Anyone serious about long-range accuracy needs a bipod. Bolt-action hunters have long appreciated the potential stability that comes from shooting from the prone position, but the vast majority of AR-15 owners are still not sold on what is one of the single-best AR-15 upgrades you can make.
Do You Need a Rifle Bipod?
This question should be answered honestly based on the intended purpose of your gun. If your AR-15 is built as a close-quarters defensive carbine, a bipod might be superfluous. But if you want an all-around gun that can connect at distance, the bipod is a must-have.
Consider shooting prone. The prone position, as every sniper knows, is the single most stable shooting position. Not only are you far more difficult to see and identify, but your body is in close contact, all the way to your toes. You can even feel your breathing differently when your chest is in contact with the ground.
And a bipod provides a solid, triangular base of support for a forend. This may not seem like it would add much versatility to a rifle platform, but the stability makes glassing your target easier. The additional stability allows you to dial a scope without losing the target picture.
Why use a bipod?
The term bipod comes from two Greek and Latin terms, “Bi” meaning two and “Pod” meaning foot.
So it adds up that a rifle bipod is a two-legged platform that’s mounted at the forend of a weapon. Geometrically speaking, a rifle bipod provides a shooter with stability both horizontally and vertically.
Increased stability, as implied above, can translate directly into a greater potential for accuracy. If everything else is working (your trigger control, your ammunition pairing, your optic’s performance, your understanding of ballistics and drop and spin drift, etc.) a stable gun will connect all of the elements together.
Choosing bipod height for AR platform rifles
Most bolt-action rifles are easy to use with bipods. Their magazines rarely extend too far beyond the bottom of the stock. But an AR or a lever-action…, those can pose problems.
There are two ways to address this for the AR platform. The first is to find a bipod that has legs like a supermodel. This allows normal 30 round mags to clear the ground. In practice, this can make for an awkward shooting position, though, as you have to stretch up to get to the proper eye relief on an optic. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t optimal.
The best option is to pick a perfect bipod–the best design and fit and function–and then pick a magazine with a smaller profile (i.e. round count).
This puts off some AR-15 owners who think the bare-minimum capacity for an AR mag should be 30 rounds–but a good 10 or 20 round mag will allow you to get lower on the gun, change mags while the gun is in position on a bipod, and even do accuracy testing and zeroing from many bench rests.
Types of bipod
There’s a variety of different types of bipods – different heights, heavy-duty or lightweight versions. Here are the main bipod options to be aware of:
A traditional bipod is a simple two-legged stand that holds the weapon upright, generally, they utilize both swivel studs or Picatinny rail attachments. The legs can be folded up for easy transportation and locked into place, and many models of bipods offer adjustable legs that allow more shooting positions.
Rubberized feet provide greater friction and grip, and the supporting legs adjust to varying heights to accommodate different shooting positions.
Grip pods are bipods that are deployed from a foregrip mounted at the fore-end of an AR-15. Grip pods are a standard issue for military personnel, such as infantrymen or heavy machine gunners who need to rapidly transition between standing and prone shooting positions.
Affixing a Grip pod is as simple as attaching a conventional foregrip to a weapon depending on the rail system or handguard your AR-15 has.
Monopods are a lot like a conventional shooting sticks. If you’re unsure of what a shooting stick is, it’s basically a single-legged shooting platform.
AR-15 specific monopods mount straight to the rail system and can be folded up while they’re not in use. While deployed, monopods can be adjusted to accommodate lengths up to around 4.5-5.5 inches.
One issue with monopods is they can’t be attached to swivel mounts, so you must reset your position to engage a new target.
Bipod Mount Types
Picatinny Bipod Mount
A preferred method, for convenience and durability, these bipod mounts affix directly to a quad rail or a Picatinny rail segment of a handguard.
Picatinny rails allow for accessories to be attached to the weapon without any gunsmithing and often offer quick detachment capability, usually in the form of a retention pin should the need arise to attach or remove the bipod in a hurry without sacrificing stability.
Stud Bipod Mount
Stud bipod mounts affix to the fore-end of the AR-15 by removing the handguard off the weapon and screwing the bipod stud directly into the backplate.
Stud mounts have a flange for attaching a bipod that swivels and pivots regardless of the style of bipod you use.
Keymod Bipod Mount
Keymod rail systems are designed for attaching Keymod compatible accessories to an AR-15.
Installing a bipod mount is simple, select the keyholes you want to mount the bipod mount to, slide it to the forward position and tighten the retention screw.
M-Lok Bipod Mount
The M-Lok system is essentially Magpul’s take on the Keymod system. The M-Lok system uses narrow slats and T shape mounting lugs in place of keyholes.
M-Lok bipod mounts can be affixed at the front or rear of the slot, so you have greater customization in terms of bipod placement.
One Last Tip
If there’s anyone that knows the AR-15 platform, it’s the US military. As a special offer for our readers, you can get the Official US Army Manual for AR-15/M4/M16 right now – for free. Click here to snag a copy.