Over the years I have seen several pictures of rifles on tripods, and finally, the temptation grew to get my own system. With some money to burn, I still wanted to keep the budget fairly low. I also wanted something light, so I decided to look for solutions made in carbon fiber. The tripod I was looking for was going to be used for cameras, spotting scopes and rifles. The choice fell on the INNOREL RT90C, which I bought from the INNOREL Official store on Amazon. The price was roughly $300.
Many PRS (Precision Rifle Series) shooters recommended the Innorel RT80C, but since its limit is 20 kg, I went for the bigger brother RT90C with a 40 kg capacity. This way the limit would be on my side, and I wouldn’t have to worry if I loaded it with a really heavy rifle with gadgets.
I really wanted a tripod from Really Right Stuff, but as mentioned I wanted to keep the budget on the lower side (that sounds better than “I can’t afford it” or “I’m poor”). A similar tripod from RRS is in the region of $1,300-1,500.
However, I know how important the quality of the ball head is so I went for a solution from Really Right Stuff called BH-55 Ball Head with Full Size Screw-Knob Clamp. This was purchased online from B&H, and delivery was very quick from the USA to Europe where I live at the moment. The price was $445, which means that the ball head was almost 50% more expensive than the tripod itself!
It took a while for the tripod from Innorel to show up, but much less than they quoted when I ordered. I don’t recall exactly, but the shipping was probably around 3 weeks from China. Considering there may have been issues due to the Coronavirus, I think this is acceptable.
Attachment to the rifle, camera or spotting scope
Note that all the solutions here require your system to have the Arca-Swiss Interface. For instance, the JP PCS-12 AR-10 (above and below) has the Magpul M-LOK Dovetail Adapter and the H&K MR223 has the SHADOWTECH ARCA RC2 MLOK connector. For cameras or lenses, there are several adapters. Just type “ARCA” in any online photo store or at Brownells.
Made in the USA and Made in China
The Innorel tripods are Made in China. I know some people will have issues with that, the decision is yours. The ball head from Really Right Stuff is Made in the USA. I think it’s interesting to combine these two solutions and see where it leads to. High-end meets low-end.
Below: Top-to-bottom: Pulsar Trail 2 LRF XP50 on a Ruger Precision Rifle. The rest you know. Planet Mars.
One of the most important features of a tripod is its legs. In this case, the maximum leg tube diameter is 40 mm and the minimum is 29 mm (1,6″-1,14″). This is larger than most other tripods. The legs are made of 10 layers of carbon fiber and the maximum load for this tripod is 40 kg (88 lb).
The legs have 4 sections and are held in place by twist locks that can be adjusted independently. I found the adjustment quick and easy. Towards the top, the legs have a friction padding.
All of the three legs can be adjusted to three set angles (9°/37°/69°). You may want to loosen the tension on the pivots so the legs can swing out easier. From the factory, they are quite stiff.
However, the position or pivot locking tabs are very smooth to push in and out.
During the review, I only used rubber feet and they worked well on all sorts of materials both outside and inside. There are stainless steel spikes in the package should you require them.
Folded, the length is a compact 59 cm (23″) with a weight of 2.9 kg (6.3 lb). With full extension, the RT90C reaches 160 cm (63″). The tripod can go low as well, the minimum height is 55 cm (22″). Just remember that normally you have some kind of ball head or other attachment systems on top of this.
Below: The reference profile is 80 cm.
The mounting pan is made of aluminum with hard anodizing. I have no complaints about the quality of the anodizing or the surface finishing. The tolerances work fine together and all the parts fit. The pan is compatible with 75 mm or 100 mm bowls, as well as any other equipment that can be attached to the tripod directly. This is where I wanted my RRS ball head (and possibly other ball heads or solutions) to go, and it fit perfectly.
In the package I ordered, there was the RT90C tripod itself, a 75mm adapter, a 75mm bowl, two Allen keys, three stainless steel spikes and a tripod bag. The bag is quite useful for storage and transportation.
Overall, the quality of the RT90C tripod is excellent and better than I expected. In terms of the warranty, the Innorel store offers a 2-year warranty. Here the distance to the Chinese factory may be a bigger issue, with shipping, forms and customs to deal with. In other cases I have found Chinese stores to be very found of their reputation, and easy to deal with.
So far I’ve had no issues with the tripod but I would prefer another pan bowl. I am looking to upgrade to a TA-3-LC-HK: Series 3 Leveling Base with Clamp and Hook from Really Right Stuff.
Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head
Really Right Stuff has an excellent website. I bought my BH-55 from B&H, they have a really good webshop (product link) and service. The price for the Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head with Full Size Screw-Knob Clamp was $445.00.
The head has a 50 lb load capacity, a max height of 4.6″, dual 90° notches for Portrait Mode (if you’re using the tripod for photography, or shooting from high to low). There are separate tension control knobs and the panning base has engraved degree marks. This may be a benefit when shooting and someone is calling angles or wind.
The base diameter is 2.9″ and the ball diameter is 2.2″. The weight is 2.3 lb and it accepts Arca-Type plates. This ball head will support large cameras with long lens combinations as well as most rifles, unless they are crazy heavy. The materials are a combination of aluminum and stainless steel, all machined.
There’s an over-sized, ergonomic locking knob that allows 45-degree tilting in all directions. The feeling is really nice in this one. There is a separate tension knob so you can apply the appropriate pressure and friction that corresponds to the weight of your rifle or system. The third knob (bottom) loosens or locks the panning base.
There are several versions of the BH-55, so if you’re in the market check all the options as other solutions may fit your needs better. The version shown and described here has a special panning quick release (for the ARCA Rail interface), with a bubble level.
I found it difficult to understand which ball head would suit me best, and I was only looking for the solutions offered by RRS. While I am happy with my purchase, there is always a feeling there might be something out there that would have suited me better. This is one of the drawbacks of online shopping.
I really like the quality and feel of the Really Right Stuff. I find it a bit difficult to learn the combination between the different knobs, but this will improve as I use it more.
Below: Swarovski STR80 MRAD Spotting scope with an Aimpoint H2 in a Spuhr mount on top. Everything standing on the Innorel RTC90C with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head.
The solution reviewed is very steady. Probably too steady for what most users need, as there is bulk added on the opposite side. But I wanted the specifications to be well on my side.
If you are looking for similar tripod solutions and options, the Anvil-30 Shooting Ball Head from Really Right Stuff and the Innorel RT80C Tripod should be considered. If you have a higher budget, you can look at the TVC-34L SOAR tripod from RRS.
You can also check our Editor Pete’s solution, with the Really Right Stuff TFCT-24L SOAR with ANVIL ball head.
What’s your favorite tripod setup? How do you like this one and do you have any suggestions on how to improve it? Let us know in the comments below.
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