Caldwell Lead Sled DFT2 review

Review: Caldwell Lead Sled DFT2 recoil-reducing gun rest

The Caldwell Lead Sled DFT2 is as serious a piece of kit as it looks, designed to reduce felt recoil and improve your shooting, with features that I really like and found easy to use. 

It is built on what Caldwell calls Dual Frame Technology and it functions as intended and its adjustments are precise.

Caldwell Lead Sled DFT2 review
The Lead Sled DFT2 provides stable support with windage and elevation adjustments and the facility to add weight for further recoil reduction

Unlike other designs that have a fixed, immovable forend rest, where you have no option but to hope your rifle fits it well, the Caldwell Lead Sled allows you to slide the forend rest along the frame to the optimal position for your firearm. 

All rifles balance differently. The ability to adjust the length by 45cm (18 inches) to suit your rifle sets this rest apart. 

The forend rest is held tight by cam levers, it is easy to slide and lock in position before you start to get serious with your windage and elevation.

With your rifle sitting in the rest, the butt sits centred, helped by a shallow scallop which prevents your rifle canting to the side and provides recoil relief via soft rubber inserts on both sides of the butt-stock frame. 

The forend sits in a skeletonised rubber cradle, which has a rubber strap that can go over your barrel to prevent excessive barrel just. I didn’t find it necessary to use it. 

All it takes then, is some simple adjustments with your left hand (for right handed shooters) for windage using the large knob and an extremely smooth-operating horizontally mounted wheel for your elevation. 

There is no noticeable wobble as the forend rest goes up and down, and it can be locked off with the other large locking knob. 

Once your sights are pretty much bang on target, you can fine tune it even more with the rear elevation adjustment. 

The foot of this rear pad is non-rotating, which prevents lateral movement as you dial in your final adjustment to be centred on the bulls eye. 

Squeeze the trigger and you’re on your way to getting some of the most consistent shooting you’ve probably experienced.

I tried this rest with and without weights in the weight cradle and it was a much nicer experience on my shoulder with the weights added when shooting full power .300 Win Mag and 9.3x62mm loads. 

Caldwell supplies lead-filled bags to use (at extra cost) or you could use a normal dumbbell weight or two sitting on top of some thin rubber matting to produce a similar result.

Results were good using this sled with a .223, .308, .300 Win Mag and 9.3x62mm with factory and handloaded ammunition.

Groups all ran around the 1” inch mark at 100 metres, which is impressive enough considering all rifles were stock standard, as they were the day they came out of the factory.

My only criticism is the increased length of pull by about 25-30mm due to the recoil pad system. It is a slightly uncomfortable position to gain a clear view through your scope, but it is a minor inconvenience that I can live with. 

The increased stability, fine adjustments and dramatically reduced recoil certainly outweigh it.

Advertised prices (in 2023) typically range around the $600-$700 for the Lead Sled DFT2.

Caldwell products are distributed in Australia by NIOA.




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Reid Hjorth

Reid Hjorth has been contributing to Sporting Shooter for more than a decade and is an avid hunter.