Firearm accessories can make a huge difference in your performance as a shooter. While they won’t improve the accuracy of your firearm, they will make you more accurate. The right accessories will also help you to learn such critical components of accurate shooting as eye relief, trigger control, and shooting positions. In this article, we identify seven rifle accessories that every hunter should have.
#1: Rifle Sling
A rifle sling is the number one indispensable hunting accessory. Its main purpose is to serve as a carry handle for your rifle when you are on the move. It allows you to sling the rifle over your shoulder, keeping your hands free for other tasks.
Finding the best rifle sling can be a bit of a hit or miss approach. Experienced hunters, however, make more advanced use of their rifle sling, using it to help stabilize their body and their rifle in any shooting position.
Rifle slings come in a wide variety of styles. Many come with a soft pad that is wider than the sling strap. They are usually made from leather or nylon. They should be at least 1.25 inches wide, be 2.5 times the length between the swivels on the firearm and be adjustable, either by buckles and hooks or a slider.
#2: Cheek Piece
A cheek piece is a riser or comb added to the stock of the rifle that increases the height at which the stock contacts the cheek of the shooter. It is critical to maintaining correct eye alignment and eye relief behind the scope. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including adjustable, non-adjustable and temporary. Most cheek pieces are made from high-density plastic or a composite material. They are cross-bolted to the stock. The best cheek piece should be simple, lightweight and effective.
A bipod is a rifle support that holds the fore-end of the weapon in a prone position or whenever a bench is used. It provides two points of stability for the rifle, allowing the shooter to form the third point. Bipods are comprised of two legs and a center section that the legs extend and pivot from. The best bipods will have legs that collapse and position out of the way when the bipod is not being used. The legs should also be spring-loaded for extension and have a locking detent that allows the legs to be extended and set at various heights independently of each other.
A monopod acts as a bipod for the rear of the rifle. It is designed to be used in the sitting bench rest or prone position. In this way, it provides an additional point of stability The most basic monopod has a rod that can be unlocked and comes down from a recess in the butt of the rifle. More elaborate (and expensive) models allow for height adjustment of the monopod in the shooting position, and for fine elevation adjustment.
#5: Muzzle Brake
A muzzle brake reduces the recoil of firing. It does this by directing the chamber and bore gases that are produced when firing out the sides of the barrel at the muzzle as the bullet leaves the muzzle. The gases then produce a forward push on the muzzle brake as they are forced to turn the corners of the brake. This pulls the rifle forward, effectively reducing the recoil that the shooter experiences.
There are many styles of muzzle brake available. Although they will all claim to have a massive impact on recoil, many do little in this regard. That is why it is vital that you get a quality unit that suits the type of firearm. The most important consideration is the port size. A large cartridge with a large powder charge requires large ports to allow enough gas to escape. But if the ports are too large for the rifle, there will not be enough gas volume to produce the required recoil reducing force. If you’re shooting from a multi-person blind, getting a muzzle brake can make life a good bit easier.
Check out our guide on the best hunting blinds.
#6: Shooting Sticks
Shooting sticks are sticks that are placed into the ground to form a ‘V’ shape into which the forearm of the rifle is placed. They can be made to almost any length. Some of them have a leather thong at the top of the unit that can be wound around the point where the V is formed to provide extra support.
The first shooting sticks were made from wood, yet they are now made from carbon fiber and come with built-in hand grips, wrist loops, and shock absorbers. Some shooting sticks are also made into sections that can be connected to form a single walking stick. Many are also telescopic so that they can be used at various heights to account for uneven ground.
#7: Sand Sock
A sand sock is a large thick sock that is filled with sand. It has two main uses. The first is under the fore-end of the rifle to provide a soft interface. The other purpose is to provide the third point of stability when you re using a bipod in the prone position. In this case, the sand stock is placed under the butt to, not only provide extra stability but also to prevent lateral swing.
A sand sock can also be used as a shock absorber by laying it on the base support and then working the sand sock back and forward to form ‘V’ in the sand sock. When the rifle recoils after firing, it will slide backward into the ‘V’. It can then be run forward into the exact same firing position which enhances firing consistency.
The firearm accessory market has exploded to provide every product you can conceive. The choice can be overwhelming and the expense astronomical. In this article, we have pared it down to 7 firearm accessories that will make a real difference to your ability to accurately use your weapon.