Spartan Kapita Tripod
- By Pete Moore
- 2 Comments
- Last updated: 29/08/2018
I tested Spartan’s first lightweight tripod the Kapita, back in September 2016. The company first came to our attention at the 2014 BSS, where MD Rob Gearing was showing the original Javelin Ultralight bipod, with its patented magnetic connection system. No catches, clips or screws; just slide the spigot into the mounting socket with a magnet holding it securely and it offered length-adjustable legs, traverse and lockable cant and its instant ON/OFF facility. Made of carbon fibre, their system was as revolutionary as it was innovative and a huge success, with different models and universal and rifle-specific mounts. Their first big customer was Blaser and since then I carry one of their short-leg pods for my R8.
The Kapita is a field tripod, with its unique head system, with three hinged and threaded mounting sockets that the 3-section legs screw into. On top, is a ball and socket arrangement, with the standard mounting spigot surrounded by a locking ring. Though slim, the telescopic carbon fibre legs are quite rigid and show a screw to lock/unlock system, at the base are removable rubber boots for most needs, but underneath are tungsten carbide points for hard surfaces. Plus, you can remove one leg to give a standing bipod or use it as a single stick/ trekking pole, they even offer a screw-in synthetic V-notch.
I’m no fan of shooting sticks, but the ability to securely lock the rifle in position with the spigot and ring system, combined with the rigid build even made me a convert. My Kapita is now a constant stalking companion and I thought it about perfect. But there’s more! Rob Gearing is like a bubbling stew pot of ideas and quite one of the most enthusiastic people I have met. And though the Kapita was and is good, he wanted to go one better with a design that solved possible problem areas. Thus, the Spartan Sentinel was born.
On test, is what they call the Woodland Model, which though using the same ethos and design, offers a more solid and practical product, here’s what Spartan says: ‘The Spartan Sentinel head unit and Swivel Head’ are CNC -machined in six separate components using high grade AL7075-T7351 aerospace quality aluminium. This provides high strength without a weight penalty. It is one of the highest strength aluminium alloys available, with a 45% higher yield than austenitic stainless steels. The steel components are manufactured from high quality stainless 316 (1.4401).’
‘The system uses an innovative and worldpatented magnetic attachment using rare earth N52 Neodymium (NdFeB) magnets, which provide the consistent power. The N52 is presently the most powerful grade of Neodymium, and does not degrade with time or use. Multi-layered aerospace quality, pultruded carbon-fibre, supplied by a top European manufacturer, is used to for the new carbon fibre leg units. These light, but very strong stanchions are produced on bespoke mandrels. By ensuring a rigorous manufacturing process, we can offer legs with the necessary rigidity and superior strength to support a rifle or optics system. The weight of carbon-fibre is about 60% that of aluminium.’
‘Our new leg top sections are machined to thread easily and securely into the head unit of the system. This component is also CNC-machined from high quality 7075-T7351 aluminium billet.
These are now produced as a two-part unit that is both threaded and bonded into the carbon leg stanchion for exceptional strength and durability. New, two-part, CNC machined feet are used, with sharp and durable tungsten carbide tips, for grip on difficult surfaces. These are covered by durable tethered, synthetic boots. These new feet are designed to be replaceable when worn and enable the fitting of snow baskets when being used as trekking poles.’
There are two more models: Mountain - leg lengths closed 28” extended 50”, working heights 25 to 47”. Mini (really a bench tripod) 7” to 9”. Spartan will also provide the model legs to suit your head, I got a set of Mini legs for my Kapita.
First impressions are of a larger unit with wider leg sections, a more robust head design and a more practical locking system. Weight is up to approximately 2.5 lbs over the original at 2lbs. True this adds 20% but the immediate thing I noticed was the improved rigidity and ease of deployment over the Kapita. First, the head, the locking ring is flared out like a soup plate and scalloped at the edges, giving more to get hold of and greater grip. This results in a 100% solid lock up and finesse of applying tension.
Deployed and extended; the Woodland sits 163.5cm high (64.37”) so tall enough when you add the rifle on top. The leg span is 150 cm (60”), at minimum extension it’s 76cm high (30”) with a spread of 69cm (27”). Locking is now achieved by external rotary collars on each leg extension, which can be operated one-handed easily, with just a slight rotation. The nature of the new carbon fibre material used makes it very slippery, so it’s easy to unlock and allow the section to slide down until it hits the length you want.
As before, there’s a central, hinged hook underneath the head. This can be used to hang things off, to keep them off the ground and add stability that will take a lot of weight. What did really impress was the strength and rigidity of the new Sentinel, and I thought the Kapita was solid! There’s a video showing Rob, feet off the floor hanging off it, not bad for 2.5 lbs of carbon fibre and metal. Suffice to say, locked-off shots are more stable, which gives confidence for longer range use. With the optics adaptor it makes an excellent tripod for spotting scopes etc. It offers 360° of traverse, good elevation and depression angles and cant too.
The Sentinel is without doubt a better mousetrap; although I still like my Kapita, as it suits me and is still the most stable tripod I have used up until now. The extra 0.5 lb of weight is not a big deal and negligible in comparison to what it offers. It will not be for everyone, as it’s expensive, but there are those shooters who will appreciate and use what it offers.