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Russ Douglas reviews a luxury/heavyweight shooting chair, that proves very popular at the range, albeit not the lightest accessory to tote about
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I know some of you have wanted me to do more disabled-focused articles. Well, despite everything I do being a disabled activity, I’ve just reviewed something very specifically beneficial, albeit with a weighty proviso. Throughout winter I’ve been nipping away at the rodent numbers in my local permissions over two dozen visits. Here, in addition to rifle and scope, my staple kit is my trusty (gen 2) Trigger Sticks and ‘Extra tall rotating bucket seat’. I’d never found anything better and assumed no such thing existed. A massive inconvenience of my (disabled) musculo-skeletal issues is that my back gets incredibly sore anytime I sit on anything either too high, or too low, for very long. Hence, when sitting my thighs must be horizontal with both feet flat on the floor, and I rarely slouch because it’s just not worth the pain afterwards. My actual chair in our lounge is a large office-surplus swivel chair on castors.
I crack open the doors of the grain barn, then scan around with the Gryphon thermal spotter to check if there are pests around. Of late, there invariably are, so after shooting any from the doorway that are so close to likely be undisturbed by me setting up, I quietly reach inside and put the bucket seat on a patch of clear concrete floor – either via moonlight or the low red glow from my Shadowmaster headtorch. I lean my left crutch and the Trigger Sticks inside against the locked left door, step inside and quietly close the heavy right door behind me. Then I quietly find a nearby spot to give me a decent field of fire covering all the current rat activity, as spotted on the thermal. Settling into position isn’t easy because the 30cm/12 inch dia seat only just accommodates my backside, and with the hollow base being only 25.6cm/10 inch diameter, it can be noisy because it’s easily toppled-over. Incidentally, the bucket plus sticks weigh in at 3.5kg/8lbs, so there’s no issue at all over short distances.
To target rats that appear to the left or right of my main view during the session, I either rest the rifle across my knees or hold it up with one hand, whilst rotating myself and the seat by ‘walking’ myself round in that direction. Simultaneously lifting and moving the sticks, which can easily noisily ‘clatter’, can be a pain, especially if they splay out inconveniently. I try to avoid, or minimise using my headtorch, just in case there are any closer rats this could spook. This all works with practice, but of course, I’ve lost chances by making unnecessary noises or having to use my headtorch.
Having already bought a BOG Ultralight clamp from Sportsman Gun Centre (SGC), to replace the supportive ‘V’ of my Trigger Sticks, I’d seen that their (BOG) range included other items, so watched it grow with interest. I eventually asked if I could borrow the BOG 360 Deathgrip chair because this really did look the bees’ knees for my regular indoor pest-control sessions.
A massive box arrived and sat in our lounge awaiting unboxing and review, and I’ve recorded not only my unboxing and set-up of the chair, plus testing it in my usual indoor permission, but also the opinions of some of my fellow shooters on GARC’s outdoor 50m range. So once edited, this review will be accompanied by more than one video, to keep duration(s) manageable. This complete kit comes as three components; the firm, mesh-backed,- seated chair, including a zippered underside pouch containing the adjustable legs assembly. Separate to this is a substantial (1.96kg/4.3lbs) right-angled tubular arm, and the actual fully (horizontally) articulated adjustable gun rest this supports. To assemble, you lay the seat on its back, hollow base spindle pointing upwards, ready to receive the legs assembly; here my ideal height rest was on my existing bucket seat. Invert the right-angled gun rest arm, lined with a split plastic bushing, and slide it over the seat spigot, then clamp it snugly via the sprung lever. The 30mm dia tubular end of the base has a sprung stainless steel ball detent, which you must press in as you insert it into the very snug-fitting chair spigot. Once in, the ball ‘clicks’ out into place. Whilst inverted, this was also a good time to extend the four legs to maximum – I doubted the chair would be quite tall enough for my particular needs. Pressing in each leg’s sprung detent allowed them all to be extended telescopically – five positions.
I already had my old, 4” thick, ex-hospital wheelchair cushion on standby, to add a few inches of height, but to my pleasant surprise it wasn’t required – not for this purpose, anyway … read on. In fact, I had to shorten the four legs by one click each, for my thighs to be horizontal when seated. I was then instantly impressed by the stable feel of the chair, and the confidence this immediately gave me for shooting from it. The hard, mesh seat is a generous 50cm x 38cm (20” x 15”) and the chair back 50cm/20” tall. The chair rotates on the base through 360 degrees, and the right-angled supporting arm rotates from rear-right, anti-clockwise to rear left, i.e. through around 270 degrees. So yep, it’s fully southpaw-friendly, although it can’t swap sides whilst seated, due to your knees. The tall chair back hinges open/ upright and is retained by two cordura straps, left and right.
Once back upright all that remains is to lower the articulated gun rest arm (post) into the supportive tube, after slackening-off the locking wheel. This then supports a horizontal hinged elbow, at the end of which is the gun clamp itself, on a lockable tilting bracket. Each hinging point includes an easily-gripped locking knob, to reduce the movement of the next component.
One proviso, although is everything is very well built, and the square area of the feet with the legs fully extended is only 49cm (20”), so even without a gun in situ – and you must NEVER have a gun in the clamp unless seated – the chair can overbalance if the arm is overextended, or you lean over too far. To adjust the height of the gun rest in use, remove your rifle (e.g., into your lap), then take the weight of the vertical post with one hand, whilst adjusting the locking knob with the other. Be aware there’s nothing to stop you pulling the post right out of its supporting bracket’s socket, so perhaps a hi-vis yellow band around the post would be a good idea, 60mm up from its base, or a small sprung detent within a groove for a tell-tale ‘click’.
With this being a loaner review unit, and well aware that it should always be returned ‘in saleable condition’, I straightaway wanted to protect the four circular pivoting feet. These include a matrix of wee pyramids, standing 2.5mm proud and acting as ground spikes to improve grip on soft or grassy surfaces. Knowing I was going straight to my local barn to compare this directly to my existing set-up in real conditions, I wanted to protect these spikes from damage against the concrete floor. Cue cutting four round patches from an old offcut of rubber-backed carpet tile, which I secured in place with stretchy black electrical tape, confident this wouldn’t mark the excellent hard powdercoated finish on the legs themselves.
SETTING-UP, LESSONS LEARNED
Initially, I videoed myself setting-up my current seat and sticks kit, and then repeated this with the BOG 360, via carrying in the individual components and assembling in the barn. Despite the advantage of daylight, I just couldn’t manage it, partly because I was unwilling to risk scraping/damaging this loaner chair on the floor during set-up, with nothing handy to rest it on. So back out to the car, where I assembled the seat in the open boot of my 4 x 4. Also, although the whole assembly weighs 10kg/22lbs, the hinged articulated arm/clamp is 3kg/6.6lb of that, so it helps to carry the chair in, then follow-up – all while using one crutch over short distances – with my rifle slung on my back and the remaining arm/clamp in my left hand. I’d sit down, rest the rucksack gun bag on the floor against my ankle, use both hands to assemble the arm/clamp in its supporting bracket, then unzip my bag, withdraw my rifle and shoulder it, fore end supported by the Ultralight clamp.
I was able to pan around far more easily,and silently, and found I could sit comfortably, rifle shouldered and crosshairs trained on the usual brick crevices 40m away, confident I could take shots with less hunching and stretching than usual. Less straining means more stability and less tiredness. The only ‘limitation’ is the articulated gun arm, which only moves in the horizontal, so lacking the 3D movement of a desktop ‘ergo rest armrest’ – Google it – locking wrist support. So I couldn’t easily have directed my rifle to, say 45 degrees upwards, e.g., to target any ferals that appeared overhead.
Erni was so impressed, he instantly stated on camera, ‘I don’t need one, but I want one’. In fact, he found it more stable than his usual position of sitting shooting from a stool and table, likely thanks to the generous seat and back-rest. Everyone who tried it liked it (watch the video), and Erni even tried locking the rest’s arms and shooting one-armed, finding that too was stable, even when engaging targets out to 50m.
I’ll be gutted to return this seat to the helpful team at Sportsman Gun Centre because despite it being a little bulky and heavy – we wouldn’t have room to store it long-term, either – it really is a big improvement on my existing set-up. Where’s that elusive lottery win when we need it?
For anyone who’d benefit from a solidly built and very stable shooting platform, you must consider one of these chairs. As Erni said, one of these on a flat platform within a large garden or farmyard/barn, and you can shoot in all directions in total comfort. By the way, there’s also a less expensive, non-rotating ‘Chair pod’ design, which appears to fold like a deck chair, for those who don’t need to scan around, and looks to have a non-rotating central gun rest post. I actually found the firm seat slightly less comfortable than my able-bodied fellow shooters, simply because I have fewer glutes (think bum muscles), due to muscle-loss thanks to partial permanent paralysis. So, if I owned such a chair, I’d probably lower the legs another notch or two, and use my old wheelchair cushion, simply for extra rear comfort.
Thanks very much to Erni, Bill, Nick and everyone at GARC who tried the chair and offered their opinions, especially Erni and Nick for carrying the whole assembly down/ up the dozen range steps at the start and end. I really would have struggled without their help.
Thanks too to Sam for helping me with my barn filming, despite the juvenile rat I saw scurry past just a few metres away, as I set up the tripod.
Bog Death Grip 360 chair and gun rest £404.99
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