Field supports come in three basic forms: monopods, bipods and tripods. Some are carried attached to the firearm, some snap on to a small mount that’s fixed to the gun, and some are carried and propped up before each shot. The one that’ll work best for you depends on terrain (flat, hilly, mountainous,) habitat (short grass, knee-high brush, thick forest) and your style of hunting (still-hunting, glass/stalk, stand.) Let’s examine these tools more closely. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but a solid overview of what’s out there. Search and you may find something newer, better or less expensive.
A single leg provides good vertical stabilization, but marginal lateral stabilization. Monos tend to sway side-to-side, especially in wind or if you’re breathing hard. Most monopods are designed for standing or sitting shots. Many telescope from sitting height to standing and double as hiking staffs, a surprisingly useful device for maintaining balance and minimizing fatigue, especially in mountainous terrain. Reasonably light and versatile, monopods are a good option if you walk a lot and may have to shoot quickly offhand. Combined with natural objects like boulders, cutbanks, and your own legs, they can be stabilized against excessive lateral wobble. Jam the foot into the ground, press the upper third of the shaft against a boulder and you’ll tame most lateral movement. Hold the leg against your own bent leg/knee while sitting. Prop it against a pack. Experiment with any monopod to discover optimum stability. Then practice in these positions so they become second nature.
Many shooters like to angle the stick in or out from the line of the barrel, pushing or pulling against it to create almost a gyroscopic effect for beating side-by-side wobble. Pressing your rifle stock against the side of the pole, instead of balancing it atop, can also settle things down. Some bipods and tripods can be closed and carried like a monopod for similar benefits, but they’re always heavier. Adjusting length on telescoping monopods involves twisting leg sections (usually two or three) or opening and closing a clamp of some sort. The unique Primos Trigger Stick adjusts just by squeezing the handle. Many monopods, like the Stoney Point Polecat, include a 1/4-20 and/or 3/8-16 bolt on top to accommodate cameras and spotting scopes as well as rifle yokes. Some yokes swivel, others are fixed. The Shooters Ridge Stalk Stick’s V-rest stores in the grip handle and pops up for use. Most monopods include rubber or foam grips and a wrist strap.
Two-legged supports are popular with precision shooters because they stabilize lateral and vertical motion, yet set up nearly as quickly as monopods — and don’t weigh much more. In fact, some skinny bipods weigh considerably less. Bipods are generally limited to an adjustment range within three categories: prone, sitting / kneeling, and standing. Some sitting versions can convert upward or downward, but rarely both. One of the oldest and most popular bipods is the Harris. This rugged unit (several models) screws snuggly to the fore-end sling stud. Its legs fold forward along the barrel. To deploy, reach up and pull each back until it snaps into place. Legs can be pulled out to change height and locked fully extended or at any intermediate length with a setscrew. Press a button and the lower leg snaps back inside the upper.
Shooter’s Ridge bipods look and perform much like Harris units but are made in China. External springs make both brands something less than elegant, but rugged and durable. B-Square bipods have no external springs, are sleeker, lighter but perhaps not as rugged, though I haven’t conducted any tests. The B-Square Roto-Tilt head pans and tilts for scope leveling on broken ground. Harris and Shooter’s Ridge offer pivoting heads, too. Attached, prone bipods are nearly as steady as sandbags on a benchrest and absolutely deadly. Their biggest drawback is Mother Earth. She doesn’t always accommodate prone shooting. Rocks get in the way. Shrubs block the view. Grasses cover the sights. Even a gentle tilt of the landscape can obscure your target when you place your muzzle just a few inches off the ground. When conditions are perfect, so is a prone bipod. When they aren’t, the prone bipod becomes more hindrance than help.