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Propellant Profiles
Rifle Magazine
March - April 2005
Volume 37, Number 2
ISSN: 0162-3583
Number 218
On the cover...
The Remington Model 504 is chambered in 17 Mach 2 and topped off with a Kahles scope. The Weatherby Vanguard Outfitter Custom rifle features Teflon coatings and special order stocks. Photo by Stan Trzoniec.
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The occupational hazards gun writers face include black-and-blue shoulders, bruised cheeks, scope-savaged eyebrows and (occasionally) even detached retinas. These injuries are incurred at the shooting bench as we fire round after painful round of hard-kicking super-magnums. When you shoot from a sandbagged bench, your body can’t roll with the punches. Rifles that behave like pussycats when fired offhand at a running deer can really pound your shoulder after a dozen rounds at the bench.

I recently discovered a great solution. A few days after I’d sighted in a .338 Winchester, .270 Weatherby and .375 H&H Magnum in quick succession, I visited Battenfeld Technologies, Inc. in Columbia, Missouri. Among the several products I saw was an innovative shooting rest called the Caldwell Lead Sled. I’m not sure why it’s called a sled, because the rest is specifically designed to prevent it from sliding – or for that matter, moving at all.

The Lead Sled is a deceptively simple-looking device – a tubular steel framework with a padded butt support at one end and a sandbagged platform at the other. Underneath this arrangement lies a sturdy curved-steel tray. The whole thing is supported by robust, rubber-tipped legs.

By itself, the Lead Sled tips the scales at a solid 17 pounds. While even this much heft helps tame recoil, the real beauty – and startling effectiveness – of the sled comes after you’ve placed one or two 25-pound bags of lead shot on the tray. With two shot bags in place, the Lead Sled weighs an impressive 67 pounds. Add the weight of the rifle and scope, and you have a shooting platform with enough mass to resist recoil from the stoutest rounds. Even a .458 Lott won’t move this rest.

At Battenfeld I saw a jaw-dropping demonstration. A .416 magnum was positioned on the rest, then a wine glass was placed between the Lead Sled butt rest and the shooter’s shoulder. You guessed it – firing the usually hard-kicking magnum didn’t even crack the glass. As if this wasn’t proof enough of the Lead Sled’s effectiveness, the test was repeated – only this time a fresh (not boiled, I checked!) egg replaced the wine glass. Again the rifle was fired, and the egg survived unscathed.

I should have ordered a Lead Sled on the spot, but I was apparently brain-dead at the time. I got busy with hunting trips and too many things at home, and the demonstration slipped my mind. Later, when I was sighting-in and test firing a .458 Winchester Magnum, I recalled the demonstration. A quick call to the folks at Battenfeld produced a Lead Sled in short order.

With a single 25-pound bag of shot in its tray, the Lead Sled is supposed to be 80 percent effective in lessening recoil to your shoulder. Adding a second bag of shot makes kick even less apparent. With two shot bags in place, recoil is said to be reduced by some 90 percent. What’s more, the harder the gun recoils, the more effective the Lead Sled is claimed to be.

If anything, those claims are understated. I’ve shot 3 1/2-inch magnum 12-gauge slug guns and a .458 Winchester Magnum launching 510-grain factory loads from the Lead Sled – at length – without flinching. This is hands-down the most effective anti-recoil device I’ve ever used.

In addition to saving my tender shoulder untold punishment when firing lightweight rifles in big-bore chamberings, the Lead Sled allows me to shoot tighter groups with softer-kicking firearms. Recoil is cumulative when you spend an afternoon testing various loads. This eventually affects accuracy, even with powder-puff cartridges like the .22-250 Remington, .243 Winchester or 7mm-08. Using the Lead Sled effectively eliminates flinching – period!

The Lead Sled isn’t perfect. The 25-pound bags of shot (you’ll need two for maximum effectiveness) added to the sled’s “bare-bones” heft makes for a bulky package too heavy to lug very far from the truck. You also need a front sandbag to rest your rifle forend on, along with a sturdy bench to support the unit. Those minor drawbacks aside, the Lead Sled is one heckuva shooting accessory. If you’re allergic to recoil but like magnum rifles, the Lead Sled is the best answer I’m aware of. Too bad it’s not light and portable enough to carry afield.

The Caldwell Lead Sled lists for $139. If your local gun store doesn’t have one in stock, the Lead Sled can be ordered from Battenfeld Technologies, Inc., Dept. R, 5885 West Van Horn Tavern Road, Columbia MO 65203; telephone toll-free: 1-877-509-9160; or online at:

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