RLC Customs R-F Cam Cradle: Review
The RLC Customs R-F Cam Cradle allows the long-range shooter or hunter to integrate a spotting scope, laser rangefinder, and compact video camera onto a single tripod head. After using it to take and record hundreds of long-range shots, I can’t imagine shooting without it!
This review of the Cam Cradle is an updated version of my original review published almost two years ago. Over the course of two full seasons, the Cam Cradle has become a piece of gear I rely on for my long-range shooting and video work.
To consistently make first round hits at long range, we have to accurately read conditions and know the exact range to the target.
High-magnification spotting scopes, powerful laser rangefinders, and stable tripods perform those tasks for us. Adding a video camera to the mix can create quite the juggling act for your spotter, and can be too much to handle if you hunt by yourself.
Conceived by Bob Carlock, and sold exclusively through Defensive Edge, the Cam Cradle allows the simultaneous use of a spotting scope, laser rangefinder (LRF), and compact video camera. With a wide range of adjustment built into the cradle, it’s possible to aim all three devices at a long range target by simply moving the tripod head.
With seven mounting holes along the lower surface of the Cam Cradle, there’s plenty of room to secure a spotting scope with the included mounting screw.
This ¼”-20 screw uses the same type of lever used on a bipod tensioner. Once the screw is secured, the lever can be lifted and moved out of the way. This allows the use of a quick-release tripod head mount. I used a Manfrotto 324 RC2 QR system on a Slik PRO 824 CF tripod for this review.
The top of the Cam Cradle has a machined slot and a captured ¼”-20 screw for mounting a LRF. The slot allows 2 ¾” of travel for the LRF while the spotting scope is in place. The LRF can be pushed forward or turned when not in use. I used a Leica 1600-B LRF on this tripod mount. To test clearances, I also mounted a Gunwerks G7 BR2 LRF with an angled spotting scope. With a simple adjustment of the spotter’s bayonet mount, there was plenty of clearance for the G7.
I used a Leica APO Televid 65mm angled spotting scope, as well as a Leupold Gold Ring 12-40×60 during the review. In 2016, most of the long-range shots we took were spotted for with the Leupold attached to the Cam Cradle. I also modified the LRF mounting slot by removing a small portion of the top of the cradle. This allows the LRF and mounting screw to slide completely off without removing the screw.
Both spotting scopes work well with the Cam Cradle. The Leica provides a better view, but the Leupold has the advantage of a lighter, more compact package. Either can be left attached the Cam Cradle and carried in a pack, ready to go.
The camera mount is my favorite feature of the R-F Cam Cradle. It allows co-witnessing the video camera to the spotting scope, then aiming both at a target with one movement of the tripod head.
The camera mounting plate pivots on the left side of the Cam Cradle for vertical adjustment. The camera attaches to this plate with a ¼”-20 screw. Once the camera is aligned vertically with the spotting scope and the plate is secured, the camera should only need horizontal adjustment to line up with the scope. I scribed a witness mark for this plate and left the attaching screw torqued down. When I attach the camera, all I have to do is pan left or right until it co-witnesses with the scope, then lock it down.
It’s a great improvement to the normal way of recording and spotting the shot simultaneously. That task usually requires two tripods or a clamp-on head for the camera, both of which require separate aiming of the camera and spotting scope. On a moving animal, that’s a tall order! With plenty of horizontal and vertical adjustment available, it doesn’t take much effort to align the camera exactly to the spotting scope, then lock it down securely while waiting for the shot.
The video camera I use for recording long range bullet trace is a Panasonic HC-V550. Click HERE to see its capabilities.
At ELR distances, a well-supported LRF is critical to obtaining an accurate range. This mount makes it easy, and doesn’t require displacing your spotting scope to get it done.
I field-tested the R-F Cam Cradle in the mountains of northern Idaho and the open country of eastern Wyoming. The most effective way to use the cradle is in a long-range ambush. I start by lining up the spotting scope on a landmark. Then I aim the video camera at the same target and lock it down. The last step is to sync the LRF to the spotting scope. The LRF and spotter won’t be completely aligned vertically, but they’ll be within the field of view of each other. It usually requires a gentle tilt of the tripod to center the beam of the LRF on the target.
With the small footprint of the cradle, I can leave the spotter attached to it. I then hook up the LRF and video camera once the QR plate is attached to the tripod. The only problem I found is the spotting scope can’t be mounted directly over the centerline of the tripod head. A sturdy head is needed to keep the whole arrangement from tilting over.
The RLC Customs R-F Cam Cradle works as advertised. During the review, I mounted a few different LRFs, and several spotting scopes to it without any problems. Like most things with moving parts, it required some training on my part to find the most efficient way to use it. It didn’t take long, plus both of my kids can operate it. I recommend it, and look forward to using it on future hunts. Here are a few specs, and purchasing info:
Designed by RLC Customs exclusively for Defensive Edge, Inc., Rathdrum, ID
Manufactured in Idaho of 3/16” 53-Series aluminum
16.5 ounces total weight
¼-20 mounting system
Retail price: $179.95
To order, call Defensive Edge at: (208) 687-2659