More than any other accessory, the bipod has helped long-range riflemen improve their shooting performance. A bipod offers better stability and steadiness than anything exccpt sandbags. In essence, with a bipod a shooter carries his prone support with him.
The most frequently encountered bipod, mounted on the Army's M24 Sniper Weapon System and popular among police snipers, is the lightweight, tubular one made by Harris Engineering. Attached to the front swivel stud, the Harris bipod folds its legs forward when not in use and employs spring tension to lock them down when rotated into place, This bipod weighs only 12 to 16 ounces, depending on the model.
While all Harris bipods feature extendable legs, they come in three different size ranges to reflect the shooter's desired ground clearance. These sizes—9 to 13 inches, 13.5 to 23 inches, and 13.5 to 27 inches—can support even the sitting position; however, the shortest size is best for sniping since it's considerably more rigid (and stable) than the higher ones. By far, the most useful is the L Series model since it pivots slightly, allowing a shooter to hold his rifle in correct alignment (without canting) on uneven ground.
Considerably more expensive is the Parker-Hale bipod, which originally was designed to support the World War II British Bren light machine gun. It's much more rugged than the Harris and pivots to avoid canting, but I've noticed a greater degree of flex in the Parker-Hale than in the Harris. An economically priced foreign copy of the Parker-Hale bipod is the Versa-Pod, which includes an adapter to install it on a swivel stud.
While visiting the U.S. Army's 7th Infantry
Both the Harris L Series bipod (right) and Parker-Hale allow the shooter to pivot the rifle on uneven ground. Note the wide spades on the Parker-Hale.
Division Sniper School in the mid-1980s, I found students learning to fabricate field-expedient bipods using three hand-cut sticks lashed together with parachute cord—which technically is a tripod. They used these as bipod substitutes in all shooting exercises, and they worked great.
The last bipod I'll address is one a sniper should never use—the old, stamped aluminum bipod issued for the M16 riñe. This spring-loaded support was clipped directly on the barrel—horrors!—and apparently improved shooting when firing full-auto, prone. These are still floating around, but please, be wise enough not to disrupt your barrel harmonics by clipping it on your sniper rifle.
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