Light(ish) weight ball head for glassing/shooting

Brandon.miller.4

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May 26, 2020
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Alright guys, I have dug around and cant figure out what the hell I want.

Currently, I use a Two vets "the ruck" tripod with a sirui va-5 and absolutely love it for a rock solid glassing setup with my 12s and 88mm kowa. However, I built a tikka with an MDT chassis and want to incorporate the ability of shooting off a tripod for tall grass, brushy situations that dont allow for prone shooting. I hunt two vastly different types of terrain. One being above 10k in steep country, the other being rolling hills/breaks at 2k foot of elevation. I do an equal amount of each and have decided one tripod just isnt going to cut it. When Im packing in for 5-7 days I want it light. When im day hunting I'll gladly carry the extra weight of my two vets. I have a slik 624 on order from S&S. The ballhead i will purchase for the slik must meet a few requirements...

-less than 1lb (lighter would be ideal)
-panning function
-capable of holding an 11lb rifle
-less than $200
- ~30mm ball (Open to suggestions)

A few I have been seriously looking at are: Leofoto LH-36 Low profile (14.5oz/40lb rating), Two Vets 44mm (16oz/44lb rating), Sirui G-20x (11.2oz/44lb rating), Leofoto LH-30 (9oz/18lb rating)

I am open to any other suggestions other than changing my tripods out. I have my reasons for wanting a center post so I will continue to use them. Should I entertain the thought of going smaller yet for the slik? Having two tripods for two different situations I want to go with as light of a head as possible and still be capable of taking 500 yard shots.

if all goes well with this setup and I prefer it to my sirui va-5 for its versatillity, I will set up the two vets tripod with a ball head as well, probably something larger/stout and pleasant to shoot off of maybe a 44 or 50mm ball? idk.

Thanks in advance for any help you guys can offer!
 

tdhanses

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Spartan is probably your best option.


You’ll need a few accessories to go with it to get it to work but will be under $200.


 

ID_Matt

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I have been in almost the same boat as you the last year or s. Had the VA-5 forever and love it for glassing but it obviously isn't ideal for shooting. I have a leofoto lh-40 that I used for a bit that is great for shooting but on the heavier side. Tried an anvil type head that is about as good as it gets for shooting but not great for glassing - that one will stay on my bigger PRS tripod. For hunting, I have decided to go with my sirui k-10x. It isn't terribly heavy and seems to be a good middle ground for glassing and shooting.
 

Macintosh

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Feb 17, 2018
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Im looking for the exact same thing. So far the sirui g20x or the sunwayphoto fb36iii (at $50!!!) looks like the winner in the payload/weight dept, but if there are others that make more sense or if folks have specific feedback Id love to hear. I already have a bigger ball head for matches, but its heavier than I want to lug around.
 
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Brandon.miller.4

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I purchased a leofoto LH-30 and am really pleased with the head so far for a lightweight setup. my grandpa actually just killed a moose last friday with that head on my two vets ruck tripod. worked exactly how I imagined it. It is not as stable as a bigger head/tripod but for its intended use, it is perfect so far. I also enjoy glassing with it more than i anticipated
 

Macintosh

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So youre finding shooting off of it and using a decent-size spotter is pretty stable?

Curious what your thoughts were in deciding between the lh 30 and the g20x? On paper they seem virtually identical with an edge to the sirui?(from the leofoto website Lh30 30mm ball 33lb capacity/11 oz vs g20x 36mm ball 44lb capacity/11.2oz according to bh photo site)
 
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Brandon.miller.4

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The lh 30 weighs 9 oz I believe and has support weight of 18 so it's a lighter head than what your referring to. Haven't shot off of it extensively but so far it's been great for it's intended purpose. I do not intend to do alot of shooting off of it, just the occasional situation where I can't get a bipod to work
 

Macintosh

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Feb 17, 2018
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Looks like the leofoto head referenced has different specs depending on what website I reference. Regardless, I am looking at 9-12oz total weight and 30-45lb load rating, and there are several options in this range, between $50 and $150, and a few more $$$. What is the practical field difference between brands and price-levels of these heads with similar specs?
 

tx_shooter

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I have been using this head with my rifle to shoot off of an my spotting scope for a few months. Finally got into the field with it last weekend for some South Texas axis hunting (sadly no luck, but that is a different thread). The ball head with handlebar controls is the easiest setup to use and by far my favorite setup now.

1667951191322.png
 

Eric_F

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ResearchinStuff

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Late to this thread, but I'm really surprised so many of you are able to successfully glass off a ball head. As best I can measure, my promaster came with a 36mm ball head, it was an absolute nightmare to glass with in freezing temps, the friction was never quite right, either I couldn't tilt and pan, or my binos would flop over as soon as I let go of them. The temperature change throughout the day would also force me to constantly adjust the friction. Coming out of that hunt a new head was my top priority, and I ended up with a va5 that I love.

Are the ball heads mentioned here actually comparable for glassing to the va5? Having shooting support would be great, but I'm not willing to compromise on glassing capability at this point.
 

redneckbmxer24

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Late to this thread, but I'm really surprised so many of you are able to successfully glass off a ball head. As best I can measure, my promaster came with a 36mm ball head, it was an absolute nightmare to glass with in freezing temps, the friction was never quite right, either I couldn't tilt and pan, or my binos would flop over as soon as I let go of them. The temperature change throughout the day would also force me to constantly adjust the friction. Coming out of that hunt a new head was my top priority, and I ended up with a va5 that I love.

Are the ball heads mentioned here actually comparable for glassing to the va5? Having shooting support would be great, but I'm not willing to compromise on glassing capability at this point.

That’s because cheap Chinese junk doesn’t work good. Buy a RRS ball head and you won’t have any of those problems with cold temps. The BH-30LR compact has a 15lbs capacity and only weighs 11oz.
 

ResearchinStuff

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I'm under no illusions that the promaster head is a good one, I've actually not listed it for sale because I couldn't in good conscience pass it along to someone else.

Do you use the bh30lr for glassing? if so, can you get the friction adjusted to the point where you can scan smoothly, let go, and have your binos or spotter stay in place? Does the tilt angle on your optics make a significant difference in the performance?
 

redneckbmxer24

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I use it mainly for glassing. I get the tripod pretty level and use the panning base for panning as that’s what it’s there for. You can do it with the ball too though and keep enough friction for the glass to not flop over but be able to smoothly pan. The RRS heads are as smooth tilted way over as they are straight up. I’ve used a lot of heads and I’ve never found anything remotely as smooth as the RRS stuff.
 

redneckbmxer24

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If you check eBay you can find deals on RRS stuff, I recently bought my second RRS. A TFC-14 MK2 tripod with BH-30LR head in like new condition for $800. Whole setup weighs 3lbs 1.9oz and is ridiculously solid.
 
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Brandon.miller.4

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Have yet to use rrs but thoroughly impressed with leofoto for the price. The lh30 is a totally usable ball head for glassing (on the small side for shooting). Using a quality ball head has opened my eyes to the possibility of having a set up that will enable glassing and shooting. I also use a va5 on archery hunts and it is not a fair comparison as far as strictly glassing goes. I do, however think I may settle on two separate setups for archery and rifle hunting.

Side not I used the lh30 in negative Temps and it still worked properly. Having a pan feature on a ball head is an absolute must for me.
 

ResearchinStuff

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If you check eBay you can find deals on RRS stuff, I recently bought my second RRS. A TFC-14 MK2 tripod with BH-30LR head in like new condition for $800. Whole setup weighs 3lbs 1.9oz and is ridiculously solid.
Do all the bh 30lr heads have a pan feature, or only the one with the compact panning clamp style?
 
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