Choosing a bipod for your rifle is one of the most under-estimated factors of rifle kit building. When setting up to fire a rifle, there is no consideration more important than your shooting position. Obviously the fundamentals of shooting still apply, but having a bipod that gives you that rock-solid position would be worth its weight in gold, would it not? There are dozens of different manufacturers and even more different styles. It can be quite confusing, and even more so if you are just starting out. Today I'm going to familiarize you with one of them: The Atlas bipod from B&T Industries.
Seen below in its 90 degree deployed position, the Atlas bipod is supporting a DTA SRS with a 338 suppressor. The forward weight is rather substantial due to the 36 oz suppressor. The Atlas has no problem holding the weight. The rifle pictured weighs in at approx 17lbs. The Atlas is very rugged and strong, and I would not hesitate to use it on a rifle weighing up to 20-25lbs. Beyond that, you would want to choose something made out of steel. I'm sure the atlas could handle being used on a heavy 50bmg, but when you get into that 35lb territory, I'm going to want something made of steel. Having said that, the Atlas is not designed for that load, and is marketed accordingly. It is however a very strong but lightweight bipod for normal rifle systems.
Here you see the heart of what makes the Atlas so special. In the picture below, the adjustment mechanism for the legs is shown. Each leg is screwed to the main body with precise tension, using brass bushings to allow the leg to move freely. The bottom button with the red center, is the detent that allows the leg to move when pushed. To deploy the leg, you simply push in that detent, and move the leg to the desired position of a corresponding notch in the stainless steel indexer sandwiched between the main body and each leg. Each indexer has 5 positions, allowing each leg to be independently moved from front to back 180 degrees. You can be fully forward, 45 degrees forward, 90 degrees(straight down), 45 degrees rearward, or fully rearward. Each leg moves independently, so you could have one leg all the way up and the other rear 45, if the situation called for it.
The leg length adjustments are very intuitive and unique. The knurled collar on the top of each leg contains ball detent's and a retaining clip. When you pull down on the collar, the detent's are allowed to disengage from the machined groove in the inner leg shaft. You can then move the outer leg assembly up or down to the setting you want. You then release the spring-loaded collar, which pushes the detent's into the machined groove and locks the leg in place. This is covered in more detail in the video.
The bottom of each leg on the Atlas is knurled to provide a non-sip contact surface when resting the rifle on the bipod when the bipod is not deployed. This is very welcomed when shooting off a barricade or other surface in a situation that will now allow the bipod to be deployed. Also seen here, are the standard feet that come with the Atlas. They are rubber-bottomed with aluminum inserts. The feet are also removable. You simply push the detent at the side of the leg, and pull the feet out. There two other styles of feet offered for the Atlas and can be found here on B&T's website, as well as many other accessories for the Atlas bipod's. I have not found a need for other feet as of yet. The rubber bottom of the standard feet are very forgiving, and work equally well on the bench as they do in the dirt. They are soft enough to provide resistance when shooting on wood or concrete, so they do not slide around when loading the bipod. They are also rugged and strong enough that they do not get torn up when rammed into dirt or rocks.
The main bipod body is what does much of the work. The knurled knob on the bottom of the picture below is the tension adjustment for the Atlas. Turning the knob clockwise (in the direction of the arrow) tightens the bipod swivel mechanism, while turning it counter-clockwise loosens it. You can tighten the bipod by hand very tight, so that it takes a great deal of force to move the swivel, or you can run it very lose. It is entirely up to the user, and the adjustment is very forgiving. It is not finicky at all, and easy to set where you want it. The swivel function allows a full 30 degrees of motion to pan left or right, and a full 30 degrees to cant the rifle left or right. This allows you to setup solid and still get a level crosshair on uneven terrain, as well as track moving targets without having to disengage the bipod. If you setup on target at 12 O'clock, you'll have 15 degrees on either side before you run out of adjustment. To put this in perspective, a typical mil-dot reticle will have at least 4 mils on each side of the crosshair. 30 degrees is equal to just over 520 mils of panning capability without having to disengage the bipod! For those of you familiar with the harris bipods, they do not have this ability. They can "cant" but they can not "pan." Well, not without one of the legs folding up and dropping the rifle to the ground anyway.
Here you see the ADM lever QD mount that comes on the BT10-LW17 Atlas. The older versions of the Atlas used a larue mount. I was VERY happy to see B&T switch to the ADM mounts. This also illustrates the diversity of attachment on the Atlas. Virtually any mount can be designed to interface with the bipod, so it can be attached to just about anything. Unfortunately, I failed to get a picture of the AI spigot on my AICS chassis. I do cover it in the video however.
I've been using these bipod's for the last couple years, and the Atlas has become a requirement on all of my long range rifles. Quite literally, they have made me a better shooter. Obviously the burden of following the fundamentals of shooting are on the shooter, but anything that makes it easier for me to make that accurate shot when I need to is welcomed in my book.
For me, the company producing the product is just as important as the product itself. When I buy equipment, I want to know that the company will stand behind it and help me out when I need it. Kasey and his people at B&T Industries are quite literally some of the best I've dealt with in the firearms industry. They are a 100% American company using 100% American labor and materials. Kasey, despite his success is quite humble, and will spend as much time as necessary ensuring you have a good experience. He is also VERY open to customer feedback about their products. As a matter of fact, I had called and given Kasey an idea for an adjustable AI spigot that would tighten up the engagement between the Atlas and the AI chassis. It was not more than 6 months, and the idea we discussed on the phone was in full production.
That brings me to another great area of B&T, and that is their service! If they produce an upgraded feature to a product you already own, you can send in your old one, and they will upgrade it for you at a nominal cost. The upgraded AI spigot was a very cheap item, and when I sent in my bipods to have the legs upgraded, it too was very inexpensive compared to the cost of buying a new unit. Both bipod's I sent in to be upgraded, returned in excellent repair. The fact that the option is even available is very cool in my opinion. Turn around time was very quick. It was not more than 2 weeks, and they were back in my hands.
The price of the Atlas may turn people off a bit at first. With the lever QD mount, it comes in right around $280. When I am asked, and I tell people, I'm immediately met with "Holy crap!!! I can buy a harris bipod for $90!!!" To most of those people, it seems an extraordinary amount of money for a bipod. Until I start talking about the specifics of the problem at hand. Achieving a stable shooting position is the singular most important thing, beyond the fundamentals, of making a long range shot. If your crosshairs are wobbling all over the target, the likelihood of you making that hit is very small. Generally, my rifle has three contact points with the ground, two of those contact points are the legs on my bipod, with the third being my TAB Gear rear bag. Why would I NOT want every benefit afforded by a versatile and stable bipod to ensure that 2/3rds of my rifles contact with the ground is as solid as can be? This is exactly what the Atlas brings to the table above and beyond the old standby, harris bipod's.
So while the price may be outside of what is comfortable, after using one for a while, you soon forget what you payed for it. It is one of those items that must be used to be believed. If you buy one and do not like it, you definitely will not have a problem selling it! This bipod is in extremely high demand, and rightfully so, as I believe it to be the best bipod money can buy for precision rifle work.
We usually have Atlas bipods in stock, so if you'd like one, give us a call!