Lead sled... worth the price?


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Inebriated
December 17, 2012, 02:21 AM
Just wondering.. anyone have experience with the Lead Sled by Caldwell?

Looking at one to help take some human error out of zeroing my rifles, since I'm playing with different optics pretty often. Sand bags work "ok" for me, but they're never a good height for where I'm shooting that day, and cheaper rests seem to have a lot of play in them (from the ones I've used, anyway).

So would you pay the $124 for a Lead Sled?

Oh, and does it actually reduce recoil by 95%??

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rondog
December 17, 2012, 02:42 AM
I have one of the older models, without the fine adjustments, bought it on a clearance sale somewhere. It works fine, as long as you have some serious weight in the tray to anchor it down, and a bench to shoot off of. It will allow you to adjust your rifle so the sights/scope/whatever are holding steady on the bullseye when you touch it off, but the rifle won't stay like that. Recoil will make it move, but that should be a given.

There's a "cup" that the rifle butt fits into, and you can actually put that cup up against your shoulder to sight and fire, and if the rig is weighted down well it will absorb most of the recoil. Not exactly a great way to shoot, but it is a good tool to use for sighting in, which is what I think it's intended for anyway. I suppose once you're dialed in, you could use it as a steady rest for long distance shots if you wanted.

I don't use mine that often, mainly because I had a big leather toolbag full of wheel weights wedged into the tray, and the whole damn thing was terribly heavy. Now that bag has been removed, the Sled is much easier to move around and I have some different weights to use. I need to sight some rifles in, so I may just put it to use soon.

So I'd say yes, they're a good thing, but see if you can find a used one on Craigslist or one of the older versions that some store is trying to get rid of cheap. The newer ones are fancier with finer adjustments, but I don't know as that's worth the extra money.

NeuseRvrRat
December 17, 2012, 06:38 AM
spend your money on a quality front rest and a nice rear bag. it's easier to transport, more versatile, just all-around better.

jmr40
December 17, 2012, 06:40 AM
Not worth the price to me. A friend has one and I have tried them. While it does absorb the recoil and it holds the rifle perfectly still I believe it causes you to deveolp bad habits. You are not going to use one in the field hunting and recoil will have to be dealt with there. If you haven't gotten used to the recoil at the range, you will flinch in the field. Most rifles POI will be somewhat different when shot off a field rest vs a lead sled too.

Another thing to consider. Rifle stocks were not designed to absorb 100% of a guns recoil. When shot the shooters upper body gives and moves back some. When shot in a lead sled the rifles stock absorbs all of the recoil. The sled does not allow the entire gun to move to the rear and stocks have been known to break from the strain.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=375703

jehu
December 17, 2012, 07:29 AM
I have one and it works very well for the purpose it was intended for which is to hold the rifle steady and solid to sight it in. It's not going to break your stock and managing recoil is a factor everyone has to deal with when hunting. The sled reduces the recoil some but by no means allof it. It's a good site in tool IMO.

urbaneruralite
December 17, 2012, 09:59 AM
The sled will stop the rifle moving back. It may not stop the scope if the mounts are not strong enough. If the mount stops the scope tube it may not stop the scope lenses if they are not mounted strongly enough.

For hunting rifles a butterfly bag up front and a rabbit ear bag in back is hard to beat. You can adjust the height of the front bag by stacking other sand bags. I make the other bags out of old jeans legs.

mcdonl
December 17, 2012, 10:58 AM
spend your money on a quality front rest and a nice rear bag. it's easier to transport, more versatile, just all-around better.

I do both. When first zeroing a gun I use the lead sled then switch to rest/bag....

If you use levers or AR/AK get the model with the curved arm that allow of external box magazines.

Stealth01
December 17, 2012, 11:43 AM
I have a Lead Sled Plus that I use for zeroing heavy calibers and saving my shoulder. I do not shoot from it, just used for zeroing. And you can find them fo $99.00.

helotaxi
December 17, 2012, 11:48 AM
The sled will stop the rifle moving back. It may not stop the scope if the mounts are not strong enough. If the mount stops the scope tube it may not stop the scope lenses if they are not mounted strongly enough.Since the rifle has to move for the scope to move, none of that makes any sense. Scopes get damaged from free-recoiling and weak mounts and are suceptible due to poor designs. Something like a lead sled would actually be beneficial for the longevity of a scope since it keeps the rifle from accelerating nearly as much from recoil.

Dentite
December 17, 2012, 12:06 PM
Potential damage to the stock while using a lead sled makes sense due the stock taking all the recoil energy. Damage to the scope, no. If the action isn't moving, either is the scope.

Now whether the recoil is enough to actually damage the stock I guess depends on the actual amount of recoil, type of stock, type of action, fit of action, bedding of action, presence and cushioning ability of a recoil pad, etc. Hard to predict but I could see some potential trouble for a heavy recoiling round with a steel butplate and a heavily weighed down lead sled. Again this is theory only, I have no personal experience with this happening.

Carne Frio
December 17, 2012, 12:43 PM
If you have a bad shoulder, like I do, they are
very nice to have when sighting in a larger
caliber rifle.:D

NeuseRvrRat
December 17, 2012, 12:44 PM
with a good front rest and rear bag setup, the lead sled becomes pointless. with heavy-recoiling rifles, the lead sled can actually cause damage. it'd be like hitting a pothole in a car with no suspension and solid steel tires. something's gotta give.

Reloadron
December 17, 2012, 12:48 PM
with a good front rest and rear bag setup, the lead sled becomes pointless. with heavy-recoiling rifles, the lead sled can actually cause damage. it'd be like hitting a pothole in a car with no suspension and solid steel tires. something's gotta give.
+1 on that note. Get a good front rest like a Wichita and a decent bunny bag for the rear.

Ron

Sky
December 17, 2012, 12:50 PM
The range I frequent has two that they let anyone use (free) I have used them on occasion when doing a zero on a particular weapon. They work and are pretty good for fine detail zeroing but unless I was having to zero something every week I would not put up with the weight and hassle of transporting the thing around to a range. If living in the country with my own range then I might have one but maybe not even then.

P.S. the ones I have used have a recoil pad that the rifle compresses so as far as damaging a stock....I don't think so.

silicosys4
December 17, 2012, 12:53 PM
I have a lead sled, its a pretty useful tool to have when working up heavy handloads. I have never heard of a rifle being "damaged" in a lead sled, mine seem to hold up just fine.

CraigC
December 17, 2012, 01:30 PM
with a good front rest and rear bag setup, the lead sled becomes pointless.
Nonsense from somebody who has never used one. I wouldn't be without a LeadSled. I use it all the time and it is indispensable for load development in larger centerfire rifles. I have zero issues whatsoever shooting rifles off my hind legs but some are painful to shoot from the bench. In particular, a late model Winchester 1895 .405 with a steel buttplate. The Sled makes load development a breeze. Fact, I shoot better for longer periods with the Sled than you ever will without one.


You are not going to use one in the field hunting and recoil will have to be dealt with there.
You're not going to use a rest and bags in the field either. Shooting from the bench has no value for anything but developing loads and zeroing. So this point is completely moot.


When shot in a lead sled the rifles stock absorbs all of the recoil.
it'd be like hitting a pothole in a car with no suspension and solid steel tires.
More nonsense, the Sled absorbs the recoil. It's allowed to move and it's supposed to move. It's not rigidly mounted to a concrete bench. It is simply doing what your body would normally do. That's what it's for.

Inebriated
December 17, 2012, 01:59 PM
Thanks for the replies. CraigC answered the folks I was about to... this isn't to plink, it's to get consistent groups so I can see both the rifle's zero, and eventually try different loads and see what the rifles like best. I'll probably pick one up in a few days, and see how it goes.

Mr_Pale_Horse
December 17, 2012, 02:29 PM
We use one at Deer Camp, when all the hunters are checking zero, or zero'ing new gear. It is great for that volume of use.

Pacsd
December 17, 2012, 03:03 PM
Don't damage stocks? I'm here to tell ya they do and will. Using it, I cracked the stock ( very attractive wood) on my 270 and knocked the scope outta zero on my 7mm-08. I took it back to Scheels. I told them the story and was told "you're not the first one". I got a store credit that I used for a Caldwell 3 point "rock" and a butt rest. Do what ya want.

Swampman
December 17, 2012, 03:14 PM
Originally Posted by CraigC
"it is indispensable for load development in larger centerfire rifles."
I'm not sure I'd call it "indispensable", but it's a HUGE help.
I may be getting wimpy as I get older, but it's hard for me to remain consistent when shooting ladders with 50 or 60, 300 grain .338 rounds. The Lead Sled is much easier on my shoulder than a sissy bag and gives me more reliable accuracy, for more rounds.

I don't normally use it for sighting in because it's a pig to tote around and I don't usually fire enough rounds to make recoil problematic.

SwampWolf
December 17, 2012, 04:10 PM
I have never heard of a rifle being "damaged" in a lead sled, mine seem to hold up just fine.

I've never used one nor know anyone who has, but I've heard many times (including from posters in this thread) of shooters having wooden stocks broken due to rifles being fired from a Lead Sled. The theory for this happening that I've heard most has to do with the weight of the sled preventing the rifle from "giving" under recoil and all of the recoil force being absorbed by the rifle, causing the wrist of the stock to break. My question is, if the Lead Sled is not bolted to a bench, wouldn't the sled itself move under recoil, thus absorbing some of the shock generated from recoil?

rcmodel
December 17, 2012, 04:18 PM
So would you pay the $124 for a Lead Sled?

Oh, and does it actually reduce recoil by 95%??
No.
I can shoot quite well off sandbags.

Yes, after you add four 25 pound bags of lead shot @ $46.00 a bag.
Without the added weight of the lead shot, the Lead-Sled is all Sled and no Lead.

rc

carlo1776
December 17, 2012, 04:28 PM
I got mine on sale for $90. I find it ok to transport, it is a bit of a pain with long mags. All in all I don't regret having bought it. At home I can clamp it in a bench vice while I'm doing mods or cleaning on a rifle.

Phil70
December 17, 2012, 04:33 PM
I use the rock and like it.
You will need something to put under your stock to help level it.

Phil

Bull Nutria
December 17, 2012, 04:36 PM
i have heard of using 2 -25lb weights that go on barbells instead of lead on the sled. i use some salvaged lead shot from old shotgun shells that got wet in a flood. i like the led sled for load development and shooting hard recoiling rifles. i have't broken anything using the lead sled.

any kind of lead would work --doesn't have to be new $46/25lbs shot. could be 2 sacks of wheel weights or what have you!!

Bull

silicosys4
December 17, 2012, 04:43 PM
RC.....Bollocks. Obviously you've never used a lead sled.

1. The same reason people don't like to take them to the range, is the same reason they are useful as hell even without the expensive bags of lead shot. The thing weighs about 35lbs by itself, its a heavy sucker. Most of the time I don't use any additional weight.

2. Until I see one, see pictures, or hear direct testimonials about someone who's rifle had a perfectly good wood stock that wasn't split or cracked prior to being fired in a lead sled that cracked on the sled, that's just another internet rumor. If you've ever shot off a lead sled you know they aren't bolted down, and aren't an immoveable block of concrete that you are pounding your rifle off of. Even a fully loaded sled moves a bit under recoil.

Caliper_RWVA
December 17, 2012, 04:56 PM
I don't see that I have a use for one, so I'll say not worth the price.

I typically shoot from field positions (prone, seated, standing) so I zero from those positions. The rifle will recoil slightly differently in my hands than locked down in a lead sled. This will affect zero slightly. Jeff Cooper talks about this briefly in "The Art of the Rifle" when he says that even in a rested position, one should hold the rifle in their hand and place the hand on the rest.

Mike J
December 17, 2012, 04:56 PM
I still haven't used a Caldwell Lead Sled but-When we were zeroing rifles this year my buddy said something about several of us going together & getting one. I told him to wait & let me see what I could come up with. I had some 1"x4"x1" 3/8" channel laying around as well as some 2"x2"x1/8" angle iron. I went online and looked at a picture of one & used the materials I had plus some 1/4" bolts & nuts and a piece of 3/4" rod to make a very similar contraption. Oh I also used a piece of the leg of some tore up blue jeans & some kitty litter to make a bag for the front. & I put a piece of sheet metal on the bottom for a tray. I bought a bag of play sand at Wal Mart to use for weight. It works perfectly. I should have taken a picture. Next time I am over there I will see if I can get one. The church I have been attending lets members hunt on their land. I left it in one of the sheds there so whoever needs to can use it to sight in.

Swampman
December 17, 2012, 06:00 PM
I've probably fired about 250 rounds of .338 Win Mag from a lead sled with a wood stocked Ruger M77. I haven't had any problems with the stock whatsoever. The wood on this rifle is straight grained through the wrist and the action has been glass bedded.

So in my extremely limited experience, no it won't crack the stock.
A more powerful caliber, highly figured wood, lack of glass bedding or an undetected flaw in the wood of a particular rifle might lead to different results.

I do know that if someone gave me a Best Quality Hollands Double in .700 Nitro Express, I sure as heck wouldn't shoot it off a lead sled.

FYI: To clarify my situation, I don't actually OWN a Lead Sled, I just bum one from a buddy who does when I need it. I like the Lead Sled, but I don't know if I'd actually spend $120 to get one. Luckily, my friend looks at my chronograph the same way. :)

aka108
December 17, 2012, 06:40 PM
I have never used one. My objection is carting something around that requires a great deal of weight to be carried also. Same objection to some of the shooting bags that when filled weigh 40 to 50 lbs.

gspn
December 17, 2012, 06:44 PM
We have a lead-sled at the farm and use it to sight in perhaps 20 rifles a year.

It is an awesome tool for zero'ing rifles. We use two 25-lb lead bags which soak up all of the recoil. This lets you focus on making sure the gun is on.

After that though you have to make sure the shooter is on. So once it's zeroed you take it off the sled and shoot from field positions.

The lead sled is very good for it's intended purpose of removing human error from the sighting-in process. This might not sound like a big deal for those who just shoot two or three rounds per year, but there are days when I've had to track down a problem with a rifle and went through a box of 300 WSM:what:. The lead sled is a lifesaver in those scenarios.

CraigC
December 17, 2012, 07:35 PM
The rhetoric about the weight is just that. The Sled itself is not that heavy. No moreso than any good adjustable front rest. I use two 25lb bags of lead shot and I keep them in the Caldwell bags. The lead shot is not permanently attached so you do not carry the whole thing at once. Not a big deal whatsoever for something that will save your shoulder from bruising. As usual, most the negative comes from people who have never used one.

mljdeckard
December 17, 2012, 08:27 PM
I took the new bargain-model plastic one to the range, shot sub-moa with my first batch of 22-250 loads with no weights at all. Not sure what else it is supposed to do for more money.

rcmodel
December 17, 2012, 08:36 PM
RC.....Bullocks. Obviously you've never used a lead sled.Bollocks??
Or Bullocks??

I'll have to look that up in my Funk & Wagnells and see if I should be insulted or not.


But Actually, I have used a lead sled.

My buddy bought one years ago so he could stand to shoot his .460 Weatherby off the bench.

And like I said, it doesn't help much atall, unless you pile a bunch of shot bags in it.


The thing weighs about 35lbs by itself,Maybe yours does?

But his sure don't.

rc

oneounceload
December 17, 2012, 09:25 PM
Oh, and does it actually reduce recoil by 95%??

As RC mentioned, by piling bags of lead shot on it to minimize the recoil movement. Personally, I shoot my 7mag off a front and rear leather bag.

Don't want to pay $45 for shot? Get some old shot bags or similar and fill with spent primers, or sand, or similar

ngnrd
December 17, 2012, 09:58 PM
I find my LeadSled Solo and 25# bag of shot to be useful when spending a long day at the range working up handloads over the chrony. Is it absolutely necessary? Nope. Do I prefer it? Yup. Is it "worth it"? Well, I suppose that's entirely up to the user to determine. Like most other tools, it's cost-effectiveness depends on how much you'll actually use it.

twofifty
December 17, 2012, 10:42 PM
How easy is it -really- to make fine adjustments with the Lead Sled?

I saw two guys at the range fiddle and fart with Caldwell's DFT model (dual frame technology) trying to point the rifle to the target. Once of the adjustment screws stripped its threads. Once on paper they had a heck of a time controlling the finer adjustments. Who knows, maybe these guys drove up in the short bus. ;)

For the big boomers, our range has a stand-up bench.

Basically, it is a height-adjustable smooth concrete top cast in a steel frame. The shooter raises or lowers the top by pumping a hydraulic cylinder. Place your big magnum on the rest of your choice. You shoot from standing (there is no seat) so that the body isn't hunched forward against the rifle butt. Shooting from front and rear bags, it is a very natural stance that lets the body roll with the free recoil.

Anyone shopping for bags ought to look at the "Protektor Model" line of full-grain cowhide bags. These beauties are made in Pennsylvania, and their mail order service rocks. The guys on their 1-800 line are shooters and hunters so you can rely on their advice re: choosing the right model.

gspn
December 17, 2012, 11:01 PM
How easy is it -really- to make fine adjustments with the Lead Sled?

I saw two guys at the range fiddle and fart with Caldwell's DFT model (dual frame technology) trying to point the rifle to the target. Once of the adjustment screws stripped its threads. Once on paper they had a heck of a time controlling the finer adjustments. Who knows, maybe these guys drove up in the short bus. ;)

For the big boomers, our range has a stand-up bench.

Basically, it is a height-adjustable smooth concrete top cast in a steel frame. The shooter raises or lowers the top by pumping a hydraulic cylinder. Place your big magnum on the rest of your choice. You shoot from standing (there is no seat) so that the body isn't hunched forward against the rifle butt. Shooting from front and rear bags, it is a very natural stance that lets the body roll with the free recoil.

Anyone shopping for bags ought to look at the "Protektor Model" line of full-grain cowhide bags. These beauties are made in Pennsylvania, and their mail order service rocks. The guys on their 1-800 line are shooters and hunters so you can rely on their advice re: choosing the right model.
Making adjustments is the easiest thing since sliced bread. If you can turn a door-knob you can make the adjustment.

If you put the sled down in front of me I can be on the bullseye in less than 20 seconds. Those guys you saw had a problem.

It seems like there are some responses where people might be surprised that you are supposed to use bags of shot to steady the rest...it's called a "lead" sled for that very reason. The entire premise is that you put a bag or two of lead shot on the tray so that there is no recoil.

With 50 lbs of lead on the tray I get no recoil to the shoulder at all with calibers like .300 WSM, .45-70, 7mm mag, any .308 load.

We just put 25 lb. bags of shot into the caldwell carry bags. Piece of cake.

tahoe2
December 19, 2012, 09:32 PM
My local range has tons of sand bags and carpeted blocks of wood (4x4 or 6x6). I have only seen a lead sled used once, the owner loved it, I saw no use for it. just my opinion. I have been shooting off sand bags for more than 30+ years. No competition shooting, just zeroing rifles/scopes and testing loads. I have always felt that the shooter and weapon should become one, and that's how it gets zeroed for that shooter.
I help others zero their guns as well, but the owner of the firearm always needs to shoot the rifle to zero it. Everybody holds it just a little different; example: my buddy was getting 2" groups with his .284 Winchester-dead center @ 100, he asked me to shoot it, I got a 1" group 6" to the right. He said "what's wrong with my gun" I said "nothing" I have a different build, I wear glasses, you don't, etc...
Since then, he has taken two bucks and a doe with that gun/load combo.

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