Top 10 Best Shooting Rest Reviews: Comprehensive Guide
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.
Caldwell Dead Shot Field Pod
Caldwell Lead Sled FCX Shooting Rest
Caldwell Lead Sled DFT
Caldwell Lead Sled Recoil Reducing Rifle Rest
Primos Therapy Bench Anchor Shooting Rest
- Highly portable
- Fully Adjustable
- Durable yet lightweight for easy carrying
- Versatile: can fit almost any rifle or crossbow
- In some cases, the rear stock may not tighten correctly
- If you fire a large gun on this rest, it could kick back with the recoil
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.
- Fully adjustable tripod allows you to shoot in any position
- Lightweight yet durable aluminum frame
- Collapses easily to make this unit much more portable than other rests
- Can be used with a rifle or crossbow
- Spikes on the feet will dig into the ground for a sturdier position
- Precise measurements for easy sighting
- Adjustable clamps can fit most rifles and shotguns
- System is fluid when adjusting, allowing for changes to be made on the fly with ease
- Durable construction
- Weight bag is not made as well as the rest and is prone to breakage if filled to the top
- Not designed for assault-style rifles, such as the AR-15
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.
- Sturdy, durable construction
- Allows for windage and elevation adjustment with quick, easy movements
- Can adjust elevation by four inches
- All parts are machined with gears for smooth functioning
- Weight bag is adjustable, but sand or lead shot is not included
- Adjustable to fit almost any rifle or shotgun
- Can be adjusted to fit some crossbows as well
- Precisely aligns crosshairs with fluid joystick movement
- Excellent recoil reduction
- Adjustable to fit almost all rifles and shotguns, including assault rifles
- Fingertip control of windage and elevation
- Weight bag provided can tear when using it
- If you want more weight on the front, you have to supply your own weight bags
- May not fit some models of assault rifle correctly, as the positioning can be a bit tight for the magazine
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.
- Dual track system helps reduce recoil
- Steel frame construction is ultra durable
- Adjustable to fit most rifles and shotguns. Could even fit some models of crossbow
- Windage and elevation adjustments are incredibly easy to control with fingertips
- Comes with a weight bag to help keep rear stock in place while shooting
- Excellent recoil reduction
- Solid steel construction
- Perfect for high-caliber rifles
- Adjustable slide fits most guns
- Need to add weight to keep it grounded
- Not ideal for assault weapons
- Does not have any windage adjustments
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.
- Heavy-duty steel construction
- Weight plate can take a variety of materials, such as bags or weight plates
- The adjustable slide can fit most rifles and shotguns. If you are shooting assault rifles, you can do it without weight on the plate. Otherwise, there is not quite enough room for the magazine
- Elevation control is precise and doesn’t have any “wobble”
- Fingertip controls for easier adjustments
- Durable construction
- Adjustable elevation
- Butt guard for recoil reduction
- Studded feet
- Adjustable slide
- Ambidextrous design works for righties and lefties
- Not suitable for assault rifles
- Needs weight bags
- No windage control
- Knobs may be defective upon arrival, or shear due to recoil
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.
- Solid steel construction
- Butt guard helps reduce recoil
- Precision adjustments for elevation (up to 2”)
- Perfect for right or left handed shooters
- Feet are studded to help keep everything in place
- Two weight plates for bags
- Slide is adjustable and can fit different sizes of rifle or shotgun
- Versatile: can be used with rifles, assault rifles, handguns, and some crossbows
- Steel construction is very durable
- Legs are adjustable for elevation
- Can come with optional gun vice for added versatility
- Does not have a weight plate, so you have to position bags on the frame itself
- No “butt guard” means you have to press your shoulder against the stock when firing
- Does not significantly reduce recoil, although there is a noticeable difference between using the rest vs. free firing
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.
- Adjustable slide allows for both rifles and pistols
- Sturdy steel construction
- Optional gun vice available with this unit
- All feet are adjustable for elevation
- Quick and easy to build and take down
- Extremely versatile: can hold almost any kind of gun or crossbow
- Adjustable elevation control
- Can be weighted for better stability
- Extremely portable at only four pounds
- Does not significantly reduce recoil
- Can only hold so much weight in front, making it feel less stable with high-caliber weapons
- No windage control
- Rear mount is not adjustable for elevation
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.
- Adjustable slide accommodates all sorts of weapons
- Elevation control for the muzzle
- Padded rubber feet for extra stability
- Front compartment can hold weight bag if necessary
- Lightweight and super-portable
- Perfect for testing guns on the fly
- Highly versatile
- Highly portable
- Extra durable material
- Can be used in almost any environment
- Perfect for hunting or field shooting
- Not ideal for testing weapons in a stationary setting
- In extreme conditions bags may rupture with high recoil weapons
- Bags are not entirely waterproof
- Although portable, combined weight is over 11 pounds, making the bags heavier than other models
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.
- Heavy-duty bag construction withstands most environments
- Bags link together for extra portability
- Can be placed on almost any surface
- Can be used with almost any gun
- Bags come pre-filled for your convenience
- Super portable
- Extra versatile: can fit all types of weapons
- Elevation control is easy to use and can be adjusted up to four inches
- Weight bags can be used when unit is one piece
- Not ideal for high-caliber weapons
- Must hold gun stock to shoulder to keep recoil down
- For longer weapons, weight bags are not viable
- Does not clamp, meaning the gun can slide and lift relatively easily
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.
- Super lightweight construction
- Fully versatile: can be a three-piece or one-piece unit, depending on the length of your rifle
- Can fit all manner of handguns, rifles, shotguns, crossbows, and assault rifles
- One-piece design allows for weight bags to be used for added stability
- Elevation control can move up to four inches
- Highly portable
- Highly adjustable
- Extremely versatile: works with any firearm
- Can be used on a wide variety of terrains
- Strap on top will keep your muzzle connected to the rest
- Five-year limited warranty means it is built to last
- Not ideal for testing weapons
- Not suited for high caliber rifles, since the recoil may cause the tripod to reposition or lift off the ground
- No rear stabilizer means you have to keep the gun held tight to your shoulder at all times
- No space for weights
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.
- Compact and lightweight design
weighsless than two pounds
- Adjustable elevation controls for added versatility
- Tripod design allows you to set up on almost any terrain
- Full range of motion since you aren’t locked in at the rear
- Works with almost all firearms
- Comes with a five-year limited warranty
- Super fast and easy to use
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.