September 25, 2020
By Alfredo Rico
Getting into any sport can be expensive, and precision rifle is no exception. Aside from the rifle, ammo and optic, there are accessories vying for our dollars, many of which were given life by competitors who created one-of-a-kind items to solve a shooting problem. These creations have turned shooters into entrepreneurs selling their products online.
Norwegian competitive and record- holding speed shooter, Kurt Bekkevold, is one of those shooters. Not only is he the founder of Skytterlinken, a Norwegian-based shooting accessories supplier, their brand Ulfhednar (pronounced Ulf-heth-nar), is a leading manufacturer of competition-related shooting accessories.
The business seems to be a perfect fit for Bekkevold since he has been creating shooting accessories most of his life. His earliest design was a kneeling roll made from leftover leather he found in his mother’s stitching room. Ulfhednar was launched after he shot a Precision Rifle Series (PRS) match and the gear he was using wasn’t what he needed to be successful.
Ulfhednar gets its name from a group of Viking warriors who dyed their skin black and wore wolf skins, hence the wolf head logo. These Vikings were considered special warriors — the elite. This spirit has driven the company to produce everything from basic-need items like range bags, shooting mats and bags to a wide range of accessories including suppressor covers, slings, tripods and a shooting level with a dope card attached.
To get a feel for this Norwegian pride, I ordered a few items and was impressed with the quality and design right from the start. The details of the products show that the company understands the toll equipment will take in the field and builds them to last. Their products embody their tag line, “Made for Harsh Conditions.”
Shooting bags are a necessity. They provide a stable support for your rifle and fill the holes of your shooting position. Ulfhednar carries three commonly used sizes, including their own version of a straddle bag, which they dubbed the Multipurpose Support Pillow. The bag style has become a must-own product due to its usefulness on barricades, tank traps and a host of other structures.
The Multipurpose Support Pillow is a tooth-shaped support bag with a course rubber texture top that’s even grippy in snow. The texture adds considerable traction for a rifle’s forend and protects the bag from wear. The body is made from Cordura, a fabric known for its abrasion and tear resistance.
Two straps are stitched to the top of the bag and are long enough to straddle a scope to firmly couple the bag to a rifle. The straps are adjustable at both ends. One end has hook-and-loop fasteners, and the other has two-pin side release buckles for quick disengagement. The straps are removable if you like to run your bag without straps. A carrying handle is sewn into the short side of the bag.
Durability is the hallmark of this bag. Each of the straps are anchored to the body using 2-inch long double webbing and sewn with a box stitch. The sturdiness of these anchor points shows that the company understands the abuse these bags will undergo in competition. I use a similar bag from a competitor, but its straps are sewn to the edge of a panel with a double stich to a panel’s seam and have little material support.
The 7-pound bag is filled with small plastic beads and arrived full. I like my bags more pliable, so I emptied some beads through a zipper on the side of the bag. Wisely, the zipper has a large pull tab and is covered by a flap with hook-and-loop fasteners. They can be found for around $100.
The other two pillows in their line are also made of Cordura fabric. These are designed with a rough texture on the side that will create surface contact and ensure sturdy anchor points. They retail for around $88 to $147.
A tripod is another essential shooting item. Besides serving as a rifle support, they offer a helping hand to hold binoculars, a rangefinder or support a spotting scope. Ulfhednar offers three tripods: large, medium and mini.
For use as a shooting platform, the larger UHRT85CWBH tripod with the ball head is the one to get. It’s made of eight-layer carbon fiber with an aluminum apex. Its legs are stout and won’t flex or struggle with the weight of a rifle. The medium-sized tripod is better suited as a lightweight option for binoculars or rangefinders, and the mini is perfect for mounting a phone or small camera.
The large tripod weighs 5 pounds, 2 ounces with the ball head attached and stands 5 feet tall with the three legs fully extended and the ball head at its lowest position. The minimum height of the tripod is 24 inches. Raising the center column adds another foot to the height.
I found fully extending the two upper legs will put the ball head at 47 inches, which is chest level and a good shooting height for me. Extending the last leg will add another 13 inches. When on uneven ground, that extra leg length will prove beneficial.
The features that make this tripod a great choice for precision shooting are its adjustable leg angles and a two-section center column. The leg indents can be set to 20, 50 and 75 degrees. The legs can also rotate 180 degrees for compact storage.
With the legs spread at 50 degrees, I found the tripod height perfect for supporting a sitting shooting position. The 20-degree spread is low enough to the ground for shooting prone when you remove the lower section of the center column to take full advantage of this low position. Other tripods may have a tall, single column that would prevent the legs from splaying fully or offer a small column for an additional cost.
Like many ball heads, the Ulfhednar ball head has features designed for cameras. This is not a knock on the ball head, because there are few heads designed specifically for rifle shooting and many competitive shooters use camera ball heads. The base of the head has standard camera features like a drop notch for setting the camera on its vertical plane, a lock out knob and a panning lock knob.
The ball is roughly 1.75 inches in diameter, making it a good size to control fine movements. If a ball is too small, it will move through its arc too quickly, which causes overcorrection in one direction or the other. If it’s too large, it takes more travel to make small adjustments. This one feels just right.
Another feature that makes this a great choice for precision shooting is the grip of the lockout. With a light crank of the lockout knob, the ball head holds the rifle solidly and hands-free, but it still allows graduated movements to the rifle. The movement is smooth with no hard stiction to overcome. The knob has excellent tension modulation and can immobilize the ball with a quarter turn.
ARCA-compatible systems have overtaken the Picatinny rail as the de facto connector in precision rifle shooting due to their simplicity and adaptability. This ball head clamp is ARCA-compatible, so you’ll be good to hit the field if you have adopted the system. The ball head clamp has three bubble levels and several indication marks, which are also handy for photography. The locking knob is a twist type and not a quick release while the lever on the opposite side locks the rotation plate under the clamp. If you prefer a quick release, the clamp is user replaceable.
Every tripod and ball head has a weight capacity. The Ulfhednar large tripod’s stated weight capacity is 44 pounds. This may sound like a delicate system if you have a 20-pound rifle, but it’s not. I pressed down on the apex of the tripod with all my weight, and it didn’t flex or hint at slipping. Unless your shooting a .50 BMG or standing on the tripod, the tripod will easily handle most shooting scenarios.
Setting up the tripod was fast and easy. The legs use twisting collar lockup. A quarter turn frees the leg and runs out silky smooth. Collapsing the leg is just as easy, and there is no back pressure binding its retreat. Getting the rifle low to the ground was effortless, too. After angling the legs to 45 degrees, I extended the top legs out palm-width for my seated position height.
This tripod can be found for $740, which is an excellent price considering its features. I’ve been hard pressed to find an excellent carbon-fiber tripod with a ball head of this build quality that hits this mid-price point. There are cheaper tripods, but they have too many compromises, and the more expensive ones cost twice as much.
Another essential item is a mag pouch. Some shooting stages warrant a mag change, and having it on your hip puts it within easy reach.
Like the shooting bags, it’s made of Cordura and is well-constructed. The front wall has MOLLE webbing and a padded panel. The rear wall is stiff and can be attached to a belt or MOLLE. What makes this a worthy addition to your gear is that it holds two magazines. The interior of the pocket has a removable divider with hook-and-loop fasteners to adjust the fit of the magazines. A bungee-like cord secures the magazines. For $58, it’s a great deal.
Before ordering the products, I was curious if Ulfhednar was just another new player cashing in on the popularity of the sport. They offer a lot of shooting products, so it’s difficult to assess quality from website photos. But after receiving the products and spending a lot of time with them, the details and thoughtfulness of the designs showed me that passion and a competitive understanding of the sport was the motivation. Bekkevold has designed an impressive line of products for the precision rifle community.