The Tier One bipod out of the UK is a relatively new bipod that has for some time piqued interest in those chasing weight reductions for mountain rifles. The recent excursion to New Zealand gave us a chance to field test a number of new products including the Tier One Bipod in proper mountain hunting conditions.
On top of new products being evaluated for sale, we often try gear from smaller manufacturers, most of whom we have no sales relationship with in our quest to discover optimised products for particular applications. Tier One came onto our radar while originally offering high-end rings (which have impressed in the past), rails and monomounts. Now they’ve branched out to a broader range of products, of particular interest, especially for mountain hunters, is their Tier One Bipod, which might be just the ticket for some looking at shedding a few grams compared to our trusty favourite, the Atlas PSR.
There’s no question that the Atlas PSR is a fantastic bipod, if we could only own one, this would be it! It’s a relatively light unit (compared to the old Harris) and has fantastic versatility through its multiple leg angles, cant and pan functions. All these make it our ‘go to’ for PRS competition and general use. However, in the constant quest to shed weight on the mountain, we’ve explored other options, including the Spartan Javelin and Neopod lines of products (both of which we feel are no better than shooting off your pack). So far, the weight savings on the alternative products we’ve tried haven’t been enough to convince us to give up the Atlas’s rock-solid stability and versatility, which can come in handy in some terrain when hunting.
However, in mountain hunting, sometimes simplicity is a benefit, and weight savings almost always are. With that in mind, the Tier One unit with its pull-back 90 degree leg position (vs the 5 position Atlas that requires a release-button to be pressed) and its lever release sprung legs (vs the Atlas ‘lift-to release collar’) makes for simple and very quick deployment in hunting situations. Along with these relatively straightforward ‘Harris-esque’ features, the Tier One Bipod (depending on model) has both cant and pan functions and an ‘ADM’esque’ Picatinny/Weaver mount.
We tested the Tier One bipod for the first time in the week prior to our trip to NZ, and were immediately impressed with the finish on the product, and then with how solid it felt under the heavy recoil of the 7 SAUM. The main function we needed to familiarise ourselves with, given the steep country we’d be hunting, was the cant. The standard Tier One cant control is a small knurled nut for finger tightening, which for some people might be sufficient but for our taste didn’t facilitate enough tightening for the relatively firm tilt adjustment we like.
Tier One offer two options to up the tension, one is their ’tilt tension key’, a nicely machined allow block designed to give the shooter more leverage for a ‘one off’ tightening of the mechanism. The ‘key’ works well but given our limited time with the unit before a week of mountain hunting, we were unsure how well the tension would hold, so we went with option two, a nicely designed and very light (10g) pod lock. Range conditions didn’t really require use of the pan function.
In the mountains, however, the panning capability of the Tier One really showed its value. Brooky was able to easily track a chamois buck while maintaining his shooting position, as it rocketed down the hill after being hit, rapidly leaving the spotting scope frame. Ultimately a follow up shot wasn’t required, but even finding the animal could have been challenging without being able to follow it in the scope. It’s worth noting that unlike the Atlas, where the level of friction of the pan and cant functions are both controlled by the tension mechanism, the Tier One pan friction is set and only the cant is adjusted by the tension mechanism.
As with the simplicity of the Tier One’s panning mechanism, for hunting situations where time is of the essence, the one directional push of the legs to lock them at 90 degrees is quick and straightforward. If you need extra height quickly, the spring loaded legs with a simple lever release deliver it. The extension range of the legs is slightly more limited than an Atlas due to the Atlas’s ability to lock the legs at 45 degrees; the maximum height is similar, but the minimum height is greater on the Tier One Bipod.
While the Tier One Tactical Bipod is not as large a weight saving compared to the Atlas as the Spartan Javelin or Neopod are, in our opinion its performance more than justifies the extra weight compared to those competitors. This bipod has a brilliant blend of weight, features and quick deployment for hunting, and feels almost as solid as an Atlas under the rifle.
Availability and Customer Service
The Tier One Bipod is available in two leg lengths and in two constructions (all alloy vs alloy and carbon fibre). The model we use is the 180mm carbon, with pan and tilt adaptor. As with many small to medium manufacturers in the current market, Tier One seems to be currently struggling to keep up with the demand for their product, so you may have substantial wait times for some configurations; we waited months for ours and can honestly say it was worth it.
Our initial enquiries with Tier One were quickly and comprehensively answered; then followed a period of slower communication, which we assume corresponded with high work loads. Once the unit was ordered through their website, the confirmation and postage were extremely quick. The first unit sent had a faulty release catch on the rail mount lever, meaning it detached far too easily. To Tier One’s credit, their customer service was excellent and a replacement part (easily installed) was express mailed from the UK. Since then, the bipod has performed beautifully.
Overall our experience dealing with Tier One was positive; be prepared to make some allowances for dealing with a smaller, niche company without large stock reserves and huge production capacity… And on that note, thanks to those of you who have been patient with PDI while Bourney has been in the field testing gear.
Quick stats at a glance (as weighed and measured with our units – not manufacturers specs)
|Atlas PSR||Tier One Bipod||Harris HBLMS|
|Height||130mm (45degrees)/170 (90degrees) to 245mm||180mm to 235mm||185mm to 285mm|
|Cant||20 degrees||30 degrees||40 degrees|
|Leg release||Sprung collar||Spring lever||Spring push button|
|Price||RRP 540 AUD||250GBP = ~480AUD||220|
|Attachment||Pic Rail with Lever||Pic Rail with Lever||Sling swivel|
|Extras||None||Pod lock||Pod lock|
Tier One Bipod Verdict
For those looking to shave some weight off their rifle system and are happy for a slight reduction in versatility, the Tier One Bipod is probably the strongest contendor for your money and frankly it is very impressive unit without the shortcomings of other carbon bipod attempts we have tested in the past like the Neopod and Javelin.
Where to buy?
As mentioned PDI doesn’t sell Tier One products, Brooky bought his direct off tier-one.eu but for our American friends they can be contact locally on their USA site.