Editor’s Note: This is the third article in our Christmas buyers guide series. Our criteria is straightforward: We’re featuring products in the $150 range or less that we think represent exceptional value. Stay tuned for more great gift ideas targeted at your favorite gunslinger.
By Rob Kay and RN Price
Once in a while you run across a gadget or tool that so elegantly resolves an issue, you’re almost flabbergasted.
Meet the Grip Pod.
A confluence of practicality and engineering, it combines a vertical foregrip with a bipod—essentially solving two problems simultaneously.
Let’s take a step back:
Anyone who’s fired an AR offhand understands the challenges of stabilizing your shooting position. Techniques differ, but a lot of operators, including the majority of the On Target staff, find a vertical grip to be immensely helpful. (The US Army has used vertical foregrips on M16s for years and has come to the conclusion that they aide soldiers in CQB target acquisition).
Needless to say, if you’re in combat you’ll want to be able to go from a CQB position to prone very rapidly. And yes, it would be nice to have a stable base to shoot from before hitting the ground. For the Grip Pod, this is all in a day’s work.
Even for weekend warriors, who go no further than their bench, a bipod eliminates the hassle of fumbling around with bean bags.
So how does this thing operate?
The folded bipod resides inside the foregrip. With the push of a button located at the front of the grip, the two spring-loaded legs release with an accompanying “thwack”. It kind of reminds me of what happens when you push that little button on the handle of an umbrella.
The legs deploy instantly—we’re talking two tenths of a second. The result is a solid platform from which to shoot. How solid? The claim on the website is that it can “withstand the weight of a 240 pound man”.
The history of the grip pod goes back about ten years. Invented in 2003, in 2005 it was entered into a competition with similar products for use on the M16a2, M16m4, and M16a4, in CQB, medium, and long range applications. The testing took place at the U.S. Army Picatinny Arsenal over a period of 9 months. According to the Grip Pod website, one of the many tests consisted of an M16m4 rifle equipped with 30-round full magazine, issued ACOG optic, PEQ-4 IR Laser, and bipod with fully opened legs was dropped from a height of 4 feet onto concrete.
The Grip Pod passed the drop test and at 7 oz., was the lightest of all the bipods tested (with some weighing up to five times more). Suffice it to say it was the one adopted for service by the Army and subsequently the U.S.M.C., National Guard, U.S. Air Force, FBI, DEA, Customs, Border Patrol, British Armed Forces, numerous other Federal Agencies and Special Forces groups worldwide.
Attaching the Grip Pod was quite easy.
The version we reviewed, the GPS02 CL, has a cam lever so that you can quickly mount it on the underside of the fore end (assuming you have a Picatinny rail). The cam lever attachment system is the company’s newest development and can be tweaked to regulate the force of the grip on the rail.
Grip Pod makes two other models which now are also available with the CL Lever attachment system. The GPSLE (for Law Enforcement) has no steel inserts in the legs and is about 1 oz. lighter than the GPS02 CL. The GPS01SAW, the “heavy duty model” for 7.62 rifles, has aluminum legs and weighs about the same as the GPS02. Note that there is at least one other manufacturer out there (Mako) that makes their own versions. We didn’t test them for this article and aren’t in a position to make comparisons. (Samson also sells a Grip Pod which it markets under its own name but they buy it from one of the official Grip Pod distributors so it’s the same as the original).
Be aware that this item is also fodder for cheap knockoffs that can be found on eBay and elsewhere. The last gun show we attended at Blaisdell featured a guy with a huge booth hawking scopes and faux Grip Pods that he had manufactured in China. He claimed his grip pods were as good as the original but then again, you’d expect him to say that. I suspect they would not pass muster at Fort Picatinny or this guy would have a government contract.
Is there anything we didn’t like? To accommodate the legs, the diameter of the grip is a tad wider than you’d find on a standard vertical grip pod. It’s not a deal breaker but it takes a bit getting used to if you’ve used them before.
Is the GPS02 going to take the place of a really high end bipod? Probably not. But if you consider that a high end bipod will easily cost $150 or more, well…count the numbers.
So what’s the verdict? We believe this product forges the best of two worlds and to boot, saves you the resources by not having to buy both a vertical foregrip and a bipod. It also saves your space and weight—assuming you’d have both items mounted on your rifle.
Is it going to work for 99% of guys that simply visit the range? I think so. This item was tested extensively and if it’s good enough for the DoD, it should be more than enough for the teeming multitudes.
What about pricing?
The minimum advertised price (MAP) for both the CL and the regular GPS-02 is $149. The MAP regular GPS-LE is $89.95 and the MAP for the GPS-LE-CL is $100.00. All models are offered in black and tan. Authorized on-line dealers are:
As the expression goes, you get what you pay for. In our estimation, this product is a winner.
Photos courtesy of On Target staff and Grip Pod.
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