The Best Shooting Rests in 2023
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Shooting rests are an essential tool for creating a stable shooting and sighting platform. Shooting long-distance accurately requires minimizing movement, and without a stable platform, it’s next to impossible to make a good shot.
Even the most expensive rifles and optics on the market can’t shoot accurately at a distance without a stable base.
In This Article
Shooting Rest Comparison
Best Competition Rest
Best Cradle Rest
Best Sled Rest
Best Front Rest
Budget Cradle Rest
Best Pistol Rest
Budget Rifle Rest
Best Tripod Rest
Best AR Pistol Rest
Best Bag Rest
Why listen to us?
I have learned many things about firearms the hard way. I wish someone had taught me several things along the way and that I had read from credible sources when learning something new.
I have used a shooting rest to zero all of my rifles, and I’ve accurately shot and made my impact at 630 yards in a three-gun competition with a 5.56 rifle. I have used a rest to kill deer while 15 feet up in the air and out to 300 yards. My three-gun shotgun has a rear sight installed to help line up my slug target shots more accurately, and I have used the front portion of a shooting rest with support bags to line up my rear and front sight and confirm where my slugs impacted on target.
One of the most unique pistols I’ve ever shot is the 500 S&W Magnum with a small scope mounted on top. While I have not harvested an animal using that pistol, my grandfather has on many occasions. It is next to impossible to zero this handgun standing, mainly due to the sheer weight of the thing — especially with the optic mounted. Hunting with a handgun requires precision with a steady hand, almost more than a rifle because of its short barrel length/sight radius. A bench rest can assist in building a stable position when firing.
If you are newer to shooting, ask your shooting range what tools you can use while at the range. When I was on my collegiate shooting team, the shooting range we practiced at allowed us to use any of their shooting rests, shot timers, and even their chronograph.
Plus, if they have a variety of shooting rests you can use, try them all to see what details you do and don’t like about each so you can narrow down your search when shopping for your own.
The 10 best shooting rests all feature quality materials, fill a specific need for shooters, and are the best money can buy.
Shooting Rest Reviews
1. Best Competition Rest: Sinclair Competition Rest
The Sinclair Competition Shooting Rest is the most expensive of our 10 best shooting rests, but it is the best money can buy. Sinclair International makes high-quality products focusing on hand loaders and precision riflemen, so their products are as precise as the shots made off of them.
This competition shooting rest is the most versatile platform to shoot from, loaded with functional features to make your shots extremely accurate.
Sinclair boasts that their platform rivals any windage rest available today. The rest weighs over 30 pounds and has a low center of gravity, so once it’s in place, it’s likely to stay there, but for heavy precision rifles, that weight works in its favor.
The knobs adjust the rest’s height from 5” to 10” and have a windage adjustment at 100 yards of a full 60 inches.
2. Best Cradle Rest: Berrys Bullets Versacradle
Berry’s Bullets are known for one primary department they focus on – making bullets.
However, their VersaCradle shooting rest system is a unique offering in the world of shooting rests. Unlike traditional rests that use a screw pedestal, Berrys designed a 360-degree ball on which the rest rotates.
This shooting system’s effectiveness to cater to any gun or environment, and move in any direction is unmatched in the industry.
Shooters primarily focused on precision can make fine adjustments across a 360-degree range to set their rifle up exactly how they want it without being at the mercy of how far the rest maxes out on any single adjustment.
3. Best Sled Rest: Caldwell Lead Sled
The Caldwell company is known for manufacturing range gear, safety gear, and some of the best shooting rests in the industry, including the Caldwell Lead Sled.
They make a rest that fills the need for just about every kind of customer — from hunting to competition and for those who just love to shoot.
The Caldwell Lead Sled isn’t the most mobile of things — it weighs in at about 15 pounds, but it’s super stable. That weight is coupled with a precision “no wobble” elevation ramp unique to the Caldwell.
The front rest and rear cradle are made with non-marring material protecting rifle finishes of all kinds for years of use.
When paired with the rubber feet on the Caldwell Lead Sled, the weight comes into play, which work together to keep the rest from skidding out or sliding from recoil.
This stabile versatility makes the Caldwell Lead Sled helpful for shooting both rifles and shotguns using high-recoiling slug ammunition and can handle heavy 20-pound guns.
4. Best Front Rest: Caldwell The Rock Deluxe
Similar to the Caldwell Lead Sled, the Rock Deluxe can accommodate a variety of rifles, but it uses a 2-piece structure rather than a single sled design.
The Caldwell company designed this stand-alone front rest to be paired with any rear bag for versatility across shooting platforms.
You can customize the front rest with any medium varmint bag and choice of fill. The convenience of an independent rear bag allows the shooter to use a bag that fits their chosen stock to a tee.
Finally, the Rock Deluxe has adjustable feet with sharp feet you can anchor into the ground or wooden bench for consistent, precision accuracy even on uneven ground.
5. Budget Cradle Rest: CTK PRECISION P3
The CTK Precision company manufactures shooting rests, gun vises, monopods, rail-pods, and more, all made in the USA.
This specific shooting rest can accommodate both rifles and pistols, and the “P3” in its name comes from the three-point leveling system, which helps balance out slants or leans in your shooting surface.
The padding on the resting points uses high-quality marine carpet that is long-lasting and prevents any surface marring. The CTK Precision P3 rest is built mainly for precision rifle shooting from a single location, so you may want to consider another option if mobility is something you’re looking for.
The adjustments are simple, with knobs that are easy to use without ever having to lift your rifle or pistol out of place — just shoot and adjust.
6. Best Pistol Rest: Caldwell Pistolero
Caldwell designed one of the best shooting rests for handgun shooting. The Caldwell Pistolero accommodates full-sized handguns used primarily for hunting like 1911s and the Smith and Wesson 500 revolver.
This rest is unique because it can adjust both vertically and horizontally, with the hand rest sliding forward to adjust for different barrel lengths and handgun sizes.
The hand rest and the front cradle feature a soft pad that makes shooting off the rest comfortable for even the longest holds.
The Caldwell Pistolero is also small and light enough pack in a range bag — making it an essential item to bring if you need to sight in a red dot on a pistol or if you plan to use the rest during pistol hunting.
7. Budget Rifle Rest: Caldwell Rock Jr.
The Caldwell Rock Jr. is a lightweight rest option with a simplistic design that weighs about 4 pounds. Despite its tiny footprint, the height adjustment range is 4-½” to 7-¼”, more than enough to accommodate most shooter’s needs.
The shooter has their choice of fill material as it comes with an unfilled Caldwell medium bag. It’s a great entry-level shooting rest for new shooters who want some support when shooting their rifles but aren’t ready to commit to a more expensive or feature-laden option.
8. Best Tripod Rest: BOG Fieldpod
The BOG FieldPod is a portable hunting rest akin to shooting sticks or a hunting tripod. The best part about this rest is that it can easily fold up and be slung across your back by its carrying strap when not in use.
The BOG FieldPod is a lot like the Caldwell Deadshot Fieldpod, which adjusts in height from 20” to 42”, weighs just 6 pounds, and can be used with a shotgun, rifle, or crossbow.
When you’ve mounted your weapon of choice on the rest, it can pivot up/down and rotate left/right, enabling you to place follow-up shots on a moving target, something more stationery rests simply can’t do.
This one rest can fill the need of every kind of hunter and for every hunting season — be it in ground blinds, predator/turkey hunting, or long-range shooting.
I’ve staged mine for coyote shoots, product testing, and zeroing countless scopes, and always found the FieldPod to be a fantastic tool when you need a shooting rest for field use.
9. Best AR Pistol Rest: Birchwood Casey Alpha
A new design by Birchwood Casey just hit the industry and is available for pre-order. The exploding large-format pistol market has been woefully underserved when it comes to dedicated shooting rests, an opportunity Birchwood Casey is looking to capitalize on with their new AR-pistol rest.
Founded in 1948, Birchwood Casey makes everything from shooting rests to cleaning kits, clay throwers, and specialty shooting targets.
The Alpha shooting rest was created to fill the need for a solid prone shooting platform to account for even the shortest rifles with 7.5” barrels. The rest is made from steel with a non-slip rubber stock rest, so you can now take your AR pistol out to the range and see just how accurate your new toy is.
This specific rest adjusts not just for various rifle lengths but also windage and elevation, so you’re not sacrificing adjustability with this shooting rest, even with a large-format pistol.
10. Best Bag Rest: Caldwell Tackdriver Bag
While not a shooting rest, you would be missing out of you didn’t consider the Caldwell Tackdriver bag. This bag is the simplest form of shooting rest, but for shotgun users, it’s surprisingly effective.
Made from heavy-duty Nylon and shaped in an H design, you rest the barrel in the recess, and you’re off.
The Tackdriver’s design eliminates the need for multiple bags as it hugs the sides of your handguard or barrel to keep the rifle or shotgun stable.
I like how the inner portion of the H has an adhesive material that helps increase the grip against the weapon and keeps it from sliding around when firing.
The oversized handle also makes it easily transportable. If you are searching for a stable hunting platform to haul into the field, check out the Caldwell Tackdriver — available unfilled or filled.
Types of Shooting Rests
It is vital in your search to determine the purpose of your shooting rest and match that purpose up with the gun you’ll primarily be using.
If you are looking for a pistol-only shooting rest, it will undoubtedly eliminate traditional rifle rest options. These best shooing rest for pistols will typically just be front cradle or bag supported.
A sign of a good quality pistol rest is one with padding for the gun, a place for your wrist or grip to rest, and easy-to-reach adjustment knobs.
Lightweight Rifle Rests
The best part about a lightweight rifle shooting rest is that the shooting rest itself can also be light.
These shooting rests tend to use simple designs that pair a rear stock cradle with a front cradle, bag, or rest that moves vertically and horizontally.
If you have a heavier rifle used for competitions or hunting, look elsewhere because these lighter options won’t be able to manage the recoil, hold the rifle on target, or fit the gun well.
A rifle sled rest is a design that will support the heavier rifles in the industry. The sled can be designed to look similar to a rowing workout machine, while others will have a tripod design for added stability.
This rest option universally fits almost all rifles and is worth the money for a quality one that will last a lifetime.
Important Shooting Rest Features
Now that you have a better sense of the kinds of shooting rests available, let’s break down the details that matter.
A quality rest will be made of materials that are sturdy and long-lasting. This most often will be metal or steel, with a coating to protect it from rusting.
The best shooting rests hold up for decades in heat, cold, rain, snow, and other extreme weather environments. A father should be able to pass down his rest to his children along with his rifle.
The basic fact that people are different heights, guns vary in length and weight, and people tend to shoot in a variety of situations and formats means choosing rest that’s adjustable is critical.
The ability to adjust the rear and front positions of a rest will assist with lining up your gun to a target positioned higher or lower than your bench and rifle. Most quality rests are heavy, which helps with recoil management.
It is less than ideal to move or rotate a rest each time you want to change positions, so the best shooting rests pan left or right while the gun is still mounted.
The entire purpose of a shooting rest is to create a stable platform from which to take a shot. As you shop for a rest, it is crucial to confirm that the rest can support the firearm you plan to use with it.
In shooting competitions, the heavier the rifle, the better, so a higher quality shooting rest that can proportionally support the rifle’s weight may be necessary.
Ease of use
There is such a thing as too many controls, and you want a rest that is easy to assemble if required. Some products try to accommodate every category of need with a universal design instead of focusing on one specific purpose, making it challenging to use if you have a particular set of requirements.
Why use a Shooting Rest?
Shooting rests are designed for specific uses, but they almost universally create the most stable platform for shooting.
They fill every shooter’s basic need to sight in a gun and remove as much movement from the process as possible.
Sighting In A Firearm
There are many tools a firearms owner should have if they own a rifle, hunting pistol, or hunting shotgun. Bipods and shooting bags are beneficial for shooting prone or in specific positions, but a shooting rest is a necessity for many reasons.
All rifles should be sighted in using a shooting rest with at least 2 points of contact on the gun, if not more.
A living, breathing human body is never at rest. Each point of contact a person has with a weapon creates a new variable that can impact accuracy.
A proper shooting rest will replace the points of contact a person has with the gun to eliminate as much movement as possible, so there are fewer variables to correct for when the weapon is not shooting accurately.
A rifle shooting rest should isolate everything but the trigger pull from the shooter and allow the shooter to precisely align their firearm to the target the same way shot after shot.
Think of this as a science experiment. You are trying to set up a control group with the shooting rest because shooting without the stability of a rest is proven to cause accuracy errors.
Improved Pistol Performance
Big game hunters commonly use a handgun (usually a revolver) with a mounted scope on top.
Just like a rifle, that pistol needs to be sighted in with as much movement eliminated as possible to ensure the scope is zeroed. A pistol shooting rest is set up slightly differently to allow the shooter to grip the gun but set the frame or barrel on the rest.
The rest is then used to align the pistol with the target, so all the shooter has to do is pull the trigger.
While not as common, hunting deer with shotguns is possible with slug ammunition.
Typically, these shotguns will use a rear sight to ensure proper sight alignment, just like the iron sights found on a pistol or rifle. Slug ammunition has intense recoil, which means a shotgun shooting rest may be a front rest or front rest and rear bag, but the concept is the same.
Confirming or sighting in a shotgun requires a stable platform that eliminates the added variable of movement.
Hunting & Competition Advantages
Shooting rests are also used to add more stability in hunting or shooting competitions where a shooter has to make an accurate shot.
If a hunting blind has a shelf, table, or any sort of flat surface, you should always make room for a shooting rest to use with your hunting gun of choice.
Choosing the proper shooting rest for the correct application and the right firearm is key to successful shooting. Shooting rests with a tripod design are very stable and beneficial for hunting in long-distance shooting lanes.
Shooting rests can also help reduce recoil, depending on their design. Some rests have a rear rubber pad that helps absorb the recoil from a long gun. Rests with rubber feet can assist with stability and recoil management by keeping the gun in place when a shot is fired.
Some alternatives can fill in for a shooting rest if you’re in a pinch or the field.
- Shooting Bags. Shooting bags come in different sizes, weights, and shapes but can eliminate movement when the bags are placed in the correct positions. The external and internal material can also help or hinder getting a rifle lined up on a target. Shooters will fill shooting bags with various materials such as rice, Number 9 shot, “fill sand,” fish tank gravel, and airsoft pellets, just to name a few. Of course, materials that slip and slide when wet won’t accommodate hunters. Alternatively, bags that are too light or overfilled won’t compress down when you lay a heavy rifle on the bag. This lack of support prevents the development of a sturdy position as the bag doesn’t mold around the gun and allow it to relax into place.
- Shooting Sticks. Shooting sticks are essentially a bipod or tripod made for rifles rather than cameras. When compared to rests, shooting sticks offer much more height adjustment and mobility, but a shooting rest is much more stable than any shooting stick due to the weight and design of the rest. Shooting sticks, however, are much easier to carry when trekking through the woods.
Shooting rests are heavy and limit mobility, and most don’t offer 360-degrees of rotation — they max out at a certain point.
Shooting rests aren’t particularly adequate for making follow-up shots on a moving target, especially when dealing with fast-moving targets that quickly move out of range of the rest’s pivot capabilities.
The weight of even the lightest best shooting rest will be too much to carry for long periods. If you’re trekking to the hunting blind or stalking your prey, a heavy shooting rest isn’t something you want in your pack.
Even a shooting bag filled with heavy material is going to drive you crazy in this situation. You’ll most likely want to fill some sort of shooting bag with lightweight material to provide some level of support when making a kill shot.
Price Ranges vs. Features
- Under $50. Shooting rests vary in price by brand, quality of material, number of features, and mobility. Rests under $50 will typically be your entry-level shooting rests that provide one point of contact for your gun to rest.
- $100 – $300. Quality rests are usually priced at least over $100 but generally less than $300. These will be your sleds and tripod design rests, offering at least two points of contact for your rifle to rest.
- Above $300. Premium models for avid hunters, year-round competitive shooters, and versatility will be above the $300 mark.
How We Selected Our Recommendations
While many shooting rests are available on the market, we trust a few brands with our shooting accuracy. I have been fortunate to use almost all the aforementioned rests through friends, shooting ranges, and affiliates.
Suppose we haven’t had the opportunity to test it ourselves or see it on display in person. In that case, we spend time researching industry professional recommendations, unboxing and reviewing videos on YouTube, and we ask the folks that use rests all year long.
Any one of the 10 best shooting rests will serve you well, but choose the one that checks all the boxes in your search for the proper rest for you.