November 6th, 2015

Monte’s Manfrotto — F-Class Spotting Scope Stand

Spotting Scope Stand Monte Milanuk Manfrotto
Click above image to zoom to larger size.

Here’s a very interesting spotting scope stand, from Forum member (and ace F-Class shooter) Monte Milanuk. You can see this stable rig can be adjusted super-low for prone shooting. The components are from Italian photography accessory maker Manfrotto (but it’s not as expensive as you might think).

Monte tells us about his spotting scope stand, which is really a conventional photography tripod adjusted to a very low position, with a special head:

This stand has a Manfrotto 322RC2 pistol-grip head to make positioning easier. It actually goes even lower, and much, much higher. Both the head and the tripod are about $170-ish each, so it’s a bit more expensive than a Ray-Vin, a little less than a Creedmoor Polecat, and a whole lot more flexible overall.

This Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod is actually a little on the big side – probably should have gone with a Manfrotto 190 model (couple inches shorter on the legs) so it can be a bit of a hassle to set up when you have to shoot two-to-a-mound a la Fullbore.

It’s probably not as [expensive] as you might think… a Ray-Vin F-Class stand (without head) is about $170 from Creedmoor Sports. A Ray-Vin stand head is $150, plus the outrigger attachment is another $100+. I’ve got two of them downstairs for when I used to shoot conventional prone[.]

Comments from Facebook Fans:
Pretty high end setup, should work well for prone, not sure about other positions. — John T.

An excellent and sturdy Manfrotto stand. I have one that I use not only for a spotting scope but to mount the rifle on when allowed for unknown distance tactical matches.–Dennis Santiago

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March 28th, 2014

BYOB — Build Your Own Bench with Free Plans

Serious shooters spend lots of time in the reloading room. If you want to produce great ammo, start with a good, solid bench with a very rigid working surface and plenty of storage space. Here we present three sets of FREE workbench plans. Any one of these bench designs can be a good summer do-it-yourself project for those with basic word-working skills.

Easy-to-Build Basic Bench
Simpson, maker of Strong-Tie fasteners, offers FREE Workbench Plans for a sturdy, 48″-wide bench with a pegboard backing and both upper and lower shelves. A complete list of fasteners and cut lengths is provided. For use as a loading bench with mounted presses, double-up the bench-top for extra ridigity. Without much difficulty, the plans can be adapted to build a wider bench if you prefer. The same downloadable document also contains plans for an 80″-high 6-shelf unit, a 72″-high heavy-duty shelving unit (with 4 shelves), and a 48″-wide heavy-duty table.

FREE Strongtie Bench Plans (.pdf file).

Corner Bench with Swinging Doors
The next design is rather unique — a corner bench with swing-out cabinets. This reloading bench is based on plans by M. L. McPherson as published in the October 1993 American Rifleman. The compact footprint that makes good use of corner space that is usually poorly utilized. This set of plans originally came from Ray-Vin.com. The folks who started Ray-Vin have retired.

Reloading bench plans

FREE Corner Bench Plans (330kb .pdf file)

Classic NRMA Bench with Cabinets
The last bench design is a large, versatile bench with a full set of enclosed overhead cabinets. A National Reloading Manufacturers Association (NRMA) design, this bench requires many hours to build, but it will house all your reloading gear and provide a very stable platform for your presses.This bench was designed to be as versatile as possible to meet the needs of most reloaders. However, the bench design can easily be customized. For instance, it can be made larger or smaller to meet space requirements or quantities of equipment and components. As it is currently designed, the work area is about waist-high for a 6’2″ person. This can be adjusted to fit your height simply by making the legs longer or shorter.

NRMA reloading bench

FREE NRMA Reloading Bench Plans (2.42 megabyte .pdf file).

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December 1st, 2010

Systems for Mounting Spotting Scope on Bench

We’re often asked: “What’s the best way to set up a spotting scope for shooting from a bench?” Some guys have spotting scopes set on big full-size tripods positioned to the side of the bench. That will work, but it normally requires you to move way out of position to look through your scope. Also, if you place the tripod as close to the bench as possible, one of the tripod legs will extend down close to your foot. It is all too easy to jostle the tripod with your foot or knee and move the scope off your target. We’ve also seen folks with spotting scopes mounted on compact camera tripods set directly on the bench. Again, this is not a very good solution. These small tripods position the spotting scope too high. Small camera tripods are also really too light and flimsy to hold a big, heavy spotter, with a 65mm or larger front objective. You really need a better set-up. You want to mount the spotting scope so, when you are in shooting positino, the eyepiece is close to your head — allowing easy viewing without moving your whole body away from the rifle.

Scope Stands for Bench Use
The best system for mounting a spotting scope to a bench was the Ray-Vin Ultimate Benchrest Stand. This clamped securely to the side of the bench and was a very high-quality piece of gear. Unfortunately, Ray Brandes of Ray-Vin has retired and his clamping benchrest scope stand is currently out of production. If you can find one for sale second-hand — snag it. If you can’t locate a Ray-Vin clamping stand, don’t despair, Creedmoor Sports has come out with a clamping-type Spotting Scope Bench-mount that is only $79.95 without head. This features 1″-diam vertical shaft so it can be used with most scope-holding heads that can adapt to a 1″ tube, such as a Ray-Vin head, Big Blue head, or Creedmoor’s new Polecat head. The clamp mount secures the rig anywhere you want along the side of the bench. You can easily adjust the scope height and fore/aft position relative to the shooter. The Ray-Vin head, now sold by Creedmoor, features a twist handle with a ball joint on the end. This then lets you set the scope (and angled eyepiece) to any angle you want. It’s a very slick system.

Creedmoor spotting scope benchmounts

The Creedmoor Bench-mount is currently back-ordered, but Creedmoor expects to receive product before the end of the year. The Polecat head is available now for $139.95. Creedmoor, which has taken over production of the Ray-Vin scope stand head, is taking orders for the Ray-Vin head currently. No release date is offered. However, there should be some 1″ Ray-Vin heads on the used market.

Creedmoor Polecat scope head

Permalink Gear Review, Optics 4 Comments »