This month on the VarminterVlog, and our Question and Answer series, Episode #3. This Q&A Vlog is about one of the most frequently asked questions I get about the equipment I use while hunting:
What Shooting Rest and Shooting Bench Do You Use?
Although it seems like there would be a simple answer to this question, you would be surprised. I have spent many years, trying different types of shooting rests and benches, to find the right products that will work exactly for what I need while hunting varmints. Let me preface this by saying that I mainly do two types of hunting. Still hunting, where I am moving from spot to spot, shooting from different locations and positions. The other is sitting at a stationary bench and taking shots in a relatively limited area. Then, there is the mix of the two, which is still possible! But I’m getting ahead of myself!
Click Below to Watch the Full Q&A VLOG:
The following list includes the shooting rests and benches I have used in the past, currently use, and my opinions on each. We are also including links to Amazon.com where you can purchase these items for a great price. Also, Varminter Magazine gets a small percentage of every sale from Amazon.com, so if you use our links to buy, you are supporting us, without it costing you anything!
Shooting Benches for Stationary Varmint Hunting:
Caldwell Stable Table: The shooting bench I currently use most frequently, while out in the field, or at a desert shooting range, is the Caldwell Stable Table.
The Caldwell Stable Table is a shooting table with a large table top, an attached seat, and the ability to swivel 360 degrees. The legs are attached to the base of the table, with the front leg being height adjustable. Lastly, and most importantly, this shooting table breaks down into a compact package for loading in your truck, or SUV (there is an available carry/storage bag that can be purchased separately).
This table runs around $182.00 shipped to your door (if you purchase from Amazon.com, you can get free shipping if you currently have Amazon Prime. Or, you can sign-up for a free 30 day trial and order afterward you sign-up). The table is very simple to assemble, and can be taken apart quickly, if you have to move to a new spot. It is heavy (60 pounds), but once disassembled, it is easy to transport to your vehicle from the field. Click here to purchase the Caldwell Stable Table from Amazon.com.
Here are some pictures of the bench standing alone, and with a rifle and other gear on it:
Troutman Custom Table: The shooting bench I used before the Stable Table, was one I purchased back in the early 1990s, that we call the Troutman Custom Table. This table was made by an individual who advertised in the first issues of the (now defunct) Varmint Hunter Magazine. His name was Jim Troutman, and his table was made to be portable, and adjustable. For the time, it was an ingenious idea, that can be duplicated today by folks who take the time to track down parts. This table consisted of a tripod, with a large metal screw mounted to the top of the three legs. The legs were adjustable both in height, as well as extension. The large screw I mentioned, screwed into a milled aluminum block that was mounted to the bottom of the table. Although the table top could be loosened, and moved while shooting, it was not enough to expand your field of fire. The table top had a hole to carry it, and would attach to the tripod with a screw. I used this table as my main shooting bench, for almost 20 years, until I bought the Stable Table.
Shooting Rests for Mobile Varmint Hunting:
Idleback Shooting Chair: Two years ago, we completed an extensive review of the Idleback Shooting Chair. Our results showed that if you are a serious mobile varmint hunter, there is really nothing better out there for a complete system. Not only is the ISC portable, but once opened, it allows for you to sit down on a seat, rest your rifle, and have the ability to shoot 360 degrees. There is a full video at the link, including some clips of us shooting ground squirrels in the field, off the Idleback Shooting Chair.
Caldwell Dead-Shot Field Pod: This is what I use when I am still-hunting, or moving from spot-to-spot, and need to make longer shots where a bi-pod, or mono-pod will not work. Because it holds both sides of the rifle, and has three legs, the stability of this unit makes shooting on the move, but still allowing you to have a sturdy rest that supports your rifle while you do other things (load your magazine, glass for varmints, or just taking a break from shooting), unique from the standard bi-pod/mono-pod.
Reaper Grip by Kopfjager Industries: Although I don’t currently own one, we did get a chance to use the Reaper Grip extensively during a prairie dog hunt last year. The Reaper Grip mounts to a heavy duty tripod, and tightens to the forend of traditionally stocked rifles, or the hand guard of the AR15 style rifles. It is designed to stay secure on the top of the tripod, but can be adjust up and down (vertically), or 360 degree panning, with the turn of a couple of knobs. This makes shooting in the field, not only portable, but sturdy. While in Arizona, I used it frequently while hunting with two heavy AR15 rifles, along with a light weight Savage A17 and various other rifles. I was able to connect with shots from 75 yards, out past 200 yards, even in the wind. The Reaper Grip is available from Kopfjager Industries for $299.99, and a new “direct mount” option for $135.99.
Bi-Pod (various brands): Bi-Pods have been used by Varminters for decades. They are simple to use, but do a good job supporting your rifle when taking medium range shots. Also, when you do not have time to fully extend the legs into the bi-pod position, you can always use it as a mono-pod, by keeping both legs together. Because of the simple design, many shooters make their own. One of the first designs to hit the internet is Varmint Al’s “Bi-Fur-Pod”. This page on his site has instructions, pictures and information for those who want to make their own. If you are looking for a factory manufactured bi-pod, there are many good choices out there, including the BOG-POD, and the Primos Trigger Stick. Another option is the Flambeau Mad Max blind we reviewed about a year ago, that includes both a bi-pod, and a camo blind attached to the unit.
Mono-Pod (various brands): Mono-pods are the one shooting rest that everyone keeps in their hunting rig. They are VERY inexpensive, and can be collapsed to a compact unit that can be tucked almost anywhere in your vehicle. I normally purchase the $10.00 version from Walmart, but they tend to snap at the bottom of the mono-pod because it is very thin.
If you plan on using your mono-pod frequently, I recommend you pay more and buy one of the more sturdy versions from Amazon.com. They have a thick core, and rarely flex while you are shooting (depending on rifle weight).
If you hunt, I recommend you use some type of shooting stick. Too many folks feel they can make consistent shots when shooting off-hand, and don’t need a shooting stick. Unfortunately, that can end up with missed shots, or worse yet, a wounded animal from an unclean kill. Next time you are at the range, test yourself with a target. Shoot three shots at the target using a shooting stick, and then again off-hand. Let that be the determining factor on which yields better results.
Q&A VLOG #3 – What Shooting Rest and Shooting Bench Do You Use?