Shooting tiny little groups is something I believe all rifles should do and I strive to make all of my rifles as accurate as possible. I will not own a rifle that is not performing at the top of it's capability and I want them all to shoot well both at the range and in the field.
With that said, I won't put a thousand dollars into a four hundred dollar rifle to accomplish this. I demand that my rifles shoot accurately but I look for the most accuracy per dollar spent when upgrading my rifles. If the gain vs the cost doesn't make sense, I don't do it and find a rifle that will do it for less investment. Too many years spent running businesses I guess.
What are the most cost effective ways to improve rimfire accuracy?
There are many ways to improve the accuracy of a rimfire rifle. New triggers, barrels, optics, bipods, etc. Several of my rifles have had these very improvements because the accuracy improvement I received justified the cost of the improvement.
There are two very inexpensive ways to improve accuracy that easily justify the cost of doing them. One is glass bedding the stock to the exact dimensions of the action. I have easily brought rimfire groups at 50 yards from 1.75 inches to 2 inches down to under an inch just with glass bedding. In these cases it was easy to tell that this is what the rifle needed. For more information on glass bedding your stock, check out this article.
Although not inexpensive, the best accuracy improvement I have seen that has shown the same pattern on all of my rifles is the installation of a monopod. The improvement was not what this item did to my rifle, it is about what it did to improve my technique.
What is a monopod?
If you are not familiar with monpods they mount to the rear of the stock to form the third leg of support when using a bipod on a rifle. The good ones allow fine adjustment of elevation and a lock down mechanism to make the shot almost a given..
The best ones are made of aluminum so they only add an ounce to two the rig but are super strong and can take the punishment of the field.
They typically mount to a picatinny rail or to the sling stud on the rear of a traditional rifle stock. I prefer the stud mount because there is no movement whatsoever once attached. Attaching to a rail will only be as strong and sturdy as the rail. In some cases that is ok, but I am looking for a high level of accuracy.
In order to run both a sling and a monopod you just need to install another sling mounting screw. A five minute job. They are small and don't protrude far from the stock and most are designed with a fold out of the way feature when not in use.
How does a monopod help accuracy?
The first one I purchased was for a Savage FV in 22 caliber. I wanted to shoot 5 inch swinging metal targets at 200. Although I could already hit these targets about 50% of the time, this little accessory took me to 80% and above on my hit factor. I have had sessions using this accessory where I have not missed, not once.
Here is a picture of my Savage fvsr with a monopod installed. This is an older version monopod and I am not even sure it is still in production. It is a sling stud mount design which provides a very stable platform.
As you can see, this device, in combination with a good bipod offers a stable shooting platform almost anywhere and as I said earlier has greatly improved my hit factor long range both in the field and at the range. It's like having a lead sled everywhere you go without having to carry it.
I can tell you that installation of one of these little devices has brought groupings on some of my rifles well below 1 inch at 50 yards by helping me reduce my human error only. They are well worth what they cost to me. They have allowed me to keep rifles that I would have otherwise gotten rid of.
Is a monopod better than rear bags?
The practice of using a rear bag to stabilize rifles for improved accuracy is almost as old as rifles themselves.
There are many designs of rear bags available now. They are used predominantly in tactical precision rifle matches because they are flexible in their use. They can be used to support both the front and rear of a firearm or as support between body parts when shooting from awkward positions.
In this scenario, bags may have an advantage over a monopod. I don't do much shooting at awkward positions if I can help it.
I have no issue with rear bags and I know there a lot of really good shooters out there who swear by them. I have been very accurate on prairie dog hunts shooting from bags and shooting competitions at the range. I won't hesitate to shoot from bags......... unless I have monopod on my rifle.
I don't have to squeeze the monopod and hold it on target. I just turn the threads and make the shot. For that reason, my opinion is that a monopod is more accurate than sand bags.
In addition, the monopod is always there when I need it. It weighs almost nothing and is affixed to my rifle. I can tell you this is much better than having to run back to the truck to fetch bags when you need to make an accurate shot.
The best part is not having to carry bags around with me. Everyone needs to decide for themselves.
Which monopod to buy?
Here is the newer offering from Accu-Shot that comes with a quick release button to allow quickly getting to the correct sight picture. Once this button is released, threads engage allowing fine adjustment of elevation and a fast lock down. See it here on Amazon. There is another model also available identical to this one except longer accommodating rifles that need higher clearance for longer magazines.
Both of these units are made by a company called Accu-Shot. They are constructed mostly of aluminum. Both fold out of the way but this requires loosening of the set washer enough to allow the support knob to fold out of the way. No big deal. Once folded and locked it is completely out of the way of whatever you are doing with your rifle.
Quick deployment models
The monopods below are as well constructed if not better that those discussed above. They are all aluminum and are designed to get on target fast, fine tune elevation, then lock down quickly. Because their designs allow slightly faster deployment they don't fold when taken out of service. The leg retracts into the device body leaving a unit that is slightly larger on the rifle than those devices discussed above. In my opinion this is not a big issue.
This unit is without a doubt among the top of the line. This unit actually folds when retracted and not in use but still leaves a little larger protrusion from the rifle stock than those above. This unit is also a rail mounted device that I believe is not quite as stable as a rail mount. More information available here.
Personally I prefer a monopod that mounts directly to the sling stud. It just feels more stable to me as opposed ot a picatinny rail mount. After researching all of the pluses and minuses of all units, this is the unit I will purchase for my next rifle. Check it out here on Amazon.
No matter what your individual preferences, even the best rifle shooter can benefit from a more stable platform in the field. The small size, elimination of the need to lug around a bag, quick deployment options, and ability to fine tune to the finest degree of accuracy are enough reasons why every shooter