Bipods are one of the accessories for an AR rifle that is bought after assembly of the rifle/optic package. For long-range shooting, competition, hunting or just because you want something to keep your rifle up off the ground away from dirt, sand, water, and mud.
Bipods, what to look for:
First, a bipod that attaches to your barrel will affect accuracy. The first bipods issued with the M16 clamped on the barrel below the front sight base, behind the bayonet lug. They were intended to provide support for fully automatic fire in the automatic rifleman mode. Accuracy was not a priority when sending rounds down range at 700 rounds per minute. Pressure on the bipod caused the barrel to flex, raising the bullet point of impact.
Stay away from anything attached directly to your rifle barrel if accuracy is first in your mind.
For accurate, consistent shooting, you need a handguard attachment system that puts little to no stress on the barrel. You want barrel harmonics to remain constant shot to shot. There are three types common to AR-style rifles.
First is the 1913 Picatinny rail. The majority of handguards produced today can mount to a short section of rail on the bottom of the handguard. If they do not already have a rail installed Keymod, Mlok, and other types have mounts which install in minutes.
I prefer the Picatinny style mounts for ease of assembly, and durability. They also dismount easily when having the bipod on your barrel is not an advantage when moving in thick brush, when using a pack or sandbag, when shooting through a very low firing port in competition or when nothing seems to fit right in difficult hunting situations.
The second most common is the MLOK and KeyMod attachment to the handguard. The bipod either has a direct attachment option or comes with a 1913 rail. If you have either of these handguards and also use a rail-mounted bipod, you can switch the bipod between rifles with a small accessory rail. Of the two, the MLOK seems to be more popular.
The third is the A.R.M.S. system. It is proprietary, needs a specialty rail to fit and unless you get a deal on something fitting this, or you already have this system in your gearbox I'd steer away from it just for interchangeability reasons.
GG&G is the Cadillac of heavy-duty bipods. The US military fields them for use on DMR and sniper systems.
It mounts to any rifle with a 6 o'clock rail section, adjusts silently from 7"-9.5" and cant 25 degrees from either side of vertical. No tools are needed to adjust tension or leg length. This length bipod is ideal for shooting competitions; from a tree stand with a built-in rifle rest, prone or over a handy log or rock. It is hard coated flat black and weighs 11.5 ozs.
The Atlas PSR is a sleeper in the world of bipods. They are made from 6061 aluminum, hard anodized black with soft rubber feet. Very quiet to deploy to any of the four leg positions and each leg is adjustable alone. The bipod legs can be loaded in any position, 90 degrees, 45 degrees fore and aft, and fully forward and rear. Height adjustment range from 5 inches to 9 inches when in the 90-degree position. It mounts on a 1913 Picatinny rail with a screw or throw lever and tension is adjustable with the large thumbscrew.
There is slightly less pan and tilt in this than others (15 degrees), but it works well mounted on the rifle.
Shooters wanting a simple, durable and multi-option mounting system bipod look no farther.
The Magpul Industries bipod is perfect for the casual shooter or hunter. It is lightweight; legs are independently adjustable. The feet are interchangeable using a roll pin punch. And they are interchangeable with ATLAS bipod feet.
Unlike most things from Magpul, this is manufactured from 6061 aluminum. Lightweight at 11 oz and has the option of colors; Black and Flat Dark Earth (FDE). Other options include A.R.M.S. mount, 1913 Picatinny rail or MLOK.
For a lightweight carbine, this is the perfect match.
If you use an AR-pattern rifle for hunting, this Caldwell is the bipod for you.
Ideal for use sitting on a stand calling predators as well as big game hunting. The longer legs lift the rifle above the long grass and low brush, allowing a steady shot at longer ranges. It also frees your hands to use a call or radio.
The legs extend from 13-30 inches, swivels in a full 360 degrees and cant to 10 degrees. It mounts on MLOK and KeyMod systems and weighs in at 12 ozs. Less than 1 oz difference from the above bipods with considerable advantage for the hunter with longer legs. I spray painted mine, FDE and OD green. This works best on a heavier rifle or teaching new shooters.
I like this Xaegis bipod for my lightweight carbine; the legs fold very close to the sides of the handguard. They are less likely to snag, on either the case or brush. It extends to 8", independently of course and attaches to an MLOK handguard. The adjustments are spring-loaded and easy to use in the dark or while watching your target. This is a low-cost bipod, with no pan or tilt. I use it mostly to keep my rifle out of the dirt on hunting stands while I glass or run a call. It's also useful at competitions to let a hot rifle cool with the bolt open without laying the rifle down.
This is a shortlist of my favorite bipods and the uses I've found for them. I am both a tactical shooter and hunter; a bipod is a specialized accessory with multiple uses depending on your situation.
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Prices accurate at time of writing