Friday, June 8, 2007

Fidragon Handle Bipod review

The Grip-Pod vertical forward grip from Grip-Pod Systems has received rave reviews since it's introduction into the defense community, and deservedly so. After getting the attention of the military, it won a military contract, beating out other bipod systems that weighed far more in the areas of size and durability. The Grip-Pod can even withstand the weight of a 250lb man standing on top of an M-16 while the legs are deployed. A truly amazing product.

And one which, at $150 I can not afford. While searching ARFCOM I came across this thread, illustrating a way to make a Chinese knock-off of the G.P. more durable using Bushmaster parts. I followed up on this and decided to check out the product for myself.

I ordered from Airsplat.com and in a few days the package arrived in the mail.
Opening the box with the biggest, meanest knife possible. Just because.

The shipping package was too large for the item inside, and the rest of the box was filled with crumpled brown packaging paper. The bipod was intact inside it's packaging, with only a few small cosmetic marks on the black surface.
Very minor surface tarnishing.

The Fidragon ST06 Standing Bipod is 6 1/2" tall, stowed, and 8 3/4" tall deployed, with a full extension of 10 inches before the legs snap out. It comes in matte black and an Flat Dark Earth-like brown. I chose the black, the better to match Evil Black Rifles! It is deployed by pressing a large, textured button on the top of the grip.
The button in question.

The Handle Bipod fully deployed.
The Handle Bipod attaches via a standard Picatinny interface, and is held firmly in place by the twist knob on the side. It is significantly larger than a Knight's Armament Co. vertical forward grip, and has a very solid feel in your hand. Also, the matte black finish is very non-reflective.
A size comparison between the Fidragon HB and a Knight's VFG.

After testing the mechanism a few times, a problem developed. The legs would snap out, but would not return all the way into the grip, and refused to lock into the 'stowed' position. It seems that the spring sometimes binds up on it's guides and halts the upward movement of the legs when they are being stowed. The problem has re-appeared very rarely, and always corrected itself.

It is made of sturdily constructed of a polymer material that seems more than sufficient for any abuse I might throw it's way (firing range, airsoft games), though I sincerely doubt that this Fidragon version is anywhere near as sturdy as the G.P.S. Grip-Pod. Were I deployed overseas again, or just looking to have the very best on my weapon, I would spring for the Grip-Pod Systems version in a heartbeat, and be much more confident in it's performance.

EDIT: After over-tightening the knob on the mounting bracket, it now spins loose on it's threads. I will be ordering a new knob and bolt from Bushmaster and performing the aforementioned mod.

EDIT 2: Here's a video I found of the opening action. I hope it helps to illustrate the mechanism.

video

EDIT 3: Years after I made this review, I'm coming back to it to post my final thoughts. The Fidragon Grip-Pod knockoff is crap. the spring loses it's tension, the tightening knob fell off, and the legs had no reinforcement. After using an actual Grip-Pod on an overseas deployment, there is no comparison. The honest-to-God Grip-Pod had a superior spring, steel-reinforced legs, and a much more positive *snap* when deployed. If the $90-140 price tag turns you off, try the Fidragon as a proof-of concept to see if its right for you. Or better yet, buy the real thing from Brownells and if you don't like it, they'll take it back.

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