If you’ve followed me for very long, you’ve surely seen me shooting from a tripod. I am rarely without one, as I find them infinitely useful in building shooting positions, and supporting equipment. You may have read my previous article about tripods, but today I am writing specifically about the Field Optics Research tripods.
Field Optics Research fills the void between the 100-200 dollar tripods, and the carbon fiber 800 plus dollar tripods. That said, Field Optics makes both sub 200 dollar tripods, as well as carbon fiber models, but they are very affordable. They are not photography tripods adapted for shooting, this makes them an ideal candidate for those who wish to spend just a bit more on their field equipment and expect good returns on their investment.
The first and bigger of the two models I’ve fielded is the BT Precision FBT5436C Bowl Top Tripod, It can be used from a prone position, all the way up to a standing position. With carbon fiber telescoping legs, several locking positions, and a bowl top. The bowl top gives the user the ability to loosen the top of the tripod, and articulate the rifle (or scope, binos, etc.) to the angle needed.
Field Optics also sells a saddle-type gun vise that mounts on their tripods, so that any rifle (or anything for that matter) can be clamped into the top of the tripod. The clamp also features a pic rail clamp at the bottom of it, so that your rifle can be fixed firmly to the tripod with the quick turn of a screw. In addition to that, they make many different heads to go on the tripod for using Arca Swiss rails, cameras, spotting optics and more.
Another handy feature of the tripod is that the legs screw off, and can be used as a light-weight trekking pole, they even sell thread on handles to make it more convenient. With different ball heads and rifle interface options, there is no reason you can’t find an ideal setup for your needs.
The legs of the tripod are easily extended by turning the rubber gripped cap at the end of each segment. This is almost the best way of doing it, but certainly better than most. The large diameter of the legs make it easy to grab and wrap your hand around, and the whole unit is surprisingly lighter than you would expect after noting its size.
All three legs can articulate by unlocking them at the base of the head, there is a small sliding lock in the hinge itself that allows the legs to be lifted. They can come all the way up to make the tripod rest flat on the ground if needs be. The legs re-lock as you lower them back down at different angles.
I also got to try out one of their BT Precision Ground Tripod, a smaller tripod meant to work from the ground. It also features a bowl-top, and can use all of the same accessories and mounting solutions. The small and lightweight tripod makes it very stout, even heavy precision rifles will stay steady on this robust little unit.
I’ve used both models extensively in these rocky mountains, and have found them extremely handy. They were both well built and felt very sturdy when extended. My only complaint might be the size, despite being very light-weight they are still fairly large and more weight than one would want to carry if hunting back-country on foot. However, for competition shooting and all-around shooting, they leave almost nothing to be desired. Moving stage to stage they are easily folded up and carried, and they give the user all the stability of much more expensive units. With such a firm foundation to shoot from, the only excuse for a miss would be user error.
I certainly wouldn’t exclude them from hunting use though, if you hunt from ATV’s, horses or any other fashion that doesn’t require you to carry all your own gear, you would do very well to have one of these tripods under your hunting rifle.
The Field Optics Research series of tripods is a very affordable way to get into a professional-grade shooting tripod. Yes, there are nicer ones, and perhaps some with better features, but the price is also much higher. These tripods give an average everyday shooter a great option without having to take out a second mortgage. I can assure you there are many cheaper options out there as well, but as far as performance for the dollar, I’d put my rifle on top of a Field Optics Research any day.