Looking for a gun vise that will make your gun cleaning and maintenance easier? We’ve got you covered.
A gun cleaning vise is a great thing for all gun owners to have access to as it makes so many of the un-fun parts of gun ownership less of a chore, and just less frustrating to deal with after a long day at the range.
We have tested and reviewed just about every vise on the market (and as a gunsmith I’ve owned most of them, purchased with my own money) and we wanted to share our thoughts and opinions about the best gun cleaning vises with you.
The list is below, and then if you keep reading you can find out more about each individual vise, as well as what to look for and how to pick the best gun vise to meet your needs.
What Are Gun Cleaning Vises?
A gun cleaning vise is a special tool for holding your firearm in place while you perform maintenance or cleaning tasks. It’s not strictly necessary, but it can more than pay for itself in the time and frustration saved versus trying to clean some guns without a vise, or trying to perform any kind of gun maintenance without one.
A firearm represents an investment of hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and using a vise when cleaning can also go a long way towards protecting the finish and especially wood furniture from scratches and damage.
Finally, some gun vises can also be used as a shooting rest, which is great for zeroing a rifle or performing accuracy testing. A rest is also really handy to have if you’re working on load development.
What Are The Different Types of Gun Cleaning Vise?
There are a few different kinds of gun cleaning vises you need to be aware of. The two main distinctions are freestanding vises versus benchtop vises.
With a freestanding vise, you don’t need a workbench or countertop to work on because the vise has its own base that keeps the clamped gun at the ideal height for cleaning or performing maintenance. The benefit here is that you don’t have to clean off the workbench (or even own one) in order to benefit from the vise.
The downside of course is that this type of vise takes up more space and usually can’t really store them in a more compact state without taking the vise apart. Some of them have collapsible legs which helps, but it’s still a large footprint.
Now, if you’re turning one corner of the garage into a gun cleaning and maintenance center, this isn’t really a big deal. If you don’t have the space, but you do have a workbench, table, or countertop handy (and the best gun cleaning mat), then a bench vise is for you.
How Do Gun Vises Work?
Basically, a gun vise is just a dedicated, non-marring vise that’s designed to give you a way to get a tight grip on your guns so you can clean them, perform maintenance, or what have you. These are great for cleaning long guns, and aren’t typically used for handguns, at least for cleaning.
The basic function of the vise is to clamp the gun in place so you can work on it more efficiently, which is great when you’re using cleaning rods to scrub the bore, or changing anything to do with your sighting system.
Scope mounting, changing sights on a pistol slide, bore sighting, and developing handloads if you load your own ammo are all made much, much easier with a high-quality vise.
Even if you aren’t looking to do any gunsmithing on your own, a vise is a great addition to your gun cleaning kit, especially if you shoot a lot of muzzleloaders or crossbows that require some in-depth maintenance.
What Do You Look For In The Best Gun Cleaning Vises?
For me, I’m looking at these vises from the perspective of a gunsmith/armorer, so I want something that’s going to stand up to years of hard use and abuse.
I also want something that has a high-quality rear clamp and some kind of center support that won’t scratch the finish on the forearm of something like my nice bolt-action rifles or a client’s expensive break-open shotguns.
We also looked at things like the clamping mechanism, particularly how the vise clamps to the buttstock as this can be a problem with some lower-quality models, particularly the plastic gun vises that don’t have a central aluminum channel.
It’s also nice to have something with solvent-resistant polymer contact surfaces that won’t break down if you get cleaning solvent on them (which is very likely).
Finally, I’d ideally like something that either works as a shooting rest, or one that has a shooting rest attachment. Zeroing a rifle with a sighting vise or “lead sled” is a great way to take the human element out of the equation.
Best Gun Cleaning Vises We Reviewed
Out of all the gun vises we tested, several stood out as being a better buy than the rest. These are the best gun vises based on our evaluations and overall customer reviews.
Tipton Ultra Gun Vise (Best Overall)
During our testing, we had one clear winner, and that was the Tipton Ultra Gun Vise. This gun vise is designed to work well with any firearm, from handguns to rifles to shotguns. You can also easily work on bows and crossbows with it, making it extremely multi-functional.
The vise features two solvent-resistant clamps and two accessory trays on a rail system. You can reconfigure the position of these clamps and trays on the fly to make sure you have a secure hold on your firearm.
Finally, there’s an option for an AR-15 mag block, and the whole thing sits on four independently-leveled feet so you can adjust it to level on most any surface.
Atlin 6” Non-Marring Nylon Vise Jaws for Gunsmithing (Best Budget)
If you’re looking for a very affordable option, these Atlin 6” Non-Marring Nylon Vise Jaws are a great add-on to an existing machine vise that most home-owners probably already have knocking around in their garage. If you don’t, hit up Craigslist and you’ll find dozens of listings for under $50, or hit up Harbor Freight.
These vise jaws attach to your existing vise with magnets so there’s no real modification work required, just slap the jaws on and you’re good to start clamping firearms without worrying about messing up your finish.
The only real downside is the fact that you can’t easily grip all firearms, and you’re limited by the size of your vise and how wide your firearm is. For pistols and most rifles, you’ll be fine. You can also get an AR-15 magazine well block that you insert into the gun and then clamp on to that.
Can be used with a magazine well block to service AR-15s
This option may be cheating a little bit, but we just had to include it. This vise is literally just the same setup as your #1 pick, but it is a freestanding model that doesn’t need to be kept on a bench or a table.
This makes the Tipton Standing Ultra Gun Vise an excellent option if you’re building a dedicated gun cleaning and maintenance area, or you just want something that doesn’t have to live on a workbench and take up that space.
If you have the space, the money, and the desire for the best high-end gun vise that you could ever need, this is the option to go with.
Freestanding design doesn’t take up valuable workbench space
Excellent modular clamp design
Can effectively clamp virtually any firearm (short of anti-tank weapons)
The MTM GV-30 Gun Vise is a great middle-of-the-road option for those who want something that falls between the super simple budget options, and the bells and whistles of the high-end options.
This benchtop vise has a single-cam locking clamp on the back, and rest-style front. The overall construction is molded plastic, so it’s not the most durable, but it’s also extremely inexpensive, and more than durable enough for cleaning and maintaining your firearms.
If you’re just looking for a vise for your yearly cleaning of your guns, or you’re not interested in spending a lot, this is the vise to go with. It performs more than well enough for most average users.
The CTK Precision P3 is a great choice if you’re looking for a gun vise that also doubles as a shooting rest. This levelable vise is made of heavy-duty steel, and comes with a shooting rest attachment that is purpose-built for zeroing your scope, bore sighting, accuracy testing, load development, or what have you.
It’s a little heavy, but that’s what you want in a lead sled or shooting rest type setup, and it works great as a vise for cleaning and maintenance making it a really versatile option.
A good gun-cleaning vise is a great addition to your cleaning supplies and equipment. It makes cleaning your guns much easier and less frustrating, and it’s super handy to have around if you ever have to do any maintenance like mounting a scope.
These are all vises we’ve tested, and frankly beaten the hell out of, so when we say you can rely on them, you know we mean it.
I personally have used all of these tools at one point or another in my work as a gunsmith, and if they’ll stand up to my ham-fisted abuse, they’ll almost certainly stand up to anything you can throw at them.