After some consideration I recently bought myself a Champion 13.5-23 inch bipod. As the name implies the legs can be set at either 13.5 inches or extended out to 23 inches. For shooting over rocky outcrops I find the 13.5 inch length ideal. When sitting on the ground the extended 23 inch leg length gives me a comfortable shooting position at the right height. I find it a great asset when hunting wild dogs where most often the shots are in open country over longish ranges. I typically fit the Champion 13.5-23 inch bipod to either my 223 Remington or my 257 Weatherby Magnum. The Champion 13.5-23 inch bipod has other features that attracted me to it. But first, why shoot with a bipod?
A rifle bipod can greatly improve your stability and aim in the field, particularly on small or distant targets. For hunting I’ve always felt that longer bipod legs were the most useful. I have made good use of short bipods off the range bench and also when pest shooting off the roof of a vehicle. However, in my experience, hunting opportunities for shooting prone with the shorter, 6 to 9 inch, bipods are rarely encountered. Long grass or variations in the terrain most often prevent such low shots from being taken.
Bipods are intended for a shooting stand type of situation. That is, you have positioned yourself in a set position with a good view over the area where your quarry is, or will likely be. That could be a rabbit warren on the opposite ridge, a gully head favoured by a stag and his harem, or a big open paddock regularly traversed by wild dogs.
In such a hunting scenario it is essential that you carefully select your positioning of the bipod legs. You need to test your shooting position for all possible target opportunities. Can the rifle be brought comfortably to shoulder; is there an unrestricted view through the scope? In considering all the possibilities for where your quarry might come from it might be necessary to have two or three shooting positions tested in case you have to reposition the rifle quickly.
For shooting off a bench, or vehicle, fixed bipods generally work fine. In the field however it is essential that a bipod have both cant and traverse capability. Cant is the rotational movement of the bipod mount that allows the rifle to be correctly kept in the vertical plane if the bipod legs are on an uneven surface. Theoretically, with a fixed bipod you might be able to adjust the length of one leg to counter this. In the field, when the appearance of your stag, or wild dog, from an unexpected direction requires a quick change of position you are never going to be able to adjust the leg in time for a shot.
Traverse allows the shooter to track a moving target without having to move the bipod legs. Again, a fixed bipod on the rifle range bench does not need to do that. In the field, a traversing bipod is a must.
Bipod legs fold forward up underneath the barrel of the rifle. They add a bit of weight to the front of the rifle and obviously change the point of balance somewhat. You can leave them on the rifle and just compensate for the slight imbalance. Personally, I find it best to leave them off the rifle as I do my walk about hunting and only fit them when I am taking up a set position. That point was reinforced for me many years ago when I was hunting with a bipod fitted to my 7mm Remington Magnum. A quick opportunity arose for a shot at a deer. I grabbed hold of a sapling and rested the rifle forestock on my wrist and took the shot. I got my deer okay, but the mounting mechanism of the bipod got me too, taking a good divot out of my wrist on the recoil.
So, my choice of the Champion 13.5-23 inch bipod was decided by the length of the legs and its traverse and cant versatility. Physically, the unextended bipod measures exactly 15 inches in length and I weighed it at 510 grams. The Champion bipod is of all metal construction. The legs are of robust tubular construction. The bipod attaches to the rifle by means of a tensioning screw that grips the QD sling stud on the forestock. That does not mean you lose your ability to sling the rifle with a bipod fitted. The bipod base mechanism has a QD attachment so that the rifle can be slung and carried as normal.
The extended legs are spring loaded and snap back into their retracted position at a push on the release lever. A rapid adjust lever allows quick tensioning of the pivot and traverse functions, which is both convenient and useful. For me the long legged, swivelling and canting bipod is an essential tool that I use regularly.
The Champion 13.5-23 inch bipod, with cant and traverse, is distributed in Australia by Nioa. Typical retail price at your local gun shop would be about $115.
This review was originally published in the SSAA’s Hunter 59 – December 2016.