Like most gun guys I have a long-distance rifle setup. Over the years, I've used old blankets and the like while shooting prone to help pad the ground and give some comfort. If you're like me and done this, you've noticed the ground is hard, cold and sometimes wet. A simple blanket does not do the job. I like to be comfortable when I shoot and started giving some serious thought to getting a good shooting mat for prone shooting. After some research, I've found several options that caught my eye and thought I'd share them here.
On the low end of price, I settled on the Cabela's Shooting Mat. I looked at others in its price range and chose the one Cabela's offers. For a first mat that won't break the bank, this mat had all the features I was looking for. Made with a PVC waterproof coated bottom and .5" thick padding, this mat will keep you dry and cushion that hard, possibly rocky, ground. (Comfort is the product's primary purpose.) The mat rolls out to 35.5" wide and 73.5" long, more than big enough for my 5'9", 200 lb frame. It has a non-slip coating that keeps the elbows from slipping while shooting prone (an issue that can cause you to pull your shots). It has two sets of webbing for a bi-pod stop and wings at the head of the mat with two different pouches to keep gear like ammo, pens, and dope sheets conveniently close and protected from the ground. One of the unique things this pad offers that the others in this list do not are gussets at the corners for tent stakes. If you are in a windy environment or are fidgety like me, this keeps the mat and rifle secure in place to give you confidence that you'll be right on target for your next shot. Rolled up to be stored after use and able to be strapped to a pack is a nice feature that brings the size down to 35.5" wide with an 8.5" diameter. With 4.8 stars out of 5 in reviews this mat seems to be a great option. At the price point, this mat is at; it is an excellent option to take a chance and not break the bank.
I've been using Blackhawk products for years and trust them for quality, rugged products. Their Stalker Drag Mat stood out to me for one main reason, versatility. I like my gear to run double duty, and this mat did just that for me. Not only is it a shooter's mat, but it is also a rifle carrying case. When I can have 1 product to carry my gun that unfolds to be a prone shooting mat, I'm pretty happy. This mat is made of 1000 denier nylon and closed-cell foam for durability. Closed it measures 50.5"L x 9"W x 2"D and comes with a removable non-slip coated shoulder strap. While this size may not house "all" precision rifles (especially those with suppressors attached), it does cover the vast majority. Another feature that I like is the integrated elastic ammo loops with protective flap sized to hold 10 .308 rounds inside the bag and next to the shooter on the mat. It also has an internal data book pocket for your dope sheets and internal security loops to keep the rifle in place while it's being transported. The fact that it doubles as a rifle case and it adds the value of whatever you would pay for a nice soft side rifle case for transport. Any time I can do double duty with my gear I'm happy, so this case hits home with me. With 4.7 stars out of 5, I'm considering this to be the next purchase.
While researching shooting mats, I kept coming across the Crosstac Precision Long Range Shooting Mat. After some time on their website, I see why it's so highly recommended. This mat was designed by shooters for shooters and is the mat used by the USA FTR shooting team and multiple US agencies around the country. They make the 36" x 79" mat out of 1000 denier Cordura and a polyurethane coating on the inside for water resistance and repellant on the outside. The foam they use is unique and rated to be used in -20-degree temps without fear of cracking. It has a heavy duty bipod rail sewn into it across the front of the mat for a solid rest every time. Another inherent benefit is the folding design over rolling. The mat tri-folds storing flat for convenience keeps the mat flat on the ground and allows any dirt or mud to fall into the cracks for easier clean-up. It also comes with a handle at the foot that will enable you to drag the mat, with the gun, to the next yardage location. Whether you are shooting at a competition or just putting your new precision rifle through its paces, this mat will help you do the job. If you want to invest in something you know will last, this is my top recommendation.
I have never done this before, but with this article, I'd like to make a couple of honorable mentions. The Midway Pro Series Competition Mat and the US Peacekeeper Tactical Shooting Mat were both in close contention to being added to this list (and for a good reason). Like anything you buy, I recommend doing your research to find what best suits your needs. There are quite a few options out there for shooting mats, and each has its unique features. For me, these were the ones I ultimately narrowed the search down to. Whether you want to go reasonably priced to try it out or go all out to stretch your long gun to its limits, there is an option. Most importantly get what fits you and go out shooting. Remember to be safe and have fun.
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Prices accurate at time of writing