by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• Why a bipod (or monopod)?
• The hold
Today, we’ll begin looking at the UTG Monopod v-rest and camera adapter from Leapers. This was first shown at the 2014 SHOT Show; and, since I was planning on using sticks (a bipod) for field target anyway, I wondered if this would be an acceptable substitute? It took most of the year to finalize the design, and I got mine just before the Pyramyd Air Cup in October. It was the final pre-production prototype, but there were very few changes made for production.
Why a bipod (or monopod)?
First of all, why do you want to use a bipod/monopod? The answer is found in history. Buffalo hunters killed an estimated 60 million American bison in a span of 10 years, and they used crossed sticks to hold their heavy rifles. The rifles weighed in the range of 12-20 lbs., and the hunters expected to shoot 20-40 animals without moving from one spot. That was called a stand, and it made the hunt successful because the bodies of the bison were close together for the skinners to do their work. The shooter shot from a prone or sitting position to keep the muzzle close to the ground. That muted the rifle’s report and made it indistinct. If the shooter was far enough away from the herd (at least 300 yards), the animals were not spooked by the sound and remained in place.
The bipod was, therefore, essential to hunting bison. They needed heavy rifles to dampen the recoil and the sticks (bipods) to support the weight.
Fast-forward to today. The bison herds are gone, and hunters no longer use sticks that much — except airgunners. The sport of field target, as well as general airgun hunting, has brought back crossed sticks in a big way. But — and this is a really big but — there’s a huge range of variation in the utility of what’s available today. The difference is that today’s hunters are sitting on stools or even standing. The longer legs of some bipods are very flexible! I saw this at the field target shoot at the Pyramyd Air Cup. Shooters were wobbling around like a bunch of 14-year-old girls walking in their first high heels.
I showed up at the match, having flown to Ohio with the bipod in my luggage. I couldn’t conveniently fly with an air rifle, so I asked Pyramyd Air to loan me a TX200 with a scope. Pyramyd Air employee Tyler Patner set it up for me, and it was sighted-in perfectly. But the great unknown was that monopod! I’d tried it out, of course, and I knew very well how it worked, but I’d never used it in a competition. This would be a test!
In a future blog report, I’ll explain how to steady this monopod when you use. For now, I’m asking you to trust me that it really does work. Right now, I want to explain the features of the monopod so you understand how it works.
A monopod is, by definition, a single leg. What it supports sits atop the leg as steady as can be, given that a single leg can move in any direction! The monopod’s main function is to support the weight of the item. But the UTG Monopod has two attachments that fit on top — one for any small-format camera, and the other a V-rest that has an adjustable rubber strap to securely hold the forearm of the rifle.
The monopod collapses to 20.50 inches and extends to a maximum of 58.73 inches. I’ve owned monopods for camera work, but they never stayed in place. The joints always slipped under weight. Rigidity was the one thing I hoped this monopod would have. And, believe me, I tested it!
It does hold absolutely rigid when the connecters are tightened. Yet, it also adjusts from one length to another in seconds. I used this feature during the field target match, as the ground changed from firing position to firing position. In my opinion, this is one of the most important features this device offers, and there are plenty others out there that don’t stay put. Lacking rigidity, any monopod or bipod is worse than useless.
There are two forms of adjustment. The legs are spring-loaded and snap open from length to length where they stop at grooves. Push in on the release, and each leg snaps to the next groove.
Between the grooves, the legs can be stopped at any length and locked with a thumbscrew. That makes the adjustment possibilities infinite between the minimum and maximum lengths.
When I adjust the monopod for my own use, I first use the larger legs that are located at the top. I feel that gives the best possibility of rigidity, which is what I’m looking for. Of course, there’s a trick to using this ‘pod to get it to be as stable as can be, and I’ll show you that in the next report. But, a necessary part of that stability is a very rigid pole.
The UTG Monopod is lightweight, rigid and easy to transport. It’s everything I want in a convenient rifle rest. In the next report, I’ll show you how to set it up for maximum strength in the field. I’ve already done this several times with rifles and handguns, so there’s no question it works.