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Best Shooting Tripods for Long-Range Hunting or Shooting

What makes a good shooting tripod for long-range competitions or hunts? Here are some important tips for selecting a good shooting tripod with some of our favorite options.

Best Shooting Tripods for Long-Range Hunting or Shooting

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In the world of long-range shooting, having the right equipment can make all the difference. The same can be said when it comes to hunting and whether you will fill your tag or head back to camp with your tail between your legs. Not all tripods are created equal, and it is essential to know what to look for when considering various models. Features and specifications that are ideal for long-range shooting may not be the case in a hunting scenario or vice versa. Read on as we explore what to look out for as well as what to avoid when it comes to shooting tripods.

Optimal Tripod Features

Stability is paramount when it comes to long-range shooting as well as hunting. In almost all cases, a heavier tripod is going to be a steadier tripod. The last thing you want to do is cheap out on a tripod and have a spotting scope that costs over a grand hit the concrete. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re using a tripod for hunting, you’re typically wanting to lighten the load as much as possible. Lightweight tripods will not be as steady, so look to strike a balance between weight and stability. Being able to splay the legs of the tripod out in a wide manner will also increase stability should the wind pick up. Look for those constructed of carbon fiber or aluminum, as these materials offer the best combination of quality construction at reduced weight. 

The height and angle of the tripod legs should adjust with ease and lock confidently into place. Think into the future and consider what shooting positions you may find yourself in. Standing, seated, kneeling and prone all require different adjustments to be made to the tripod’s height. While how tall a tripod can be extended may not be an issue, the ability for a tripod to be lowered close to the ground isn’t always a universal feature. Test out potential options to be sure it will work for various positions. One last thing to take a close look at are the feet of the tripod. Will that bottommost portion of each leg provide a steady contact point to the ground, or will the unit slip and slide during use? Simple rubber feet are common, and truly all that you may need on flat ground but when it comes to a rocky surface or other less-than-ideal patches of land a spiked-metal foot may provide a more positive grip on the ground during use. 

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Tripods aren’t used just to hold spotting scopes anymore, with many companies offering after-market accessories to open up the realm of possibilities for traditional tripods. Hunters afield seeking more stability without a reliable rest provided by mother nature often utilize a front rifle rest attachment to steady their rifles for long-range shots. Swapping between spotting scope and a rifle rest is done with ease by using quick-release plates, similar in function to quick-detach mounts for optics on a rifle. Other adaptors commonly found allow for your tripod to be used with a variety of DSLR cameras, binoculars, range finders and more. Many tripods also permit the use of different heads, which is the topmost portion of the tripod to which your spotting scope (or other accessory) is mounted. Each type of head has its own unique characteristics which make it ideal for certain applications. Some of the most common types of heads you’ll come across are fluid, pan & tilt, pistol grip and gimbal. 

Picking the Best Shooting Tripod

Choose a tripod that is built to last, with features like weather-resistant coatings, corrosion-resistant materials and sturdy construction. Choosing an option you believe will save you a few bucks may very well cost you more money in the long run when you have to replace it. Look for models made from aluminum alloys or carbon fiber, as both of these materials are durable and hold up extremely well to poor weather and can take a beating yet still remain functional, should you somehow manage to knock it over. Sure, tripods are good at holding things… guns, cameras, spotting scopes… heck, they even hold us up when we lean on them for support, but what specifically are they used for when hunting or shooting at distance? 

Probably number one on the list of techniques and applications for hunters is scouting. Glassing the mountainside for that lone sheep or bull moose requires a little more effort than staring straight ahead. Being able to smoothly pan side to side in search of your intended game can save you from hiking miles in the wrong direction in hopes of finding something. Taking things back to the range, perhaps you are shooting as part of a shooter/spotter team, and you are unable to locate your shot. Your spotter can back out in magnification to watch for your next impact and provide corrections accordingly to get you back on target. Both hunters and long-range enthusiasts can benefit from seeing at distance, particularly by obtaining wind reads off vegetation or mirage. These are just a couple of the many techniques utilized in conjunction with tripods, making them an essential tool in every shooter’s kit.

Leupold Mark 5 CF-455 Tripod Kit

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The Laupold Mark 5 CF-455 tripod is constructed from carbon fiber, making it lightweight and rugged. The wide range in which the legs can be quickly adjusted, from 8.3 inches on the low end up to 74-inches high makes it a great option for hunters adapting their shooting position to a wide array of terrain, or even those taking part in shooting competitions that require adaptability on the fly. The Mark 5 utilizes an Arca-Swiss mounting system and includes a bubble level so you can ensure your tripod is level, especially important if you plan on utilizing it for shooting off of as a rest. Also included in this kit are 3-level pivot locks, a counterweight hook, hex tools, and a handy carrying case.

Bog Deathgrip Infinite – Carbon Fiber

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Improving upon the popular Bog Deathgrip, the Bog Deathgrip Infinite embodies the definition of multi-purpose. Need it to clamp onto the stock of your rifle as you take an ELR shot on an elk? No problem. Spotting hits for a buddy at the range? It has you covered. Helping a fellow photographer with a photo package? Not an issue. With a full 360 degrees of rotation and 180 degrees of tilt on the ball head, the Deathgrip Infinite covers all your needs with its interchangeable heads attached via the built-in quick-release Arca-Swiss mounting system. This means you can easily swap between clamps, spotting scope mounts, mounts for your DSLR cameras, and more. Carbon fiber construction keeps things light, while the legs lock in at your choice of three different angles. 

Vortex Summit Carbon II Tripod with Pan Head

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For those ultra-light hunters out there, you know the value of what something weighs and cutting down ounces wherever possible. As the saying goes, "Ounces equal pounds, pounds equal pain." The last thing you want on a long hike miles into mountainous terrain in search of that monster elk is to be focusing on your back or neck hurting instead of signs that your target is near. The Summit Carbon II from Vortex caters to the ultralighters out there, as this carbon fiber tripod weighs in at a mere 2.5 pounds. The four sections allow maximum versatility when it comes to height, with a minimum height of 6.3 inches and a maximum height of 53.8 inches. The Arca-Swiss compatible quick-release plate is ready to accept your preferred spotting scope, while a detachable counterweight hangs below for additional stabilization capabilities. Additional features include anti-slip rubber feet and a 360-degree adjustable 2-way pan head. 

Meopta Carbon Fiber Tripod Kit

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From the makers of the award-winning MeoStar S2 82HD spotting scope comes a Meopta Carbon Fiber tripod ready to exceed your glassing needs. Able to be used with all brands of spotters and even binoculars (with a tripod adapter), this tripod is designed to operate with an uncanny smoothness, an essential feature when meticulously glassing a mountainside. For those who may be looking to record that tag-filling shot, or for shooters looking to record themselves during a match stage this kit includes a few bonus items to make that task even easier. Included with this kit are a ball head, fluid head, two adapter plates for each head, and a smartphone adapter to help capture that special moment. All this and more is contained in a handy padded carrying case ready to hit the range.

Athlon Optics Midas CF-40 Tripod

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Calling the Athlon CF-40 Tripod feature-rich is an understatement. This carbon fiber tripod comes with not only a traditional ball head but a bowl mount as well. The ball head is Arca-compatible, allowing you to attach the tripod directly to your rifle, allowing you to drop into position quickly while still retaining the utmost stability possible for both you and your gun. The shoulder pad and sling make it comfortable to carry, while additional features such as the tripod hammock are easily within reach to hold your dope book or other range essentials. Should you find yourself needing a bit more grip on the ground, slap on the optional spiked tripod feet and remain confident the tripod will not budge from the recoil it absorbs.

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