The Tipton Gun Vise and the Tipton Best Gun Vise
By Gary Zinn
Anyone who maintains firearms needs some sort of gun vise for the workbench. Unfortunately, many of the modestly priced gun holding accessories are little more than flimsy molded plastic bases with V-notched pillars at each end. Such cradles are okay for holding a gun while doing light bore swabbing or minor sight adjustments, but they quickly prove inadequate when more strenuous or precise maintenance work is attempted. This is because they do not hold the gun securely in the desired position.
Battenfeld Technologies offers two gun vises that are much better for home gun maintenance, yet are still reasonably priced. The more basic of these workbench gun vises is the Tipton Gun Vise.
Tipton Gun Vise
This is a 32-inch long, 8-inch wide and 2-inch high platform, with an integrated front pillar, butt stock clamp and center support. The front pillar has a stepped, V-shaped notch in which a barrel or stock forend will rest snugly. The butt stock of a gun can be firmly secured by a clamp, which is adjusted by a turn screw and latched or unlatched via a cam lever. The center support is not truly centered on the base, but is offset toward the butt stock clamp, so that it supports the stock of most long guns just behind the pistol grip. The base has several molded-in compartments for holding cleaning supplies, small tools, etc. There is a channel in the right side of the base to hold a cleaning rod.
I have used this vise for over a decade and have found it totally adequate for my needs. I use it to securely hold my long guns while doing bore cleaning, mounting scopes or other optical sights, adjusting triggers, removing and reinstalling action parts and similar maintenance tasks within my capability. (I am not a gunsmith or armorer.)
The Tipton Gun Vise (Item #782731) has a 2016 MSRP of $65. The discount retail price is around $40 from major vendors, such as Brownell's, Cabela's and MidwayUSA.
Tipton Best Gun Vise
The Tipton Best Gun Vise is an advanced version of the vise described above. The base is almost identical in dimensions to the basic Tipton vise, but has a full length aluminum rail. The front pillar, center support and butt stock clamp all lock into a channel in this rail. Any of these components can be repositioned along the length of the rail, to get the desired fit and support for any particular gun.
This vise also features vertical adjustability. The front pillar is actually two pieces that fit together on an incline. The bolt that holds them together can be loosened and the top part of the pillar can be slid upward and forward to increase the pillar height, and vise versa. The butt stock module has clamps on each side that adjust independently via screws and cam levers to securely hold the gun stock. These clamps can be adjusted vertically to get the best possible purchase on the stock.
Finally, the center support is an L-shaped bracket that can be positioned with either the shorter or longer arm in a vertical position. One can get optimal center support for a particular gun by choosing the appropriate arm length and adjusting the position of the center support on the base rail. Conventional long guns are best supported by the short arm of the L-bracket, while switching the bracket so that the long arm is upward provides center support for break-action guns, such as O/U shotguns.
This vise can be used to work on handguns, too. This simply involves securing the handle of a pistol or revolver in the clamps and using the long arm of the center support to stabilize the barrel of the gun.
The Tipton Best Gun Vise (Item #181181) has a 2016 MSRP of $145, with a discount retail price of about $90 from major vendors. At that price, this is the most capable and versatile gun vise for the home user of which I am aware.
Before making some concluding comments about both vises, I will note three accessories for the Best Gun Vise that may be of interest to owners of particular firearms. These are magazine well vise blocks for 1911 pistols, AR-15 rifles or pistols, and LR-type rifles. These blocks can be mounted on the base rail of the Best Gun Vise (in place of the regular butt stock clamp unit). The support arm of each vise block fits into the magazine well of the matching type of pistol or rifle, and then the front pillar or center support of the Best Gun Vise is used to support the barrel.
The Tipton 1911 Mag Well Vise Block (item #558080) and the Wheeler Delta Series AR-15 Mag Well Vise Block (item #156211) both list at a 2016 MSRP of $25. The Wheeler Delta Series LR308 Mag Well Vise Block (item #146200) has a MSRP of $30. See the Battenfeld Technologies website (www.battenfeldtechnologies.com) for complete information on any of these products.
Summary and Conclusion
Both Tipton Gun Vise models come with non-skid foot pads. In my experience with the basic Tipton Gun Vise, these are quite effective in holding the unit in place while in use. If one wishes to anchor either vise to a workbench or table, though, this is certainly feasible. The Best Gun Vise comes with anchor screw holes molded into the corners of the base, so all that is needed is to use lag screws of the proper size to anchor the vise to a workbench or table. The basic Gun Vise does not have screw holes already provided, but it would be easy to drill holes near each corner of the base and go from there.
I must stress that these are not professional grade armorer's vises. Given that the bases and risers are mostly nylon polymer, neither vise is totally rigid under heavy stress. Thus, they cannot be used to secure a gun while doing highly precise work (e.g., drilling and tapping a receiver). In fact, the descriptive text on the vises and accessories covered in this article stress that they are intended for use in "cleaning or light gunsmithing." You have been warned.
From personal experience, it is my opinion that the basic Tipton Gun Vise is adequate for the needs of the majority of recreational shooters and hunters. The Best Gun Vise is a step-up for anyone who has a large variety of firearm types. Either of these vises is an asset when cleaning, maintaining, or accessorizing firearms.
Copyright 2016 by Gary Zinn and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.