Time for a RRS Tripod ...

  • Since Dec 2015, my tripod shooting percentage quickly rose to around 60% and remains there. For the rest, 30% standing unsupported (or leaning on some useful support near by ... usually bales or tree branches or fence posts). The rest of the 10% includes prone and sitting.

    The profile of a 5 round group recently, at 100yds, is submoa for 4 rounds and one flier that I can call (I think someone else said that on here today :D )... sometimes I think I do better off the tripod than I do prone. But if so, that is probably because I've been shooting off the tripod so much more. I find I relax more and think more about what I want to do and less about the mechanics.

    So, in the past two weeks, both of the 322RC2 heads I use on my manfrottos have loosened up to the point where I can't let go of the gun for fear the contraption will fall over. So time to replace the heads. Those would run $180 each on Amazon, so $360. But I'm thinking, if I am going to spend on tripods, maybe it is time to switch to RRS. Especially since I am virtually "all in" on tripod shooting for anything over about 150yds (max expected standing unsupported distance for hunting/critter control). The reason for tripods is to get me up over the grass and the bumps in the ground that create significant dead space around here for the prone shooter. The Flint Hills of Kansas, is NOT the flat part.

    So the learning process has begun to pick a specific RRS model and head for me.

    I note RRS decided to complexify my learning process by just introducing a "model 2" ...


    Of course, now I have to figure out if the model 2 is "better" enough than the model 1, to make it worth waiting for. It looks like the mk2s are marginally cheaper, but I didn't decide to go to RRS because they were the cheapest :D ...

    My guess is the big difference with the mk2 is I will have to wait longer ... and usually I'm fine with that ... but given that both my current heads "crashed" in the past 2 weeks, I am more interested in speed of delivery than usual.

    So, I want to be able to pan freely. This is important when hunting and doing 360s. And also important when tracking moving critters. The idea of the 322rc2 head ... the joystick, that you can squeeze to pan release and shoot is nice ... but life is full of trade offs and I don't think RRS has a head like that.

    I've just had too many different people (that do not know each other) all telling me RRS is worth every penny etc. And most of these are folks that used Manfrottos for years prior. In fact, I have to say, the raving over the RRS tripods is more raving from more experienced people, than I think I've heard about any other piece of gear. I am usually a guy that ignores raving ... but I must admit, given the breath and depth of this particular batch of raving, even I am paying attention.
    And tripod shooting is important to me.
    Now, I think the wind moving ME, is the primary constraint, and I don't see how a tripod can change that ... but I'm willing to try it anyway. Worst case, the shooting part won't be any better, but perhaps the ergonomics will be.

    To avoid noise, I open and close the manfrottos holding the tripod horizontal with respect to the ground. That way the legs don't use gravity to move. They move only when I move them. Trade off sound reduction for speed.

    I can mount and dismount the rifles to the manfrottos at night without looking, totally by feel, using the McRee precision qd interfaces. I do use PIG saddles for zeroing carbines. But I keep one pic to manfrotto interface on each of my rifles that I use off tripods. I do not use the PIG/HOGs in the field. So I prefer a pic rail interface.

    I practice unknown distance, by rolling around on my 4 wheeler to a random spot, setting up the tripod, the rifles, checking the distance and the wind and firing x-rds at steel, then packing up and rolling to the next spot and repeating. So speed of deployment matters.

    My other means of practice is on foot. I got a MOLLE tripod carry bag. So the tripod is on my back while walking. I have to drop the pack to setup. But I do and I can setup quietly and put the gun on the tripod and do 360s scanning for critters. Then I pack up and move ... and repeat, during this sort of exercise. I do it in the day mostly so far. Trying to work out all the details. This is no shooting exercise right now. But of course goal is to be able to do this at night. Most of my hunting, critter control is with carbines at short distance (at night). But goal is to be able to extend that distance with rifles and tripods and thermal clipons.

    Well I've tried to lay out how I use tripods. Shooting from 25yds out to 750yds ... day and night standing mostly, sitting when the wind is high. WIth guns from 5.56(18) stoner, to 7.62(22) bolt gun, to .300WM(24) bolt gun. The .50BMG(32) has its own 32 pound tripod, so it is out of scope for the current requirements.

    Any/all input welcome!

    (thx in advance)


    One of the earliest tripod mountings I did back in Dec 2015 both the gun and the tripod are brand new. That's .300WM(24) with Pulsar 50mm thermal on top ... tried that at 500yds aiming at 3 handwarmers ... didn't save a pic of the results ... but it is do-able .. .


    Maybe a week later, I'm showing my shooting buddy how to shoot with tripods ... that's him with the 5.56(18) at 600yds ... I outsmarted by self and held an extra 0.5 right for wind ... and my group was centered well to the right of the bull. James shot my wind call exactly and straddled the bull :)


    Confirming 160yd double zero with carbine, PIG and manfrotto


    Zeroing the .22LR(16) sitting tripod at night


    James and I were shooting together off manfrottos at the 500yds FP ... 6.5G(18) on the left and .300WM(24) on the right. I briefly tried the RTRS head ... but it was a no go ... tensioning adjustment unreliable.


    6.5G(18) off tripod sitting at 750yd FP this year ... these same two tripods and heads have been in continuous use since Dec 2015.


  • @kansas You'll enjoy the RRS. :)

  • I got to shoot one last night .. a


    The most significant aspect to me was how the gun/head really "locks up" when you close the latch, or even when you start closing the latch. Releasing the joystick on the 322rc2 manfrotto head and the gun still moves ... enough maybe to loose your sight picture !

    The RRS is significantly lighter.

    The one aspect I didn't take to right away was the twist to turn leg locks. Maybe I can get used to them. But they seem slower than the manfrotto "clip" locks? (not sure what to call them) .. but then I've been using the Manfrotto's since Dec 2015 and this is Aug 2018 ... so maybe they should be easier for me :)

    As to results, my first 3 round group was an 11/16 .. with the first two holes touching and the third being the 11/16 inch "flier" ... that was with 5.56(18) 77gr IMI with L&S Mk6 3-18x T3. So I guess the RRS can shoot sub moa groups even with me shooting. The tripod's owner was shooting equivalent groups, so these things are steadier.

    So, now to try t figure out how to get one !

    I haven't found anyone with them in stock, so I assume all orders are back orders.

  • RRS told me a few days ago that they are backordered over 200 on the ball head I was looking at. They just moved so I imagine most everything is backordered.

  • Michael over at RRS said full sets will ship out by the end of the month. I have an anvil 30 on some Pig legs.

  • Oh boy ... ok thanks for the updates.

    I guess I will get me another 322rc2 for now then.

  • I got the chance to use a RRS at the local PRS match this last weekend (We had to engage 3 targets at 180, 150, 180 yards in 90 sec) and dang was it nice. The tripod and TA-3 leveling plate locked up tight to the ARCA-SWISS rail on my rifle. Even though my rifle weighs 19lb it was very smooth and stable. I'm looking at using a Leofoto LN-404C with the RRS TA-3 head and a 100mm to 75mm adaptor plate.

  • I ordered this one last week.



    But since they are moving their business and last I heard had 200 backorders ... and won't be back in production until end of August, I'm guess 2-3 months before I have it. So shooting with the manfrottos in the mean time.

    I agree with several who have said words to the effect ... "this is one of the rare cases where you can buy skill (or results)" ... For a brief moment I was sub-moa off the tripod ... now I'm back to good ole 2 moa :)


  • @gunguy308 How big were the targets?

  • @hypo size of a bowling pin, so not small but they moved a bit when the 175gr MK slapped them lol.

  • Now I see at least part of why these cost so much ... they come with a big ole 8.5 x 11 inch color glossy MAGAZINE !!! :D

    Well my RRS arrived today ... and I've taken it out of the box ... it doesn't seem to have any spare parts, so I guess it is already assembled !!!

    I'll be testing it out shortly !!!


  • About the only thing I don't like about the RRS ... is when I unload the head ... it "flops" to the sides, if I let it. Whereas the Manfrotto 322RC2 head panning movement was somehow separate from tilting movement.
    Is there an alternate head for the RRS that providing more "cant stability" when panning ?

  • @kansas Check out their gimbal heads and fluid heads.

  • Looks like the "Universal Leveling Base" might be the one for panning ...


  • You won't have any more luck isolating pan from tilt with that than you do a ball head. Once you unlock it, it is free to move any direction. If you want something that will only pan, and not cant or tilt, the axis needs to be controlled by a separate mechanism.

    However, if you want to pan, but not tilt or cant... the bottom of the ball head can do that quite easily if you got the head I recommend. If you want to pan and tilt, but not cant... then a gimbal or fluid head is about the only thing that I'm aware of that will do it.

    Though this is something that I never do with my tripod. The pan axis on the bottom of the head is always locked in place, orienting the controls directly in relation to the legs. You likely had that free-wheeling on your old setup. This is not customary.

  • Well that one showed up when I searched (the RRS) site for both "gimbal" and then for "fluid" ... so I was hoping it was at least one of not both of those! :)

    I think I want pan and tilt but not cant. The critter might be moving closer or farther away and to some extent across my front. But I will not be moving my position.

    I'll look some more.

  • http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/heads/gimbal-heads


    You do realize that in order for your plan to work, your tripod legs must be absolutely perfectly level, right? To me, this sounds like a training issue, not an equipment issue.

  • Thanks for the links !!!

    As to "plan to work" ... I'm sure you're right ... but I've been panning off the manfrottos for 33 months and hitting the yotes, coons and opossums around the coop ... without "floppy" cant ... so just trying to find a way to do that with the RRS ... :) ...

    oh ... and there is no level ground around here ... this is the Flint Hills !!! :)

  • I had an opportunity to try the Anvil head which you have @kansas, and I'm not a fan. I very much prefer the BH-40.

  • Well I have gotten the Anvil 30 to pan without floppying side to side by partially locking down on it and panning ... but I'm not sure if it is designed to be used/abused in that way.

    I will look at the BH-40.

  • The BH-40 has a separate tension adjustment, lock lever, and a panning base built into it. It's what I've been using as my primary head for the last several years.

  • @orkan

    How does the BH-40 compare with the BH-55? I was looking at the BH-55SC, what are the differences for somebody who hasn't held either?

  • @longrange338 The 55 is huge. I use a set of 33 legs and the 55 head for my HTI, which weighs close to 35lbs. I would have no hesitation running a 75lb rifle on the 55 head.

    The 55 head itself, weighs about just as much as a set of 23 legs and the bh-40 together. I prefer the 40 for my general hunting and shooting needs. The lever lock is very intuitive and ergonomic in the way I run a tripod. The round knob on the 55 is not as easily operated with a single thumb.

    However, if you've got very heavy rifles or a need for that kind of stability, the 55 is a good head. Though when you get into that weight class, the fluid heads - either the gimbal or the video head becomes a real option.

  • Guy,
    I just spoke with Michael at RRS and hopefully can answer some of these questions. You can adjust the tension on the Anvil 30 with out any worry of damaging the head, it is designed to do this hence the reason for no secondary tensioning adjustment. The Anvil 30 is designed to be much stronger using steel in the ball and tensioning parts rather than aluminum like with the BH 40, although I think it goes without saying the BH 40 has proven itself plenty strong. The Anvil 30 is 3oz lighter than the BH 40, if that is a huge deal for you. If you want to swap out the Anvil 30 for the BH40 and you bought the TFCT - 34 tripod (latest series 3) you will have to purchase a different plate to accommodate the BH 40. Greg made a great assessment above based on his experience, seems the ergonomics may not be as good as the BH40 in his opinion so I think this will come down to user preference. I don't have mine in hand as it is on its way the be coated, but when I have it back and had time to use it Ill give more feed back.

  • Wow, great data Mr Painless !!!

    01 - You can adjust the tension on the Anvil 30 with out any worry of damaging the head, it is designed to do this hence the reason for no secondary tensioning adjustment (GOOD TO KNOW !!!)

    02 - The Anvil 30 is designed to be much stronger using steel in the ball and tensioning parts rather than aluminum like with the BH 40 (Interesting, though the Anvil 30 sure is smaller compared to the Manfrotto heads I'm used to)

    03 - If you want to swap out the Anvil 30 for the BH40 and you bought the TFCT - 34 tripod (latest series 3) you will have to purchase a different plate to accommodate the BH 40. (I would be one of those needing a different plate)


    Based on all this ... I'm gonna keep trying with the Anvil 30 ... now that I know it is designed to do what I'm doing with it ... partial locking and panning ... that seems to be solving the worst of the "floppy cant" issue.

    But for the next RRS, I will try to figure out how to order it with the BH40 ...