Shooters have been utilizing camera tripods as shooting rests for a while now. The camera industry, as well as the firearm industry, has made the jump to carbon fiber to make lighter and stronger components. We will take a look at a relatively new-comer to the firearm tripod market. Colorado Tripod and their Series 2 Millennium carbon fiber tripod.
Colorado Tripod Company
Colorado Tripod is a camera tripod company. According to Cody at Colorado Tripod, shooters have been using their Centennial tripod for . . . well shooting of course. They also use it for spotting but any tripod can do that job. The tripod they sent is their demo Centennial Series 2 tripod.
Before receiving their tripod, I had bought my own tripod just for the purpose of shooting off of it. My setup was rudimentary and as frugal as I could get. I found this Calumet carbon fiber tripod with a Manfrotto pistol grip ball head used for under $150. I then bought a Pig Saddle and attached that to the Manfrotto head. While this setup worked, it was not great. There was a lot of play and movement in that setup. The Centennial Series tripod is a better setup for shooting even though it is still technically a photography tripod.
Looking at just the two tripods you can see they are a little different. My Calumet is no longer made as the company has been shut down as far as I can tell. It is longer than the Centennial tripod. However when fully extended the Centennial ends up being taller.
I like that my Calumet only has two extensions as opposed to the Centennial which has three extensions per leg. It requires loosening three more adjustment knobs to collapse the legs all the way. But that is a minor inconvenience and not a detriment to the tripod.
The one negative aspect of the Centennial tripod are the rubber ball feet. They are caps that cover up the metal spikes attached to the legs of the tripod. You have to remove them from the Centennial entirely. Whereas other tripods have collapsing rubber feet that do not need to be removed.
The top of the tripod is your standard fare. It has a double side screw. 3/8-16 and 1/4-20. 1/4-20 is for your standard camera tripod holes. The larger thread pitch is for sturdier mounts like the Pig Saddle.
One of the latches for the legs can be seen in the photo above. I prefer that style. You simply push the tab down with your thumb and the latch pivots out of the way allowing you to raise the legs to an extreme angle.
Colorado Tripod also included their Highline ball head. This is the part that makes it a shooting tripod for me.
The ball head is ARCA rail compatible. For those not into precision rifle shooting, the ARCA rail is the new hotness for attaching your rifle to a tripod.
Magpul had come out with a Manfrotto adapter but it is limited in nature. There are Picatinny rail adapters for tripods but again their use is limited. The ARCA rail is like a giant dovetail on the bottom of the handguard on a rifle. Since there are no slots you can slide the ARCA rail up and down with ease. Then tighten the tripod mount and it stays where it needs to be. For the review, the ball head came with an ARCA adapter plate which I mounted my pig saddle onto it. Yes, it adds an additional complication to the system and increases more slop. However, it is a small compromise for better adaptability for a wider variety of rifles to be used on this setup.
One aspect of the Colorado Centennial Series 2 tripod that I like, and that my Calumet does not have, is a removable center column. That column is almost as long as the legs. It gets in the way when you want to position the tripod as low as possible. Either the center post hits the ground or I have to raise the column up high.
By removing the center column you have a height similar to a standard bipod off the ground. Just release the leg locks and hyperextend the legs.
Shooting Off The Centennial Series 2 Tripod
Why would you want to shoot off a tripod? It is not for everyone but it is very convenient. With the majority of the rifle being supported you can use your off hand for other tasks. Tripods are more stable than a standalone hunting bipod or shooting sticks.
Above my Ruger Precision is using a short ARCA rail in order to be held entirely by the Highline Ballhead. Making hits at 400 and 600 yards was not difficult off the tripod. I am sure a better shooter could do better at further distances.
With the Pig Saddle, I can hold rifles with odd-shaped handguards.
For the setups above I found it best to keep all the adjustment knobs of my support side. I even keep the tension knob of the Pig Saddle on the left side. That way I can easily loosen the jaws to remove the rifle quickly. If I need to make a rapid adjustment I can turn the large ball head knob below and pivot the rifle where I want. Then with a quick twist of the same knob, I can tighten it back up for better support while shooting.
Final Tripod Thoughts
Shooting off a tripod is not as secure as shooting off a bench rest or the ground using time-honored skills with a bipod. However It helps when shooting in awkward positions or off complicated barricades like in PRS matches.
With regards to the Centennial Series 2 tripod, I found a considerable amount of play when I moved my Ruger Precision with the ball head tightened as much as possible.
However, some play is nice to have. You can make small adjustments without having readjust the ball head. As this one stands now, the Centennial Series 2 tripod is $299 on their website. The Highline Ballhead is an additional $129 for the medium-sized one. Colorado Tripod says they are working on a rifle specific tripod and I am eager to see what they come up with.