A stable rest is an imperative to shooting a firearm accurately. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. There are several pieces of gear meant to address this, between shooting bags, benchrests, and bipods - both attached to the firearm or separate. The advantages to attached bipods are purely convenience: it travels with the rifle, easy to deploy, and rock solid.
While Harris style bipods are the current standard for weapon mounted bipods, they are not the end all be all. They typically mount to the bottom of the forend, via a sling swivel stud or a 1913 picatinny rail with an adaptor. The legs fold at a 90 degree angle (typically parallel to the barrel) when not in use, and fold down to a perpendicular angle. The legs typically extend via manually pulling or a button press, and collapse either by a button, pressure, or a combination of both. The weaknesses to this design is discomfort when slung behind the back, as the bipod edges dig into the shooters back or shoulder, requiring an alternate sling mounting option. Another negative is the loss of real estate under the forearm which could be used for grips or lights, and they limit how low your rifle sits to the ground, which translates to increased muzzle rise during recoil.
With the proliferation of modern sporting rifles and tactical rifle chassis with picatinny accessory rails, bipod designs have adapted to also be modular. One such bipod is theTangoDown ACB-4 bipod. The ACB-4 Bipod was engineered specifically for current M16A4/ M4 / MK 11-type rifles with minimal ergonomic or weight impact. Constructed of light weight aluminum forgings and advanced polymers, the ACB-4 attaches directly to any picatinny 1913 rail and folds closely to the weapon for a low, snag-free profile. It can also be used with the BPM-1 adapter, which takes attached to the swivel stud of most bolt action rifles.
The VLTOR MP-1 ModPod is variation of the TangoDown ACB-4 bipod system. The ModPod comes as two separate legs constructed of polymer that mount to rails on either side of the forearm/handguard in the 3 and 9 o’clock position. The advantage to this configuration is the legs can swivel and lock in a detent every 90 degrees. Than means they fold up along side of the barrel in either direction. Thats right, depending on the length of your handguard, you could possible have the legs fold toward the shooter, or traditionally away from the shooter when not in use. This leaves the bottom portion of the firearm's forend free for sling attachment, grips or other accessories (M203 Grenade Launcher, anyone?) The bipod feet are also nicely designed, like a duck foot with aggressive texture underneath.
The disadvantages to this VLTOR design are three fold. First, it's much slower and clumsier to deploy. First, the large diameter buttons on each leg are easy depress and its possible to do with only one hand, but you still need to pivot each leg into the desired position individually. You could use both hands and operate both legs simultaneously, but the rifle would have to be resting on its butt, or slung perhaps. Secondly, each leg's length adjustment is very small - only 2.5 inches total. Most bipods are usually 9"-13" in adjustment and longer in different variations. Not to mention the adjustment of each leg does require both hands to adjust, you have to press hard against an oval button with one hand and pull the leg in or our til the button pops into the next slot. The third issue which is minor and differs between what rifle you intend to use... is the large round axis point that protrudes up into the area of the top rail. This can interfere with certain flip up iron sights, lasers, and other accessories. Mounted to my AR-15 with a Parallax Tactical FFSSR handguard, the axis points actually contact the Magpul MBUS front sight. A different front sight would solve this, but to me the button diameter of the ModPod is a bit larger than I think it really needs to be.
With those issues pointed out, you may be wondering why even bother? Considering the price of about $180 retail, I might tend to agree with that question. Only 4 inches of adjustment, the ModPod is an extremely short rest, but that's its greatest strength. I see the ModPod specifically intended for modern sporting rifles AKA defensive rifles, or assault rifles if you are military or law enforcement and have the pleasure of enjoying select fire. Rifles like the FN SCAR, Bushmaster ACR, M4 Carbine, M249 SAW, and other railed firearms that would benefit from a low profile bipod that folds along the body/barrel. You could attach these to a AR Pistol, SBR, carbine length, mid length, or full rifle length platform. Heck, you could even attach the ModPod to AK47/74 type rifles with the right handguard setup.
The modular capabilities of the VLTOR ModPod are its key selling point, for low prone shooting or benchrest shooting. In a combat theater, the low profile of the ModPod is more advantageous for snag-free concerns as well as keeping the shooter lower and less exposed. With a bolt action rifle sporting a tactical chassis (or just frankenstein bolt rail sections into the forearm) these bipod legs are great as well. My intent and purpose for buying this bipod was to install on a Remington 700 with a Magpul Hunter chassis (when they finally ship!) for the simply comfort of carrying when slung. I will update my review with pictures as soon as I have them installed.
Firearms Insider Reviews – 8 Key Points
Claim to Fame: The MP-1 Modpod has individual bipod leg that attach to side rails, allowing the user to have an unobstructed lower rail.
Target Market: Modern Sporting Rifle owners, Long Guns w/ Chassis
FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):
- Mounts to any weapon that features a 3 and 9 o’clock position Picatinny railed handguard/rail system
- Legs rotate 360 degrees, locking every 90 degrees
- Simple and silent push button operation for each leg
- Self-contained hardware with no small part to lose
- Allows for the use of an M203 Grenade Launcher, forgrips or lights/lasers
- Feet are adjustable for three different lengths
- Impact and temperature resistant polymer
- Matte anti-reflection/anti-glare finish
- Weight: 10.6oz
- Length collapsed (from centerline of pivot): 8.430 inches
- Length extended (from the centerline of pivot): 10.940 inches
- Metal components are both stainless steel and aircraft-grade aluminum
What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Black, Flat Dark Earth
What others are saying?: "EXPENSIVE BUT WORTH IT. Love this bipod system. I use this on my M4 with excelent results. Yes they are polymer but in reguards to this product that is a positive, the material is strong yet light weight, and easily withstands heavy recoil. This bipod also gives you the ability to rotate in place slightly without changing postitions. I will be buying another one for my hunting rifle as I think it would work out well." Brownells User Review
"Great bi pod. I use a lot of my rail space for other things so to save space is essential to me. Awesome sleek low pro look too. My only complaint is that one side seems to be looser then the other. I can't find a way to tighten it but it works fine. I would definitely recommend it." Amazon User Review
"4 stars: Very nice bipod arrangement. I took a star away for being overpriced. I mounted it so that when folded back it tucks nicely in above the side rail." Amazon User Review
- Silent operation, rotates every 90 degrees
- Frees up bottom rail or stock area, more comfortable when slung over shoulder
- Two handed operation of telescoping legs for both expanding and collapsing
- Wingnut style thumbscrew gets in the way of some top rail mounted accessories
- Way overpriced in my opinion for its function and material