I picked one of these up because I had unused rail on top of my Desert Tech and because the bottom mount bipods have one flaw that top mount bipods don’t and which I was tired of: Bipods that mount on the bottom frequently end up with my rifle falling over when I want to rest it on the ground between match stages. This isn’t such an issue if I lock the pivot down but with the heavy rifles used in matches, it’s not uncommon at all for the friction locking pivots to be overcome by the weight of the bang pole. The rifle with underside mounted bipod will also occasionally fall over as well when I go to manipulate the bolt or the objective bell parallax ring or do any of a number of things and long range shooters are wont to do.
Rifles falling over in a match is a good way to get a DQ for the stage or even the whole match and it’s a good way to damage expensive things like rifle scopes but there’s also the more mundane and practical issue of rifle canting. With the bipod at the bottom I have to adjust the cant myself and hold it there. Among long range shooters this problem alone is probably worth half of the misses that are made in low/no wind situations. With it mounted to the top of the rifle’s fore end so that it hangs from the bipod instead of perching upon it, gravity is happy to throw in a helping hand and it will cause the rifle to want to find vertical because that’s how gravity and hanging things works.
There appear to be more or less 2 variations of over bore bipods available: The Fortmeier which is fabulously designed, lovingly made from the finest non-GMO components using ancient craft secrets and it was when it came out heart-stopping-ly priced and still was at the time of the writing of this article. The pricing thing as of August 2022 has subsided leaving the cost at this update at $173 for the Fortmeier/Phoenix over bore bipod.
Then there’s the UTG/Leapers model (which it’s hard to get good info on just yet and why this post is being written) which is under 200 dollars and seems to be made with no lack of caring attention to detail and quality materials, if not with actual ancient craft secrets. Since one was cheaper than the other I decided to start with that and see if I could save some dough. This is most often a great recipe for spending the price of both and is rarely a good way to get two excellent products but I keep the habit up for the sake of the times that it’s both.
For UTG’s part, if you stay with their more expensive stuff that doesn’t try to be 1/5 of a normal market price for a particular class of widget, they seem to do a decent enough job. If you go for the products that they make which are under 100 bucks, you’re probably not going to enjoy yourself as much as you might be expecting. If you stick to the stuff that’s over 100 bucks then it’s not quite so bad. Things can be somewhat crude but UTG/Leapers can be said to make generally functional and reliable if unsophisticated things. What they’ll always do is make at least one design decision that makes you scratch your head in gasping wonder.
We’ll enumerate some answers to questions I had before purchasing it in the hopes of answering some of your questions:
- It can mount over or under the gun. The cant limiter works either way.
- It (confusingly) has leg notches and a friction lock wheel. Shouldn’t need the friction lock wheel but it’s there just in case (BTW that’s what adjustable cant is there for).
- I recommend that owners remove the screws from the underside of the legs to enable 180deg leg adjust in 45deg intervals.
- The rubber feet are pretty hard. They’ll give some grip on smooth surfaces like concrete but not a lot. Heat cycling them might help. Testing pending.
- The spigot mount quick-detach feature is fairly easy to use when the legs are folded back but those with fat fingers may find you have to flick a leg down to actuate the release.
- Remove the pin at the base of the spigot to delete the cant limiter if you like. Cant limitation is in my opinion overly limited.
- The lever/lock used to lock the legs in extended position and collapse the legs in is beefy. Really beefy, like an Accu-Tac but not quite so overbuilt as those.
- The legs are very rigid with little to no flex under heavy loading but there is some lash in the leg angle adjustment just not enough to be a problem.
- The picatinny mount is triple lugged. Wow! It’s also fairy low profile but not “very” low profile. ~1/2″ taller than the rail. It won’t fit under a PVS-24/27/30 so you will likely have to move the bipod to under the gun if you want to use those unless your top rail is just incredibly long.
- Panning range is not a lot, just 22deg and the friction on it from the factory is pretty high. You will want to loosen it and it’s not got a lever. Uses an Allen key (looks ~8mm). One might just JB Weld an Allen key into it.
- It has a fairly narrow bridge so it’s not real wide on the gun. With legs folded back it doesn’t add much to the width, sticking out less far than my bolt handle.
- You can probably beat a horse to death with it but it’ll take a few whacks. Not Accu-Tac heavy but not Harris or Atlas light.
- The QD detaches really quick and that’s just bloody sweet. I super like that part. Could have used QD on the pic rail attach-y part too but ok.
- The spigot is on the wrong side. This is a head scratching choice. Spigots are supposed to be on the gun, the receiver socket is supposed to be on the bipod. Why UTG went upside down I don’t know other than to say, “UTG.”
The price is pretty good. You can pick one up for in the ballpark of 160 smackeroos. I won’t name any vendors but google it if you have a hard time. The vendor I got it from I don’t really like working with (so I won’t mention the name) but they got it to me in a reasonable time for a reasonable price. Contrary to their reputation for chinesium, junk and not thinking things through this part is quite nice and well worth your attention if you have some top side Picatinny rail near the front of your gun that’s unused.
I’m often times a tad snitty about kit so for those expecting some here’s the snitty parts: What was the point of the screws in the legs? Why did I have to remove those? They should have never been there. Why limit the cant so much? They could have widened the notch or shortened the limiter peg or left the limiter peg out altogether. Gravity centers it so who cares how much work gravity is allowed to do? No throw lever for the panning friction! WTAF? That was just silly or cheap or one of the astonishing oversights of details that UTG prides itself on. Possibly it was all of the above. The feet are roll pinned on. Fine, I guess. I would have been more ok with Accu-Tac G2 threads but whatever, I guess bringing over a design mistake used by every other brand is par for the course. When the legs are folded back the friction knob for the spigot that affects canting friction is in a great place to bite your finger when folding the legs back. That should have been a lever too. That’s about all the nits.
So far this is about the most versatile and non-irritating bipod I own. I have Atlas, Harris, Accu-Tac and this UTG. The UTG gives me a compact, heavy duty, top mount with all of the good stuff of Atlas (except for the weight) and Accu-Tac (except for the foot attachment system). I can’t say it’s my favorite because despite the massive weight penalty I do like the Accu-Tac bipods I own just a little better in some ways and I like the UTG better really only for the fact that it top mounts. I’m a believer that if you can top mount your bipod then you should. It’s one less thing to hold which means less biological input into the shot which means less to go wrong.