Our Caldwell DFT Review will help you decide if this is the right shooting rest for you.
If you need a stable and powerful recoil reduction gun rest that is designed for maximum energy absorption, the DFT Lead Sled from Caldwell might be exactly what you are looking for. It comes with a heavy duty and midleweight construction that is simpler to use, and the dual frame design provides a perfect distribution of energy by the steel structure. Ideal for shooters who are adepts of the 1-shot-zeroing, the DFT removes virtually all the recoil and makes tasks like zeroing and patterning a pleasurable activity.
- Frame material: Steel
- Weight tray capacity: Up to 100 pounds
- Length: 30 inches
- Width: 12 inches
- Weight: Approximately 24 pounds
- Front Ram Elevation Adjustment: 2.5 inches
- Front Cradle Length Adj: 22 inches
Caldwell DFT build and features
The Lead Sled DFT, as well as other models of Caldwell, is able to reduce recoil expressively. All this with a very steady shooting platform. The “DFT” abbreviation stands for Dual Frame Technology. This type of model has two upper frame tubes placed side by side, rather than having only a single tube as the original model Caldwell, Solo. The longitudinal front dual members make the whole rest stiffer and much less flexible than the original Caldwell rest. They additionally permit the action of a falling block or lever action gun to be operated without bugging the rifle, the lever will pass through the 1.25 ” hole between the DFT’s top parallel frame members. The addition of the dual top tubes technology is undoubtedly the best feature of Caldwell Lead Sled DFT.
The weight capacity of this model is 50 pounds (two bags of lead shot), which are divided into two weight compartments. If necessary, you can use two more lead shot bags on top of the tubes, adding 100 pounds of extra weight. Although I never found it necessary to use more 50 pounds of lead shot, even when shooting magnum rifles. This huge addition of weight drastically reduces the recoil energy of even the hardest kicking firearms and makes testing loads or sighting-in a far more pleasant experience.
The sled makes for an excellent shooting rest. The rifle sits securely in both the front and rear rest. Shoot with this rest is very comfortable and easy, as different from other models, the back part (shoulder) is very ergonomic in this gun rest. The wheel of elevation and windage knob are easy to reach with your non-trigger hand while looking through the iron sight/scope and allow for fine adjustment while giving marvelous tactile feedback. For more significant elevation regulations the rear foot can be adjusted. This may be necessary in cases where the target height is too high or too low. Overall, I couldn’t be more satisfied with the controls and the amount of adjustment available to the shooter. The DFT platform offers everything a shooter needs to get a rifle’s right POI (point of impact).
Caldwell Lead Sled DFT Performance
I used this sled along with my son to test it without any extra weight added because the largest calibers that we shoot are .300WinMag, 12 gauge 3 1/2″ slugs and maximum load .30-06. These guns require a bit of softening for anything more than but a few shots.
This gun rest takes almost all of the recoil away, even without added weight, so it makes the target practicing/sighting perfect. I even used it for patterning my Rem. 870 for turkey hunting. Shooting 3 1/2″ torpedos out of my 870 used to be painful so I had to limit my testing selection to 2 or 3 types (& then I’d only shoot 1 round of each) before my shoulder started feeling it. But with the lead sled plus I can try 5 or 6 brands/types and shoot a couple of each to really find what shoots well out of my gun.
I am extremely content with the Caldwell Lead Sled DFT in general. It’s my second choice, just after the Caldwell FCX. Anyway, you must be wondering what the conclusion…
After all I purchased the sled to test handloads, trying to quantify their accuracy. And for sure I got a good answer on this point. The Dual Frame Technology stabilizes the rifle very well, because in addition to firmly secure your gun, it also eliminates almost all the recoil energy. In other words removes human error and “gun error”. I doubt I will ever zero or test handloads again without using a shooting sled. It is the best lead sled shooting rest that you can find for less than $ 200.
Does The Caldwell Lead Sled DFT reduce recoil?
Of course! The Caldwell rest DFT was designed specifically to eliminate up to 95% of the recoil energy. Its effectiveness was tested and proven through several tests, which involved various guns and calibers.
What is the difference between the Caldwell Solo and the DFT model?
In the DFT model, the front support cradle can be adjusted 22 inches forward to rear, allowing the shooting rest to accomodate very long guns all the way down to every single handguns. The DFT also allows semi automatic rifles like AR-15’s to be used with detachable magazines. Unlike the Solo, even a 30 round magazine can be used with the sled, since this model allows the magazine to fit between the two frame tubes. Other important differences between the two models include the front cradle windage adjustment and rear elevation adjustment.
Will the DFT Rifle Shooting Rest damage my stock or my scope?
Absolutely no. With up to 100 pounds of weight the rest will in no way damage a modern gun or scope. The gun rest basically takes the position of your shoulder and absorbs/transfers the recoil energy through the frame.
What should I use for weight?
It’s your choice. You can add almost any type of weight to the Caldwell Lead Sled DFT tray. Extensive Caldwell testing has shown that lead shot perform better than sand and better than barbell weight. I recommend between 35 and 50 pounds of lead shot, that will reduce recoil energy to the point it is not noticeable on most rifles. For extreme magnums you can use up to up to 100 pounds of weight.
The Assembly process is easy and strait forward considering the variety of parts that came out of the box. Probably took me about 10 minutes to have it completely together. Step 1: Assemble tray and legs to frame. Step 2: Attach front cradle to frame tubes. Step 3: Fix the elevation system to the front cradle. Easy as 1, 2, 3.
You can read caldwell lead sled dft assembly instructions here.