I do not use a bipod a lot. It’s because I mostly shoot offhand or for 3Gun, my preferred division does not allow the use of bipods. However, I have some, and they are not the same. Some are better than others. We will look at the Caldwell classic Harris style bipod, a CAA rail-mounted bipod, and the BT Industries Atlas bipod.
Caldwell vs CAA vs Atlas
The Caldwell is the least adjustable since it only has two positions for its length adjustment. Collapsed and fully extended. The BT Ind. and the CAA both have five positions for the legs. All three can deploy their legs rather quickly. The Caldwell needs you to grab the rubber foot and pull the leg down until the locking detent keeps the leg locked in place. The collapsing legs are spring-loaded, so when you press the detent to unlock the legs, they spring up to collapse themselves. They do have a knurled knob to tighten to lock the legs to prevent them from collapsing accidentally.
The CAA legs are also spring-loaded but in the opposite direction. You can see the buttons in the photo below. Press them, and the legs shoot out. To collapse them or adjust the length, you press the button and push the leg back up to the desired height.
The Atlas bipod has spring-loaded detents in the knurled collar. You pull them down and manually pull the legs to the desired length. Repeat the process to close them.
The Caldwell legs are cylindrical and can spin. Not a great feature when you load up the bipod. The legs can spin, and you lose purchase in the ground. The CAA bipod legs are not cylindrical, so they cannot spin. BT Industries modified their bipod legs with an anti-rotation slot so the legs cannot spin anymore.
The Caldwell bipod only has two positions. Folded flat or deployed 90 degrees. The legs have springs to prevent them from unfolding by gravity. When deployed, they are relatively rigid; however, nothing is locking them in place. So when you reposition your rifle, it is possible to have the legs fold on you.
The CAA legs have locking positions at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. The legs are polymer wrapped around the metal. It is thicker and bigger than the other two bipods but about the same weight. The legs have protrusions somewhat like a syringe grip. You pull down, which unlocks the legs from the mount and allows you to rotate them into position.
One feature the CAA bipod has over the other two bipods is that the legs can be removed from the mount. Just pull the leg down to unlock it and rotate the legs up. There is an indentation position that allows the leg detent to clear the joint and pull them off.
BT Industries Atlas bipods are the most adjustable out of the three. Not only can the legs be rotated at 3,6 & 9 o’clock, but they can also be positioned at a 45-degree angle forwards or backward.
Out of all three bipods, the Atlas is the only one with the ability to pan without moving the bipod legs.
Both the Atlas and Caldwell can tilt, allowing the rifle to stay level on uneven ground. The CAA bipod cannot tilt at all, but it does have a Picatinny rail at the bottom, so you could add an accessory if you are short on rail space.
What about their method of attachment to the rifle?
Both the CAA and Atlas bipods mount to Picatinny rails. The CAA requires a metric Allen wrench to attach and remove the bipod. Not very quick at all.
The Atlas bipod uses an American Defense QD mount. You can also see the stainless steel button that unlocks the legs and allows you to position them in 45-degree increments.
The Caldwell is a clone of the Harris bipod, so it is designed to be used on bipod/sling studs on regular rifles. So to use it on a railed rifle, you need an adapter.
The problem is the reverse is not exactly easy. If you wanted to use the Atlas or CAA on a traditional rifle, you would somehow add a rail to the stock.
Out of all three, I like the Atlas bipod the most. The construction and machining are over the top. The feet are removable and can be interchanged with more aggressive feet. The only complaint is the panning feature is tied to the tilt. You cannot isolate one from the other. So it is only full mobility or none at all.
Which One Is Worth It?
Price is another issue. Atlas PSR BT46-LW17 bipod It retails for $319.95. Whereas the Caldwell bipods retail for around $40, and the CAA bipod is $180.
Due to the lack of tilt and that you need tools to mount and remove the CAA bipod, puts it at the bottom of the three bipods. The CAA bipod does have a cool feature, and that is the fact that you can buy side rail mounting adapters. So you can pop off the legs and attach them to the side of another gun.
The Caldwell is sufficient for most uses but does not seem very robust. The legs are only held in position by spring tension and require an adapter for rails. I use it on my .22LR Ruger American Rimfire rifle and seems perfectly suited for that use. One feature that the Caldwell/Harris style bipod has over the others is the ability to tilt and lock in that position. In the back of the bipod, there is a throw lever. You tighten it, and it locks the tilt of the gun at whatever angle you set it at. The Atlas cannot do that, nor can the CAA.
If This Is A Competetion Then The Atlas Bipod Wins!
The Atlas bipod is a masterpiece in craftsmanship. It is rugged and sturdy. While it is expensive compared to the others, there is not much reason to need another bipod. For those that shoot modern sporting rifles like the AR platform, then this bipod is a must. You can easily swap it onto any of your guns if you have multiple guns. The range of adjustment in the Atlas is unparalleled.