different approach and solves the problem of elevation by using a simple rod threaded between the two legs with a turning knob on the left; ideally positioned for the off-hand of a right handed shooter. Cant is resolved by way of two easy to operate levers that work in a similar way to the single lever found on the S-type Harris and others.
As expected, the test Trakker came with an attachment for an Anschutz rail but I understand that Dolphin can supply their bipod with a sling or swivel attachment if your rifle isn’t rail equipped.
If being able to quickly attach and detach a bipod is important to you then the Trakker delivers, I found that installation of the Trakker on each of the three rifles I used was a breeze.
Once installed, the Trakker felt very solid – not as solid as the Remple but that one I put in a class of its own – and I doubt anyone could have legitimate complaints about the stability of this bipod.
As I played around with the Trakker I began to really like the elevation adjustment as though very simple it really worked well. Cant control also worked well but I prefer the single lever system rather than the Trakker’s double lever.
The Dolphin website lists theTrakker at GBP 175 and it is sold in Canada ( Wolverine Supplies 0 for $249 which makes this a very good buy. In my view, the Trakker has great functionality in a simple design and is even better now the weight is lower than before. In a game where fractions of an ounce can count, even a small weight reduction is an important number. Remember, compromises…..
The Trakker II Bipod
The Trakker II was immediately appealing; it was both very light (390 g) and was clearly very well-constructed out of carbon fibre and 6000 series aluminum.
As with the original Trakker the attachment of this bipod was easy and accomplished via the supplied Anshutz type rail. When attached to the rifle the Trakker II felt very solid and is fully adjustable for cant, using a standard 5mm Allen Key which is also used to unlock and lock the twin fixings to the rail on your rifle stock. The elevation adjustment is achieved by using an aluminum thumb grip wheel situated beneath the bipod which can be operated from the shooting position.
The Trakker II retails in Canada for $399 which is very reasonable for what is clearly high quality equipment.
Xtreme’s Gear Box Bipod.
Made by Xtreme Shooting Centre in Manitoba (http://xtremegunshootingcenter.com/) the Gear Box bipod is made from 6061 aluminum, weighs a svelte 27 oz and is adjustable to a max height of 5 1/4″ and attaches via the usual Anschutz rail,
Called the Gear Box due to the bearing adjustment system this bipod does, indeed, adjust super smoothly – the rod fits neatly ( and magnetically ) into the bipod and actual adjustments are made via an aggressively knurled knob. The star feature of this bipod is that the aluminum rod does not add to overall weight so long as it is removed from the bipod when shooting.
My review of this bipod was limited to a dry run without an opportunity to shoot off it but in dry testing I found it to be responsive and easy to use while appearing to be solid enough to give me confidence that this was a bit of equipment that would hold up to the demands of match shooting. I loved the idea of a separate adjusting rod which doesn’t add weight and it also made adjusting a breeze without moving from shooting position. Conceptually, this is a winner.
Were there things I did not like about the bipod ? Well, since I didn’t have a chance to shoot off it I can only speak to cosmetic issues and the one sent to me for review had rough machining marks and the engraving looked like it could have been better done. Small matters but ones which, if addressed, would really make the product look better and more worth the retail price of $450 plus tax and shipping which puts this bipod right in the wheelhouse of the excellent but heavy Remple and the outstanding LRA.
Invented and originally manufactured by Mystic Precision out of BC Canada and now made by EGW, the MPOD is a very popular bipod due, in part, to its low weight and solid feel under the gun. I’ve used and commented on a pre-production model and I’ve owned and used a production version that incorporated a number of product improvement. The word from Mystic Precision is that further MPOD improvements are in the works which are likely to include a cant feature. Retailing for about $200 this bipod is priced very competitively compared to the competition.
The MPOD arrives unassembled and the included instructions are clearly written and easy to follow but fine tuning may be required so take your time when first putting this together.
The MPOD attaches via an Anschutz rail and for uses of rifles with non standard rails the MPOD can be outfitted with a custom sized lug for easy installation on a wide variety of rifles.
Where the MPOD really shines in the use – it is a very stable platform from which to shoot yet it is still nice and light (12.8 oz). It doesn’t move about and I think people will notice a tightening up of groups when moving to the MPOD from a Harris or similar. It slides on and off the rifle with ease and is fully adjustable to allow for uneven terrain etc.
A criticism of the MPOD would be that it is difficult to make elevation adjustments from the prone but at the price and weight something has to give – remember what I said about compromise ? Overall this is a good bipod which in my view is a ‘value buy’ that does do the job it was designed for.
This was my first non-metal bipod and I bought it for just shy of $400. Arriving fully assembled, the Centershot weighs 16oz.
The Center Shot attaches to both European and American rails and is a pretty sophisticated looking piece of kit. It has a very wide stance and, like the other F-Class bipods, it has skid feet which are meant to help the rifle recoil back in a straight line rather than bounce or hop about. Adjustable for cant or tilt and height (by way of a capstan wheel on the underside of the center portion of the bipod ) this is an easy bipod to adjust without moving from the shooting position.
Attachment to a rifle is a bit finicky but when it is installed it provides a very solid shooting platform and the micro adjustable height feature makes the Centershot a very good choice for a match.
Considering that the maker of this bipod – Canadian gunsmith Henry Remple – neither advertises nor has a website, the Remple bipod is very well known and it is rare to attend a North American F-Class match and not see one or three on the line.
I am always commenting upon how I see shipping of a product as indicative of corporate pride and the Remples’ packaging deserves a serious mention – other internet shippers who shove stuff into a plastic bag could well do with taking a note – Henry basically makes a box with wooden sides and heavy duty plastic ( like the signs they use at election time ) which is stapled and nailed – yes, nailed – together and into which he places the bipod with enough foam to refloat the Titanic.
Once I opened the box I realized I wasn’t just dealing with a bipod – I had bought myself a honest-to-goodness work of art. Constructed entirely of aluminum, the machining and functionality was perfect. The Rempel is much, much more solid and heavy duty than any of the other bipods above and once you have used the wheel to set height you can lock the legs into place so there is zero chance of any inadvertent elevation shift.
Attaching the Remple to the rifle couldn’t be easier – an aluminum adapter fits securely to an Anschutz rail ( I think other adapters are available ) and that adapter fits perfectly to a base plate on the bipod which is then held in place by way of a cam lever – nothing is moving or shifting on this bipod.
Naturally, all the controls face the shooter so you can make adjustments to height and cant easily and with precision.
Contact with the ground is by way of ski-pod feet that look like they will run freely on any surface.
Remple, Centershot and MPOD
The Remple is substantially heavier than the others but if you have the weight to spare then this has to be the bipod to consider. Put quite simply, every now and then an object is created that changes the landscape of a sport – the Remple bipod is one such item and it created a new level of performance that changed how every other bipod would be judged. Wonderfully machined, rock solid and providing accuracy potential similar to the very best pedestal rests, if the goal is to have the very best bipod available and weight is not an issue, there is none finer than the Remple.
Price of the Rempel in my hands after shipping and tax etc was about $475.
My F-Open 6mmBR resting on Remple
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you now have some better idea about the various choices out there and how different makers attempt to handle the competing issues inherent in the quest to make the “perfect” bipod.