Sniper's Hide Reviews the Really Right Stuff SOAR Rifle Mounts

Tripods are an important tool for the precision rifle / tactical rifle shooter. Sniper's Hide takes an indepth look at the Really Right Stuff SOAR product line. Sport Optics and Rifles is their new division, and a lot of interesting rifle mounts are coming out of this traditional camera support company.

Really Right Stuff SOAR, Precision Rifle Support Systems 

For years tactical shooters have adapted camera tripods and heads to work in the field. Like most things, some work better than others. Many shooters settled on the Manfrotto tripods and joystick heads. I myself have several variants of these dating back to early 2000s.  I have cut them, modified them, overtightened the friction knobs to be able to hold up our heavy tactical rifles, you name it,  I have probably done it.

Recently the Manfrotto system received a welcome upgrade by a group of Marine Snipers creating the Hog Saddle. This allowed the Tactical rifle shooter to drop in their rifles and tighten it up with a clamping system.  A good solution if not a tad bit bulky. Being an early supporter of the Hog Saddle I felt it was the best interface on the market at the time. 

Enter Really Right Stuff to the Precision Rifle World

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Really Right Stuff is a well known camera support company, famous for their brackets, plates and tripods. With a minor in video and photography, I was well aware of their reputation as a top player in the industry.  Headquartered in California, their products are made here in the US rather than overseas. It’s not just a series of rebranded OEM products one might find from a larger retailer.

Instead of repurposing their existing line, they decided to create a dedicated division known as SOAR. Sport Optic And Rifle. Hiring a former Army Sniper Instructor, they immediately attacked the problem of interfacing the rifle to the support system or tripods. In my opinion, it’s the interface.  The Acra-Swiss style interface used by Really Right Stuff combined with no-nonsense plates for your rifles separates them immediately from the competition.  I say Arca-Swiss Style, but actually Really Right Stuff created a 1.5" dovetail standard that is unique to them. It still fits an Arca-Swiss style dovetail, but only if you get the correct one as there more than one type.  You have a twist and QD version, the RRS 1.5 Dovetail fits both. 

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I believe tripods are one of the most important tools the tactical / precision rifle shooter can carry. Even in competition they have proven very valuable, something worth investing in. PRS matches are very obstacle oriented so a tripod is a necessary device, but even more so for the hunter and field shooter. Natural terrain and obstacles make the tripod one of those must have tools. Even the Marines issue a tripod to the snipers demonstrating the value.  When it comes to tripods, the Really Right Stuff TVC Carbon Fiber Series are considered top of the line. 

The Manfrotto joysticks, while adapted to work have their drawbacks and lack the precision of the Really Rifle Stuff ball heads. Sure you can move up to the more expensive camera ball heads from just about any company, but there are some distinct differences. Those 1.5" RRS Dovetail plates being the most important. 

RC2 plates of the Manfrotto system are no where near as easy to use. There is a front and back, as well the user has to cantilever the plate into position activating the auto lock, which then has to be hand tightened in order to hold.  This is creates a fine motor skill that does not play well under stress. Many times the small lock will be accidentally bumped and prevent a secure lock up. Under time, you just wasted a lot of it.  It’s become universally accepted, but that needs to change. 

The RRS open channel dovetail Plate is universal, it will drop in from any direction. It has a single throw lever that clamps across the entire plate so that it locks ups tight and fast. You can do this by feel with one hand. Making it more secure, you can install a tiny screw to the bottom of the plate that will act as a stop if you desire. So dropping directly in, if you were to slide forward the screw stop will catch and hold you on the clamp.  This beats the RC2 hands down, in the video the ease of use is evident. 

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Until you look, it’s amazing how cheap and easy it is to find the Acra-Swiss style plates. There is a difference, so be sure to get the right one if you are not buying true Really Right Stuff 1.5 Dovetail plates. Because of the universal nature of the design check out the LRI Sig Kilo2000 mount, it drops right into the clamp without any secondary plate. It fits the RRS dovetail perfectly.  So supporting products can be made to work very easily without the need to use any extra plates.  No more do you have to add in steps by machining an RC2 style plate into a device, you can just create the edge for the dovetail. This RRS dovetail standard needs to be adopted, as I believe it is a superior way of doing business for the precision rifle shooter. 

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Sniper’s Hide tested and worked with two Really Right Stuff Ball Heads as well as their leveling base.  Separated by size, we tested the 3 Series BH-55 and BH-40.  Each was tested on a matching tripod leg set, the TVC-33 for the BH-55 and the TVC-23 for the BH-40.  

The BH-55 Ball Head is the Big Daddy, Features of the BH-55 from the RRS website are listed as: 

  • Patented lever-release clamp for fast & easy mounting
  • Ergonomic design gives superior handling and unsurpassed reliability
  • Lowest height profile in its class
  • Large main locking knob incorporates stainless steel ball bearings for a lifetime of silky smooth control
  • Dual drop-notches allow maximum flexibility for positioning the rifle into any angle
  • Micrometer drag tension adjustment is repeatable and absolutely reliable
  • Precision panning base is finely laser-engraved at 2.5 degree intervals and features our unique drum & brake design for effortless locking
  • High-visibility bulls-eye spirit level embedded in clamp for accurate leveling, even in low light
  • Laser-engraved millimeter scale offers precise centering and positioning within the clamp jaw
  • All components are of the finest Really Right Stuff quality, machined from solid aircraft aluminum or stainless steel for maximum durability and minimum weight

I love the precision movement, the ease of use with its one handed operation. This head I would recommend for heavier rifles to include larger calibers like the 338LM.  It’s also the one I would consider a first choice for people even if they decided to use different tripod legs. 

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The BH-40, I really enjoyed, it’s small, but I found it to be very handy. I really gravitated towards the smaller system. It had no problem handing my short action AX rifles. Height wise, when paired with the TVC-23, it fit me very well, but remember, I am shorter than most people.  Features of the BH-40 from RRS include 

  • Patented lever-release clamp for fast & easy mounting
  • Ergonomic design gives superior handling and unsurpassed reliability
  • Lowest height profile in its class
  • Knobs are captive and uniquely shaped, making operation "by feel" very intuitive
  • 90 degree drop-notched allows maximum flexibility for positioning the camera for portrait-orientation or extreme angle shots
  • Micrometer drag tension adjustment is repeatable and absolutely reliable
  • Precision panning base is finely laser-engraved at 2.5 degree intervals and features our unique drum & brake design for effortless locking
  • Laser-engraved millimeter scale offers precise centering and positioning within the clamp jaw
  • All components are of the finest Really Right Stuff quality, machined from solid aircraft aluminum or stainless steel for maximum durability and minimum weight

Super similar to each other, but depending on your size, rifle, and use, I would recommend going the next size up vs smaller. You can always work down, working up as you move to a heavier rifle many not turn out so well.

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My highlight for both ball heads are the quick adjustment and one handed operation. The 3 Axis Pan and Tilt is super smooth and very precise. Aiming both rifle and optics is much easier than your standard joystick heads. These lock up much tighter too. The small BH-40 has an adjustment lever than can be set so you can minimize the movement necessary to move the rifle. 

The tripod legs are carbon fiber and feature a quick lock, 1/4 turn system that allows you to easily adjust the height.  These legs are 100% Made in the USA, with the TVC-33 legs weighting just 4.3LBS. I find them better set of legs than other carbon fiber ones I have used. In field use I completely destroyed a set of Giotto Carbon Fiber legs. To date, the Really Right Stuff legs are not displaying the abuse others have.  If you want to compare it to an equivalent set of Manfrotto legs look more to the 057 Carbon Fiber set. The weight limit is very close to the TVC-33, but they weigh almost twice as much at 7.7LBS. 

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For the TVC-23 legs I changed out the rubber feet for a set of stainless steel rock claws RRS made available. These are excellent options for digging in and holding strong. You are not going to mess up the stainless steel. 

If you scan most camera websites like B&H, you’ll see the majority of tripod legs have a set weight limit and that limit is usually pretty precise. One model holds 8LBS, the next model 16LBS, with another model going to 26LBS.  With the RRS Legs they are rated at 50LBS for the TVC 33 which is huge. It gives you peace of mind when only mounting an 18LBS rifle on it.  These tripod legs can also be disassembled for cleaning and maintenance. Turning the leg lock 8 full turns will allow you to disassemble them.  

Another feature people should notice is, no center column. I like this feature for the precision rifle shooter. You can spread the legs out farther and shoot lower to ground without having to completely reconfigure your tripod. You don’t need to pull the center column out, re-align it in a set of horizontal holes or unscrew it and reduce the column size. Set up and adaptability is much faster this way, especially for field use.  There is a center column add on option available if the end user desires, so be sure to check the website for options. 

Listed tripod feature include 

  • Patented SureGrip Apex Lock System: Allows quick and absolutely secure change-out from a simple platform to a Versa Quick Column or Series 3 Leveling Base.
  • Big & Thin carbon fiber legs: With a large outer diameter and wall thickness of only 0.04", our carbon fiber tubes far surpass the competition in strength-to-weight ratio.
  • Offset Leg Joints: Tripods must occasionally withstand tremendous bending and torsion loads. It is crucial that the leg angle stops and all other structural joints are well supported.
  • Our patented offset leg joints fully support the leg angle stops allowing loads to be transferred straight through the strongest members of the tripod. This also means the tripod is more compact when collapsed.
  • Ratcheting Angle Stops: just pull out the stop, raise the leg, and the stop will automatically engage into place beginning at the highest setting. Pulling the legs back down will ratchet the stop into place at each angle. This keeps your fingers safe from pinching and assures the best support.
  • Rubber Ball Feet: Large diameter teardrop shape keeps leg sidewalls from touching the ground even at the lowest settings and makes positive contact with the ground at virtually any angle.
  • CNC Machining: Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) milling machines precisely sculpt parts out of solid metal affording excellent control in the design, fit and finish of every metal part found on an RRS tripod. Other tripod manufacturers employ mold casting to mass produce metal parts, resulting in lower strength/quality pieces.
  • Anodizing vs Powder Coating: Anodizing produces surface protection embedded into the metal, yielding superior wear and corrosion resistance versus a superficial coating.
  • High-visibility bulls-eye spirit level embedded in the apex for accurate leveling.
  • Twist Grip Leg Extension Locks: Textured semi-hard rubber allows for easy adjustments and strong grip. Anti-twist leg sections mean each twist lock can be operated independently.

It’s all about the Interface

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The Ball Heads and Tripods are not all that different from other camera system, the difference lies in the interface to your rifle and optics.  Really Right Stuff has excelled at supporting everything from MLOK to the KeySlot system as well as dedicated accessories that replace various rifle parts in order to interface directly to the dovetail.

Rifle Mounts 

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As many have noted, I have added a Really Rifle Stuff Accuracy International Auxiliary plate to my AX Rifle. This changes the plastic fore grip to a dovetail and KeySlot interface that is directly attached to the rifle. For $75 it’s a single solution that requires no additional plating or adapter. 

The BAX15 lists the following features 

  • CNC machined 6061-T6 Aluminum
  • Anodized; Type-3 Black
  • (1) 1/4"-20 threaded accessory mounting socket
  • (1) Flush Mount Quick Disconnect mounting socket
  • (3) Accuracy International KeySlot mounting points

It holds the rifle securely and drops right on to the RRS 1.5" open channel.  The flat bottom and square front is also great for barricades. It feels like you can just rest the rifle there and it will stay. 

These mounts are currently available for the J Allen Chassis, and Desert Tech Rifle system.  So if you are running an AI, DT, or JAE, you’ll all set. Add this auxiliary plate, replacing the plastic with aluminum and your good to go. 

Absent of these system, RRS has a series of adapter plates which are super small and very easy to use.

The BKMOD and BMLOK are thin, featuring either a Magpul MLOK interface or Keymod (KeySlot).  These can be added to a fore rail of most rifle systems allowing to interface directly to the 1.5" RRS Dovetail. 

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In several videos I have the RRS Nato Pic Rail adapter, this is also an option available. I move the pic rail adapter from rifle to rifle and it’s perfect. 

The rifle interface plates average from $50 to $80 depending on the model, including the rifle mounting systems. More than reasonable in cost considering no other plating is needed. 

To answer the Hog Saddle, RRS has recently come out with the VYCE clamping system. It is very similar to a Hog Saddle in price, but it’s made to be paired with the RRS SOAR Systems. Current retail is listed at $295. I have not tried a VYCE Clamp as it was just released prior to finishing this review. But we wanted you to be aware of it. 

Final Thoughts 

As many on Sniper’s Hide and the various Social Media sites have observed, I have been using the Really Right Stuff SOAR Products for quite some time. It’s pretty common for me to get a lot of time behind stuff before drawing any conclusions.  I want to use it in as many different situations as possible. I have to say, as long as I have been aware of the Acra-Swiss style plates, I find it hard to believe the shooting community overlooked it this long. Compared to the RC2, it’s no contest. The RRS 1.5" Dovetail is a superior system.  Interface, Interface, then add in precision.

We can discuss cost vs usability, this is really the biggest question for most people. My answer to that would be, even if you can’t afford the Tripod and Ball Head together. Invest in one of the RRS ball heads and use your own tripod leg system. That opens the door to the various interface systems Really Right Stuff has created.  The ball heads are superior, and when combined with the Really Right Stuff Rifle Mounts, you instantly see what I mean. It’s worth the investment. The move to the RRS 1.5" Standard is definitely worth it. 

I paired my TVC 33 Tripod Legs with the Leveling Base and added the BH-55 to a set of Swarovski Carbon Fiber legs to improve on the really basic head that came with them. The plastic bird watching head was terrible. But I liked the Tripod, so adding the BH-55 to it worked better than expected. You can do the same thing.  Start off with inexpensive legs, but experience the RRS interface. I guarantee you never look back.

Today a majority of my Manfrotto tripods are holding GoPros down at the targets when I shoot. I am not using them under the rifle or spotter much anymore. They have served me well, but eventually we always upgrade. And believe me, these are an upgrade. 

Precision Rifle Shooters a bit different then other disciplines. We spend a lot more money, so mounting our $7000 Accuracy International with $3500 Scope on a $1500 tripod system is by no means a stretch. I trust walking away from my rifle sitting on top of a Really Right Stuff system vs using a Slik I bought at Mike’s Camera shop. If you watch my videos you see a lot of wind out here on the Front Range. The balance and performance is there, I can leave the rifle in place, versus taking it down every time I head downrange. I like the one handed operation of the ball heads, the ease of use with the interface.  Smooth and precise, says it all. 

Finally, I appreciate Really Right Stuff supporting the shooting community. I like that their products are US Made, and they hired a Veteran to handle the SOAR division. They are watching  what we do and, they are responding.  This is exactly the kind of Company we should be supporting. Yes, I get it, there are cheaper products on the market, but it’s not the same, and we can’t just get in the car and drive to Italy.  Just because we always have, doesn’t mean we always should. I’ve moved on.

Really Right Stuff 

Phone: 805-528-6321 or Toll-free

US & Canada: 888-777-5557

Address: 1146 Farmhouse Lane

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 USA


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