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By Tom in Oregon

I’ve been doing some long range shooting and as I get older, I hurt the next day from shooting prone. I like my big bore rifles enough that I won’t get rid of any, just change the way I shoot them. Shooting from sitting or standing is much more preferable, due to how recoil is distributed to your body. Not to mention, how your body reacts to the recoil. So I decided to build a portable shooting bench, as I like to travel out to the woods for some 12-1500 yard plinking. After some thought, I went to Home Depot and gathered what I thought I would need . . .


Two pieces of two foot by four foot sheets of plywood, some plumbing pipe and screws. Tools needed are a screw driver. If you want to make it go a bit smoother and faster, a drill driver and a jigsaw make things a bit smoother.

First, I squared up the two sheets with one another. Then screwed them together using a liberal amount of screws. Then, using the floor flanges from the plumbing section, scribed out the radius to round the corners.


After cutting the corners off, the floor flanges were screwed to the plywood. Once in place, simply screw on the pre-cut legs.


It was cheaper to buy a long length of pipe and chat with the Home Depot guy while he cut to length and threaded one end for me. I left the legs long while I select a suitable chair. I’m thinking a folding camp chair that is semi-rigid.

The finished product is sturdy enough to hold my 35-pound rifle and accessories. There’s plenty of space for a spotting scope, ammo, Caldwell leadsled or other items. I’m thinking cup holder…

Total cost, $89.68. Hope this little helpful hint keeps you shooting more.

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  1. I believe in some circles that is called “a table.”

    Or “tabla” for those of you that habla espanol.

  2. Great idea. The strength of the portable shooting bench is obvious, but that also brings weight.

    I think I will work with your design and try to lighten the weight without appreciably reducing the strength. With lighter but strong legs and brackets, the cost will likely rise, but those of us who cannot carry the gun and the table for longer distances, a lighter weight may be of great benefit.

    There is a type of PVC I have used in the past which has proven very strong and portable, which I may use.

    • That or mount a couple bike tires to the side. Detach the legs for travel. Maybe even add tie downs for the rifle and ammo. Wheel it to your desired shooting spot, screw in legs and presto! Cart becomes table. Having the wheels on the muzzle end shouldnt be too distracting and donor bikes can be had for pretty cheap, garage sale season just started.

      • See then, we can put a motor on it, and a few chairs, maybe a nice box on the back for gear.

        Then we shall call it something. hm. well it picks stuff up, so we shall cal it a “pickup”

    • I did something similar, but welded up a lightweight frame of square tubing to bolt the plywood to. Then, welded the pipe flanges to the frame at a slight angle, so the legs (three of them) could be splayed out a bit. My bench has the more traditional cutout, so you I can slide forward with the rifle and get better support for my right arm. The bench has worked very well for multiple trips to the Boomershoot event, as well as shooting at home on my backyard range.

      Paint it with some good quality paint to keep the moisture out. It’s also worthwhile to thread the other end of the pipes and put some caps on there, to keep from coring out chunks of dirt and filling up the legs.

      • I’ve seen a few guys here suggest welding stuff to make a better bench, but if like me, I don’t have the tools or skills to weld. The nice thing about Tom’s bench is it only needs a screw driver to assemble. And a jig saw if you want round corners.

    • Some unthought through ideas:

      – Put some folding handles on it so you can carry it like luggage
      – Put the legs at a slight angle toward the corners to widen the base a bit
      – Mount some pvc piping on the bottom to hold the legs when in transit or storage (opening towards the handles)
      – Mount some backpack-like straps on it to huff it on your back

      I use a workmate workbench that I just carry out. Not necessarily the sturdiest of things, but “works for me”.

  3. Actually, that a good idea. Me being old and small will make use of this idea. BUT, no truck so I’ll put hinges on the legs so they fold.
    Thanks, good idea.

    • Dermott,

      You shouldn’t have to add hinges to the legs … you can simply unscrew them from the flanges for transport.

  4. Have you tried this out yet? Do you see much rocking from spindly legs? Have you ever tried one of those dedicated “shooting stools” I’ve seen in various hunting/shooting catalogs? (and no, we don’t need any comments about projectile diarrhea, from the peanut gallery… or maybe it’s just me, but I see shooting…then I see stools…nevermind – I think I need to go wash my brain)

  5. There are portable tables you can buy that come with carrying bags too. A lot of them probably aren’t sturdy enough to support a 35 lb rifle and gear on a regular basis, but this one specifies that it will support 60 lbs. It’s fairly compact when it’s folded too, but likely still not nearly as sturdy as the one he built. It’s probably good enough if you’re not shooting very high caliber rifles though.

    • In my limited experience those store bought portable tables with folding legs are to wobbly for good shooting. And that’s with normal sized rifles and no lead sled.

      Shooting off the hood of a pickup has the same wobble to it with the added joy of the chance to damage your truck. Muzzle blast is not good for paint jobs.

    • Those weren’t long enough to suit my needs.
      And they kind of sagged under the weight.
      My big rifle scoots back 4-6 inches when it’s fired, so I didn’t think plastic would last.

  6. What a bunch of silly, useless posts. Let’s get to the meat, here. WTF is that beautiful rifle? I get a distinct impression it’s not a 5.56 mm. And that WOOD! AAAAhhhh!

      • That’s an impressive piece of hardware, sir. My first guess was a .338 Lapua given the mention of 1500- yard plinking. Then I thought that you might be more of a classic fellow and the .338 Lapua is a pretty new caliber. Plus, a lot of .50 Cal ammo is cheaper than .338. *sigh*

        • Ahh, .50 BMG. Also known as “illegal like f****” here in Norway, I won’t complain since 12.7×108 and 14.5×114 are legal (any good sources on bullets and brass for the latter?). Or can I get away by powdercoating cast bullets?

    • McMillan, captive bolt, single shot. (I wanted the rigidity). Laminated stock that I formed to my face.
      Scope is a Millet 6-25 by 56 mm with a 35 mm tube. Mil dot reticle w illumination. Mounted on a 20 minute base.
      The scope has 140 minutes of windage and elevation.

      I broke a Swarovski and a Burris already. The millet is holding up great.

      Match rounds are 750 grain bore riders from Barnes ahead of 210 grains of hodgdon bm50 powder. Book says about 2,850 fps. (It broke my chrony when the blast knocked it over)
      Plinking rounds are 647 grain API’s that I reload for about a buck apiece.

      • A *BUCK*??? YGBSM. I got some .300 blk cost more than that! OTOH, I suspect the comparative recoil between the two might make a person decide on the beanshooter. NOT.

        Thanks for the post, be thankful OR is too far from TX for me to drop by.

      • Wait, wait, wait. I just reread that. When I was in the jet flying-bomb dropping business, API stood for armor piercing incendiary, which doesn’t sound to me like a handloaded plinking cartridge. Tell me I’m missing something.

        • Hahaha.
          Yep. Armor piercing incendiary. They are a hoot towards evening shooting boulders and steel plates. Very appreciable flash on impact.
          I just got a load of APIT, (armor piercing incendiary tracer), in and I’m hoping for some good weather this weekend.

        • Tom, you must have some serious contacts to obtain the BBs for handloading, I never saw anything but loaded rounds. Do you deal with a factory? Is API unregulated?

        • Larry, if this was 2 years ago, I’d give you their name in a heartbeat. I’m down to a couple hundred primers and they haven’t had any in quite a while.
          They just sell projectiles. Not loaded ammo.
          It’s all legal, and I do my own reloading.

    • This is the design I made, I love it. On the right side (or opposite the sitting side) I cut an oval on the balance point so I could carry it short distances. Thinking of bolting a strap on the same side under it so I can just sling it.

  7. At IKEA they also have light weight legs, way lighter than iron pipe, that screw on and off and their diameter is large enough that it wont drive into the ground.
    Although the hardware store is around the corner, IKEA may not be.
    Thanks Tom

    A guy comes up with a great idea, and then everyone has an opinion.
    I now understand where this sayingcomes from,
    “There a very few true writers, but everyone is an editor”

    • It’s a blog site. If we all didn’t have an opinion and voice them RF would be on the unemployment line.

  8. I fall into the old creaky bastard category. 😀 I’ve tried a number of ‘portable’ benches with greater or lesser degrees of success. They usually fall into two categories: (1) Light enough to be considered portable, but not terribly stable, or (2) Stable, but ‘portable’ becomes a relative term.

    – MTM Predator: Very portable, cheap, okay for my young kids plinking a few hundred yards. I bought this for the boys after using trying a friend’s at an outing. Works well for that.

    – Scissor Leg bench (‘Big Game Deluxe’): Heavier than the Predator, a bit more stable. Bench top is too short for some applications. I used this for years and still run it out to the range when I have larger groups coming.

    – Cabela’s ‘Stable Table’: This could have worked well, with one glaring issue: It is NOT stable. Well, everything but the ‘rubbermaid’ top is very stable. Terrible design weakness. Ability to manually ‘level’ the bench with the adjustable legs is nice though. Sits in the corner until I build a new table top for it. Makes it to the range once or twice a year when I’m bringing along larger groups.

    – Cabela’s Pinnacle: Might work if it didn’t fall apart. ‘Folds’, sort of. Terrible build quality. Out shooting group got to watch this one fall apart over two range sessions. I helped the owner put together another ‘Rugged Buddy’ table, like the one I built below.

    – DIY ‘Rugged Buddy’ table: Built my own based on the table in the link (below). Used two sheets of 7-Layer 3/4 ply instead of one. Makes it heavier (understatement), but it works. Just fold, put in truck bed, take out at the range-of-the-day, unfold, done. Doubling the table top wood brings the price up to just under $90 of materials.

    My next project will be fitting a shooters-cut table top (same as built for the ‘rugged buddy’ build) to the ‘Stable Table’. I think that will vastly improve its stability. That said, it will decrease its portability that much more. I seriously need sherpas. 😉

  9. Is that a Nightforce 12-42×56 Precision Benchrest Optic? I only ask because it looks like one I was drooling over at the LGS yesterday.

    • “Scope is a Millet 6-25 by 56 mm with a 35 mm tube. Mil dot reticle w illumination. Mounted on a 20 minute base.
      The scope has 140 minutes of windage and elevation.”

      -Direct quote from Tom in Oregon

  10. I think Tom in Oregon should check his receipt.

    Pipe flanges cost something like $7 each. An entire sheet of 1/2 inch plywood is something like $15. Black pipe (3/4 inch) should be roughly $1 per foot. And a few screws should cost less than $6. When I add all that up, I get:
    $28 flanges
    $15 plywood
    $12 pipe
    $6 screws

    And I think stores that sell plywood often sell precut 2 foot by 4 foot pieces that cost quite a bit less than an entire sheet.

    I like the idea though. And for those of you who like to overbuild projects, purchase a tube of construction adhesive and apply it liberally to one of the plywood pieces before screwing them together.

    • I think you are quite a bit off on your pricing assumption. I just called the Home Depot in Eugene Oregon, near where I live, and their current price is $16.78 for a 2′ X 4′ piece, and $33.47 for a full size sheet (4X8), all 1/2″ This of course is for their better grade (same as AC exterior)
      The CD (construction grade) of course would be cheaper, but who would want to build a shooting table out of that!
      Maybe you could get some used cement coated forms for $15 a sheet.

    • Did y’all notice that .50 BMG sitting on the table? Tom doesn’t care whether it cost $50 or $100, he cares if it WORKS!

  11. $90, WOW, I can go out and buy a “shooting” bench for that, OR, at the very least, a table with legs that fold…

    While I applaud the effort, this is a fail in my book…

  12. Another approach would be a ready made folding table and a chair adjustable enough to accommodate any height. Check Musicians Friend on the web for sales on drummers thrones. They’re adjustable over at least a ten inch range and usually quite a bit cheaper than dedicated shooters stools. I got mine for about $25.00.

  13. Looks good but three legs would be better with a cutout like a school desk (could make it wider and ambidextrous). I welded pipe couplings cut on an angle to plates so the legs splay out for more stability. Urethaned the plywood top and just leave it out at the undisclosed location. Replace the top every 2-3 years. Can send pic and drawings if anyone wants.

  14. I saw a guy at one of the local conservancy ranges a while back that stiffened up the bottom of a pellican type hard gun case with plywood(3/8 I think) and used the same method for the legs. His was a little wobbly but if the legs could be angled out a little bit you’d be in business. His rifle, ammo, gear AND the legs fit into the hard box. The only problem I saw(other than the wobble) was that it was narrow so he didn’t have much room on either side of his bipod.

  15. Tom – I am a fan of your posts. Thank you.

    I also am in the same “elder statesman” position and I do depredation shooting here in Oregon for local cattle ranches and vineyards.

    I have found the Caldwell Field Rest to be the best solution for me. It is lightweight (lighter than I could build), solid, portable (comes with a shoulder strap) can be deployed for shooting from a chair or sitting position and is much more solid than any other commercial solution I have tried.

    Keep up the great work.

  16. Large diameter wheels (over 12″) might help if put on one end. It would be a lot easier to pick up one end a roll the table. Of course this would not work on very rough ground.
    Just a thought.

  17. It’s not shooting prone that I have a problem with. I probably will need help getting back on my feet again.
    Getting hit in the knee by a car in a crosswalk at a green light took care of that for me, about 11 years ago.

    Now the “good” one gives me as much trouble as the one that was hit. Spent nearly 16 weeks in a cast, on crutches. I was 55. My attorney didn’t go the permanent disability route, but permanent it is.

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