Stoney Point "Steady Stix II" and "Safari Stix" Shooting Sticks
By Chuck Hawks
Stoney Point Products, Inc. is the manufacturer of Steady Stix II and Safari Stix shooting sticks as well as a considerable number of other products in the shooting support, gun cleaning, and reloading tools and gauges areas.
Steady Stix and Safari Stix are a folding, hand held, bipod system. They are essentially an updated version of the shooting sticks used by many of the professional buffalo hunters on the American frontier. Stoney Point also offers telescoping shooting sticks, but it is the simple folding models that are reviewed here.
A brief and not wholly satisfactory experiment with a bipod attached to the forend of my rifle convinced me that this shooting aid was more trouble than it was worth. When attached, the telescoping bipod adversely affected the balance and handling qualities of the rifle. When carried separately from the rifle, the thing took entirely too long to attach and deploy, and was noisy to boot. It precluded the use of the front sling swivel stud for its intended purpose, and it was hard on the finish of the stock. Bummer!
When I decided to try modern shooting sticks, I was initially attracted to the telescoping type, but on reflection I decided that the folding models were actually simpler to deploy. So I decided to give the Stoney Point folding sticks a try.
The next choice was between the Steady Stix II (intended for use from the sitting or kneeling positions) and the Safari Stix (intended for use primarily from the standing position). Both work the same way and are supplied with a nylon belt sheath.
To deploy, merely slip the tie cord that keeps the sticks bundled. They unfold and self-assemble automatically due to an internal elastic shock cord system. The forearm of the rifle is placed in the non-slip, thermoformed rubber "V" yoke and correct height is determined by the angle of the legs. It is really a very basic and simple system.
The three section Steady Stix II are 14" long when folded, and the five section Safari Stix are 16" long when folded. Unfolded, the Steady Stix II are 39" long and the Safari Stix measure 72". Both are manufactured from lightweight, tempered, high tensile strength, black anodized aluminum alloy tubing. Naturally, the Steady Stix II is a few ounces lighter than the longer Safari Stix.
There are pointed aluminum tips at the bottom of the Stix's legs, which are the subject of my only real complaint. During my years as a professional photographer I found that rubber tips on my tripod's legs were always more stable than metal tips. And so it is with shooting sticks.
The metal tips tend to slip and skid over stones in the field, and on rocky or other hard ground, making a really secure rest problematical. This can be a serious drawback in the mountains or on a stony point (pun intended). One leg or the other tends to slip under the weight of the rifle, especially from the sitting position, where the legs are spread wide apart. On softer ground, like turf, this is not a problem. I am going to hit the hardware store in search of small rubber tips that will cover the points at the ends of the legs.
My first inclination was to go with the longer Safari Stix; they seemed the more versatile choice as they can be used from the standing position. But then I got to thinking: if I had time to assemble and use the Stix, I would sit down anyway. I have shot the great majority of the game I have killed from the sitting position. It takes only moments to assume, and is far steadier (and hence more accurate) than the offhand standing position. Unless I have to shoot instantly at very close range, I am usually going to be sitting when I shoot. So, why carry around longer and heavier Stix? I purchased the shorter Steady Stix II and, at least so far, I have not regretted that choice.
The longer Safari Stix would be advantageous if one were forced to, say, shoot from the standing position over tall grass. This is a relatively common situation on the African plains, which no doubt accounts for the name of the product.
Stoney Point shooting sticks really do provide a much steadier shooting platform than an unsupported rifle. The shooter's ability to precisely place a bullet is dramatically improved. And bullet placement is, by far, the biggest factor in killing power. Anything that allows better bullet placement in the field is worth trying.
Steady Stix II came with a MSRP of $34.95, and Safari Stix with a MSRP of $54.95, in 2004. My local discount department store sells them for about $10 less, so they will not break the bank of most hunters, even if it turns out that they are seldom used.
Here are some user tips quoted from the Stoney Point field testers:
I have learned to use the Steady Stix II from kneeling, a position that I have seldom bothered with in the past. Long ago I had proven to my satisfaction that kneeling is only very slightly faster and not nearly as steady as sitting. I regard sitting to be superior to kneeling for the great majority of hunting situations. But with the extra support provided by Steady Stix, kneeling becomes a viable position.
Doing some informal self-timing, I found that with a little practice I could go from standing with my rifle slung over my shoulder and my Steady Stix II in their belt sheath to a kneeling position using the Steady Stix in about 30 seconds.
All in all, I have found the Stoney Point Steady Stix II to be a well designed, well made, and useful product. They are light and easy to carry, either in the supplied belt sheath or in a game pocket or knapsack, reasonably fast to deploy, and effective (except on hard ground). There is no doubt that shooting sticks improve accuracy, and they do not degrade the balance and handling of the rifle as does an attached bipod. Use them when appropriate, and ignore them otherwise. What more can a hunter ask of a shooting accessory?
Copyright 2004, 2013 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.