If you want to shoot consistently over longer distances you need a good scope and equally, a good bipod or in certain circumstances a good tripod. Knowing if and when to run a bipod on your rifle can drastically change your shooting performance.
Using a bipod for firearm support dates back to the twelfth century when soldiers supported cast iron hand cannons affixed to short poles. During early frontier days, hunters often used forked tree branches stuck in the ground and even arrows latched together to form a stable platform for their rifles.
The need for instant mobility and improved accuracy evolved throughout the years, creating a need for a bipod that could be attached easily, moved out of the way when not in use, and quickly activated.
Aside from the most obvious benefit of improving accuracy, here are a few benefits you may not have considered.
Choosing the Right Bipod for The Occasion
While you may decide to attach a bipod to your rifle because of the benefits mentioned, remember that the overall height of a bipod will not only offer the previously mentioned benefits but satisfy a unique shooting style.
For instance, a bipod standing between seven and ten inches tall is ideal when using a prone position, and it’s also one of a bipod’s most common heights, offering you the most stable platform.
However, attempting steep uphill or downhill shots forces you to retain a prone position, and you may not have the space. If you’re using a rifle in tall vegetation, a seven to ten-inch bipod may not be your best choice.
When in tall vegetation or under varying conditions, a ten to fourteen-inch bipod may be what you need. If the need for a lower prone position becomes necessary, you can always flip your bipod up and use a backpack as a shooting station.
Remember that the higher you go with a bipod, the less stable a platform you may create. For all rifle enthusiasts who prefer the sitting position when firing, a bipod between twelve and twenty-seven inches is ideal.
Although a bipod of this height may eliminate firing in a prone position, it does offer several advantages over the shorter bipods on the market. Just remember, you may experience a less stable platform with your bipod as you go up in height.
Bolt Action Rifles and Bipods
When firing a bolt action, whether firing a heavy caliber rifle for longer-range shots, or a bolt action rifle firing a lower caliber for varmint control, each recurring pull of the trigger requires considerable movement. Bolt Actions are a perfect use case for when to run a bipod on your rifle.
As any bolt action competitor or hunter understands, movement of the bolt up then back not only ejects the spent cartridge but, in many bolt action rifles, loads the next shot.
With all the motion required with a bolt action, from ejection and loading to target acquisition and re-acquisition, using an adequately mounted bipod is the perfect companion for bolt action rifles.
A bolt action rifle with a bipod mounted and firmly attached to a shooting bench or on the ground allows you to smoothly manipulate the bolt for the next round without the need to move your support hand or the rifle barrel and sight away from the target.
While accurate shot placement also depends on proper ballistics, correct windage and elevation settings, and target movement, a bolt-action rifle mounted on a bipod creates a stationary platform that’s almost guaranteed to increase your accuracy with every shot you take.
Run a Bipod on Long Guns
When using a rifle with longer barrels that weighs up to almost ten pounds firing hard kicking calibers such as the .300 Weatherby or 8mm Remington Magnum, using a bipod eliminates the control effort required to make that accurate shot.
Whether at the range or in the field, a bipod offers the same firm shooting platform for a higher caliber heavy, regardless of whether it’s a bolt action or semi-automatic.
As many higher-caliber or heavier rifle enthusiasts will tell you, firing a rifle without a bipod or support system can often result in a brutal session as you attempt to tame the weight and recoil of that big gun. If don’t run a bipod on your long rifle, then you’re not taking full advantage of the platform.
Bipods Benefit New Shooters
While most rifle owners may understand the benefits and even use a bipod as a regular part of their shooting or hunting experience, a fixed bipod at a shooting station becomes a perfect teaching tool.
One of the things many novice firearm enthusiasts must learn is downrange safety. After an exciting discovery that they have successfully placed all their rounds on the target somewhere in the vicinity of the 5X range, a beginner may forget a few essential things about gun safety.
In their excitement of the moment, they may forget that the barrel of the rifle needs to remain pointed downrange, not being waved around at all their companions while proudly showing off their target.
A fixed bipod at the shooting station firmly attached to the rifle will help keep it pointing where it needs to be.
What About Tripods?
Holding your rifle firmly and keeping it where it needs to be as you sight the target and squeeze the trigger takes a lot of practice. Now toss in the curveball of a target suddenly appearing uphill or downhill from your position, requiring rapid readjustment and firing.
A tripod with an effective ball swivel allows you to quickly position the rifle for a steep uphill or downhill shot, ensuring little action from you aside from moving your body while you swing the gun toward the target.
Another benefit of bringing a tripod along on your hunt is that the elevated position gives you a wider field of view allowing you to spot more game.
Practice Running Your Bipod
There are situations where improvised shooting platforms outweigh the use of a bipod. However, the general rule of thumb is it’s better to have it when not needed than not when the situation to use one presents itself.
Remember that adding a bipod to your rifle is the same as attaching any accessory. You’ll need to practice using it and continue to practice until you know how your bipod will function in various conditions.
If you’re going run a bipod on your rifle, whether you’re firing a long-barrel heavy or prefer a prone or sitting position, one thing to keep in mind is that practice makes perfect.
Or, at the very least, it improves your accuracy when firing with a correctly mounted bipod. The final take away is that during those many practice sessions learning all the functions and benefits of bipod use will produce more accurate shots during your next competition or hunting trip.