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Caldwell® Lead Sled DFT® 2 Review

Posted by RangeOften.com on May 28th 2020

Caldwell® Lead Sled DFT® 2 Review

Caldwell's been a big name in the bench shooting game for some time. Of their numerous shooting sleds on the market, the Lead Sled DFT 2 is one of the most popular, especially for long-range shooters. Today we're taking a closer look at this dual-framed version of the Lead Sled.


The DFT 2 Sled at a Glance

The updated DFT 2 recognizes that a lot of precision shooters and bench marksmen are moving away from traditional 5-round bolt guns and into box-fed rifles and larger semiautomatics running magnum loads -- for example, .338s with magazines demand a lot of room. That means the new Lead Sled needed to handle a lot of weight, make plenty of room for ammo underneath, and provide high-precision adjustability.

The Big Features

  • Weight tray holds up to 100 pounds for big-bore rifles
  • Up to 27 feet of elevation adjustment at 100 yards
  • Up to 16 feet of windage adjustment at 100 yards
  • Up to 18" of lateral adjustment for different rifle lengths
  • Rear bottom elevation adjustment for uneven surfaces
  • Split frame allows box magazines to rest underneath
  • Padded recoil-reducing buttstock pad
  • Rubberized gun cradle with strap

Let's get a closer look at everything, and have a review of how well (or poorly) everything works.


In-Depth Review

Front Mount and Strap

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At the business end is the first part of the recoil-reducing equation. The DFT 2 includes a beefed up rubber grip for your rifle's handguard or stock. The rubber is flexible, though some shooters comment that extra-wide handguards (think of a large quad-rail, for example) might be a tight fit.

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Luckily the ribs inside the pad bend easily. The adjustable top strap is also rubberized and stretches, securing nice and tight. So, you can still squeeze 'er in there and lock down your rifle if it's equipped with a larger rail or stock. It might take some wearing in, though. Others say the strap might be too high to secure skinny stocks or thin-wall handguards. This is easily remedied by throwing some cushion or a small shooting bag atop the stock or handguard, pressing it down underneath the strap. 

Buttstock Pad and Shoulder Brace

Out back is the buttstock pad, seated inside the padded shoulder brace. The pad is wide enough to accommodate any conventional buttstock on the market, especially any tactical shooter or black rifle. 

The buttstock pad rests inside a beefed up steel container that doubles as the shoulder brace. Some padding is on the brace itself to further mitigate recoil and provide a comfortable rest against your shoulder. Inside the container is a rounded pocket that runs down the middle, helping to keep your buttstock and rifle vertical and centered.

Rear Elevation Adjustment

Underneath the rear mount is the first adjustment knob. This rear elevation knob helps to compensate for un-even shooting surfaces and benches. It provides approximately 2.5" of up-down adjustment using a simple finger knob. The rubber pad provides plenty of grip and we found the threads to be smooth. The frame itself is nicely powdercoated, but to prevent rust or corrosion, we recommend throwing some gun grease or oil on the threads with every use.

Front Elevation Adjustment

The front elevation adjustment knob provides plenty of grip and fine-tuning. The stainless corkscrew elevator inside shipped greased and ran smoothly for us, without any binding or clicking.

Max elevation adjustment works out to approximately 2.5", or around 27 feet at 100 yards. This wide range of adjustment is well-suited for the long-range shooter.

Once elevation's dialed in, you can lock the tray in position using the large knob located on the left-hand side. The beefy set screw helps prevent the tray from raising or lowering under high amounts of recoil, a nice touch for long-range shooting or handling larger centerfire calibers.

Windage Adjustment Knob

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Windage adjustment is another nice touch added to the front tray. The larger knob present on the side of the top tray slides left or right with a steel corkscrew, providing up to 16 feet of windage left or right at 100 yards. Chances are you won't be ringing steel with winds that strong, but the feature is primarily beneficial for long-range shooting.

Lateral Adjustment and Locking Cams

Sizing up the DFT 2 for your rifle (or shotgun) of choice is pretty simple. Two cams on either side of the front mounting tray lock and unlock, allowing the entire assembly to slide back or forth on the split frame. Total length of lateral adjustment works out to approximately 18", allowing anything from an AR pistol to a 26" magnum rifle to be accommodated.

100-Pound Weight Tray

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No shooting sled is complete without the most basic amenity, and that's the ability to hold plenty of weight. The DFT 2's rated to hold up to 100 pounds, more than plenty of heft for anything up to .50 BMG. 


Test-Fitting Rifles in The DFT 2


Illustrating general fitment, first up is a McMillan-equipped .308 bolt gun with a bull barrel. It fits perfectly inside the front rest and has plenty of room in the rear buttstock mount. 

Throwing a typical AR-15 into the DFT-2 almost makes the gun look small. This is also a good chance to see how a thin handguard can rest deeper inside the front rubber mount, resulting in the top strap not actually tightening the front part of the rifle down. The split frame also shows off its design here, with the 30-round mag and pistol grip both resting neatly between the frame's rails.

Taking the DFT 2 out to the range, some .300 Win Mag puts it to the test. 

With around 25 to 30 pounds of lead shot in weighted bags resting in the weight tray, the Lead Sled manages recoil and keeps a solid shooting position without any appreciable shift in the rest. 


Final Thoughts, Q&A

The DFT 2 is one helluva shooting sled. It's way heavier and larger than Caldwell's other sleds -- it's essentially a larger version of the adjustable LS3 sled -- but it handles those big-boy rounds just fine. We would've liked to see some customization options for the front rest. After all, plenty of rifles come with some crazy handguards and stocks these days. But it's flexible enough to get the job done with just about any long gun on the market.

Is there anything we didn't like about the DFT 2? The setup can certainly take some time. Instructions provided are well-written and simple, and total assembly time will take around 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once it's set up, the DFT 2 doesn't need to be broken down and all adjustments don't require tools. 

What's the height of the average rifle at the lowest elevation setting?

The front mount rests approximately 8" from the bench. At max elevation, that jumps up to approximately 10.5".

Does the DFT 2 come with weights or shot bags?

No. You'll need to use your own weights or shot bags. The tray is large enough to accommodate just about any "improvised" weight you could think of. That includes actual 5-lb. to 20-lb. dumbbell weights (we tried it).

What is the overall length of the cradle, front to back?

The length of the gun cradle is approximately 23" when the front mount is fully extended.

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