Finally, Caldwell designed a shooting rest specifically for shooting ARs at the bench
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Traditional rifle rests leave much to be desired when shooting ARs at the bench. Most do not provide the vertical clearance you need when using standard AR magazines, or the stability you need when trying to accurately shoot budget-priced ARs that come with lousy triggers. I’ve tested a lot of rifle rests over the years, and I’ve never been entirely happy with any of them for shooting ARs. That quickly changed when I tested the Caldwell Precision Turret rest.
Part Rest, Part Vice
The Precision Turret rest is, hands down, the best rest I’ve ever used for zeroing and practicing with ARs at the bench. It works so well because it was engineered specifically to accommodate the unique characteristics of AR rifles. The result is a compact tripod unit that’s part vice and part rest, equipped with variable-tension pan and tilt controls. In appearance, it looks more like a small machine gun tripod than anything else.
To use the Precision Turret, you simply insert the handguard of the rifle into the rubberized, non-marring jaws of the clamp while resting the pistol grip on an ingeniously designed small shelf at the rear of the unit. You then use a large wheel on the left side of the unit to tighten the clamp and lock the gun into place. The clamp automatically centers the forearm.
Smooth Pan and Tilt Functions
The Precision Turret’s extendable front leg provides up to six inches of vertical adjustment. A wheel on the right side of the unit controls the tension of the tilt function. You can lock it down if you wish, but I prefer to leave it a bit loose. This tilt feature is especially helpful in allowing you to raise the buttstock of the rifle, replace a magazine, and return the rifle to its original position. You can make fine elevation adjustments using a wheel beneath the micro-adjustable pistol grip attachment that you rest the pistol grip on. You can use the rest with traditional rifles by removing the pistol grip attachment, but this unit is best employed as a dedicated rest for ARs.
Beneath the clamp-tightening wheel, you will find a smaller wheel that controls the tension of the ball-bearing panning system. This allows you to pan or swivel through a 58-degree arc using a gun with a 30-round magazine. The Precision Turret’s controls work in concert to minimize time wasted readjusting the shooting rest from shot to shot. This translates into more time shooting, or a shorter session at the range if you’re in a hurry.
Works With 30-Round Magazines
The Precision Turret rest is wonderfully compact and has a small footprint on the bench. With the front leg fully extended, the unit measures 22 inches long and 13 inches wide across the rear legs. This may be too long for some skinny indoor-range benches, but it works nicely with almost any outdoor-range bench. Note that, in this case, compact does not mean flimsy or rickety. The Precision Turret has heavy-duty components and is built like a tank. I measured the unit’s weight at 9 lbs., 14 oz. This weight, combined with rubber feet on the end of the legs, helps minimize shot-to-shot movement from recoil.
For testing, I did not initially use an AR-15. Rather, I used the Ruger SFAR (Small Frame Autoloading Rifle), which is essentially an AR-10, chambered in 308 Win., in an AR-15-sized package. If the rest performed well with this lightweight rifle in 308 Win., I figured it would easily handle rifles in other common AR chamberings. Once I had the rifle positioned, the crosshairs of the Leupold Mark 4 4.5-15x50mm scope mounted on the rifle were as steady as a predator’s stare. I also found it easy to position my eye properly and consistently behind the scope.
Precision Turret Rest is Rock-Solid at the Range
The results were surprising and in a good way. The first three-shot test group I fired at 100 yards measured just 0.39 inches. Mind you, that was not with a match load. It was with hunting ammo in the form of a Hornady 150-grain American Whitetail 308 Win. load. That is the tightest group this rifle has ever fired with this load, and other tested loads produced excellent results. I subsequently tested the rest with a Wilson Combat Recon Tactical rifle in 5.56, and shot some stellar groups. If you want to find out just how accurate your AR can be – and do so with a minimum of hassle – this is the rest to use.
My only mild criticism of the Precision Turret is that you have to assemble it out of the box. Pro tip: wait until you have everything put together to fully tighten the bolts. Assembly was not terribly difficult and took only a few minutes. That’s a small price to pay for a rest that works so well and is so affordably priced. The Caldwell Precision Turret has a MSRP of just $179.99, but you can find it for about $50 less with a bit of shopping.