Picatinny rails are both a blessing and a curse on a rifle. You can put whatever you want wherever you want on your gun, but with rail space at a premium and weapon weight the ever present concern deciding what exactly you need and what you can live without becomes difficult. There’s a product on the market right now that aims to make that decision a little easier by combining two functions into one rail-mountable solution: the Grip Pod . . .
In competition shooting, both a vertical foregrip and a bipod are desirable functions on a rifle. The forward vertical grip gives the shooter an index point for gripping the gun and adds some ergonomically placed surface area against which they can push when swinging the rifle from one side to the other. Plus, I just find it much more comfortable to rest my hand against something rather than directly gripping the handguard.
The benefit of a bipod for long range shots from various positions is pretty self-evident as the more stable the shooting position you have the more accurate your fire will be and a bipod is pretty damn stable. But having both of these features on a rifle at the same time takes up massive amounts of rail space, and on mid-length handguards basically puts the vertical grip too close to the magazine well to be truly useful.
Enter the Grip Pod. This single unit not only acts as a chunky vertical foregrip (and excellent monopod) but has a spring-loaded bipod stored inside the body ready to be deployed at the push of a button. At first blush it appears to be the solution to our problem, but digging a little deeper things get disappointing.
The vertical foregrip part of the Grip Pod does indeed function as a vertical foregrip, but I have some complaints. Besides the fact that the grip itself may be a hair too large, the biggest thing that irks me every time I use it is the screw on the side of the unit. In order to make the thing easy to attach and remove, they’ve designed a finger-friendly knob that lets you put the thing on and take it off at will – and rather quickly. The issue is that this screw becomes very annoying for those of us with large fingers (it interferes with getting a really good grip on the unit), and I can’t even fathom how our southpaw brethren manage one of these things without being VERY uncomfortable.
The bipod is the real selling point, but even that falls short of the mark. To keep weight down, the legs of the bipod are made of plastic which makes them very susceptible to bending and breaking. A gun has a tendency to move back and forth some as it fires, which stresses the plastic and will eventually break the legs.
And forget about trying to “load” the bipod (place forward pressure on the bipod to steady it), because that’s a sure fire way to snap the legs right off. The bipod only really works well on smaller calibers (like 5.56), and even then doesn’t really meet the requirements of a bipod on a competition grade firearm.
So in short by going with the Grip Pod you’re getting the worst of both worlds; a bipod that will break eventually and a grip that is somewhat uncomfortable. But here’s the thing: I still run one on my competition rifle for one reason – nothing does the job better and lighter.
If I were to get these components separately I’d be spending far more money and using tons more rail real estate than I currently am, not to mention adding extra weight to an already boat anchor-esque firearm. The Grip Pod not only takes up less space than a conventional bipod alone, but the compact design means less chance of the legs becoming snagged on some loose stage equipment and costing me time or a DQ.
It’s also considerably lighter than the combination of the two. But the biggest draw is probably the button on the back of the unit that instantly deploys the legs when you push it, meaning that I don’t have to reach forward and manually deploy the legs like with a normal bipod.
There’s no doubt that by going with the Grip Pod I’m missing out on some of the benefits of a bipod, but the fact of the matter is that for me and my skill level, it’s entirely sufficient for my needs. It gives me plenty of stability without sacrificing much weight or rail space, and does it rather cheaply as well.
Layered on top of the product itself is some rather fanatical support. They quickly replaced the legs on my Grip Pod when they finally decided to declare independence from the unit and disappear into the sands of south Texas and are apparently standing by to continue replacing them as they break again down the road.
Another side benefit of the fold-away design is that for matches where you’re running in a division that doesn’t permit bipods, you can still leave it attached — just don’t hit the magic button that releases the bipod legs and you’re good to go. It makes life a lot easier when you don’t have to be constantly swapping out parts on your guns depending on what the CRO decides to make the rules that day.
If you’re looking for a dedicated bipod, this isn’t it. And if you’re looking for a dedicated vertical foregrip you can do much better. But if you need something that works well enough in most competition settings, doesn’t take up a lot of space and is quick and easy to deploy, this might be your ticket. There are a number of competitors out there with similar designs, but none execute the concept quite like this one. The Grip Pod is an example of a unit where the value of the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.
Ratings (Out of five stars):
Reliability: * *
I really can’t justify giving this more than two stars when the legs snapping off is a common enough occurrence that replacement is a “no questions asked” affair.
Utility: * * * *
It doesn’t do everything that a standalone bipod would do, but it does enough to be functional.
Overall Rating: * * * 1/2
There are some very minor changes that could take this from three to four stars – swapping out the screw for something a little more low profile for one. But even as it stands right now, its good enough for me to run it on my primary competition rifle.