Dead Rest ATV rifle rack review
My shooting buddy and I had only just returned from a couple of weeks out bush where we had travelled a lot of miles on our respective ATVs. At the property owner’s request we had done a fair bit of pest culling when we were not exploring or hunting. The culling had largely called for shooting off the ATVs and, after two weeks, we were frustrated that we had still not found a consistent, efficient and convenient way to do that. We had agreed that once we got back home we would get the quads in the shed and try and devise a suitable rest for shooting off.
We spent a morning in the shed wracking our brains. It was not that hard to devise a rifle shooting rest, but the concept was clearly going to be an awkward looking structure perched on the front of the ATV.
My shooting buddy observed, “You know, it really needs to fold down, neatly out of the way, rather than just sitting there in front all the time.” That was a good idea, but added layers of new challenges on top of an already difficult concept. I decided to complicate the concept even more.
“While we are at it, the rest may as well be the rifle rack, rather than having to take the rifle from the carry rack to the shooting rest. So, what we need is a compact rifle carry rack that folds up and becomes a shooting rest.”
We considered that in silence for some time until my buddy spoke up, “Yes, that would be ideal, but how on earth would we neatly combine all three together?” By lunchtime we were further from a solution than we had been when we started, so we decided to abandon the project until such time as we got a better idea. I did some web surfing and discovered a number of promising ATV racks but remained undecided.
Within a few days of that, the editor contacted me and asked would I be interested in reviewing a product called the Dead Rest. When I learned that it was a folding rifle rack that could be used as a shooting rest on an ATV my interest was keen and I quickly agreed. Within a week I received a package from Aussie Powersports who specialise in ATV and 4WD accessories, including hunting applications.
Aussie Powersports are the Australian distributors for the Dead Rest which is produced by Mountain Mike’s Reproductions, a US company based in California. The Dead Rest is actually manufactured in China. The Australian retail price of the unit is $249.00.
The Dead Rest was neatly packaged with a set of very clear instructions. My first impressions were that the device was solid, compact and simple. With any product, a compact and simple design generally means someone has given the concept a lot of thought and that certainly seems to be the case with the Dead Rest. Other than a small rubber pad which holds the folding frame in the down position, and yoke padding, the unit is all heavy gauge steel. It could most likely have been made of lighter gauge metal without compromising the strength of the unit, but I am not averse to some over-engineering on gear like this.
All the fittings required to mount the Dead Rest were provided. The mounting brackets are designed to handle either square or round ATV rack tubing. The brackets can also be fixed at an angle to the rack tubing, which increases your options depending on the ATV and front rack style you have.
My ATV is a Polaris 550 which has a front storage compartment rather than a rack, so that meant I had to mount the Dead Rest brackets through the reinforced plastic lid of the compartment. That was not a problem as I had previously mounted a double Rhino rack that way. I removed the Rhino mounts and spent a few minutes considering the location for the Dead Rest.
It did not take long to drill the eight mounting holes and bolt the mounting brackets on to the lid of my storage compartment. As it turned out the bolts provided were just the right length for that task and I did not need to cut off any excess bolt that would otherwise protrude into my storage area. Two shifting spanners quickly had the bolts tightened onto the spring and flat washers provided.
I set up the Dead Rest to unhitch on the left side and rise to shooting height on the right hand side because I am right handed. Left handed shooters can simply reverse that and shoot from the left, so the unit caters for both types of shooters. The release mount with the red lever goes under the forearm, or barrel end, of the rifle. The rifle is placed in the two carry yokes which have stretch rubber securing straps to hold the rifle down in the yoke when travelling.
When game is spotted, and the ATV brought to a stop, it takes a split second to pop the rubber strap off the yoke holding the pistol grip of the rifle, then flick the red lever to release the rest. Using either the handle provided, or your rifle itself, a light upward lift will initiate the rise of the rifle to the shooting position, aided by the gas strut. It really is smooth and effortless. The fore end remains in the front yolk, still secured by the hold down strap while the butt end of the rifle lifts clear of its yoke. One point to be aware of is to ensure you grip either the rifle or the rest handle to do this. If you grip the actual frame it will pinch your fingers as the rifle rises to full height. There are clear warning labels about this on the frame.
A minor issue arises for those folks, like me, who have a Polaris with a front storage compartment. The Polaris front compartment adds roughly another 80mm to the shooting height which means that you may have to rise slightly in the saddle to line up some shots, particularly for smaller stature riders. On those ATVs with a typical front rack the Dead Rest looks to be pretty much right to allow most riders to shoot from a seated position.
Of course, the advantage of the Dead Rest is that you can actually dismount and stand beside your ATV to take the shot. The front yolk swivels to accommodate that and allows a big arc of fire from the rest. In fact, the Dead Rest will move through the full 360o circle if required. There is a short, instructive YouTube video demonstrating the unit which can be viewed by Googling Dead Rest and clicking on the link.
The Dead Rest is a well designed and solidly built piece of equipment and meets a real need. I can see it being widely adopted by landowners and recreational hunters on their ATVs.
This review was first published in June 2013 in the SSAA quarterly magazine “Hunter”.