Steady as she goes
Chris Redlich road tests the latest Javelin bipods and accessories from Spartan Precision
A common topic repeated many times is the importance of maintaining a steady rest. Whether target shooting or hunting, the method of rest may invariably differ but the same principle of support applies to both. By definition a rifle bipod is a basic design of using two supporting legs, relieving the shooter of all forward weight from the firearm and enabling a steady rest.
While many have had a go at modifying the original concept, Spartan Precision Equipment can arguably lay claim to perfecting it. I accepted an invite to review a collection of lightweight hunting bipods including the Javelin Pro-Hunt Tac (long), Pro-Hunt (standard), Javelin Lite, Sucker Mount, 80cm and 160cm Super Pro Leg Extensions from distributor Raytrade Australia.
Spartan Precision Equipment is a British firm based in Sussex and are dedicated to producing high-quality hunting accessories, including bipods, and have partnered with some of the world’s finest brands in the shooting industry such as Blaser, Sauer and First Lite.
I’m no bipod novice and have used the same spring-loaded model for more than 25 years. I confess to having mixed feelings when it comes to lugging sticks and accessories on a hunt, including bipods, and limit their use to controlled environments only. I often choose to leave mine behind, relying on my pack or surrounding foliage instead, yet Spartan Precision’s array of supports has challenged my thinking and prejudices.
Javelin bipods differ somewhat to my old one and apart from having two legs the similarities appear to end there. The advertising blurb boldly states ‘Lightweight, Modular and Functional’ so I thought the best way to approach the review was by using these categories and explaining each to provide the hunter/shooter with more detail.
Unlike the standard all-aluminium and steel construction of other makes, carbon fibre is a big contributor to Javelin bipods, making them super strong while dramatically reducing weight. Carbon fibre is made by interweaving micro-thin yet strong crystalline filaments of carbon, used to replace some metal components due to its low weight-to-strength ratio, high tensile stiffness and tolerance to extreme weather conditions and temperatures.
These capabilities have seen the dramatic rise of carbon fibre use in conjunction with aluminium components in the aircraft industry and likewise, Spartan Precision Equipment have combined the two. The outer bipod legs are of carbon fibre wrap and all other main metallic constituents made from CNC-machined, hard anodised aluminium. The only steel parts are the fasteners, including screws and retaining pins of negligible size and weight. Weighing just two-thirds that of my old bipod, Javelin’s lightweight and compact design enables them to be conveniently carried in a pants pocket or on the belt.
Modular by my own definition is ‘something which can be added to or deducted conveniently in order to carry out a task with minimal fuss’. Reinforcing the modular credentials of Javelin bipods is their unique attachment style and fitment design and their patented Magnetic Attachment System is pivotal. Strong and reliable, this system uses rare neodymium earth magnets to attach the bipod to the rifle in seconds, enabling the shooter to follow live targets and stay level on uneven surfaces. The magnet is positioned to a swivelling, centre male spigot atop the bipod which mates with a supplied female steel receiver mount attached separately to the stock fore-end.
Supplied with each Javelin bipod are multiple screws of differing lengths with thread options for fastening to many rifles of varying stock designs and shapes. After removing the front sling stud on the stock fore-end, simply screw the supplied female receiver in its place. Also provided are three rubber spacers of alternate profile and thickness for sandwiching between the female receiver and stock (a sling stud attachment is integral to the new female receiver). Rounding out the modular category is the ability to interchange different models of Javelin bipods and rests with easy attachment to the female receiver and the availability of optional carbon fibre leg extensions.
Most importantly, the ability of any reliable hunting aid can be measured by its functionality and I was impressed the moment I fitted the first of a few supplied Javelin bipods, a positive snap of the magnetic spigot to female receiver instilling confidence of a robust fit. Secondly, the bipod leg is spread and snapped securely by a magnet and retained with a quick release locking clip, height of the legs rapidly adjusted by sliding the carbon fibre outer legs to the desired length.
Javelin Pro-Hunt Tac (long) can slide to length and is locked via a ratchet-type method on the inner leg and freed again by pressing the quick-release locking clip on the outer legs. The Pro-Hunt (standard) differs by using turn collars of the outer legs to lock and release from the inner legs, both methods of adjustment quick and a breeze to manage.
The Javelin Lite is the baby of the three supplied bipods and has non-adjustable legs though it shares the same pivot adjustment as its big brothers. Javelin bipods are designed to enable cant adjustment on uneven surfaces by way of pivoting the centre spigot within the leg housing and the pivot feature can be secured to a desired cant by the spring-loaded locking lever on the housing. By comparison, the lock release lever is similar to those of QD scope rings. The versatility of being able to rapidly adjust the bipods’ length for a level sight picture on uneven ground reinforces Spartan Precision Equipment’s claim of ‘Functional’.
Rounding off the features of the bipod legs are the rubber bases which grip wet or hard surfaces and the rubber caps can be removed in seconds to reveal sharp, concave-tipped spikes for positive grip on soft ground in slippery conditions. Lightweight, Modular, Functional has been extended to other products which I had the pleasure of testing including their Sucker Mount, Super Pro-Leg 80cm and 160cm.
Rather basic by design the Sucker Mount is simply one of the best rests for vehicle mounting I’ve come across. Have you ever taken a hasty shot from across your car bonnet and wished you had a better support as you stare forlornly at the fleeing mob of pigs in a cloud of dust? The rubber base attaches to a smooth surface by way of pumping the suction button. Extremely strong, this method is similar to a glazier’s suction mount for the safe carriage of glass.
A series of lockable pivot points allow the geometry of the mount to be altered to suit varying angles and heights. The patented magnetic spigot fastens the shooter’s rifle rapidly to the fitted female receiver (the same used for Javelin bipods), this system enabling fast and accurate shot placement on ferals at extended ranges when the need arises.
While field testing on a property, I adhered the Sucker Mount to my ute bonnet and as it turned out it came in handy for my hunting buddy, Josh, to cleanly take a long-range shot at a meat goat. Earlier that afternoon while hunting on foot he’d been using the bipod attachment and this scenario reinforces the absolute practicality and flexible design of the spigot system and the speed at which the options can be used.
Super Pro Leg Extensions
Included in the swag of gear supplied were two pairs of Bipod Leg Extensions, one measuring 80cm and the other 160cm (extended), the 80cm suitable for sitting and 160cm for standing. I must disclose that while I use bipods occasionally, I’m not a fan of shooting sticks or setting up scaffold (as I like to call it) prior to taking a trophy shot but the Super Pro Leg Extensions are a welcome addition which improve versatility of the bipods when the shooter has time to spare prior to the shot.
Made from the same carbon fibre design as the bipod legs, it reinforces the Lightweight credentials and can be packed discretely in a mountain hunter’s day pack. The leg extensions share the same thread as the standard bipod legs and retro fit to the female thread in place of the original. A simple twist of the telescopic carbon fibre leg enables the legs to be extended and fastened to length. While field testing I took advantage of both from the kneeling and standing positions and found the design to be ultra-steady, quashing any bias I had previously with this kind of arrangement.
The Javelin bipods and attachments proved practical in various scenarios and are a credit to Spartan Precision Equipment engineers who’ve refined a decades-old concept for the modern hunter. Lightweight carbon fibre kit isn’t cheap but Javelin bipods are competitively and realistically priced for such quality, meticulous shooting aids. Back-up is via a standard one-year warranty (two-year with warranty card registration). More at www.raytrade.com.au or www.javelinbipod.com
Spartan Precision Equipment
Javelin Pro-Hunt Tac (long) bipod: $575
Javelin Pro-Hunt (standard) bipod: $575
Javelin Lite bipod: $225
Sucker Mount: $195
Super Pro Leg (80cm): $150
Super Pro Leg (160cm): $220