Some time ago I had an online conversation with one of our viewers about the Atlas Bipod, produced by B&T Industries. Kasey at B&T has been a long time supporter of what we do and his company produces as solid product that has been supporting rifles, killing bad-guys at home and abroad for many years. In addition, B&T Industries is a huge supporter of Precision Rifle Matches. It has become commonplace to see a “Ace of Spades” stage at the start of the match, with the chance of winning a bipod.
Our viewer lamented that the Atlas was too expensive for his income bracket and he had purchased a copy from Amazon for much less. I have taken part in several discussions like these. Often the argument is that the bipod/scope/part/etc. is just going to be used for fun and that if it breaks, it is not a problem. They can just buy a replacement. In the case of our viewer, he could buy several counterfeit Atlas bipods for the price of one real Atlas bipod.
I listened to the viewer’s argument and I understand his viewpoint. After I explained the issues with copyright, damaging an American business, and supporting thieves overseas, our viewer ended the argument by saying that if he enjoyed using the counterfeit, he may purchase a real Atlas.
I did quick search on Amazon and on the various internet forums to see what people were saying about these counterfeit bipods. I was curious if they were even close to the quality of the B&T Industries product. The real Atlas bipods are made here in the USA by skilled workers. Slapping them together in a shop in China would definitely allow for a lower cost. Not everything made in China is garbage. My iPhone is a pretty spectacular piece of equipment. So is the Macbook Pro I am using to write this.
I was drawn to a thread on ARFCOM where there was mention of an “Officially Licensed” Airsoft version of the Atlas. The thread lead me to believe that there may be a less expensive, legally made and imported version available. While I don’t recommend using Airsoft parts on “real-steel” firearms, buying officially licensed products is legal and moral. My search for this bipod came up dry.
I decided to attack this topic in two ways. First, I ordered the best looking counterfeit Atlas bipod I could find. This ended up being a Chinese made copy, imported by a company in Texas. Next, I contacted Kasey Beltz at B&T Industries to get his statement.
In a phone conversation with Kasey, he laid out the birth and death of the “Officially Licensed” Magpul Asia, Atlas V7. I have posted a full email explanation from Kasey down below. The short version is that before the deal was done, counterfeit Atlas V8’s were on sale in the US. This killed any chance of making sales of an “Officially Licensed” V7 profitable.
If the counterfeit V8 bipods killed the Officially Licensed V7, how good are they? Could a counterfeit come close to the quality that B&T Industries is known for? The answer is a simple, NO!
When my counterfeit Altas V8 arrived, I was pretty excited to unwrap it. At first glance, I can see why people have been duped into buying these at gun shows and shady stores. It looks very much like my real-deal Atlas V8.
I pulled my real Atlas V8 off of my Accuracy International AE MkII. That bipod is equipped with the B&T Industries Spigot Mount and works perfectly with the AE MkII. The counterfeit Atlas comes with a counterfeit American Defense Manufacturing throw lever mount. With both bipods side by side we can see the differences.
The first difference I noticed was the knurling on the legs of the bipods. The Atlas has deep aggressive knurling. It is easy to grab with slick, muddy gloves or wet cold hands. The knurling on the counterfeit is barely there. It doesn’t have enough “tooth” to be effective.
The notched locking plates for the legs on the counterfeit are stamped steel that has been chrome plated. It is a pretty rough looking job. No attempt was made to polish out the edges before chrome plating. The leg adjustment buttons also appear to be chrome plated steel. I anticipate that if you were to use this in a real field environment the chrome would wear away quickly and you would be left with a rusty mess.
The legs on the counterfeit do actually extend and close smoothly. The locking collars work very similarly to the real Atlas V8. I am not sure how well they will actually stand up to the grime that my Atlas V8 has endured.
The ability to use interchangeable feet is a huge advantage on the Atlas bipod. It is simple to use a bullet tip to pop your grippy rubber feet off and snap in a set of spikes or claws. Other attachments, like the RifleSticks are also available to make the Atlas a truly versatile tool.
The counterfeit Altas has removable feet. That is where the similarity ends. The feet are a very hard material. They feel almost like hard plastic. They are not the grippy rubber feet that come with the Atlas V8. Although the feet remove in the same manner as the real Atlas, they are a smaller diameter. None of the Atlas attachments we have, will work with the counterfeit.
Where the differences really become apparent is when we look at the ball gimble on the Atlas versus the counterfeit. The way the Atlas bipod moves is what initially set it apart from other bipods on the market. You can pan, tilt and preload all at the same time. Is the ground uneven? No problem, the bipod will tilt and still allow you to pan to engage targets laterally.
The counterfeit Atlas does not use a ball. It has a half-ball seat with a bolt going through the center. When the counterfeit is snug enough to make a precision shot, you have no tilt capability. You can only pan in a flat plane. If you loosed it up enough to pan and tilt, then the bipod is sloppy and flops around. When you try to find a happy medium you are only left with a couple degrees of cant.
The final issue with the counterfeit that makes it unsuitable, is that if you pan back and forth enough, the unit falls apart. Panning back and forth will cause the tension screw to back out. That single screw is the only thing holding the legs onto the base.
Overall I can sat that the Chinese made counterfeit Atlas V8 is a very poor copy of the real B&T Industries part. If you are one of those guys who thinks you can test-drive a counterfeit to see if you want the real-deal, you are not giving the real product a fair chance.
The only place where the counterfeit has a place are for those guys who want to look like they spent a lot of money on their bipod. If you cannot afford an Atlas or you don’t feel that your intended use warrants the cost of the real Atlas, there are many serviceable bipods on the market for a lower cost. You can purchase them from the companies that legally manufacture them without committing a crime or damaging an American company. The Harris line of bipods is a great example. They are significantly less expensive and they are very popular.
Finally we come to the moral issue. Manufacturing, importing, selling or purchasing a counterfeit of a patented product is illegal. That doesn’t seem to matter to many people. However the reason it is illegal is that it harms the guy who designed the original product. In our current global economy, there isn’t a lot of incentive to invent a product, manufacture it in the US and bring it to market. If you do, then before you can recover your investment, a counterfeit product is available on Amazon.
Before you consider purchasing a counterfeit product, ask yourself why you are doing it. I believe many times people purchase the counterfeit items because they want to be like the “cool kids” but they know they don’t need the same durability that the cool kids do. If that is the case, is it worth it to you to reward an industry that steals designs and promotes overseas manufacturing?
Please see the statement from Kasey Beltz below:
The facts about licensing the V7 Atlas Bipod –
When we introduced the V7 Atlas Bipod it was discovered that the “pull leg” means of leg positioning could fail when used at our then novel 45 degree leg position. To prevent this, we changed to the “push button” means of leg positioning found on the V8. The following year at the SHOT Show a principle at MAGPUL introduced me to the principle at MAGPUL ASIA that wished to license our design for airsoft. Knowing the V7 Atlas Bipod would support this application and that counterfeiting was such a large issue I decided to license the V7 Atlas Bipod to MAGPUL ASIA. This relationship gave us a business partner in Hong Kong that speaks the language and would be motivated to protect both parties from counterfeiters. He demonstrated the means to stop several counterfeiters, however the number of Atlas counterfeiters overwhelmed our business partner and he never produced any V7 Atlas Bipods. In addition, NONE of the Chinese counterfeiters have contacted us about licensing rights, they are simply stealing our design and profiting from it which is against the law.
To be clear, I nor anyone at B&T Industries L.L.C. has authorized or licensed the V8 (“push button” means of leg positioning) Atlas Bipod, or any of the patented features to include the 45 leg position, to anyone here in the USA or abroad.
The cost of these counterfeit V8 Atlas Bipods to B&T Industries L.L.C. in terms of lost time, revenue, reputation etc. is today about 20 – 30% of our annual sales, which to date we have been able to absorb. However the cost to consumers is devastating, some buy counterfeits believing they are genuine V8 Atlas Bipods, paying full retail, it falls apart (every example we have bought has), they then contact us and discover they bought a worthless fake. To counter this we started the “Wright Project” http://www.accu-shot.com/Wright_Project.php
While the Wright Project can help the reality is that many consumers who purchase counterfeit Atlas bipods go on-line and tell the world “my Atlas bipod broke, fell apart, wouldn’t work, etc. etc. “. More often than not we will never get a chance to combat these claims as most are not brought to our attention. We have asked that ALL Atlas Bipods that fail be returned so we can evaluate and improve our product. On the occasions where we have been able to address these consumers, when asked to send their “Atlas” back, they are unable to do so, with some replying that they “threw it away”! Who throws away $220.00 bipod? I call Bovine Scatology. We stand behind our products 100%, if they had a genuine Atlas Bipod regardless of the cause of the problem we would have corrected it.
It is not just everyday consumers who are being cheated, an ambitious vendor for the Navy, failed to do her due diligence and sold a quantity of counterfeits to a West coast SEAL team which soon discovered they were falling apart with the slightest use. The matter was brought to our attention and we quickly determined them to be fakes. This is another reason why we encourage people to ONLY buy from our Authorized Dealers.
It is said the greatest form of flattery is when someone copies your work. I will say lack of imagination, ambition and greed motivate copycats. HOWEVER, the consumer that knowing buys counterfeit products to “save a buck” drives this counterfeit market and is breaking the law as well.
Thanks again, stay in touch.
Mr. Kasey Beltz
B&T Industries L.L.C.
PO Box 771071
Wichita, KS 67277
B&T started the licensing process with a highly recommended company “Magpul Asia” for the V7 Atlas model. However before the agreement was finalized, counterfeit V8 Atlas were being imported into the USA at a rate the Magpul Asia could not stop. It was the opinion of B&T having a invested business partner on the ground in Asia would help stop or stem the flow of counterfeits. That was not to be the case and the agreement was never finalized as seen in the photos.
Mr. Kasey Beltz
B&T Industries L.L.C.
PO Box 771071
Wichita, KS 67277