|October - November 2000
Volume 35, Number
The Kimber Classic Stainless Gold Match .45 ACP is
Varmint Masters BR Pivot Portable
On a recent varmint shoot, I had the
pleasure of using a new portable benchrest from Varmint Masters; but before telling you
how impressed I am with its quality and design, I feel obligated to mention up front how
hazardous it can be to use. The darned thing is so comfortable, even during hours upon
hours of sitting, youre likely to fall asleep while shooting prairie dogs and smash
your face against its top. Since the top is made of edge-bonded strips of one inch thick
oak and ash (like a butcher block), it doesnt yield a lot regardless of how hard
your nose strikes it. Sanded smooth as a babys bottom and stained with a
water-resistant finish, the top measures 26 inches wide and 45 inches deep and easily
reverses for a right- or left-handed shooter. Measured from the ground, the top has a
height adjustment range of 33 to 43 inches and is plenty roomy for a full-sized adjustable
rifle rest up front, a sand-bag at the rear and other stuff such as rifle, binocular,
spotting scope, laser rangefinder, ammo box, a glass of cool lemonade and, of course, the
latest copy of Handloader magazine.
The sturdy top clamps to a 4 inch diameter
post machined from aircraft-grade aluminum tubing, and since the top is capable of
rotating 360 degrees, no varmint in any direction is safe. When defending your position
from hoards of crazed prairie dogs, simply rotate the top as needed and the muzzle of your
rifle is pointing in the exact direction you want it to. The bottom end of the center post
rests inside a Nylatron bushing (which rests inside a steel hub), so the top pivots as if
it were riding in a bucket of grease. Hinged to that same hub are three outrigger-style
legs made of Type 1018 mild steel tubing with a foot-to-foot spread of over 60 inches. A
pivoting flat-bottom foot at the outer end of each leg prevents the rig from sinking into
the ground. Just as important, each leg is cam adjustable for leveling the bench on a mild
sidehill or on uneven ground.
The seat (or stool as its designer
calls it) is what makes the BR Pivot rig so comfortable. Weight tested to 900 pounds, it
is 16 inches in diameter and consists of 3 inches of industrial-grade foam covered by
tough marine-grade naugahyde. The same material is also used to cover the seats in bass
boats, so it is UV resistant and rated for outdoor use. A company that specializes in the
manufacture of dental office furniture makes the seat, so it is the same one your dentist
sits on as he drills your teeth. The seat is bolted to a length of steel tubing, and the
tubing is attached to the center post by a steel sleeve. In addition to having more than
enough height adjustment, the seat also rotates 360 degrees independently of the bench
top, and take it from one who has tried a variety of portable benchrests, that is a very
nice feature to have.
All metal parts of the benchrest
have a powder coat finish, the same industrial-grade skin one sees on high-quality outdoor
playground equipment. Matte tan in color, the finish is nonreflective, UV protected to
prevent fading and peeling and can be left as is or the finish serves as a good base for
the application of camoflauge paint. I left my bench as it came from the factory simply
because its just too darned pretty to mess up with ugly camo paint.
I first used the rig near Valentine,
Nebraska. The wind blew quite hard during that shoot, and yet the BR Pivot remained as
stable as a good-sized boulder. Id say this is due to several factors. For one,
everything fits so closely together, shakes and wobbles between the component parts are
totally eliminated. Second, that huge center post isnt about to give. Third, in
addition to being extremely rigid, the three legs reach way out there. Last but far from
least, the shooters weight actually preloads the entire assembly to the point where
it cant be anything but stable.
As you can see in the photo, the
entire rig takes down, folds up and stows in two zippered bags made of ballistic nylon.
The top goes in one bag and the other three pieces (seat, center post and legs) go in the
other. Made by Red Oxx Mfg. of Billings, Montana, the bags are mil-spec quality and come
with a lifetime guarantee. It takes about a minute to set up the benchrest in the field on
level ground and only a bit longer if the legs have to be adjusted for uneven ground. No
tools are needed for putting the benchrest together or taking it down for storage.
Depending on the type of hardwood used to make the top, total weight will vary from 75 to
80 pounds, not including the weight of the storage bags.
The original version of the BR Pivot rest has
been around for quite some time, but the one I used was actually one of only three
prototypes in existence at the time, and its legs were aluminum rather than steel for
weight reduction. Its designer, Rick Vecqueray, asked me to try the rig even before it had
received his personal inspection, and as luck will almost always have it in a case like
that, I experienced a minor problem with its leg adjustments. Im quick to add,
though, other shooters (such as Randy and Coni Brooks of Barnes Bullets) who were using
the production model with steel legs on the same prairie dog safari experienced no such
problem. As you read this, the prototype Im using is being modified to correct the
minor construction glitch.
In addition to being great to have along on a
varmint shoot, the BR Pivot is just the ticket for those who could care less about varmint
shooting but who do not have access to a permanent benchrest. The range at the gun club I
use has permanent concrete benches, but if it didnt you can bet I would be using a
BR Pivot there. It is not the lightest portable benchrest available, nor is it the least
expensive, but few who try it will disagree with Rick Vecqueray when he says it is the
very best money can buy. To receive prices and a color brochure write to Varmint Masters,
PO Box 6724, Bend OR 97708. A closer look is also available at www.varmintmasters.net.