When I started off on my marksmanship journey, I had a nice padded shooting mat from Triad Tactical in ATACS-FG. That mat served me very well through all of my range sessions and an Appleseed shoot. Sadly, I accidentally left it behind at the shooting range one day and never saw it again. Oddly enough, my excellent Range Pro Target Stand from Challenge Targets was also left behind that day, but I did get it back. Perhaps the person who found my gear assumed the target stand belonged to the range.
I will miss my Triad mat, but its loss also presented an opportunity to look at other products as a replacement. I went nearly seven months without a mat before my lovely wife bought a new one for me from SORD USA. This mat has several differences from my old Triad mat that make it more useful, but also present some new challenges. It costs $150, and is only available in Multicam.
The SORD mat is designed to be a bit of a hybrid of a fully-featured precision shooting shooting platform and a minimalist mat. It is only 39″ long, about 3′ 3″, making it shorter than the average. When I use it, the mat ends just below my crotch; it’s really designed to keep the torso and elbows protected. The reasoning is that this mat is intended for a more combat oriented use, where people might be less concerned about dirty boots and pant legs while valuing higher mobility. The overall shorter size helps keep the mat lighter, at 1.5 lbs, despite its heavier material and padding.
The mat features fold out “wings” covered in a grippy rubberized texture to help keep elbows in place. With wings deployed, the mat is 33.5″ wide. Folded, for stowing, the mat is 17″ wide. The corners of the wings have loops for staking the mat down in a windy environment. The middle portion of the mat features a large zippered compartment for accessory stowage as well two hook and loop panels that can be removed or swapped back and forth. One panel is covered in MOLLE webbing for accessories like ammunition holders. The other panel has a flip-up sun reflection cover over a transparent plastic dope sheet/range card protector. At the front edge, there are three loops for connecting a supplied ITW G-Hook, the hook is attached to a bipod loading strap. In the photos below, you will see that I have attached my Triad ammo wallet to the MOLLE webbing and inserted a standard range card (along with quick reference reticle holdovers) in the clear protector.
The bipod strap is actually pretty nifty. You can attach it to the center, left, or right sides depending on your preference. Simply insert the legs of the bipod into the “Y” loops at the end of the strap and get behind the rifle. The strap length, and tension, is easily adjustable by pulling the “tail” of the strap. With body weight on the mat, this enables you to put a significant amount of loading pressure on the bipod and help stabilize the rifle during recoil, regardless of the type of ground the bipod is resting on.
The mat does not roll up. Rather, it folds and fits nicely into an assault pack. When folded, it is secured with a hook and loop fastener that can be removed all together if desired. This is a personal preference for folks, and you have to be willing to get your stuff dirty if you’re going to put the mat inside your pack with other gear. Another option, and the one this mat was designed for, is placing it between an ALICE pack and frame bars. The Triad mat rolled up and could be lashed to the outside of a pack. The trade off of that configuration is exterior bulk. The photo here is the mat placed into my GORUCK GR1. The mat looks bulky because of the extra attachments I have on it, which add quite a bit of volume. Still, it is internal space being taken up by a shooting mat.
The mat features 1/8″ of foam padding sandwiched between a bottom layer of 500D Cordura and a top layer of 350D. All together, it weighs 1.5 lbs- a full pound lighter than the Triad mat, which has the same amount of padding throughout.
From my use and observation, the SORD mat is built for harsh military environments. I have no doubt that it will last a long time. However, it is clearly designed around bipod shooting (it even says so on SORD’s web site). With a bipod, it is normal for both elbows to be set to the sides where the rubberized material is found on this mat. For traditional prone shooting, the firing elbow will be placed right in the middle of the accessory area. This isn’t really an issue if you don’t have a lot of bulk to deal with, but you do lose the rubberized grip texture benefits. My old Triad mat had the rubberized material all over the front of end of the mat to accommodate both shooting styles, but lacked any accessories or pockets for stowage. I have not found it to be a problem either way on the SORD mat, as even placing my elbow on the padded MOLLE webbing is still a significant improvement over concrete or dirt.
The Bottom Line
+ Quality materials and tough design
+ Innovative features like bipod strap and foldout wings
+ Modular attachment area for tailoring to your preference
+ Sized for carry inside of packs with minimal bulk
– Might be too short for some users preference
– Grippy texture found only on outside wings, not ideal for positional shooters
– No good solution for lashing to the outside of a pack
Final Results, Who Should Buy This
Honestly, the cons are more of a personal preference thing than anything- and I certainly don’t think they outweigh the pros. This is a mat built for hard use in the field for people who don’t care about keeping gear (or themselves) pristinely clean. If that idea speaks to you, and you have use for the extra features, then I say get it. If, on the other hand, you want something longer, simpler, with more grippy texture under the elbows, then you might look elsewhere (I suggest the Triad mat, but others like TAB would work as well).