By Mike Willis
The Lead Sled is a tool that has grown in popularity within the shooting community. This portable bench rest setup has changed the game for many shooters throughout the world.
It seems that whenever a person buys a .300 Win. Mag., they pick up a box of ammo and a Lead Sled. Sighting in one of these shoulder-fired cannons can feel like cruel and unusual punishment.
The evolution of the Lead Sled has helped shooters deliver countless consecutive shots without having to surrender one’s pride along the way. Not having to worry about flinching during shot anticipation has dramatically decreased unnecessary ammo consumption for many.
While Lead Sleds have proven themselves to be exceptional tools, shooters should be aware that improper use of a Lead Sled can have catastrophic consequences.
The very shock-absorbing capability that made this product famous may come at a high cost to the ill-informed consumer. Shooters with synthetic stocks are usually the ones to learn this first. When shooting from a shoulder-fired position, the energy from the shot is typically absorbed by the shooter. The butt of the rifle will recoil into the shoulder and usually cause the shoulder to be pushed back.
This part of the shooting process is vital for the rifle in how it was designed. Completely locking a rifle in place and discharging a round will put enormous strain on its various components. This can lead to breaking stocks or other components of the rifle.
In the era of lightweight gear, manufacturers are trying to use the least amount of material as possible to meet strength requirements. As rifle manufacturers began producing hollow synthetic stocks, shooters began to discover what they were doing to their rifles by improperly using their Lead Sleds.
Before you head off to the scrap metal yard in disappointment, read on to learn how this tool can still be beneficial when used correctly!
The main contributing factor leading to firearm damage is the amount of weight placed in the sled. By ensuring that there is not too much weight, you allow the rifle to recoil as needed while maintaining that shot stability. Putting some weight in the sled can still be a safe and effective way of REDUCING recoil. Just make sure that you don’t overdo it, or you may find yourself purchasing yet another rifle!
The exact amount of weight varies significantly based on the caliber and weight of the rifle. Always start with a small amount of weight and work your way up. Some shooters will even use the Lead Sled without any weight in it at all.
One last thought regarding shooting from a bench rest: Sportsmen and women need to remember that the Lead Sled is a tool to help get your rifle sighted-in. This process does not help you to become a better shooter. This is why it is imperative that you also practice without the help of a Lead Sled so that you can identify and correct any bad habits that you may have.
The Lead Sled will cover a multitude of shooting sins. But an ethical hunter will seek to become proficient with their firearm in the same way they intend to use it while in the field.