Don't Ruin a Rifle with LeadSled!

Discussion in 'General Sako Discussions' started by stonecreek, Nov 1, 2021.

  1. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    I thought I might start another thread specific to this subject since it has been prominently mentioned on another thread.

    As many have observed, the somewhat popular Caldwell LeadSled is flawed in its design and can crack buttplates, or worse, crack a stock at the tang. This is because its main design flaw is having rubber feet which grip the bench surface and resist slipping under recoil. This makes it like placing the butt of your rifle against a brick wall: The recoil from firing will eventually take its toll on whatever part of the gun has to absorb that energy, and the firmer the surface against which the gun rests the quicker this will happen. Added to this poor design is the extra inertia when weight (like 25 or 50 pounds of lead shot) is placed on the platform of the sled.

    Years ago I designed and built a simple, effective, yet safe recoil-absorbing rifle rest. It is made with a simple length (24 to 30 inches) of channel steel (5 or 6 inches wide). To this is welded a platform which raises and lowers in front for a sandbag (a simple 7/8" bolt about 5 inches long serves as the elevator), and a vertical piece of flat steel (padded with some dense foam and held in place with . . . you guessed it, duct tape) at rear against which the butt rests. The toe of the stock sits on a simple sandbag place on top of the channel steel. It looks like this:


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    And with a Sako cradled on it and pointed downrange, it looks like this:
    IMG_0183 (1024x334).jpg
    It sits on a surface of carpet; thus, when the gun is fired the channel steel slips slightly rearward so that the inertia of the recoil is absorbed over a much greater distance and the peak pressure on both the rifle butt and the rifle's bedding is reduced to little (if any) more than when fired offhand with the butt against your shoulder.

    The key to this design is to allow the rifle rest to slip rearward a bit under recoil, unlike the fully stationary Caldwell product. With light-recoiling rifles the movement is so little that it is unnoticeable. With heavy kickers you'll need to slide the rest forward after each shot an inch or so ("return to battery"). Notice that the rest extends off of the bench to the rear, making an offset shooting bench unnecessary since you can place the rest far enough to the rear to meet your shoulder comfortably. The rest probably weighs about 15-20 pounds, which is plenty to dampen the recoil of the hardest kicking rifle (this whole concept simply has the effect of adding weight to the rifle, NOT preventing the rifle from moving at all.)

    I built the first of these perhaps 20 or more years ago and have illustrated time and again that the rifle's zero is not at all altered whether shooting from the metal rest or from sandbags. This is true both of low and higher recoiling rifles. I have several friends who come to my place to shoot and they all refuse to shoot from the bench without using one of my rests.
     
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  2. Spaher

    Spaher Well-Known Member

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    Throw the lead sled in the trash.
    Any benefit is greatly outweighed by the potential risk of damaging a rifle stock or metal.
     
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  3. Bucktote

    Bucktote Well-Known Member

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    Good post Mr. Stonecreek!
    Like you , I have modified my lead sled instead of building new as you have,
    I removed the rear stop that stops the butt plate from moving rearward, I have made forend adjustable clips to hold the forend and lined the entire holding surfaces with waffel rubber padding. When the shot is fired there is minimum movement rearward and the sled is resting on carpeting. Results when using the modified sled are good much better for me than sandbags. At 83 I need all the help I can get! Greyfox used it when sighting my forester .243 and also had good results, B/T
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2021
  4. marlin92

    marlin92 Well-Known Member

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    I am glad to see others having concern with the lead sled. I have owned one for many years and knock on wood have never had an issue but early on worried about loading it down with bags of lead, so I use mine lead less allowing it to move rearward.
     
  5. Old Hippie

    Old Hippie Formerly known as bloorooster

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    The modern efforts to remove human error from marksmanship are truly counter productive.
    Shoot from bags..introduce your body to your rifle and your rifle to your mind.

    Bloo
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2021
  6. Bucktote

    Bucktote Well-Known Member

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    Hi Bloo,
    The lead slead only tells a shooter what the rifle is capable of, by eliminating much of the human element. As always it is the shooters rsponsibility to make the shot when in the field without the "Crutch"of the lead slead or other steading device. I wish I could shoot as well as I did when I was younger. I do have sand bags etc. in my shooting houses and rest on the window sills. I also have chairs that are quiet. B/T
     
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  7. Spaher

    Spaher Well-Known Member

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    I've expressed my view of the Lead Sled and agree that the goal is sighting in your rifle to have consistent groupings but with some who do not exercise shooting or hunting often suffer from too much gun. I mean that they compensate with a magnum for their lack of confidence. In south Tx the top dog tracking handler for over 40 years has kept records of the calibers used in wounding deer that require his services in finding them and too often dispatching the wounded animal. The top wounding caliber is the 7mm Rem Magnum and .300 Win Mag comes in second, not that there is anything wrong with either of them but the shooter's lack of ability/confidence and often relying on someone else to sight in their rifle. Some gun shops offer this service. By too much gun I mean that they are afraid of the report and recoil of these calibers and think a magnum compensates for bad or under developed skills. I agree with Bloo that all shooters/hunters should familiarize themselves with their rifle, be comfortable and confident as it is owed to the game as wounding is not the goal. Stonecreek's design is good for sighting in, as are good sandbags with front adjustable base but you have to replicate shooting in a hunting situation. Don't get me going on the useless shooting tripods, etc that are being marketed to compensate for a lack of shooting skill, something else to lug around and make noise with and the next thing will be having someone shoot for you by proxy as is done at times in Africa.
     
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  8. Old Hippie

    Old Hippie Formerly known as bloorooster

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    I mean no disrespect, I too, used to shoot better. Eye sight, aches and pains, mobility and agility have all taken their toll on my accuracy and groups.
    Back when I was a kid I’d pile up sweat shirts and jackets and whatever else on the hood of my truck or car to get a gun sighted in. Worked okay then.
    I upgraded to a couple pair of Levi’s that I cut into shorts, filled the legs with sand and sewed them closed. That worked way better.

    The sled type shooting racks with the rear braces to but the rifle against turned me off instantly, simply because I felt it disconnected me from my gun. I just feel that connection is important.

    All that said, the best part of it all is that once my gun comes off the bags and goes hunting, when it hits my shoulder and Hair is in the scope..I know exactly what’s getting ready to happen. Click..BOOM!…grin!

    Bloo
     
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  9. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    At the risk of getting you started . . . I can't stand those things either, especially the contraptions that attach to the front sling stud of the stock. There's no way those won't disturb the barrel-stock contact and cause the gun to shoot to a different place depending on whether it is rested on the contraption or fired offhand. You would think it would be old guys with weak muscles and jittery hands who are attracted to such devices, but it is instead a generation of shooters with an "adolescent" attitude who've seen them on TV or movies and think they're somehow cool.

    I feel the same about "shooting sticks". I guess since the TV hunters have to have a couple of camera operators following them around that they might as well have yet another guy to carry their shooting sticks and run in front of them to prop them up when game is spotted.
     
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  10. Bucktote

    Bucktote Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Bloo,
    I know you never are disrespectful. and I can remember while in my 70s,
    I would take my "Buck Shot" climber & go up a pine tree to the first accessable limb in the crown. The side of the tree served as a brace & many deer fell at the report of my rifles. My wife of 63 years put the brakes on climbing for me as she encouraged me to get rid of my climbers. Alas! shooting houses were built & going aloft is no longer an option. My kids said dad will go so high we don't know if the gun can shoot that far!! I still remember a tree in Wheeler County GA that when the sun came up, I saw ice on the rifle barrel!!! What the hell am I doing here??
    Time changes a lot of things, memories prevail, same goes for good friends & good advice from caring people. All the best!! B/T
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2021
  11. marlin92

    marlin92 Well-Known Member

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    BT. you brought back a memory of mine with a hunting buddy who has passed several years ago. We were hunting in Northern Maine from buckshot climbers north of Patten Maine and the weather was as miserable as I have ever hunted in - I was never so glad to get out of a tree in my life as I was on that day. I still hunt from my buckshot but these days use a safety harness.
     
  12. kevinlg

    kevinlg Well-Known Member

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    I got two words......Latigo sling.
    I'll use one for as long as I can.........Lord willing.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. bigcountry4me

    bigcountry4me Well-Known Member

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    And then, shoot from multiple positions at multiple distance in differing weather conditions, especially and including cross winds.
     
  14. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    I had a lead sled at one time, but couldn't figure out a way to carry it when I was hunting so I sold it.
     
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  15. Old Hippie

    Old Hippie Formerly known as bloorooster

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    My favorite and most used shooting position it to drop to one knee or actually ease down to my haunches, resting my elbow on my knee. The contact helps make steady shots. Now days it just takes a lot longer to stand back up o_O

    bloo
     
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  16. bigcountry4me

    bigcountry4me Well-Known Member

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    Not to steer the thread another direction or suggest any position or style favors another but it’s interesting how hunting and shooting styles differ from east to west. Obviously terrain, elevation, and cover are all factors. For instance, rarely would a drop to a knee scenario apply here. Most often and because of distance (glassing and hiking ridgelines) I end up utilizing my Eberlestock pack while sitting or while prone. Again, no critique for any favored position, just an observation.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2021
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  17. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    It's funny, but although I know I haven't gotten any taller it seems like the ground is much further away than when I was in my 30's. Also, while global warming is a real concern, why doesn't anyone complain about whoever it is that keeps turning up the gravity? Any fool can plainly feel that the gravity is MUCH stronger these days than it was just a few years ago as evidenced by how much harder it is to get back up off of the ground from a kneeling or sitting position! This greatly increased gravity is having all kinds of ill effects on people's lives!
     
  18. gunner620

    gunner620 Well-Known Member

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    I'm having problems like that too. Do you think it may have something to do with age or is it aliens. The latter must be the real problem. Jim
     
  19. Old Hippie

    Old Hippie Formerly known as bloorooster

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    I too have noticed the increased gravitational magnitude! I’ve also noticed it doesn’t always pull straight down any more either! It shifts laterally without warning!
    I shoot prone if needed and I shoot off of my pack when I can. The hunting pack is a newer addition to my gear.I’ve become quite used to hunting with it, except that it allows me to add even more gravity. Shooting sticks .. tripods..bipods..range finders…binoculars .. lap tops..yella -call…all these wonderful necessities can now be humped around the woods with free hands and tired legs!
    I long for the days again, where we just had a rifle and knife .. a mashed up sandwich or little Debbie cake..and a drink from the creek or stream nearby.
    Now you can get a Uber to your hunting camp if you want … WTF!

    edit: Marlin mentioned earlier, possibly in another post, about the use of Porters to carry multiple rifles for the Sakohaulic rifle choice dilemma..this is an option I may try..I can think of 3-5 porters (grandchildren) that I can easily hire!
    bloo
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2021
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  20. bigcountry4me

    bigcountry4me Well-Known Member

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    Pretty humerus Hip, again a contrast in gear, or style. A pack of some sort has been standard operating equipment for much of my hunting life. And as I get old(er) the quality and versatility needed to evolve as well. I used to carry a simple one compartment floppy day pack. These days (four knee surgery’s and an implant) I needed a more technical custom system to actually pack game and perhaps survive if the situation artistes. The internal frame and the ability to bend (adjust) it properly to my back is a tremendous advantage. The frame also provides a tremendous stable platform while seated. Take care.
     
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