Review: Bisley Swivel Bipod

Being able to see over the summer grass can make or break a shot

Being able to see over the summer grass can make or break a shot - Credit: Archant

In the search for ultimate hunting accuracy, many believe the humble bipod is the answer, so is this simple tool the key? Phill Price asks

There's no mistaking this is the long leg version

There's no mistaking this is the long leg version - Credit: Archant

If you look at the world of long-range, centrefire shooting and military sniping, the bipod is king, but what does that mean to you when looking at a rabbit in a field 40 yards away?

That’s a long shot for an airgun, and maximum stability is what we need. Lying flat on your belly with the gun supported is a good place to begin, but it’s not without its drawbacks.

Bipods come in many shapes and sizes, but they all seek to support the front of your rifle above the ground. Some fold, others clip on; some are steel while others are plastic; some are expensive, others homemade. The key to understanding their performance is to try them.

Every shooter’s body is unique. My neck was damaged in a motorbike accident when I was 22, so although I can use a bipod, I become uncomfortable if I stay on aim too long. The second drawback I find is any vegetation can become a barrier between you and your quarry. In the summer months, when the rabbit population explodes, the grass and weeds are at their tallest so using a bipod anywhere other than a well-grazed paddock can be impossible.

My usual bipod (right) looks tiny by comparison

My usual bipod (right) looks tiny by comparison - Credit: Archant

Harris classic

I own one of the many copies of the classic Harris bipod that has been the staple of the rifle-shooting industry for decades. It clamps onto the sling swivel stud in the fore end of my rifle’s stock, for a safe and sturdy connection. I’m pleased to report it has a built-in stud that my sling swivel can attach to, so I can still carry the rifle on my shoulder.

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The legs are adjustable from 9 to 14 1/2” and the cradle that snuggles up to the stock has slim rubber pads, preventing damage to the finish. It’s robust and well made, so despite my appalling lack of maintenance, it’s lasted well and looks like it has plenty of good service ahead of it.

A field target sitting position combined with the long bipod was very stable

A field target sitting position combined with the long bipod was very stable - Credit: Archant

The build is rugged, verging on agricultural, but the fact they’ve been so popular for so long across all rifle sports speaks volumes. Perhaps it’s the use of strong metals in generous quantities that’s key to its success. It looks like something the military would design.

The cradle has a tilt mechanism, allowing us to hold the rifle perfectly vertical, even when the feet of the bipod are on uneven ground. It incorporates a friction device you set manually, so left-to-right movement is possible, but wobble is reduced. Tipping the rifle to one side or the other is known as ‘cant’ and is responsible for many misses, so being able to avoid it should be well toward the top of your list of requirements.

Getting stiff

As I get older and less flexible, I’ve become more interested in bipods with longer legs, which can be used from the sitting position. This allows us to keep our neck in a more natural and comfortable stance, allowing us to stay in position longer when waiting for quarry to show.

Set at the shortest length it was still perfectly usable from prone

Set at the shortest length it was still perfectly usable from prone - Credit: Archant

John Rothery Wholesale has a 13 to 23” model I hoped would let me sit with my back to a tree or fence with the rifle on aim, so remaining reasonably comfortable. It follows all the other copies of the original Harris, which bodes well. What I needed to know was, could I get settled for a long period, and more importantly, remain stable on aim?

With the legs fully extended, I still needed to squash down a little bit to get onto the scope properly, but stability was excellent. I spent some time plinking the heads off dandelions in a paddock and my hit rate was good.

Of course, longer legs add weight and make it rather unwieldy to carry, but I see this as a special-purpose item. For me, it would be ideal for those times when I’m going to settle in and watch an area like a busy rabbit warren or waiting for pigeons over decoys.

Being able to sit rather than needing to lie down means I’ll be able to stay ready for longer periods, and that can be the difference between success and failure. This is another tool in my armoury to improve my bags on specific hunts.

Model: Bisley Swivel Bipod 13 – 23”

RRP: £75.00


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