The Caldwell Lead Sled FCX
By Chuck Hawks
The clever folks at Caldwell, a division of Battenfeld Technologies (www.battenfeldtechnologies.com), have combined the adjustment ease of their Fire Control front rest with a revised Lead Sled chassis to create the Lead Sled FCX. As regular Guns and Shooting Online readers know, since the introduction of the original Lead Sled we have done almost all our test shooting of the rifles we review from a Lead Sled rest. Lead Sled rests reduce recoil by up to 95%, depending primarily on the caliber of the rifle and how much lead you add to the Sled. Suffice to say that any Lead Sled makes an enormous difference in the recoil the shooter must endure and even a .458 Magnum becomes reasonably pleasant to shoot from a Lead Sled. Caldwell must have invented these things for gun writers and we have used and reviewed every Lead Sled model. (See the Outdoor and Shooting Accessories page for the reviews of other Lead Sled models.)
The latest Lead Sled, introduced at the 2010 SHOT Show, is the FCX. The FCX's Fire Control system lets you make fine windage and elevation adjustments to align your rifle's sights with the target using a single, convenient control arm (joystick). The tension on the Fire Control joystick is adjustable so that it holds the rifle wherever it is set. At 100 yards, the control arm allows up to five feet of movement in any direction. Coarse adjustments are provided at the front of the rest by a four-inch tall geared column for elevation control and by simply moving the back of the Lead Sled FCX left or right to achieve approximate lateral alignment with the target. In addition, the FCX is easily adjustable for length to accommodate practically any rifle or shotgun.
Other improvements include a rubberized butt plate pad for the rifle at the back of the rest that looks as if it will be more durable than the previous leatherette covered pads supplied with earlier Lead Sled models. The dual main beams of the FCX arc downward from the rear support to the main chassis to provide space for operating lever action rifles without removing them from the rest.
Our Lead Sled FCX was shipped with two front rest bags, a wide "U" shaped bag intended for wide forends and a narrow "V" shaped bag for slender forends. We initially installed the wide bag and have subsequently used it for every rifle tested, including those with slender forearms, with excellent results.
The FCX comes with a contoured Cordura shot (or sand) bag custom shaped to fit in the rounded tray at the front of the rest. This bag holds up to 50 pounds of lead shot. (Note the black and green bag on the front tray in the photo at the top of the page.) Alternatively, a regular 25-pound bag of lead shot easily fits in the same tray and we have found this to be sufficient weight for most purposes. Here are the basic specifications of the Lead Sled FCX.
All Lead Sleds reduce recoil by essentially making the rifle part of the rest, thus adding the weight of the rest (weighted with anywhere from 25 to 100 pounds of lead shot) to that of the rifle. They must be used with the shooter's shoulder firmly behind the Lead Sled and the rifle's butt plate firmly in contact with the padded rear rest.
Because the Lead Sled FCX is a heavy-duty shooting rest, it also stabilizes the rifle, as would a conventional rest (or sandbags). However, you must be careful to keep the tension on the rifle and the FCX consistent from shot to shot or groups will open up, just as they would with non-recoil reduction rests.
The Guns and Shooting Online staff has been using the Lead Sled FCX with every rifle reviewed since its arrival, as well as our personal rifles. Our conclusion is simple: we think it is the best Lead Sled yet. Its ergonomics are excellent and the front control arm makes it easy to get the rifle back on target after every shot. If you do not already own a Caldwell Lead Sled, take a close look at the FCX. You will not be disappointed and soon you will wonder how you ever got along without it.
Copyright 2010, 2013 by Chuck Hawks.com. All rights reserved.