Caldwell HYDROSLED Shooting Rest
by Mary and Dr. Jim Clary
Virtually every shooter on the planet, hunters, plinkers and competitive, are aware that Caldwell makes a variety of shooting rests for every need and situation. As such, it was difficult to see how they could come up with yet another one to fill an “open niche”. Well, they did with the HYDROSLED Shooting Rest. The retention strap on the front eliminates muzzle jump in the rest. Filling the reservoir effectively increases the rifle's weight, thereby reducing the felt recoil.
Due to its cost, the HYDROSLED will not be for everyone, given its MSRP of $329. That is beyond the budget of the average weekend shooter or fall hunter. The HYDROSLED is designed for shooters that are using big bore guns that have enough recoil to damage the nervous system if you shoot too many rounds at a single outing. With a filled reservoir, the felt recoil is projected to be reduced by 95%. The figures below illustrate the estimated reduction in felt recoil with a fully loaded hydrosled reservoir.
Cartridge Rifle Weight Recoil Energy Felt Recoil with HYDROSLED
7mm Rem Ultra Mag
160 gr bullet @ 3200 fps 8.5 lbs 29.4 ft pounds 1.47 ft. pounds
300 Weatherby Mag
180 gr bullet @ 3240 fps 9.0 lbs 31.6 ft pounds 1.58 ft. pounds
30-378 Weatherby Mag
180 gr bullet @ 3412 fps 9.0 lbs 39.4 ft pounds 1.97 ft. pounds
338 Winchester Mag
200 gr bullet @ 3000 fps 8.5 lbs 33.3 ft pounds 1.67 ft. pounds
400 gr bullet @ 2400 fps 10 lbs 58.1 ft. pounds 2.91 ft. pounds
458 Winchester Mag
500 gr bullet @ 2090 fps 10 lbs 56.8 ft. pounds 2.84 ft. pounds
The projected results of felt recoil when using the HYDROSLED are pretty impressive. Being a skeptic, we estimate that with the SLED filled to half capacity, the recoil is comparable to that of a 243 Winchester, in the range of 8 – 10 ft. pounds, very acceptable.
The advantages of the HYDROSLED are that the need for heavy bags is eliminated as the reservoir accommodates all the weight necessary to reduce recoil. Additionally, the rack and pinion elevation ram permits precise adjustments, along with fine windage adjustment knobs. And, just in case that you wish to use the HYDROSLED with other firearms, it is compatible with nearly all rifles and shotguns. That includes lever action rifles and AR platform rifles with detachable magazines.
The only disadvantage we found was that the elevation adjustments were not adequate for ranges beyond 100 yards. To accommodate longer ranges we had to prop up the front of the HYDROSLED with a 2” sheet of wood. After that, it worked just fine.
This Caldwell unit is an amazing piece of equipment. While it is not for everyone, if you get one, you will like it because it delivers as described.