The coolest product I saw this year at Shot Show was one that I almost did not see. Its easy to miss things at Shot Show simply because of how many products are being shown, but this product, The Hog Saddle by Shadow Tech LLC caught my eye. As I walked down the line at an invite only shooting event held the day before Shot Show formally opened, it was easy to miss this product, especially given the prototype Barrett M240 (we wrote about it here as the MG240LW) going through belt after belt of 7.62mm a few feet away, but there, off to my right stood a tripod with a GAPrecision rifle atop it. I actually did walk past, but did a double take and stepped back to examine just how this GAP rifle was positioned. What I saw was a product that was elegant in its simplicity, rugged and effective. It was a most beautifully machined vise designed to hold a rifle and called the Hog Saddle. The Hog Saddle is the kind of product that you see and instantly realize the usefulness and application. Its the kind of product that makes you slap your forehead and say “I should have thought of this”. Its the kind of product that you realize meets a need you never knew you had or if you did realize you did have the need, this product instantly makes your life simpler and better.
The Hog Saddle is in essence, a 16 oz. CNC machined vise for your rifle with an industry standard mount that sits atop a commercial camera tripod. The singular purpose of The Hog Saddle is to provide a stable, solid, universal thread attachment for your rifle on a modular lightweight, adjustable and adaptable mount (tripod). It is crafted out of a single block of aluminum, hard anodized to provide a base for camouflage and is resistant to corrosion. The vise itself been machined to provide a contact patch of urethane pads to protect your rifle, reduce recoil and muzzle rise and preserve accuracy.
Flexibility is important and why the Hog Saddle has neoprene bonded into the CNC machined surface. Obviously, not all rifles have the same dimensions, so the Hog Saddle can adapt to different style rifles and still securely hold them in place. Here is an AR style rifle with a modular rail mounted securely in the Hog Saddle. Other rifles that are currently being used in the field with the Hog Saddle are AR designs including M16, M4, Mk-12 and .308 designs like the SR-25. M14 rifles, M110, Remington 700 designs including the M24 and M40 series as well as Accuracy International and McMillan TAC-50s.
The story of how the Hog Saddle came to be is the classic American success story. Products like this are the epitome of how small business gets started by meeting a very specific need through the design and construction of the most optimized quality product for the market. The Hog Saddle was designed by Joshua Stabler, a Marine Scout Sniper and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who saw the need for a product that could easily and rapidly mount a rifle on a flexible platform to enable precision shooting while reducing fatigue. Joshua like all scout snipers was trained to adapt or fabricate tools to meet the needs of the mission. Among snipers in the Corps and in the Army at least, Manfrotto tripods (commonly used for photography) are a common tool of the trade to provide a compact and convenient shooting support. Snipers have been running around with them for some time because they are relatively affordable, rugged and can take the recoil pounding from magnum caliber rounds, not to mention the abuse delivered in combat zones. After running around in the desert with fabricated rifle mounts created with 4″ PVC pipe with Isomat foam (pulled out of their sleeping mats) and glued together with ShooGoo, duct tape or JB Weld, Joshua saw the need for a more robust and reliable solution that would lock the rifle into a stable position. Because the rifle would precariously balance on top of this fabricated mount, falls are not uncommon potentially damaging optics or the accuracy of your platform. As Joshua puts it “Every sniper can tell you a personal story or two when they dumped their rifle off of a tripod”.
So, Joshua came back home and designed the Hog Saddle for his own use. As the classic story goes, his colleagues saw his solution and said “Hey, can you build me one?” and the company was born with the product being made in San Clemente, California.
Currently, the Hog Saddle is one of the hottest items in the sniper community and is being fielded by sniper platoons in the Marine Corps including MARSOC teams and Force Recon as well as with SEAL teams, Army special forces, German special forces (Kommando Spezialkräfte) and Italian special forces. It is also being used in the USMC Scout Sniper basic school and instructors course, the USMC High Angle Mountain Sniper Course and the USMC Special Operations Training Group.
The Hog Saddle is the single greatest idea I’ve seen in long range precision shooting in years. Its obviously the perfect accessory for those that earn their living behind a rifle, but it should be noted that its also an amazing addition for those that game hunt. I’ve hunted with shooting sticks and bipods and they have their place. But like anyone who has spent any time with a rifle will tell you, only a small number of shots are made shooting from the most stable prone position and shooting sticks are not self supporting when seated or standing. On top of that, magnum caliber rifles with heavy contour barrels are just that… Heavy. Shooting from a seated, braced position or a standing position can adversely affect the accuracy of your shot. The most responsible way to hunt is to make a precision shot that humanely takes down your game and reduces damage to the meat. The Hog Saddle facilitates accurate shot placement and I’ll be ordering another to go with my personal GAPrecision .300wm. You can get your own Hog Saddle in standard and Mil-Spec models here.
Image credit: Bryan William Jones