Besides a rifle and ammunition, a bipod is one of the most indispensable items in the sport of precision rifle. Some of the more experienced shooters may carry two or three bipods in a match to accommodate the shooting situation or the conditions posed by the course of fire for a stage of a match.
There is really no right or wrong bipod – it really depends on the shooter’s use case. If anything, shooters may migrate between different makes as they seek to refine their technique. For example, Ed uses a Harris but is contemplating switching back to an Atlas given some of their recent improvements. On the other hand, Steve uses an Atlas bipod and is evaluating using a Harris more often in matches given the advantages of speed of deployment.
In this article and accompanying video, we examine some of the more popular bipods and highlight their unique features to help members of our audience make a more informed choice. We’ll also look at some of the bipod options and accessories that are available from bipod manufacturers and third party companies.
Harris HBRMS with Pod Lock
The Harris BRM-S Bipod with 6-9 inch notched, spring loaded adjustable legs with the swivel feature is probably the most popular bipod seen at precision rifle matches because it’s usually the first bipod that shooters ever purchase (that’s where we started). This model has a MSRP of $136 and can be found at just about any gun shop or sporting goods store.
The spring loaded legs of the BRM-S model allow for quick deployment and retraction. A Harris bipod can attach to any rifle with a sling stud. There are some cheaper models on the market but they may not hold up as well. You will want to get a “Pod Lock” or “S” Lock for easier control of swivel tension adjustment from a prone position – an item that is almost as indispensable as the bipod itself. As is the case with many shooters, we stuck with this arrangement for a long time before we considered upgrading.
When shooting in field conditions, it is common to encounter loose soil that will cause the legs of a bipod to sink a couple of inches, in which case the 6-9 inch legs of the BRM-S prove inadequate. Many shooters elect to use the Harris HBLMS with 9-13 inch legs. In situations where a shooter is kneeling or squatting the 13.5-27 inch HB25CS is a great choice. Another option is to extend the legs of the bipod – check out Northwest Precision Customs.
Spiked feet – a popular option on all makes of bipods
One of the most popular aftermarket enhancements is spiked feet. Examples for the Harris include ones made by Northwest Precision Customs and High Speed Shooting Systems. Besides allowing for a more firm grip on various surfaces, spiked feet also prevent the legs from spinning. We also experience less bipod hop when using spikes. Removing the roll pin to install spikes can be a challenge, but this video from Tactical Supply is one way to do it. Just remember that spikes don’t go well with your shooting mat, furniture, automotive exterior or nice wooden floors.
Kahntrol Solutions makes an interesting adapter called the PodMod which allows Atlas feet and leg extensions to be attached to a Harris bipod. You can purchase a Harris HBRM-S 6-9″ with Pod Lock, PodMod adapters, all three styles of feet, extensions, for less than a BT10-46 Atlas with no extras. If you own both Harris and Atlas bipods you can also swap around accessories.
Harris legs are considered the easiest and quickest to deploy as there are no buttons to push and potentially fumble with under stress – something to consider when seconds count. On the other hand, the legs do not lock in place so they will fold up under a reverse load. The legs only deploy at a 90 degree angle compared to other bipods where the legs can be deployed at various angles.
Harris bipods also lack a panning feature as found on Atlas bipods. In practice, this usually isn’t an issue as the legs have more than enough flexibility. We’re not sure if we even like the panning feature as it has some drawbacks (see our writeup on the Atlas below).
Atlas PSR bipod with quick release lever
Atlas bipods are becoming increasingly popular due to some innovative design features. They retail anywhere from $219 to $319 depending on mounting configuration. Many shooters gravitate to the Atlas bipod for the following reasons:
- The design is considered more durable than the Harris bipod. We’ve seen Harris bipods break at the sling stud.
- The legs can deploy at various angles and can withstand reverse loading
- The bipod has both a tilt and pan feature
- Mounting options include rail and AI spigot mounts which are more durable than a sling stud.
- Atlas bipods are easier to accessorize as feet can be removed by pressing a detent pin. Leg extensions are also available. By contrast, Harris bipods require the removal of roll pins which when done incorrectly can result in a broken leg. Don’t ask us how we know.
Some of the features that differentiate the Atlas bipod can also be considered a liability by some shooters:
- The panning feature frequently results in the bipod being cocked with one leg forward and the other back. As a result, the rifle will not recoil straight back. We wouldn’t mind the ability to lock out the panning feature.
- The legs can be much slower to deploy as they require the coordinated motion of pressing a button and swinging a leg. This can be very difficult under stress when fine motor skills are degraded.
- Unlike the Harris which can mount to a sling stud, the Atlas requires a mounting rail or spigot and this increases the overall cost. If you want to use the bipod across several rifles, it can get expensive.
- While the rifle can be canted, the tension cannot be adjusted as easily as a Harris with a Pod Lock.
- Due to the fore and aft pivoting of the V8, the ability to adjust rifle cant is compromised when the bipod is loaded. This is illustrated in our video at 22:55.
Atlas listens to their customers and released the PSR version (also referred to as the Version 10). The legs will not spin, however this issue can be addressed on version 8 with the use of spiked feet. The bipod can be loaded without affecting the range of cant adjustment due to fore and aft pivot limiting bosses. The lack of fore and aft pivoting also results in less reticle movement during recoil.
A visit to the Atlas web site reveals a number of configurations and accessories. While version 8 of the bipod is still available, we recommend going with the standard PSR model given the improvements. Atlas does offer a tall version of their bipod, but the minimum height of 7 inches may prove too tall for some. Leg extensions are available for the standard model to give additional height when needed. Atlas also offers spikes, but at 1.45″ some might consider them too tall. There are third party options available such as the Tactical Supply Bipod Talons that are not as tall.
Accu-Tac SR-5 Bipod
We first came across the Accu-Tac bipod when the company set up a display at the 2015 Las Vegas Precison Rifle Challenge. They have a unique blend of functionality and industrial design. It’s no accident that Jesse James Firearms chose this bipod to use in their promotional photos.
The method used for leg deployment is quite intuitive – you simply pull down on the leg and move it to the desired position. Even under stress, this would be easy to accomplish. Like the Atlas, the legs can be deployed in a 90 for 45 degree angle fore and aft. They can also be reverse loaded.
The SR-5 model (MSRP $235) sits tall which can be advantageous in field conditions. On concrete or other hard surfaces, the legs can be angled to bring down the height. If you’ve got a bigger gun, they also have a bigger verion – check out the LR-10 model (MSRP $260).
Leg design should hold up well in sandy conditions
We’ve seen legs on other bipods bind up in sandy conditions to the point that they would not extend or retract. When examining the design of the Accu-Tac bipod we believe it may perform better in sandy conditions.
The wider stance of the Accu-Tac in comparison to other bipods presents another advantage. Under recoil we noticed very little bipod hop on concrete. Leg spikes are also available and they screw on, another nice design feature.
The bipod does not have a panning feature but we don’t see that as a problem. We’re not sure if we even like the panning feature as it has some drawbacks (see our writeup on the Atlas above).
Elite Iron Bipod
We had to chance to see the Elite Iron Bipod at SHOT Show 2015. As show in our video, the design is pretty unique.
There are several ways to mount bipods:
- Harris bipods can mount directly to a sling stud which is another reason they are so popular. Most rifles have sling studs, and in cases where they don’t adding one is relatively inexpensive.
- Atlas, Accu-Tac and others require a mounting rail which entails additional cost.
- Atlas bipods can also mount to the AICS using a spigot and TRG rifles using a bracket.
Crack around stud on Ed’s rifle
As shooters advance they tend to migrate to mounting rails because they allow for quicker attachment/detachment of bipods. In addition, a stud mounted bipod can apply stresses to a stock resulting in cracks – which is something that Ed has experienced. A mounting rail on the other hand will spread the load across two mounting points. Going forward, both of us will be using mounting rails on our stocks.
American Defense quick release mount with adapter by Evin Grant doesn’t add height and looks factory
Moving to a mounting rail does not mean that we have lost the use of our stud mounted Harris bipods. One low cost option involves the purchase of any number of stud to rail adapters found on Ebay. These will work for the bipods that are used occasionally and where the added height is not an issue.
BT Industries AFAR kit.
For regular use, one will want to getsomething like the American Defense AD-170-S Riser with Quick-Release Picatinny-Style Mount in combination with the adapter made by Evin Grant. Evin Grant’s mount will also allow the use of the Accuracy International spigot adapter with a Harris bipod. You can also add a mounting rail to any stock with an accessory rail with the AFAR kit by BT Industries.
LaRue Tactical also offers some options to mount a Harris bipod to a rail system.
Other Support Options
We’re starting to see shooters deploying rear support on their rifles as illustrated in our Matt Karstetter Memorial Match video at 3:16. We’ve seen shooters using everything from their tripod mounted HOG saddles to shooting sticks. The real trick it seems is getting the correct height without consuming a lot of time.
We’re starting to experiment with the Primos Trigger sticks as they are light weight and allow for quick height adjustment. If anybody in our audience has mastered the use of a rear rifle support we would like to hear from you.
Stoney Point Shooting Sticks
In lieu of carrying a bipod with extra long legs, one might want to consider the Stoney Point shooting sticks which will attach to a front sling stud. Carl Taylor of In Motion Targets carries his around in a scabbard and turned us on to this solution. They extend from 25 to 43 inches and are very light weight.
We recognize that there are many other bipods on the market that we did not cover. However, we trust that our coverage of some of the more popular options will prove useful to our audience. As always, we welcome your feedback.