While Clair (Rees) was up in the Utah desert working with portable shooting benches, we had another outfit ship a bench to the home office in Prescott. The Stukeys Sturdy Shooting Bench (SSSB) is well made, consisting of tubular black-powder coated legs that screw into the recessed mounts on the bench. The AC plywood top is secured to the A-frame support with screws, about 14 by actual count. The bench was shipped with rubber bands made out of inner tubes, one of which broke, so the legs were taped together with shipping tape – another great use for all that duct tape some folks acquired recently. Both the bench top and one leg have handles for easy carrying. I didn’t weigh the SSSB, but it would appear to hit the scales somewhere between 50 and 60 pounds. The bench top has ample space to accommodate a rifle rest and rear butt rest with room to spare for chronograph, ammunition, spotting scope or whatever else. If the Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane coating has any drawbacks, it’s slick and tends to cause the bench top to slide on the carpet when transporting from home to shooting area in the back of the Ramcharger or Bronco. You can turn the top over so the leg mounts are resting on the carpet, but that puts divots in the upholstery. This might not be a problem if you cart this outfit around in the back of a pickup, but rest assured, it will slide around if not secured with bungee cords, rope or whatever.
In actual use, the SSSB is easy to set up, extremely stout and a very steady shooting platform – no wobble, no shake, no movement, period.
Considering the overall design and materials, the SSSB is worth the asking price. The frame and legs simply are not going to wear out. Even if the plywood top goes to pot in 10 years, it can be easily replace. In short this bench is going to last most folks a lifetime, even if you shoot once a week or more. If I were to attempt to improve on the SSSB, it would be to cut a few shallow .50-inch wide grooves in the plywood top from front to back, along the left edge. The grooves would serve to keep cartridge cases from rolling off the bench, which invariable land in the dirt and mud. You could also lay a pen or pencil in the groove between strings for note-taking in a range log. I would also cut the left rear corner back just a bit, somewhat parallel to the angle of the support next to the rear leg, to keep the round corner from gouging the shooter in the ribs when settling in behind the rifle. If you shoot from the left side, the right rear corner would be trimmed back just a bit. Either way, it is plywood and easily adapted to a custom fit. The storage box/seat is listed at $30 (plus shipping), and while I have gotten by for the last dozen years with a slightly smaller box of similar construction, I have to pack a separate collapsible lawn chair with my present setup using a similar sized bench with folding legs.
Either way, the SSSB box is a great idea and well worth the price, if for no other reason than to keep all your shooting gear together, out of the weather and readily accessible.
I suppose the ultimate compliment I can pay to the SSSB is that it is perfectly capable of serving as a platform for mounting a Ransom Pistol Rest – on a separate platform that is bolted or C-clamped to the top of the bench. Anyone who has ever tried to mount the Ransom Pistol Rest on a portable bench knows exactly what I’m referring to. Most portable rests bounce, wiggle or vibrate, causing spurious results with the handgun of choice. If the SSSB does have a tendency to back up or move just a bit while settling in with the Ransom Pistol Rest, a couple of sandbags on top of the bench will calm it down posthaste – but the SSSB is stout enough to handle the chore easily. Overall the SSSB is a great setup for the serious shooter, and I’ve fought a lot of bad benches over the years. There is simply nothing to be gained by trying to get the best out of your rifle or sixgun when the bench vibrates or wiggles every time you pull the trigger. Other than a concrete pad, the SSSB should fill the bill. (*Note: At Dave Scovill’s suggestion, we’ve changed the rubber band material to surgical tubing. Thanks for the great idea Dave!)
Rifle Magazine: May 2003 by Dave Scovill