Top 10 Best Shooting Rest Reviews: Comprehensive Guide for 2018
When it comes to guns, there are a wide variety of accessories that you can use to enhance your shooting abilities. Scopes, sights, and ammo are all necessary when using a gun for hunting or target shooting, but how do you know that your equipment is high-quality?
If you’re out in the field hunting deer or some other animal, you cannot have a faulty scope ruining your shot. So how do you test your equipment to make sure that it is working correctly?
Typically, testing is done with a shooting rest.
The point of a shooting (or rifle) rest is to remove the shooter out of the equation as much as possible. Since the gun is held in place, all the shooter has to do is pull the trigger, more or less. If you are testing a new scope or new kind of ammunition, a shooting rest can be vital to ensure the quality of materials.
Today I’ll be looking at some of the best shooting rests on the market today, so you can test your equipment with the best equipment.
First, on our list is the Caldwell Magnum DeadShot FieldPod. Caldwell is an excellent manufacturer of gun equipment and rifle rests, and the Field Pod is no exception.
What I like about this rest is the fact that it is highly portable, allowing you to test your gun in almost any environment. The feet are fully adjustable so you can shoot either prone (laying down), sitting, kneeling, or standing.
The unit collapses very quickly so you can even bring it with you on hunts, should you be so inclined. If you hunt in a hide or a tree with a platform, this rest could be an excellent addition to your gear, if only to keep your arms from wearing out or cramping up. The biggest downsides I found to this unit is the fact that the joints are made of plastic, so there is a chance these could break in extreme conditions.
Also, firing a large caliber weapon can cause some kickback, so be aware of that. Otherwise, this is a solid, very versatile shooting rest.
Another shooting rest by Caldwell, here we have the Caldwell Lead Sled FCX Shooting Rest. Unlike the Field Pod, this shooting rest is stationary, meaning that you have to use it on a table or flat surface.
However, you could potentially shoot while prone, but make sure that the ground is extremely level. The rest itself is very durable and extremely versatile; you can fit almost any gun into the clamps with ease. What I like about this unit is the recoil reduction.
According to Caldwell, the FCX is designed to reduce recoil up to 95%. While this number seems a bit lofty, especially with high caliber rifles, I do notice a significant reduction nonetheless.
Here is another model of Caldwell’s proprietary Lead Sled Shooting Rest system. The DFT model is a bit lighter and has a little more range of motion, but the biggest difference between the DFT and RCX is the fact that this unit is much more mobile, which is to say it feels a lot more lightweight than the RCX.
The other main difference between the two models is that the Caldwell Lead Sled DFT can work with assault-style rifles, like the AR-15. The magazine is too long for the RCX, but it can fit snugly between the rails on the DFT. If you shoot assault rifles, the DFT is perfect for you.
Similar to the RCX, this unit does reduce the amount of recoil, but the front is supported by two rubber feet instead of a flat surface that can be weighted. That being said, you can add weights to the front pan, but you have to supply your own bags and material, which is a bit of a downside. Overall, this is a fine shooting rest, and it does work as intended.
Finally we come to the original Lead Sled in the Caldwell shooting rest line. This is the granddaddy of the three, and it is probably the most sturdy of the lead sleds I’ve encountered. Like the DFT and the RCX, the original Lead Sled is ideal for recoil reduction and comes with a fully adjustable slide to accommodate most rifles and shotguns.
According to the Caldwell, this model is perfect for slug guns and magnum rifles, due to the amount of recoil reduction it offers. I like the fact that this model comes with a pre-filled weight bag, and the weight tray can take a wide range of objects to help keep everything in place.
You can use either bags or weightlifting irons, which helps keep the entire sled grounded. Like the DFT, this model has rubber feet in the front and rear, with the back foot being adjustable.
If you are looking to fire rifles and shotguns that have a lot of recoil, it is best to get a shooting rest that has a holder for the rear stock. That being said, the Primos Group Therapy Bench Anchor Adjustable Shooting Rest does come with a “butt guard” to help reduce the amount of recoil generated by the weapon being fired.
Not all shooting rests have this feature, but it is an excellent addition to the Primos model. What I also like about this unit is the fact that it has all steel construction, meaning that it is strong and durable. Like the Lead Sled, this unit has a weight tray for bags, but on this model, there are two trays on either side.
Finally, I like the fact that the feet are studded, which help keep the entire setup grounded while firing. The whole unit is pretty heavy too, which makes it feel a bit more capable while firing. However, I strongly recommend getting weight bags if you plan to shoot high-caliber weapons.
If you intend on firing assault rifles with this rest, you may need shorter magazines for them to fit correctly.
Next on our list is the P3 Ultimate Shooting Rest. Despite its claim, I found the P3 to be less than ultimate, mostly because there is no rear holder for the stock.
Thus, while firing, you have to keep your shoulder firmly pressed against the butt of the rifle, unless you want to risk bruising or damage to your body. Because there is no “butt guard”, this shooting rest does not reduce recoil as substantially as the Lead Sled or even the Primos Group rest.
However, the P3 does have some nifty features that can make it worthwhile. I know that some people don’t mind having to hold the rifle close as they fire, but in my opinion the whole purpose of a fixed shooting rest is to eliminate potential “shooter error”. Not having a butt guard can lead to such error while testing your equipment in my experience.
If you’re looking for a portable fixed shooting rest, then the MTM K-Zone Shooting Rest may be for you. If you want something that is lightweight and super versatile, then this shooting rest is perfect. The MTM K-Zone is fully adjustable, allowing you to fire handguns, crossbows, rifles, shotguns, and assault rifles with ease.
This model has an adjustable elevation control for the muzzle and adjustable slide to fit a broad range of weapons. The K-Zone also has padded rubber feet for extra stability. If you want a highly portable rest you can bring with you to a gun range or for practice shooting, the K-Zone could work perfectly.
However, if you want something a bit more stable and durable that will reduce recoil, the K-Zone falls short. At only four pounds, this shooting rest is ideal for practicing in the field, but not for people who want total control. Like the P3, this rest requires you to hold the rifle against your shoulder, which can lead to shooter error.
I personally like a heavyweight rest that eliminates recoil, so I can better test my sights. This model, though, is more for shooters who want a quick test.
If you’re hunting out in the field, there are times where you may need extra stability to get the perfect shot. If you are laying prone in an elevated position or are hiding behind a structure, it can be tough to hold the rifle steady while lining up your shot.
For these moments, the Caldwell Deadshot Shooting Bag Combo can come in handy. Unlike other shooting rests, this model is not a single unit.
Instead, two weighted bags with straps keep your muzzle and stock in place. You could theoretically use these bags to test equipment, but I find that they are much more beneficial for hunting, rather than static testing. The bags themselves are rugged and dependable, and should be able to withstand a wide variety of environments and weather conditions.
The bags also easily attach to each other for better carrying. Finally, they are super versatile, as you can fit almost any gun between them on any surface. For extra stability on the go, the Dead Shot Shooting Bag Combo is a must.
Much like the MTM K-Zone, the Caldwell Steady NXT Rifle and Pistol rest is designed for quick and easy testing of your rifles and handguns. The NXT has a three-piece design which makes it ultra versatile, as you can fit almost any rifle, handgun, crossbow, shotgun, or assault rifle between the two rests.
For added stability, the NXT comes with a rigid connector to keep the whole unit as one piece, as well as to allow for weight bags to be used. This model also does not include a butt guard, so you have to hold your shoulder against the stock while firing. This is one of the lightest shooting rests out there, weighing in at only three pounds. If you want to test high-caliber weapons in a stationary setting,
I would advise against the NXT. However, if you are looking for a light, portable rest you can use in the field or on the fly, the NXT could be ideal for you.
Much like the Dead Shot Shooting Bag Combo, this Vanguard Porta Aim Gun Rest is ideal for steady shooting in the field. Since the Porta aim is just one piece for your muzzle, this model is highly portable and can fit into almost any backpack. The Vanguard’s tripod design also allows you to set the rest on almost any surface for added versatility.
What I like about the Porta Aim is that the tripod is adjustable for elevation. Unlike shooting bags, elevation control allows you much more range of movement.
Also, I like the fact that you can strap in the muzzle for easy carrying. While I’m not sure if Vanguard wants you to carry the Porta Aim on the front of your rifle while transporting, I do so all the time without any issues. Mostly for when I’m readjusting my shot, however, and not when I’m moving to a different location.
Shooting Rest Buying Guide: Here’s What To Look For!
Purchasing the best shooting rest can prove to be a daunting task as there are many available options to choose from.
To make your journey much easier below is a guide to the most important factors you should consider when looking for a shooting rest that matches your needs.
The Type of Shooting Rest You Want
Perhaps the first thing you want to look at is the type of gun rest you need. There are four basic types of shooting rests: shooting bags, shooting pods, shooting tables, and lead sleds.
Shooting Bag: It is made with high technology to help in absorption of recoil and offer great stability to the shooter.
Shooting Pod: A shooting pod is designed to take the pressure off the shooter’s body and enhance precision. They come in different forms; tripods, bipods, and field pods.
Shooting Table: When you want better shooting performance, it is best to have a shooting table that is very firm.
Lead Sled: This is a rifle rest that is meant for containing and holding a rifle fully. The key idea behind the design of the lead sled is to minimize human error to help the shooter aim better.
The amount of money you’re willing to spend on a shooting rest is an important consideration.
However, the value doesn’t always equal the price, so you need to do some research to determine the most cost-worthy product.
You want a shooting rest that will last for very long and serve you well. It doesn’t make sense to buy something that will get ruined very fast.
Before you buy a gun rest, study the materials used in construction. It would be better to avoid objects made from loads of plastic.
Being able to set up the shooting rest easily and fold it back down effortlessly while hunting in the woods is a must, depending on your situation.
Lead sleds are quite heavy while shooting pods are pretty light.
Depending on your desired function, you should invest in a shooting rest that gives you the right operating mechanisms.
If recoil reduction is what you desire, pick gun rests that possess power distribution mechanisms, like the Lead Sled.
On the other hand, if you want agility with minimal recoil reduction, shooting bags would be a better option. It all depends on your preference.
Make sure you look for these five when proceeding with a buying decision. This way, you won’t have to cringe over your purchase later on.
When it comes to choosing the best rifle rest, it will ultimately depend on the kind of shooting you do. Personally, I like a heavy-duty shooting rest to test my guns with as little shooter error as possible.
That being said, however, I sometimes like to have a portable rest for hunting, especially if I am in a hide or shooting from an elevated position. For stationary rests, I would recommend any of Caldwell’s Lead Sled models, but the DFT seems to have the most adjustment capabilities of the three.
For portable gun rests, I would recommend either the Dead Shot Shooting Bag Combo or the Dead Shot Field Pod. The Field Pod is ideal for stability, but the Shooting bags are best for anyone who hunts on rough terrain.