How to pick the best gun vise for your needs.
Have you ever tried cleaning and gunsmithing your rifle without a vise? It’s slow, sloppy, and super impractical, which is why a vise is as critical to your rifle’s life and functionality as changing the oil in your car. Every professional gunsmith uses a gun vise and you absolutely need an appropriate platform for routine gun maintenance and things like scoping your bore. In this article we wanted to understand what makes for the best rifle cleaning vise, so we took a look at a number of the highest-rated gun vises, spoke to a number of gunsmiths about the features that matter most, and explain below the nuances of picking the best gun vise for your purposes. Hopefully this buying guide will make it clear what you should look for in your next gun vise.
Our Rifle Cleaning Vises
The Tipton Vise is probably the most popular gun vice on the market – and for good reason. It’s a very well-engineered product (even if the plastics base is less than perfect.) Any way you cut it this is a very adaptable platform.
The supports are all fully elevation adjustable, rubber feet hold it in place, and the rear clamp features two adjustable, padded quick-release clamp blocks, which feature padded jaws that are vertically independent and can be locked in at different points off the centerline. You’ll be able to work on all types of long guns and handguns with this little wonder – any stock configuration, style and size of firearm.
Once you’ve positioned your firearm in the base, raise the forend support to the correct angle, then tighten the rear clamps. Once the clamp pads make contact with the stock engage the cam levers to secure the stock and you’re off and running.
- Solidly engineered
- Adjusts to fit most firearms
- Compartments to keep parts and tools handy
- Light enough to move around
- Solvent resistant
- The plastic vise isn’t heavy-duty
- Vise can flex when clamped down with force
- No clamp mount
- Feet can fall off the bottom of the unit
- Center brace non-adjustable
Another one of the most popular gun vises on the market is the CTK Precision P3 Ultimate Gun Vise which works well for maintenance, as a gun cleaning vise and for boresighting. This is another vise which can be easily adjusted and is engineered to accommodate a range of firearms – from rifles to pistols.
The front and rear rests are mounted on telescoping tubes, which give the vise a more modular, adjustable feel, but definitely makes the vise feel less stable than a single-piece vise. With the optional Shooting Rest attachment the vise can double as a shooting rest, which is a nice feature, and one that will allow you to work around the gun while you zero in your sights – saving time and shoulder wear. Another useful feature is the three point leveling system, which uses 3 leveling screws on each of the 3 legs, so you can find level on almost any surface or terrain.
The adjustment screws can be locked in place with thumb locks, which gives you a durable platform to work. The rests are covered with PVC foam, which ensures they won’t mar your weapon, but are less than top notch quality compared to some other units. Overall this is a good gun vise which tries to bridge the vise/shooting rest worlds admirably.
- Adjustable, telescoping tubes accommodate basically any gun size or style
- High quality, American made product
- Easy to assemble
- Secures your firearm well
- Clamshell clamp has limited force
- Option rear rest is a requirement for longer projects
- More of a vise than a real shooting rest
The Hyskore Sighting and Cleaning Rest is focused on making optic mounting & sighting easy, and it essentially doubles as a vise. It’s fully adjustable – and this worked well for our long gun and handgun test mounts. No issues getting our cleaning rod where it needed to go. One interesting feature is the rest collapses to under 10 inches (other than the rods) which makes for easy storage. The vise is made of metal, (with the exception of the adjustment knobs and feet). Assembly took under 10 minutes – and in our tests leveling was quick and easy – drop the stock into the rear vise, place the front stock into the front and tighten them both in while using the center support to support the center of the rifle. Using the magnetic bubble level (included with the vise) we had our bolt action rifle leveled in less than 30 minutes total. This vise can also be used for cleaning and is a mechanical sighting platform. You can’t fire a weapon when fully clamped – but you can collapse the rear clamp and center support to fire your gun and sight in your groups. A little finicky but capable sighting/vise designed for scope mounting & light gunsmithing.
- Adjustable telescoping design
- Sturdy platform
- Quality materials
- Easy to assemble
- Multiple strap & clamp configuration provides secure hold on firearms
- Welds are small
- Not a shooting rest
- Critical components are plastic and can flex with the application of force
This is considered an all-in-one shooter’s case which allows one to perform rifle maintenance at home and in the field. It’s pretty large at 14.5 inches wide x 8.25 inches deep (without the inside tray.) Cleaning supplies, ammo, tools all fit inside securely, and the yoke system holds your rifle above the case, which serves as the base of the unit.
The lift-out tray provides a nice area to keep small items, tools, and parts while the deeper chamber accommodates larger items.
Pretty light at just under 6lbs, which is about what any hard-bodied larger case would weigh. Overall a solid field case, even if it’s essentially a storage box with simple gun rests.
- Lots of storage
- Accommodates both larger and smaller items
- Essentially just a storage box with gun rests
- Yokes are designed to be stored within the unit, which consumes storage space
- A number of people reported not receiving the yokes with their unit
- The lid hinge is plastic rather than metal and prone to breakage
Rifle Cleaning Tools & Accessories
We liked this gun cleaning mat because it has a 4-inch storage pocket to keep all of your cleaning tools & supplies in one place. You’ll want a gun mat made of polyester or neoprene to prevent the oils and liquids used from getting all over your workspace. This one is priced right and covers all the basics.
It’s critical when gunsmithing that the torque specs for all your screws and bolts align with manufacturer specifications. This torque set makes it easy to apply consistent torque settings to scope rings, guard screws, windage and base screws. This improves reliability, accuracy and decreases issues in the field. The set includes 10 bits and includes a Leupold specialty flat blade as well and plastic storage case to keep your kit together.
A set of brass punches prevents maring and scratching the metal bits of your firearms when you’re driving pins. Brass grips pins much more effectively than steel punches, so you’re less likely to slip in the first place. Plus punch end wears over time the brass is soft enough to just grind or file back into working order. We liked how this set includes a hammer, which will save you a good $20.
Features that matter when selecting your gun vise:
When it comes to a gun vise there are a number of forms and sizes out there – but our experts highlighted a few features that will make sure you get the most out of your vise, regardless of the make, model, or price:
You want a platform that can accommodate all types of guns – rifles, shotguns, ARs and other long guns. Look for an adjustable center aluminum channel or center supports that allow you to work on bolt action, semi-autos, break-open guns, and different magazine sizes/formats. It’s also critical that you have end blocks that are adjustable and move independently from one another. This will provide room for any stock shape. Quick releases are nice on your mounting blocks to speed up transitions, but not critical features.
With the base you have a few options – generally a polymer/plastic or metal base. Lots of people prefer to mount their gun vise to their working areas, so metal is fantastic for mounting, but it tends to be a lot heavier than polymers and the vises can be made of multiple pieces/rods which can impact stability. Polymers are very hard, tend to be non-marring, and resist solvents & cleaning products for years, but they may be a little less durable than their metal counterparts. Although they can be comprised/molded from a single piece of polymer which improves stability. In addition, clamp mounts can help keep your vise in place when applying force while working.
When a vise doesn’t have clamps it’s technically a gun rest, which can certainly work for for maintenance, but in general you’ll want to look for adjustable or quick release clamps which can hold at least one portion of the gun – preferably the stock.
Guns are tough – and sometimes it takes serious torque, pounding, or wrenching to move your project forward. The last thing you need to be concerned about when replacing a barrel or dropping a new scope on your rifle is whether or not the vise will provide a stable base to work from or if you’re going to knock a chunk out of your vise with a brass hammer.
When you’re mounting scope, lubricating and cleaning, or otherwise working on your rifle you’ll be using a variety of products, bottles, screws and tools. It’s often helpful to have a variety of wells and compartments to set these products, parts, and your cleaning kit.
Who should consider these recommendations?
Anyone interested in the optimal performance of their rifle. Like we noted above – gun maintenance isn’t really optional, and while lots of gun owners maintain their guns without a vise, but they sure do make the process easier, faster, and improves the final product. A gun vise will also allow you to alter your weapon (attach a sight, change out components, etc.) which can open up a new level of personalization and performance for your weapon. There’s also something special about truly knowing your firearm inside and out, which a vise allows you to get at.
Aspiring gunsmiths. If you want to seriously alter a weapon a gun vise is a must. Aspiring gunsmiths can begin learning the trade in a few different ways – including gunsmithing apprenticeships & seeking the guidance of an experienced gunsmith – but it’s so important to and gain hands-on experience by learning on your own bench with your own tools. There’s simply no way to get your feet wet in the world of gunsmithing without a vise.
While all of these rifle cleaning vices excel for a variety of applications the overall winner in our opinion is the Tipton Best Gun Vise.
It met all the important criteria for a high-quality cleaning vise:
- Incredible flexibility to accommodate a variety of firearms
- Strong base material to stand up to torquing and pounding
- Solid clamps with lots of holding power
- Nice compartments to hold cleaners, screws, and bolts as you’re working on your rifle
Hopefully this guide will help you find the best vise for your needs, and if you have any questions or comments feel free to drop us a line.