March 19th, 2013

Fulghum Belt-Drive Front Rest — Smooth Operator

In the benchrest game, a rock-solid front rest with precise, easy-use controls, is essential. The Farley and Sebastian rests provide a joystick that allows the shooter to adjust both horizontal and vertical position with a single move. However, many top shooters prefer more traditional rests. When you’re centered up horizontally and just want to make a very tiny vertical adjustment, a rest with a separate vertical control is hard to beat. Likewise, separate windage controls ensure that you can move left to right without altering your vertical point of aim one tad.

Among the premium non-joystick rests we’ve tried, the John Loh (JJ Industries) rest and the Randolph Machine (Fulghum) rest stand out for quality of workmanship and the smooth, precise functioning of the windage and elevation controls.

In this article we review the Fulgham Front Rest, produced by Ken Fulghum of Randolph Machine in North Carolina. It offers a unique, belt-driven elevation control. This rest has been very successful in IR 50-50, ARA Outdoor, and RBA Indoor rimfire disciplines. (Ken Fulgham himself is a highly successful rimfire benchrest shooter.) But, when fitted with a conventional front sandbag top, the rest also works great with centerfire rifles.

NOTE: The test unit shown in the photos is fitted with a Fudd Rest Top. Randolph Machine no longer sells Fudd tops. Instead Randolph produces a similiar adjustable front top with thin sand bag sections. This cost $150.00.

Fulghum Rest is Beefy and Stable
The Fulghum Front Rest is rock-solid and very stable on the bench. A large knob on the left controls the windage. The entire center section of the rest slides left and right on precision-machined cross-shafts riding in bronze, oil-impregnated bushings. The movement is super-smooth, with no grabbing or jumping. As we’ve seen with the John Loh rest, horizontal tracking is superb, and you can easily make very fine sideways adjustments with ZERO vertical shift.

Belt-Drive for Vertical Adjustment
What’s really special about the Fulghum Rest is the vertical adjustment system. This uses a synthetic toothed belt that connects a large knob in the center of the rest to the ram which supports the rest top. The belt drive runs over sprockets that provide plenty of mechanical advantage. This allows you to effortlessly raise/lower even very heavy rifles. The up/down movement is very smooth. However, there is a little slack in the belt and you can feel the belt’s teeth engage the sprockets one by one. Once you get used to the feel of the belt and how it engages the sprockets, however, you can make very precise adjustments.

Importantly, after you’ve adjusted the vertical, there is enough drag in the system that it holds vertical perfectly. There’s no “post-adjustment” vertical slippage at all. You can take your hand off the vertical knob and shoot with confidence that your aiming point won’t shift.

Overall, this is an excellent unit. Since you have to adjust windage and elevation separately, it’s not as fast as a joystick rest, but it has its advantages. There’s none of the vertical notchiness we’ve seen in some joystick units. Unless you are 100% certain you want a joystick-type rest, you should definitely “test-drive” a Fulghum Rest and see how it suits you.

Rest Retails for $750.00 without Top
The Fulghum Front Rest currently retails for $750.00 with no top. Randolph Machine offers two different tops for the unit: the $120.00 Randolph MK1 Top (User supplies owl-ear bag), or the $150.00 Adjustable MKII Top (see photo at right; similar to Fudd Top). Fulghum also offers a one-piece rest (front and rear support) for $750.00.

All Randolph Machine Rests are made one at a time, by hand, so you should call for availability. Normal delivery time is “about a month” once you place your order. Here’s the contact info:

Ken Fulghum
Randolph Machine, Inc.
P.O. Box 147, 1206 Uwharrie St.
Asheboro, NC 27204
Phone: (336) 625-0411
Fax: (336) 625-0410

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