Life is about compromise. Whether it’s a car or a job or a wife (just kidding, babe!), every decision involves give and take. Concealed carry handguns are a classic example in the firearms world. Increased capacity will probably translate to decreased comfort; great concealability likely means more difficult handling.
Bipods are no different. At least, they aren’t anymore.
Stability has always been the name of the game for any kind of shooting sticks. It’s why the first rifleman propped his long gun in the fork of a tree (I assume)—to steady the forend and make a more accurate shot.
But stability has its drawbacks. Stabilizing a rifle, well… it keeps it from moving. Giving shooters the ability to transition between targets has traditionally been accomplished by adding pan and tilt to a bipod. Swagger Bipods thinks it has a better idea. The company that brought us the original Swagger in 2017 has a new line of bipods designed for tactical and competitive use: the Steelbanger Series.
The original Swagger was billed exclusively for hunting applications. It allows hunters to stabilize a shot in virtually any position in the field, and we thought it worked pretty well. The Steelbanger looks more like a traditional bipod, and it’s designed for shooters who want to get on multiple targets quickly. It uses the same spring technology in each leg but only includes about 2.5 inches of additional height.
While you’re giving up the stability of more traditional bipods, you’re also gaining unique benefits you won’t find in any other product. I’ve been using the Steelbanger on my rifles for the last several months, and I’ve gotta say—I’m impressed.
For such a unique product, the design is no-nonsense.
Aluminum legs attach via stiff springs to the main aluminum body and the steel feet are capped with rubber tops. The rubber is great for any flat, slick surface (concrete, wood, etc.) and the bare steel could be used to dig into grass, dirt, and other softer surfaces.
Each leg is deployed using a simple spring-loaded button, which allows the legs to be rotated a full 90 degrees. I was initially disappointed that the Steelbanger didn’t include a 45-degree locking point, but I soon found that the springs provided all the flexibility needed.
The legs can telescope 2.5 inches using a rotating locking mechanism that can be manipulated with one hand. This system features less height adjustment than most modern bipods using traditional designs, but it allows users to lock the legs at any point in that 2.5-inch range. I also found that the spring system gives the bipod a true height range of about six inches (4”-10”), which is almost doubles what Magpul’s similarly priced bipod allows.
The unit attaches to the rifle using cross bolts that fit in any Picatinny rail system. There are currently no options for M-LOK or sling studs, so you’ll have to find a pic rail adapter if you’re looking to attach it to anything else.
There are better options if you’re looking to shoot groups to test the accuracy of your rifle, but they’re not better by much. I found the Steelbanger to be remarkably stable, considering its design, and the flexibility allows for super-fast height adjustment and target acquisition.
Height can be adjusted using the telescoping legs, of course, but also by changing the angle of each leg. Shooting from the prone using my Howa 1500 KRG Bravo, I found that I could achieve the exact height I needed simply by pulling out each leg about two inches.
Transitioning between targets requires nothing more than moving the rifle to point in the proper direction. There are no pan knobs to loosen and the rifle stays in a solid shooting position.
Ease of movement is the same on an uneven surface as well. The springs—combined with a slight leg height adjustment—allow the shooter to keep the rifle level while also panning to the left or the right. This flexibility would be especially useful in a hunting application on uneven terrain or while shooting from barricades in a long-range shooting match.
I should note one problem I ran into. It is possible to push the rifle so far forward that it falls to the ground. This is inevitable with a system that doesn’t use rigidly attached legs, and it can also be mitigated with practice and/or a lighter rifle. But users should keep it in mind.
Adding springs to a bipod doesn’t sound like a recipe for success. The original Swagger was an intuitive concept because if the choice is between no bipod and a bipod with springs, the latter option is obviously more accurate. But will your accuracy suffer while using the Steelbanger in a scenario in which you would otherwise use a standard bipod?
I didn’t find that to be the case. Again, out of an abundance of caution, I wouldn’t shoot groups with this product. But I found that my ability to hit targets wasn’t affected.
As its name implies, the Steelbanger had me ringing six and eight-inch plates at every distance between 100 and 650 yards (the longest distance my range offers) without the benefit of a rear bag. The Steelbanger’s flexibility allowed me to keep the rifle as low to the ground as possible, so my left hand was enough to steady the rear of the stock.
I also didn’t notice any appreciable wobble while shooting. I didn’t feel like I was hitting targets despite the bipod. Everything felt and looked as stable as when using a more traditional system.
In most applications, I think the benefits of the Steelbanger outweigh the costs. The added flexibility is handy not only in competition but also during a normal trip to the range. It would also be a great tool on the hunt. It’s slightly heavier than other options (15 ounces), but it would allow a hunter to follow more easily a moving target on an uneven shooting surface.
And the “costs” in this case aren’t even that taxing. Accuracy isn’t affected in most practical applications and the spring-loaded legs provide more than enough stability.
If you’re in the market for a new bipod, the Steelbanger is worth a look. It isn’t like any bipod you’ve ever owned before, and I think that’s a good thing.
You can purchase a Steelbanger directly from Swagger’s website for $149.99, and the company also sells directly through Amazon, where they’re listed for $117.46.