If the truth be known, shooting benches can be pure evil. Especially when you are attempting to make an accurate shot at very long range when fractions of an inch count.
In the field most long range rifle shots are made from the prone position from a bipod at minimum. That is if you see that target from the prone position which sometimes is impossible. If you have shot long range much at all you know how unreliable even prone can be.
When you’re on a good prairie dog town, a farmer has asked you to reduce the crow population on his property, or you have just found a good place to shoot that offers exceptional challenges at long range, a good portable shooting bench can make the trip much more enjoyable.
But if that bench is slightly rocking due to uneven legs, or just too flimsy to get really stable, it can go a long way toward helping you increase the number of vulgar words in your vocabulary. Back to my first statement, a bad bench can be just plain evil.
First rule of long range accuracy
An old long range shooting mentor of mine told me what the first rule of long range shooting is many years ago. Because it is so simple I sometimes over look it but always come back to it in the end. “If you can’t get a steady hold, don’t take the shot, save the nickel”. You can tell how long ago this was when nickel and long range shooting are mentioned in the same sentence.
What is a good portable shooting bench?
Of course the first requirement is that the bench folds or collapses into an easily transportable unit. Not everyone has a giant truck that allows them to fill up the entire bed with a shooting bench. Even if they did a big awkward bench would be a pain to handle and would probably be left at home more often than not.
We can easily build a stable shooting bench from 2x4s but you would need a crane and 6 body builders to load it into your vehicle and get it out and set up at your destination. It needs to be lightweight so older guys like me can easily load and unload from our vehicle. In addition, the cost of materials and your time to build it would be far more than the prices of units that are on the market now.
Usually when something is designed to fold up or collapse into a smaller unit, the stability of the unit when in use is not very good. A good portable shooting bench will be both compact and sturdy when unfolded. A good shooting bench is not like a fold up card table.
The good ones are designed to be rocks. If there are bearings involved they should be double bearings to make sure there is no flex. Hinges should be strong enough to prevent wobble or rocking due to flex.
A good bench should be easily set up and accomodate any necessary movement. For instance, using the bench for hunting in a ground blind or on a prairie dog town, your rifle direction needs to be easily changed without a lot of trouble. Preferably the entire unit, table and seat, should rotate 360 degrees without disturbing rifle position.
You need to able to leave the bench without having to climb out of it. All supports should easily move out of the way. There should be a method designed into it that allows you to easily carry it for a long distance in case you can’t drive where you will use it.
Being hauled around in trucks or cars while being subjected to hunting and range conditions can be hard on equipment. Any shooting bench should be durable enough to withstand the abuse it will be exposed to. They are not cheap so they should be expected to last for years.
Why does anyone need a portable shooting bench?
As long range shooters, we have the luxury of not having to be very mobile when hunting….or shooting at targets. Instead of having to narrow the distance between us and our target, if we can see it, we can usually just take the shot from where we are. That is our game.
Being accurate at doing this, especially when hunting, is very important. Nothing matters more than making a humane kill. If you are not yet accurate enough to do this, don’t take the shot. Wait until you have a closer shot where you can make a quick kill.
If you are an experienced hunter and have hunted from ground level, you know that very rarely will you be able to take a shot from the prone position simply because when you are at ground level, there is more often than not a lot of things in your way like rocks, bushes, hills, etc.
We have all been to ranges or shooting areas that didn’t have sufficient benches to shoot from. When shooting for accuracy, there is nothing worse than leaving the range after a poor performance not knowing it there is problem with your equpment or was your technique off because you couldn’t get a stable shooting position. One of these little benches eliminates that issue.
#1 Recommended Portable Shooting Benches
Weighs approximately 22 pounds with a maximum height of 41 inches and weight limit of 300lbs With a dual frame for maximum stability, upper frame balance point adjustment, wide polymer feet, a tension knob for tilting the frame up/down and independent adjustable front/rear supports, this rest is solid before, during and after every shot
This rest features over molded, non-marring rear stock and front forend support that will securely hold your gun without damaging any point of contact A tension knob is conveniently placed to allow for quick and easy adjustments of the upper frame and the chair can swivel 360°.
This rest is lightweight, durable and quickly folds up for easy transport with the shoulder backpack straps This rest features a dual frame construction and upper frame length adjustment for use with any size rifles and even crossbows making this rest great for ground blinds, predator hunting, long range rifle shooting and turkey hunting
Extend your effective shooting range by stabilizing the entire weight of your gun or crossbow. Holds your weapon securely in the ready position, while freeing up your hands for binoculars, a range finder or warm pockets on a cold day.
Innovative multi-bearing swing arm system provides smooth and stable movement from extreme angles, with minimal body movement, to get on target no matter where it is. Stay comfortable all day in this heavy duty chair with built-in post and swing arm assembly. Easily folds and has straps for carry like a small backpack.
I own this bench and can say that in the last 30 years I have been through several not because the rest is not durable, but because I have given one to my son and another to an old friend and they are both still being used today. I purchased the new one a year or so ago.
One thing I really like is the dual bearing set up so no wobble is present. The back pack straps also come in really handy. It is extremely light weight allowing you to carry it easily on your shoulder for long distances, or you can utilize the straps that come with it to carry it backpack style.
#2 Recommended Portable Shooting Bench
The highly durable, weatherproof tabletop is 34”x23” and the padded seat adjusts from 16”-22” in height with a weight limit of is 275 pounds Table features a quick-release pin for easy seat height adjustment, an adjustable leg angle for use on uneven terrain and all movements can be locked to ensure a secure shooting bench
A padded seat for prolonged shooting comfort, and a perimeter rail to keep ammunition from rolling off the benchtop with a quick-release pin for easy takedown and molded carrying handles to allow for easy transport
Two cleaning forks are included that fit in the carrying handles of the benchtop and the holes on the legs allow for stakes or anchors (not included) to be inserted for increased stability Benchtop features a tubular steel construction, a reinforced welded steel frame and a weatherproof tabletop
The Stable Table is purpose-built to be the finest value-priced shooting bench in the market. The tripod design is more rigid and has fewer joints than folding-style benches and is appropriate for a wider variety of shooting conditions and disciplines.
A bolt in the base allows position adjustment of a single leg, aligning the tabletop so that it is parallel with the horizon. The central shaft, seat and tabletop are able to pivot around a center axis as a single unit while keeping the tabletop parallel to the horizon.
This allows the user to make shots at any angle from a single setup – ideal for varmint hunting. The bench can easily be locked into a single shooting position if desired. The table top is made from molded plastic with a rigid metal under-frame.
The top measures 34” x 23” and it includes holes that function as handles for easy transport or as holders for the included cleaning forks as well as a perimeter rail that keeps ammunition from rolling off the bench top. The entire frame is made from welded steel. The padded seat adjusts from 16” to 22” and rotates in tandem with the tabletop. Convenient cleaning forks are included that snap into position in the top and securely hold a gun for cleaning.
The shooting bench breaks down into seven pieces and weighs a total of 60 pounds when assembled. The stability of this bench is exceptional but it is a little awkward to carry for long distances because it breaks down into 3 pieces.
All 3 pieces together weigh around 60 lbs. A friend of mine owns this one and mounted in the bed of his truck. It works great for any activity that allows shooting from the truck.
#3 Recommended Portable Shooting Bench
Weighs approximately 24 pounds and is 30 inches Long x 12 inches Wide With windage adjustment, up to 2.5inches of front elevation adjustment, rear elevation adjustment, recoil reducing rear cradle and a baffled weight tray for up to 100lbs of lead shot (not included), this rest is solid during and after every shot
This rest features a skeletonized front rest, a rear cradle and no-skid rubber feet all with non-marring material that will securely hold your gun without damaging any point of contact
Adjustment knobs are conveniently placed to allow for easy adjustments that do not require removing the gun from the rest With a dual frame design and 18 inches of length adjustment this rest can fit rifles and shotguns of virtually any size.
It also handles ARs or rifles with extra long mags without having to cant the weapon.
This is not a shooting bench per se, but it is a great portable replacement for one. It can be used from the ground, the hood of you truck, a large rock, etc. Don’t waste your time buying a cheap shooting bench that will kill your accuracy and break within a year.
Go ahead and buy a good one. These recommendations are the best that I know of. Happy shooting