From amateur to professional hunters, a good rifle tripod is an unskippable piece of equipment. A good tripod will give you the stability that you need in order to take a good, accurate shot. But that’s not all it can do for you. Other than a rifle, you can mount a pair of binoculars or spotting scopes to look for targets over long distances, as well.
Overall, life on the hunting field will be a lot better with a good tripod on your back, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice.
This guide will show you how to choose shooting tripod for hunting as well as some tips for buying tripods.
Things to Look for in a Good Shooting Tripod
While you’re browsing through the catalog, there are three important things that you need to keep an eye out for in the top rated shooting tripods. They could make or break the tripod.
Obviously, since we’re buying tripods to stabilize our rifles and equipment, good stability is important.
The position with the legs fully extended is the weakest for a tripod, so how it performs in this mode will tell you all you need to know about its performance. When you mount the rifle up on the tripod and fully extend the legs, the tripod should be able to keep the rifle aloft without extra assistance. Your tripod shouldn’t sway and the legs definitely shouldn’t flex once the rifle is mounted.
Next test involves grabbing your rifle and taking aim. In this position, you will be putting most of your body weight onto the tripod to control recoil. A quality tripod won’t buckle under the strain or sway so much that it’s difficult to line up a shot.
Overall, the stiffer the legs of your tripod, the better it will be.
The legs of the tripod need to be adjustable to a minimum of your height. Better if the legs can extend all the way to the highest position that you could imagine yourself shooting.
In a plain, obstacle-less environment, it will be better to take a standing shot — which, such a tripod will provide. In environments with tall obstructions like big boulders, your tripod will need to extend as high as possible to clear it. Therefore, find something that suits your shooting style and your environment.
Also, because of this reason, throughout your career as a hunter, you will probably own more than one tripod at a time.
The legs of all tripods can be articulated, but how well it does this will decide the overall quality. You should be able to widen the base of the tripod enough that you can comfortably take a shot from a kneeling or sitting position.
Since you’re on the field all day, every pound of weight you put on your back can shorten your endurance. Typically, most hunters just opt for the lightest gears that they can possibly find and purchase. However, the case of the shooting tripod is a lot more complicated than that.
You see, the heavier a tripod is, the more stable it’s going to be. Meanwhile, although a lighter tripod is going to be a lot easier to pack, it doesn’t perform as good as heavier variants.
So, here’s our packing tip: for competition or varmint shootings where you’re not expected to hike for long, pick the heavy tripod. On the other hand, for mobile hunting, choose the lightest type that you can find that still performs the way you need it to. It can take some trial-and-error to end up with a good one, but it will be worth it.
Some tripods are collapsible so as to make them easier to pack. They could be immensely useful if you don’t have a lot of backpack space to spare. But one problem of collapsible tripods is that the jointed or telescopic legs naturally make them more prone to malfunction and less durable.
Additionally, in carbon fiber tripods, if the last segment of their telescopic legs is too small (less than ¾-inch), the flex could make shooting accurately a challenge.
The last and just as important factor to consider is how durable the tripod is. Nobody wants their tripod to fall apart all of a sudden while they’re hunting.
For this part, it is very difficult to tell and you may have to rely on people’s reviews to get an idea of how strong the product is. Build quality — the most important factor that determines durability — differs between maker to maker and model to model. So, real data works best in this case.
Nevertheless, you can get a pretty good idea of how rugged it’s going to be by looking at what kind of material the tripod is made from. Tripods made from aluminum are light and can withstand some hefty impacts. Carbon fiber tripods, while they’re a lot lighter, aren’t as durable.
Of course, like we said earlier, a lot of a tripod’s durability boils down to build quality, so don’t pay too close attention to this part.
Is It Possible to Use a Photography Tripod?
This is one of the most common questions that we were asked. In short, yes, but it’s best that you don’t.
Obviously, since photography tripods and rifle tripods are extremely similar in design and function, there’s not a lot stopping you from modifying a camera tripod to hold your rifle. But the problem here is that the camera tripod wasn’t designed to hold your rifle.
One of the common complaints, when people use a camera tripod in conjunction with the rifle, is that the weak clamp holding the mounting plate often broke off after a few shots. The clamp isn’t meant to absorb a rifle recoil, so its break down isn’t very surprising.
Additionally, the legs of a camera tripod aren’t reinforced, so it can buckle very easily under the weight of a rifle.
In conclusion, you can use a photography tripod with your rifle … but that doesn’t mean you should. You’ll end up having to replace that camera tripod with a new one in a couple of days, so it’s actually a lot more economical to just buy a good, specialized hunting tripod and call it a day.
A good shooting tripod, like we said, is an important part of any hunter’s gear set. Find a good one for yourself and you’ll definitely notice the increase in accuracy in your shots.
Up next, planning on starting a late-season hunt in winter? Read this guide here on what do deer like eat in the winter to give yourself a headstart!