Long-distance shooters and hunters often use bipods to create a more stable shooting platform. However, with tripods, shooting stands, and bag rests available, I’ve heard some hunters say the two-legged platform is now obsolete.
Others have said because it is unable to compete with the variety of lightweight alternatives on the market, the bipod has no place on a hunter’s rifle.
So, should you use a bipod for hunting or shooting?
The argument that a bipod is outdated is laughably naive at best and, at worst, a flat-out lie. The bipod is an excellent addition to any long-range shooter’s setup. It often stays affixed to the rifle’s chassis, making for easy setup and breakdown.
However, there is more to this discussion than whether a bipod is outdated. In this article, we cover when and why you should use a bipod and some pros and cons.
Is a bipod necessary?
Before delving further into this topic, we must answer this question: What does a bipod do?
A bipod is a two-legged, stabilizing platform placed beneath a gun. This setup elevates the rifle’s front end while securing it in place, allowing the shooter to manipulate the stock and trigger with the front in a fixed location.
So we know what a bipod’s intended use is, let’s talk about its practical application.
The human body has both a pulse and electrical signals running through the nerves and into its muscle fibers. No matter how steady you think you are, there will always be slight movement due to both factors.
Conventionally holding a rifle requires the dominant hand to grasp just behind the trigger, with the index finger used to pull it. The non-dominant hand then grips closer to the muzzle to support and help aim the rifle. Even the best shooters will experience tremors, primarily due to the support hand.
A bipod removes the need for the support hand for kneeling, seated, or prone shooters by propping the chassis up with two legs.
So while it’s not absolutely necessary to shooting a gun, a bipod definitely eliminates some mitigating factors and could make your shot more accurate.
Is a bipod good for sighting in a rifle?
When sighting in your rifle, you want the steadiest platform to place your weapon system on to confirm your zero (point of aim/point of impact). Using a bipod removes the tremor of your support hand, instead focusing on aligning your reticle onto the target and getting a good trigger squeeze.
Consider placing a bag rest beneath the stock to get an even more unbiased zero for a more stable platform.
Do I need a bipod when target shooting?
Whether you are shooting in a competition or recreationally practicing, a bipod can be a great addition to your rifle. In addition to the stability it provides to your shooting platform, many bipods have a swivel feature.
This keeps your rifle anchored in one location while allowing you to acquire targets quickly on a stable platform.
So while “need” may be a strong word, I definitely think you’ll want a bipod when you’re at the range or target shooting in the hills.
Do hunters use bipods?
A bipod truly shines through when used in a hunting capacity.
The stable shooting platform, lateral target acquisition from a fixed location, and portability are all significant assets to have. The bipod is the master of providing a flat shooting platform on uneven ground.
Personally, I have yet to find a flat piece of ground that provides sufficient cover and concealment when hunting. It’s always a downed tree rotting away or the crest of some uneven hill.
Laying your bolt gun or semi-auto on the ground causes you to lose the frontal elevation. You also risk a malfunction on a follow-up shot, not to mention needlessly dirtying your gun.
Instead, many bipods have adjustable legs and can be lengthened or shortened to create a level shooting position. This gives you every advantage when taking that long shot on a trophy animal.
A First-Hand Example
Shooting from a raised levee overlooking a farm pond and food plot wasn’t my first choice. But with the sun setting behind me and tall weeds concealing my hide site in the clay mound, it was as good as I could get. It was the price I paid for having just showered and swapped out my college campus attire for camo and backwoods.
A 200-yard freehand shot to the end of the food plot wasn’t impossible on a deer-sized target. But with the bipod my shooting buddy had attached to the rifle, my crosshairs showed no sign of their usual tremor.
The deer that walked out was a skinny doe, and something about the way she kept checking the treeline stopped me from pushing the safety of my .30-06 all the way red.
I watched the yearling tentatively step from the shadows and sighed. I would keep an eye on the pair under a steady scope until sunset, glad I hadn’t pulled the trigger. Even with a zero for the day, I was impressed with the new bipod my shooting partner had installed on the gun.
When Not to Use a Bipod
Many hunters prefer to hunt without a bipod, and that’s fine. Bipods work best shooting from a prone position or while sitting with a big rock or flat surface in front of you while sitting. Some hunters don’t want to have to lay down or they feel confident enough bracing against a rock or tree, or shooting while sitting with their elbows braced against their knees.
At times, shooting prone isn’t an option because the grass and brush are too high so you can’t even see over it, even with a bipod.
Whitetail deer hunting is often done in relatively close quarters in thick forested areas or pinch points next to farm fields. This is a time when a bipod is likely optional. When still hunting or sitting stationary and taking shots within 200 yards or less, you can get away without a bipod. If you hunt from a tree stand, a bipod is unnecessary and may even be cumbersome. You can brace against a crossbar.
One alternative to a bipod while hunting is shooting sticks. These lightweight bipod alternatives are not fixed to the gun, but can be pulled out of your hunting pack and used as needed. They are also available in tall lengths that stabilize a rifle for a standing shot.
Perhaps the most common of all gun stabilizers is a hunting pack. Laid down flat it makes a great prone shot platform and stood upright it works for sitting or kneeling shots. This is something you typically have with you anyway on a hunt, which makes it perhaps the most stable alternative to a bipod you can have on a hunt.
Pros of Using a Bipod
- Stable shooting platform
- Easy lateral target transitions without changing positions
- Great for rough terrain
- Usually fixed to the gun
Cons of Using a Bipod
- Added weight to the gun
- Can get in the way of free-hand shots
- Potential for malfunction in the field due to water, rust, or dirt
- Not as stable as a tripod
If you don’t mind the extra weight to the front of your gun or the lack of space to grip it, a bipod is a solid investment for your rifle.
The stability it provides and the elevation to the front of the gun remove much of the natural tremors that affect shots while allowing for smooth lateral transitions from target to target.
Before purchasing a bipod, try one out at your local range and see if it makes a difference in your shooting.
Will a bipod make me a better shooter?
A bipod won’t make you a better shooter per se, but it will remove variables from your shooting so that you can focus on little things like trigger pull and breathing.
What is the difference between a bipod and a tripod?
A bipod has two legs and is usually attached to the gun. A tripod has three legs and is often carried separately from the gun.
How do I know if I need a bipod for my gun?
Whether or not you use a bipod is a personal choice, but if you want more stability in your shots, consider buying a bipod.