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April 10th, 2022

Sunday GunDay — How to Fill Sandbags & Fill Material Options

sandbag fill sand types

sandbag fill sand typesHow to Fill Shooting Sandbags Most Effectively
For both front and rear Edgewood bags, start by looking for the black nylon/cordura flap. This flap will have white stiches running along both sides. Note that the flap is actually two pieces of nylon/cordura which are sewn together. These two pieces must be separated at the end where there are no stitches in order to insert a funnel or other filling device.

Hold the bag so that the flap is pointed straight up and fill half way. Using a blunted rod and alternating between filling and packing, begin packing the sand firmly into the bag until the shape is uniform and you are satisfied with the firmness. Slam the base of the bag firmly on the bench several times to compact and evenly seat the sand. Then, check to see if more sand needs to be added. Repeat this process for the ears if you are filling a rear bag. Note that as the sand continues to condense during use, the bag may occasionally require additional sand until it reaches maximum capacity. NOTE: This tip is from Creedmoor Sports, which carries Edgewood Shooting Bags.

Edgewood Gater rear bag sandbag
Edgewood offers an innovative rear Twisted Gater bag with an unusual asymmetrical footprint. This provides arm/hand support for the shooter while still providing superb rear support for your bench rifles.

SANDBAG Fill Options — Yes Weight Matters

Weight benchrest sandFor most shooting applications, “heavy is good” when it comes to sandbags. The more your sandbag weighs, the better it will resist movement or mis-alignment that can throw off a shot. In order to increase the weight of their rear bags, serious shooters have turned to exotic sand formulations that offer greater density (hence higher weight by volume) than plain silica sand (aka “play sand”).

In this article, Jason Baney reviews three popular alternatives to play sand for rear sandbags. He tested each variety to determine its density, i.e. how much volume it would displace per pound. Then he calculated how much each type of sand would weigh in various sizes of rear sandbags: standard, large, and ultra-large (Bigfoot). Check our Rapid Reference Chart to see how much weight you can add to your sandbag by switching to heavy sand.

Is heavy sand worth the added expense? For serious shooters, the answer is yes. More mass equals more stability, and a more stable bag will help you shoot tighter groups. By switching from conventional sand to Zircon or Chromite, you can DOUBLE the weight of sand in your rear bag.

SEB bigfoot bag
Shown above are the latest SEB Bigfoot Bags. Note that the bags sit perfectly flat — there is no bulge on the bottom even though the bags are “packed to the brim with sand”.

Heavy Sand — Weighing the Benefits
by Jason Baney

Play Sand BenchrestMany serious Benchrest shooters fill their sand bags with “heavy sand”. This practice may seem “overkill” to most shooters, but its benefits are realized quickly when shooting from a bench. Heavy sand is more dense than normal silica “play sand” and therefore makes the sandbag heavier and more stable. How much heavier is the heaviest sand? Check the chart below and you’ll see that Zircon sand weighs essentially TWICE as much as ordinary play sand. More weight equals more inertia opposing bag movement, plus more gravity-induced “stiction” on the bottom of the bag. In other words, using heavy sand helps your rear bag stay planted on the bench during a string of fire. When you shoot a hard-recoiling gun, the difference between a bag filled with play sand vs. Zircon is very noticeable. The Zircon-filled bag stays put. The play sand-filled bag may not.

Rapid Reference Chart

Comparative Sand Weights by Sandbag Size
SandBag Type Play Sand Riverbed Sand Chromite Zircon
Standard 5″x6″ 5.1 lbs. 7.9 lbs. 9.9 lbs. 10.1 lbs.
Large 6″x8″ 6.8 lbs. 10.5 lbs. 13.2 lbs. 13.4 lbs.
BigFoot 6″x13″ 10.2 lbs. 15.8 lbs. 19.7 lbs. 20.1 lbs.
Weight Increase Compared to Play Sand
Zincon +98% Chromite +94% Riverbed Sand +55%

heavy sand sandbags

The Benefits of Heavier Sand

Heavy Sand helps your sandbag resist the tendency to shift or change alignment (relative to the stock) during recoil. This ability to maintain sandbag alignment is vital when shooting competitive Benchrest, either short-range or long-range. Having to fight a “migrating” rear bag during a group at 1000 yards will not do anything to help your accuracy. In non-competitive use, heavy sand can still benefit shooters. Friction from the stock on the rear bag, or bumping the bag on recoil with either a body part or pistol grip can move a lighter bag out of place and necessitate realigning the bag to get on target.

Of course there are some shooting situations where you don’t need (or don’t want) maximum sandbag weight. During a “walk-around” varmint session you may prefer a lighter bag. Beanbags that I carry around the groundhog fields stay filled with plastic beads, making the bag handier to tote. But, any rear bag used on a bench will be as heavy as I can make it while still using “sand” as filler.

Heavy Sand, Lead Shot, and Competition Rules

Some will say, “Well if you want a heavier sandbag, why not just add lead shot?” That is a great idea, but as far as I know, it is also illegal in every form of Benchrest competition. The material in sandbags must actually be “sand”, and only sand. It’s tempting to filter in a mix of shot and sand to increase weight, but that would also violate the rules.

Heavy Sand — Available Types and Properties

Heavy sand comes in several different varieties. In this article we tested three types: Zircon, Chromite, and commercial Riverbed sand (Exo-Terra brand “Reptile Sand”). All these are heavier alternatives to normal silica “play sand.” There are other types of Heavy Sand not tested here, such as Garnet Sand, which is between Chromite and Zircon in weight.

Sources: Sinclair Int’l sells black “Heavy Sand”, basically chromite. Large quantities of Zircon and Chromite are available from IFS Industries, and other industrial suppliers.

Sand Characteristics

Dupont Zircon M (pale tan): 165-175 lb/cu.ft; avg. particle size 0.01″.

Prince Minerals Chrome CAST 7850 (Chromite) (black): 172 lb/cu.ft; avg. particle size 0.02″.

Exo-Terra Riverbed sand (amber). Available at pet stores.

Silica “Play Sand” (tan or light gray). Available at Home/Garden stores.

Zircon and Chromite Sand

Riverbed Reptile and Play Sand

Zircon SandZircon — Heavy-Weight Champion
To my knowledge, “Dupont Zircon M” is the heaviest “sand” that a normal human can acquire. It is also the most expensive. Zircon is a very light tan/brown color and is very similar in appearance to normal sandbox “play sand”. Zircon is normally rated as having the greatest density among heavy sands and it has the smallest particle size, though some Chromite sand density values overlap the Zircon numbers.

1.00 pound of Zircon displaces 149cc vs. 295cc for Play Sand. So, that means Zircon is 98% heavier than an equal volume of Play Sand.

CONSUMER TIP: Real ZIRCON sand is TAN in color, not black or dark gray. Some “heavy sand” vendors promise Zircon but deliver a dark gray sand that is something else entirely!

Chromite SandChromite — Almost as Heavy as Zircon, and 30% Cheaper

Chromite sand is nearly the same density as Zircon but it costs quite a bit less. Chromite typically sells for about 25-30% less than Zircon (comparing bulk prices of both types of sand). Chromite sand is black in color. So when you buy “heavy sand,” make sure you are getting what you pay for.

1.00 pound of Chromite displaces 152cc vs. 295cc for Play Sand. So, that means Chromite is 94% heavier than an equal volume of Play Sand.

Riverbed SandRiverbed Sand — Weighs Less but Costs More than Chromite
Riverbed sand, is about 30% less dense than Zircon or Chromite, but is about 150% more dense than silica sand. Depending upon where you buy this sand, and the quantity, you will most likely pay more for this sand than you would Zircon or Chromite. Riverbed sand is a conglomerate of several different sizes and colors and appears red and black. Unless you are unable to get Zircon or Chromite, I would not bother with the riverbed sand.

1.00 pound of Riverbed Sand displaces 190cc vs. 295cc for Play Sand. So, that means Riverbed Sand is 55% heavier than an equal volume of Play Sand.

Density/Volume Testing and Weight Comparisons

All four sand varieties mentioned above were tested for volumetric density by weight. Each type of sand was weighed out to 1.00 lbs. on a commercial postal scale. Each 1.00 lb sample of sand was then poured loosely into a 600ml beaker and shaken minimally to level the top surface. This served to determine the volume that the sand occupied.

1.00 pound of sand displaced the following volumes:

Zircon: 149 cc
Chromite: 152 cc
Riverbed sand: 190 cc
Play Sand: 295 cc

How do the density-volume numbers translate to the real world? Here is an estimate of how much each sand would weigh in various sizes of rear bag:

Standard Bunny Ear Bag

5″ by 6″ footprint or about 1500cc

Zircon: 10.1 lbs.

Chromite: 9.9 lbs.

Riverbed Sand: 7.9 lbs.

Play Sand: 5.1 lbs.

Benchrest Sandbag
Protektor Doctor Bag

6″ by 8″ footprint or about 2000cc

Zircon: 13.4 lbs.

Chromite: 13.2 lbs.

Riverbed Sand: 10.5 lbs.

Play Sand: 6.8 lbs.

Benchrest Sandbag
Seb BigFoot Rear Loaf Bag

6″ by 13″ footprint or about 3000cc

Zircon: 20.1 lbs.

Chromite: 19.7 lbs.

Riverbed Sand: 15.8 lbs.

Play Sand: 10.2 lbs.

Benchrest Sandbag

Conclusions and Recommendations

What’s the best choice? For most users, we recommend Chromite. Chromite delivers nearly the same bag weight as Zircon but is more economical to buy. But for those who demand the maximum weight in their sandbag (without consideration of cost), Zircon is the top choice because it is sold at a finer grade (higher density) than Chromite. However, Chromite will save you money, and deliver very nearly the same amount of weight by volume. When purchased in bulk, Chromite is typically 25-30% LESS expensive than Zircon.

Reptile SandI would not suggest using the Riverbed sand unless you really need to fill a sandbag immediately and can’t wait to locate a source for either Zircon or Chromite. Keep in mind that Sinclair Int’l and other major mail-order vendors do sell heavy sand (though Zircon and Chromite may be much less expensive when purchased in larger quantities from local industrial sources.) The price of the Riverbed sand will vary quite a bit depending on the pet store and quantity bought. The Riverbed sand I tested, Exo-Terra Reptile sand (photo right), was fairly expensive as purchased at a pet store.

Bottom Line: When it comes time to fill your new rear bag, you may want to save a few dollars and go with cheaper Chromite sand, but if you want to gain every bit of weight possible, step up to the heavier Zircon.

Lenzi Rear Bag
Lenzi Rear bags work very well and are popular with top competitors. This are sold through PMA Tool.

TOPICS: Sand, Heavy Sand, Zircon, Dupont, Chromite, Riverbed Sand, Reptile Sand, Beach Sand, Play Sand, Benchrest, Protektor, Edgewood, SEB, BigFoot, Gator, Docter Bag, Doctor Bag, Loaf Bag, footprint, leather bag, Rear bag, Sand Density, Silica, Exo-Terra, IFS Industries, Sinclair International.

Permalink - Articles, Gear Review, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
December 9th, 2014

Champ ‘Feels the Joy’ — Shoots 200-9X at 1K with Joy-Pod

James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-classThis past weekend, reigning F-TR National Champion James Crofts shot a match using the latest generation of the SEB Joy-stick Bipod, aka “Joy-Pod”. Apparently, James didn’t have any problems adjusting to the coaxial Joy-Pod. James definitely “felt the joy”, shooting a 200-9X score, his first-ever perfect 200 at 1000 yards in F-TR.

James reports: “I used the SEB Joy-Pod, it was amazingly stable. The Joy-Pod works amazing.” James is a “releaser” not a holder. When shooting with the Joy-Pod, he releases the joy-stick handle right as he fires: “I let go when breaking the shot”. Some other guys maintain light contact, allowing the joy-stick shaft to float back between/over their fingers during recoil. But it looks like James has a method that works.

SEB Joy-Pod Fitted on Savage-Actioned PR&T F-TR Rig
Here’s the rig James was shooting. Yes it has a Savage action, complete with AccuTrigger. James proves you don’t have to have a $1200.00+ custom action to shoot 10s and Xs at long range. The rifle was built by Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool. James wanted to thank Keith Trap (Forum member KT) for helping James do all of the testing on this rifle. James tells us: “I have decided this year I want to work more on myself as an individual shooter and not spend as much time [working with] my ammo and my rifles.”

CLICK PHOTO to See Full-screen image with more detail:
James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-class

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and yes that’s a Savage action in this rig!
James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-class

Note the grippy suede base-pad under the Edgewood rear bag, which features low-friction ear material.
James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-class

USA F-TR National Champion James Crofts.
James Crofts FTR F-class joy-pod joystick F-TR SEB
Photo by Kent Reeve.

Permalink Competition, New Product 7 Comments »
June 4th, 2014

Butterfly Bag from the ‘Place of Loud Thunder’ Down Under

Australian long-range shooter Meichelle K. has customized her gear in a distinctive way. Meichelle hails from a small town called Jimboomba which means “place of loud thunder” in the aboriginal language. Yes indeed, that sounds appropriate for a rifle shooter. We smiled at the “feminine touches” Meichelle applied to her new SEB Bigfoot rear bag. This displays real creativity — and now no one will ever mistake Meichelle’s bag for one belonging to another shooter.

Jimboomba Queensland Australia SEB Rear Bag

Jimboomba Queensland Australia SEB Rear Bag

Meichelle regularly shoots F-Class in Australia. She has traveled extensively to compete in major matches. Here is a photo from one of her favorite ranges in Australia. Looks like a beautiful place to shoot. And we love the printed fabric on the range cart! Kisses from Down Under.

Jimboomba Queensland Australia SEB Rear Bag

Jimboomba — Place of Loud Thunder and Little Rain
Meichelle resides in Jimboomba, a small township located south of Brisbane in Queensland. Jimboomba is named after a sheep and livestock station based where the township is today. The word Jimboomba (originally Gimboomba) is a Gugingin word meaning “place of loud thunder and little rain”. The Gugingin were the first native Australian peoples of this Yugambeh region, now part of Queensland.


View Larger Map

Permalink Gear Review 1 Comment »
March 6th, 2014

SEB Invents ‘Pod-Pad for Bipod Shooters

Sebastian (“Seb”) Lambang is a really smart guy, a gifted machinist/fabricator, and a very innovative designer. If Seb worked in the auto industry, we’d probably all be driving flying cars by now.

Seb has just invented another really good product — a heavy, sand-filled mat for bipod use. We’ve christened this the ‘Pod-Pad™, and we think a lot of folks will want one. While the ‘Pod-Pad was designed for use with the SEB Joystick Bipod (“Joy-Pod”), it will work with other modern bipods (such as the Remple, the Sinclair, and the EVO). Inside the green fabric cover is sand plus a thin layer of neoprene. This allows the bipod feet to slide easily during recoil, and it also provides damping (and energy absorption) to reduce hop and torque.

Seb reports: “This is still a prototype mat, but I believe it works great. The carrying handle is the black belt in the middle of the mat, so it is easy to haul. There is a layer of 1/4″ thick neoprene under the slick microfiber on the top. This way the feet will slide smoothly and won’t sink, helping the rifle to maintain elevation. This heavy mat should be legal under the rules. It is not a rigid board, it can be folded.”

Seb Lambang bipod joy-pod sand bag 'Pod-pad

Watch Joystick Bipod (Joy-Pod) Used with NEW Sand-filled ‘Pod-Pad:

Seb tells us: “In this video, I am shooting my friend’s tactical rifle with the new Joy-pod, just to check how the bipod and mat work under recoil. The bipod and mat combo should work much better with a true F-TR gun. The new-generation Joy-pod has better internals and it’s more rigid. We should have the next shipment of Joy-pods ready around mid-April 2014″. Seb notes that the new Joy-pod has longer feet — more like actual skis. These can also be adjusted slightly for tilt/angle. The longer feet do seem to slide smoothly on recoil with much less hop.

Seb Lambang bipod joy-pod sand bag 'Pod-pad

The new generation Joy-pod will have a quick-detach (QD) option for mounting on a Picatinny rail. The quick-detach lever can be located on the right hand side (as shown above) or left hand side, tightening either forward or rearward as the shooter prefers.

Seb Lambang bipod joy-pod sand bag 'Pod-pad

For USA price list and more information, please contact:
Ernie Bishop
Gillette, WY
ernieemily @ yahoo.com
Phone: 307-257-7431

Permalink New Product, News 5 Comments »
August 6th, 2013

High-Tech Beauty: Seb’s Wood and Aluminum F-Class Stock

Sebastian (“Seb”) Lambang, creator of the SEB Coaxial Rests and new Coaxial Joystick Bipod, has engineered an impressive new wood and aluminum F-Class stock. The stock features a long, box-section aluminum fore-end with a wood rear section and wood-trimmed “wings” on the front bag-rider. The aluminum fore-arm has “buick vents” for weight reduction. From the end of the action rearward, the stock is mostly wood, with light and dark fancy wood laminates on opposite sides (left and right).

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

The foot of the buttstock has a very wide aluminum rear bag-rider with rails. The rear wood section appears to be two solid pieces of wood — but that is deceiving. Seb explains: “To save weight, the buttstock is hollow (using thin-walled wood)”. To strengthen the construction, Seb added carbon fiber inside the buttstock. So what you see is a wood outer shell with carbon fiber layers on the inside. The stock sports vertically-adjustable cheek-piece and buttplate. The thick, rubber buttpad should diminish felt recoil even when shooting big cartridges with heavy bullets.

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

This is an interesting, innovative stock design. And as with everything Seb produces, the craftsmanship, fit and finish are superb. We may get a chance to see how well this new stock shoots at the F-Class World Championships later this month in Raton, New Mexico.

Seb also crafted a handsome set of angled scope rails with beautifully-machined scope rings. Imagine being able to custom-make one-off products of this quality in your own machine shop!

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 6 Comments »
October 29th, 2012

Gear Review: SEB Front Bag for Pedestal Rest

We’ve had our original SEB coaxial front rest for a few years now and we are impressed with its quality and performance (although the SEB NEO Rest is even more sophisticated). One of the great features of the original SEB Rest is the front sandbag. It employs double-layer construction on the sides and bottom, and has a unique microfiber material on the surfaces contacting the stock. The bottom of the bag is hard and flat, so the bag sits nice and square. We whole-heartedly endorse the SEB front bag — it is an outstanding product, affordably priced at $40.00, shipped (unfilled) anywhere in the lower 48 states. (SEB NEO front bags are $45.00 shipped to lower 48).

SEB coaxial rest bag

We’ve tested both 3″-wide and 2 1/4″-wide SEB front bags and they work great. With guns ranging from 22 lbs. to 10.5 lbs. we’ve found that that SEB front bags perform very, very well. They hold their shape, and don’t “hump up” in the middle. The microfiber material, in our opinion, is superior to either Cordura or untreated leather. Even without stock tape on your gun, the microfiber allows the rifle to slide very easily. With stock tape, friction is super-low. You don’t need to put silicone, sailcloth lube, or powder on the front bag — it’s not necessary.

Less Vertical, Better Groups with SEB Front Bag
One of our testers was experiencing vertical when shooting a 6 PPC with a different front bag. He tried both leather and Cordura front bags, and experimented with various amounts of sand fill, but the results were unsatisfactory. The leather and Cordura bags either did not hold their shape, or, with more sand fill, they were too hard and the gun jumped. Then our tester switched to a SEB front bag. He noticed an immediate improvement in gun handling and his targets showed reduced vertical with the same load. Problem solved.

Bag Works with Other Front Rests Too
field tested productWhile the SEB front bag is optimized for use with the original SEB coaxial rest, it can be adapted to other front rest tops. The standard version is made from black microfiber with brown leather, but it is also available with black leather sides. The standard vertical thickness for the 3″ or 2 1/4″ section between the ears is approximately 1″, but other dimensions are available on request. The latest SEB front bags have a filler spout on each side. SEB front bags are available in the USA from Ernie Bishop in Gillette, Wyoming. Call (307) 257-7431, or email ernieemily [at] yahoo.com. The standard SEB front bag sells for $40.00 including shipping to lower 48. Front bags for SEB NEO rests, either one-piece or Tri-lobe style, cost $45.00 including shipping to lower 48.

SEB coaxial rest bag

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August 23rd, 2012

SEB Donates MAX Front Rest for IBS 1000-Yard Nationals Prize

Sebastian (“Seb”) Lambang of SEB Coaxial is donating the first-of-its-kind production MAX rest as a prize for the IBS 1000-yard Nationals. This is a very generous donation, as the standard MAX front rest will retail for over $1000, and this special prize edition features a special “high-bling” fully polished base. The match directors will determine whether the rest will be awarded to the overall Two-Gun champion or whether, instead, the rest is offered as a door prize, giving all match attendees a chance at winnning.

SEB MAX front rest

SEB MAX front rest

SEB MAX front rest

The SEB MAX rest employs a counter-balancer design with tuned weights on a forward facing shaft. This allows the MAX to work smoothly with guns up to 110 pounds overall. Seb notes: “I will send the rest with a set of counterweights (with various slip-on ‘rings’, to accept gun weights ranging from 40 to 110 pounds). I will also include an ammo-holder set and clock-holder as well.” The complete MAX rest weighs about 44 pounds.

Seb hopes to get feedback on the MAX rest from shooters attending the IBS 1000-yard Nationals: “Any shooters [at the 1K IBS Nationals] can try the rest and I would love to hear how it works and what you think. Or just put your gun on the rest top/front bag, ‘play’ the joystick, adjust the slip-on rings back & forth, use the appropriate ring(s). You will easily determine the correct weight/ring positions once you try the rest. With the correct ‘tuned’ counterweight, the force required to push the joystick upward is the same as the force needed to push downward. And no matter how heavy your gun, with the correct counter-balance weight, the force needed to move the joystick should be the same …effortless.”

SEB MAX front rest

The highly-polished prize-model MAX rest in the top photos is a one-of-a-kind, the first to be delivered to North America. Regular production starts soon. Seb tells us: “I will start to build the production MAX rests on first week of September, to be finished around late November-mid Dec 2012. I’m preparing 75 units on this run. About 40 units will be going to the USA, about 20 or more will be going to Australia.” Contact your SEB dealer for pricing and information.

Permalink Competition, New Product, News No Comments »
March 5th, 2010

NEW Prototype SEB NEO Rest Unveiled

We recently received a prototype version of the new NEO rest from SebCoax.com. Designer Sebastian Lambang’s new rest is an engineering tour de force. Your editor can say, straight up, that this is the best joystick rest I’ve ever used. It is butter smooth in horizontal travel. The NEO does not suffer from the jerky, or jumpy vertical movement of some other joystick rests. With a 17-lb gun on the rest, yes there is more resistance in the vertical plane than in the horizontal, but you can still move the crosshairs up smoothly in one motion. You don’t have to “over-shoot” and then come back down on your aiming point. If you’ve used other coaxial rests, you know that the upward movement can be jerky if the resistance is set so that the joystick does not droop when you let go. Not so with the NEO. Seb Lambang has fitted the NEO rest with expensive, new German-made internal bearings. These new teflon liner bearings, plus two additional internal leaf springs for weight support, make all the difference.

YouTube Preview Image

The upward movement is MUCH smoother than before. In this Editor’s opinion, the NEO is smoother (with less jumpiness) than the Farley. It is also easier to set joystick tension on the NEO rest that on the previous (Gen 1) SEB rest. Before you had to fiddle with hex-head bolts. On the NEO rest, SEB has provided two, large diameter knobs. It is easy to set the tension so the joystick doesn’t fall on release, but travel is still smooth and positive in all planes.

Make no mistake, joystick movement on this rest is smooth and fluid, even in straight upwards motion with a 17-pound rifle. No more of the jumpiness or stacking found on lesser designs. SEB has got a winner here. Just as a top-fuel dragster lives or dies on quarter-mile speed, a coaxial rest is judged, foremost, on its ability to move quickly and precisely to point of aim in ONE MOVEMENT. Here the NEO rest shines. It may be the smoothest-functioning coaxial rest ever produced. And it also has the unique feature of adjustable front bag width (see videos). That’s great if you shoot both wide benchrest rigs and narrow-forearm rifles. Also, when disassembled, the NEO rest packs up very compactly — a big plus when traveling. If you didn’t like joystick rests before, the SEB NEO may make you a believer.

Triple-Sandbag Configuration and Vibration Damping
How about shooting performance? The rest is rock-solid, with no wobbly movement, so no mechanical flaws should prevent match-winning performance. However, the NEO rest has three separate, fairly thin bags. This configuration has been used with success in rimfire benchrest. Some European centerfire rests use a similar tri-bag arrangement. However, we are concerned that the smaller, separate bags could behave differently than a conventional front bag. There may be differences in vibration damping and how the bag responds under recoil. We have NOT done enough testing to judge how the NEO’s tri-bag system performs compared to a conventional one-piece sandbag. But it’s something to consider.

NEO Rest Offers More JoyStick Travel
The SEB NEO rest has a very wide range of travel. Running the joystick to max travel, we placed shots 43 MOA apart vertically and 48 MOA apart horizontally. That’s four FEET of horizontal travel at 100 yards using JUST the joystick! If you need more than 43 MOA of vertical travel, the whole coaxial carriage moves up and down on two large columns, delivering a bag height range from about 5″ to 10″ above the bench top. That’s a HUGE amount of travel. The gross height is adjusted with two large knobs, one on either side of the carriage. This movement is very smooth — as if the carriage is on ball bearings.

The geometry of the NEO Rest is somewhat unique. Although the NEO can be positioned in either direction (i.e. it is reversible), it is designed to have the long, narrow foot out front, on the target side. This opens up the entire area behind the rest, so there is no interference with the joystick’s movement. “But what about my vertical speedscrew?” you may be saying. Well, with the SEB NEO’s 43 MOA of vertical travel, you really don’t need a vertical adjustment screw on the shooter’s side of the rest when aiming your rifle. There ARE two adjustment screws on the left and right rear sides, but these are intended to level the rest only.

YouTube Preview Image

Overall, we were very impressed with the quality, range of adjustment, and versatility of the NEO rest. It has more than enough joystick travel to shoot an ARA rimfire target with 25 bulls. It has enough gross vertical adjustment for 1000-yard F-Class use, even if the target is way up on a hill or down in a valley. And, the rest is relatively easy to transport, with a fairly small footprint and a convenient carry handle built into the “back” side of the rest.

NEO Rest Specifications

- Reversible base configuration: Rest can work with joystick tension adjustments in front, or in rear, per user preference. If you want the single long foot on the “driver’s side”, that is also possible.
– Size assembled: Approx. 13″ wide x 14″ long, 8.6″ tall.
– MOA adjustment (joystick travel): At least 40 MOA (vertical) x 44 MOA (horizontal).
– Net weight: approx 9.3 kgs (20.5 lbs), with standard aluminum base and filled bags.
– Bag Width Range: 200 mm (approx 7.874″) between posts CTC. This allows a max forearm width of about 4″ (four inches).
– Height Range (from bottom of base to top of horizontal bag): Approx. 5″ (lowest) to 10″ (highest).
– Sand Bag Thickness: Approx. 3/4″ for the “horizontal’ bag, approx. 1/2″ for the side chambers.
– Construction: All metal throughout. Base is cast aluminum. Rack gear posts and pinion are stainless steel (SUS 420J). Coaxial body, rest top, forearm stopper are made from aircraft grade alumunium.
– Price: Not yet set, but probably $675.00 to $750.00 US.

NEO Rest vs. SEB Standard Rest
Seb told us: “The NEO rest is NOT designed to replace the regular SEB rest. It’s only for people that need faster elevation adjustment, and a rest that can be set to a lower level overall or a higher lever overall. On the production NEO rests, the ‘body’ of the coaxial unit will be polished, just like the current (Gen 1) rest. The current (Gen 1) rest will remain in production, so don’t worry if you prefer that design. I haven’t established the final price of the NEO rest yet, but I think it will be about $675.00 to $750.00. Yes, it will be somewhat more expensive because of the extended travel capability and increased cost of materials.”

Further Enhancements for Production Model?
The NEO we received is a prototype model and SEB tells us that he may add or modify some features in the final production version. What changes would we like? First, we think a front rest in the $700+ price range should have a built-in level. Obviously you can buy a bubble level and stick it on, but Seb should include one. Second, we’d like to see some variations on the side sand chambers. They tend to plump up in the middle. For stocks with side flats, such as the McMillan Edge, the thickest part of the side bags is a bit too high. Also the side tension knobs push the bags inwards well above the contact point with the stock. We also would like to have more forearm stop travel. As made, the front forearm stop has a good range of adjustment. But an optional, longer extension for the stop would better suit rifles that balance/shoot best with the rest placed well back on the forearm.

Included Cord Helps Rest Alignment
Included with the NEO rest is a nylon cord with metal ends. Just pop one end of the cord in a hole in the middle of the forearm stop and draw the cord back in line with the target, running the cord through the ears of your rear sandbag. This allows you to center and align the rear bag optimally. The cord is a thoughtful accessory provided by SEB.

Review Disclosure: SebCoax.com provided the Seb NEO rest for testing and evaluation. The rest’s manufacturer is not currently advertising with AccurateShooter.com.

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September 7th, 2009

Choosing and Using Pedestal Front Rests

Vince Bottomley, an ace shooter from the United Kingdom, also operates the excellent Precision Rifle website. On Vince’s handsome, informative site, you’ll find gear reviews, gunsmithing tips, competition reports, and in-depth features on interesting rifles.

Vince, who competes successfully in a variety of shooting disciplines from 100 yards to 1000 yards, has also authored articles explaining how to set up your equipment for optimal accuracy and best performance. One such feature is Choosing and Using the Machine Front Rest. Whether you’re a novice shooter, or a seasoned competitor, this article is worth reading. Vince reviews a number of the premium front rests, including the Farley Coax, and the SEB Co-axial rest.

In this feature, Vince explains how to adapt a heavy BR front rest for F-Class use in the field. He also explains how to optimize a front rest on the bench and how to use the windage and elevation controls to best effect.

bottomley front rest

bottomley front rest

Vince’s article on front rests is definitely worth reading. Plus, on the same page, you’ll find other informative features including a discussion of Case Preparation, and an interesting article on barrel cleaning.

CLICK HERE to read Vince Bottomley’s Articles on Accuracy.

Photos copyright Vince Bottomley, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

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July 1st, 2009

F-Classer Wins State Title with Home-Built Savage

Kudos to Forum Member John Dunbar (aka JD12)! Just this past weekend John won the Wisconsin State F-Class championship shooting a “home-built” .284 Winchester with a Savage target action. John designed and fabricated the aluminum stock himself. It features a central barrel block clamping a 32″ Brux barrel. Get this — John completed the rifle only 5 days before the match: “I finished machining/assembly on Monday night, did load workup Wednesday and Thursday nights, loaded rounds Friday night, and headed to Lodi at 4:30 on Saturday morning.” John also made his own co-axial front rest. He reports: “The rest worked really well this past weekend but as always there’s some small tweeking to do.”

John tells us: “I want to thank Jim See from Center Shot Rifles. He did the barrel chambering and installation and action work — he does excellent work. I also want to thank Ken and Norm from Brux Barrels. Their barrels shoot — no questions asked.”

The rifle is chambered as a straight (non-improved) .284 Winchester, with 32″ barrel. At the match, John shot 180gr Bergers pushed by a stout load of Hodgdon 4831sc. John notes: “Most of the experienced shooters at Lodi, WI told me when barrel gets a few hundred rounds through it, I may have to drop the powder back as they found the barrel might speed up. The gun only had about 80 rounds of development loads through it before [the Championship match at Lodi]. I have some RE17 sitting here to try but now i’m thinking why screw with something that’s working!”

John’s rig features a Savage target action (with factory Accutrigger) trued up by Jim at Center Shot Rifles. On top is a Sightron SIII 8×32-56 scope (Hey we told you they were good). Take a look at the rear bag in the above photo. Notice that the ears are set off-axis? John explains: “The rear bag is a SEB from Ernie in Gillette, WY. It has the twisted ears on it so you can rest your hand right along side of stock. I really like it this way — it’s very comfortable.”

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February 19th, 2009

Detailed Review of SEB Coaxial Rest

Mark Trope, Webmaster of the Gun Owner Network website, has written a very thorough review of the SEB Coaxial front rest. Mark’s SEB Rest Review covers all the bases, showing how the rest works with a variety of rifle types, including both wide-forearm match rifles and narrow-forearm sporter rifles. Mark provides dozens of clear photos of the rest, showing many of the fine points of SEB’s impressive design. The review shows how to set-up and level the rest, and how to tune the “feel” of the joystick to suit your preferences. Some rest users prefer the joystick to move quite freely, while others prefer to dial in some resistance so there is no chance of movement when you remove your hand from the joystick.

SEB Coaxial Rest Review

SEB Bigfoot bag eviewAfter covering the features and performance of the SEB Rest, Trope turns his attention to the SEB “BigFoot” rear bag. He explains why it’s a super-stable choice in rear bags, one of the best products available. You’ll note we acquired a SEB BigFoot rear bag for our latest AccurateShooter.com Project Rifle (see story above). After providing tips on how to fill the bag with heavy sand, Trope shows how to adapt a RubberMaid “ActionPacker” plastic storage bin to carry both the SEB Front Rest and the BigFoot Bag.

If you are considering the purchase of a joystick-style front rest, or joystick-style rest top, you should definitely read Trope’s Rest Review. It will definitely help you identify the features you need, so you can make an informed decision, whatever brand you ultimately choose. To learn more about the SEB coaxial rest, or to place an order, contact Sebastian Lambang’s American dealer, Ernie Bishop:

Ernie Bishop
306 West Flying Circle Drive
Gillette, WY 82716
(307) 257-7431
ernieemily [at] yahoo.com

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