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Old December 29, 2012, 12:10 AM   #1
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Does a lead sled help or hurt?

I have used a lead sled for years but it seems bench rest shooters mostly use bags. I figure there must be a reason. Is it just considered cheating or something else? I began to wonder if the sudden impact between the gun and lead sled during the process of recoil may be believed to have some sort of negative effect on accuracy. I don't use much weight in mine but rather mainly use it as a stable rest. I have always trusted it more than attempting to use bags, primarily during load development. Otherwise, I prop on anything when hunting. Just want to eliminate as much error as possible when I am searching for a good hand load combo.

Thanks for any input.
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Old December 29, 2012, 01:07 PM   #2
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I've never used one, but my brother-in-law uses his for load development. He says that it takes the sting out of his rifle. I can see that it would be an aid for heavy-kicking rifles and would be a benefit during long strings. However, I would caution against using it for anything except load development because your rifle will recoil differently in the lead sled as opposed to recoiling against your shoulder. Once you've found a good load, get away from the lead sled and shoot the rifle.
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Old December 29, 2012, 05:27 PM   #3
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I can understand the desire to use one for load development when shooting a really heavy recoiling gun. If I had access to one I'd use it for this. I wouldn't use one for zeroing any gun because the gun may well shoot to a different point of impact when using a different type of rest.

I believe it is best to do all zeroing and practice off something as close as what you may use in the field as possible. Shooting off an improvised rest, or even sandbags develops skills not learned when using one of the sleds.

Even with sandbags as a rest there is movement of the sights on the target just as in the field. Becoming a marksman is knowing exactly how much pressure to apply to the trigger as you anticipate when the crosshairs will be exacty where you want them. You never develop those skills when shooting off a lead sled. In the long run you will become a better shot without one.

They also put a lot of stress on rifle stocks. Since there is no "give" when fired, the stock takes all the stress. It is not unheard of for stocks to break when fired in lead sleds.
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Old December 29, 2012, 10:40 PM   #4
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My brother

My brother has a lead sled and uses it all the time. He loves to brag about dime sized groups with a .17
To me it don't mean a damn thing unless you are holding the rifle.

I can see the utility for working up loads with heavy recoiling rifles. Otherwise all one learns is the potential mechanical accuracy of the rifle. That's pretty meaningless.

When it comes to "real" shooting I can always outscore him. I think the lead sled does more harm than good when marksmanship is considered.
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Old December 30, 2012, 12:35 PM   #5
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Lead Sled

I had to quit fireing my .308,.270,and my 30-06,because I coulden't take the recoil in my bad shoulder anymore.I was reduced to shooting light loads in my .243 and 30-30's.After buying a Lead Sled,I'm back to shooting all my rifles and enjoying them again.biker
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Old December 30, 2012, 02:08 PM   #6
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If you're working up loads for heavy guns, yes it helps. If you're learning to shoot those heavy guns, then no. Unless you pack one while hunting.

I use my lead slid to work out loads for my heavy rifles (375H&H, 416 Rigby, 458 WM, etc) but once I get the load I quite and go back to shooting pretty how I'm going to shoot in the field, with those rifles its not too bad because I think they are pretty much off hand or knelling rifles ( positions you'll encounter while hunting.

For good off hand practice I use cast bullets and reduced loads.

I'm not really sure if I didn't have a lead slid, I'd get one. I don't use it that much and its always in the way.
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Old December 31, 2012, 04:50 PM   #7
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I think the answer is, it depends. There have been complaints of stocks cracking in heavy recoiling rifles because the lead sled does a little too good a job of providing resistance. If you calculate the amount of distance a free recoiling rifle moves back while the bullet is still in the barrel, it's on the order of a sixteenth of an inch for common hunting rifles, though an elephant gun that has a long barrel time would go further. My approach has been to pad the butt sling on the lead sled with a Sorbothane pad I picked up at one of the NRA annual meetings. But a Neoprene foam pad or even a couple of layers of medium pile carpet scrap should accomplish about the same thing: preventing a truly hard stop.

The other time the lead sled becomes questionable is when you have a rifle whose barrel doesn't float in the stock and which doesn't have pre-loading of what contact points there may be. It is not infrequently the case that you will disturb POI in such rifles less by resting the magazine well or, in the case of a lever gun, the receiver just under the carrier on a bag instead of the front end of the stock. The lead sled designs I've seen thus far don't allow for that variation on sandbag technique to be applied.
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Old December 31, 2012, 08:02 PM   #8
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I just use when mounting a new scope/optic or zeroing a rifle.
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Old January 1, 2013, 05:30 PM   #9
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I want to buy one for zeroing. Mostly to zero my 12 gauge. I don't see how it could hurt for set-up/zeroing. Even if some minor adjustments are necessary after to sight for field positions.
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Old January 2, 2013, 11:41 PM   #10
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Range I shot at shooting tables are fix no adjustments so lot that are using lead sled sit straight up they do get you off the bench vs other type rest like Hart,Sinclair etc. I'm not saying it's bad just different is all.
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Old January 3, 2013, 06:06 AM   #11
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I have a shooters ridge rest that acts like a lead sled, it has a tray you can put a bag or 2 of lead shot in, I used 2 bags of lead (50 pounds) when I would shoot my .375 Rem Ultra Mag, I changed the recoild pad on the rifle from the original hard rubber to a thicker soft limb saver pad and when I took the old pad off I found that the plastic cross members in the original pad had broke! I did some surgery on the rest and cut the back strap out so my rifles could recoil freely
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Old January 3, 2013, 10:51 AM   #12
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like others, use a rest like the lead sled to check load development and sighting in. after that - I try to do my best off hand or improvised rest.

Don't exactly see myself dragging the lead sled into the woods -or the game being patient enough to let me set it up and line up on them...
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Old January 3, 2013, 06:34 PM   #13
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I don't have any information in relation to accuracy with lead sleds...but if you're using a pedestal rest with rear bags you'll want your target rifle to slide {recoil push} in the bags. Some hunting rifles need a firm hold in a pedestal a lead sled might not make any differance --- accuracy wise --- vice versa to a pedestal rest. May I suggest that you experiment with both types of rest's...and keep us posted. Just make sure that you don't have your naked barrel of your gun, resting on anything, cuz it'll push your POI upwards.
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Old January 3, 2013, 07:31 PM   #14
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Thanks for the input guys. Most comments are pretty much along the lines of my thoughts. The fact of the matter is I can't get a better rest than the sled and this tells me the potential of each of my guns and hand loads which gives me a lot of confidence in the field. I still have to make a good clean steady shot but atleast I have narrowed the variables down to my on skill. I would never take it in the woods to hunt. That would be way more trouble than its worth. Plus the kill zone is much larger than 1 moa. It's all about being a confidence builder for me. If I know my gear is hooked up, I'm good to go.
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Old January 10, 2013, 05:49 PM   #15
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I use mine for load developement and scope zeroing as to take the weak link out of it,(me). Then when I have the zeroe and the load I want I practice with my shooting sticks and hasty rests.
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Old January 14, 2013, 12:52 PM   #16
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My wife got me one for my birthday. I used it once, it now holds my guns when I work on or clean them. I just didn't like it, I found I shoot better off bipod and rear bag. Since I'm a hunter/plinker. I figured I might as well load test, zero, and target practice the way I plan to hunt. You can never have to much practice.
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Old January 14, 2013, 06:24 PM   #17
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I use one mostly when playing with different loads and zeroing shooting distances when shooting scoped inline BP rifles . Once I've got a load and 'zero' distance dialed in I go to shooting off a rest resembling one I would use while hunting.
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Old February 2, 2013, 10:00 AM   #18
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I have one and found it VERY helpful in zeroing my CZ Safari Magnum in 375 H&H. Continued to shoot after zero; don't think I would have enjoyed it as much (or have been as productive) if I didn't have the lead sled. Just got a 416 Ruger Alaskan and you better believe I'll be using the sled for that one too!
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Old February 2, 2013, 06:08 PM   #19
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Welcome to the forum.

Just be aware there have been some reports of cracked stocks using heavy magnums in the sleds. They are a little bit too rigid for some of those guns, it seems. Add some butt padding if you're going to do it.
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