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Review: Wheeler Engineering Barrel Vise With 3 Wood Bushings (Part No. 465185)

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

By

Photo of Wheeler Engineering barrel vise, mounted to my work bench.

Wheeler Engineering barrel vise, mounted to my work bench.

Photo © Russ Chastain
The Bottom Line

Wheeler Engineering's 465185 barrel vise is a good, solid product. I haven't yet discovered how it's worth the price they charge, but sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and pay the money - especially when their competition charges a lot more for a similar item.

I found this vise to be sufficient for changing the barrel on a Savage 110 rifle, but when it came to a rifle & barrel without a locknut - in my case a Mauser 93 - it fell down on the job. I just couldn't make this vise grip the barrel tightly enough to attain a good smooth tightening with a torque reading, even after trying rosin on the wood blocks.

Pros

  • Solidly constructed.
  • Includes three wood bushings, to act as vise jaws.
  • Wood bushings won't mar the barrel.
Savage barrel and action, in barrel vise.

Action & barrel in vise, with locknut wrench in place. I haven't yet tightened the vise.

Photo © Russ Chastain
Cons

  • Probably made in China (although the package doesn't say).
  • Portions of studs which thread into bottom bar are smaller than the studs themselves.
  • Wood blocks don't always allow the vise to grip a barrel as tightly as necessary.
Description

  • Vise for holding gun barrels for gunsmithing work.
  • Made of heavy steel, with wood bushings to grip the barrel.
  • Two bushings are pre-drilled and pre-cut for large and small barrels, and one is a blank for custom work.
  • Wheeler Engineering/Battenfeld Technologies PN 465185.
  • Springs around the studs keep top jaw from falling down.

Guide Review - Wheeler Engineering Barrel Vise 465185

Barrel in vise, lock nut removed. This is the barrel shank of a Savage factory 30-06 barrel.

Barrel in vise, lock nut removed. This is the barrel shank of a Savage factory 30-06 barrel.

Photo © Russ Chastain
Simple and Effective

There's not a whole lot to be said about a simple tool like this barrel vise. It's not complicated, and it doesn't need to be. All it has to do is hold a gun's barrel securely while you work on the gun or barrel. In a case like that, simple is better.

Doubts

That said, I had some small doubts when I began my first gunsmithing project with this vise, which was a simple barrel change on a Savage Model 110 rifle. And when I went to remove the nuts from the tops of the studs, the entire studs unscrewed from the base! That's when I found out that the bases of the studs (which thread into the base) are considerably smaller in diameter than the rest of them. They are still pretty stout, but not quite as tough as they first appeared. I snugged 'em into the base using Vise-Grips.

The wood bushings with the small hole appeared too small for the barrel, but I knew that wood would conform, so I started cranking the vise down. I took care to tighten it evenly, after first hand-tightening the nuts. I used a large crescent-type adjustable wrench, and tightened each nut a little at a time, alternating from one side to the other. The wood did conform to the barrel, as the photos show (you can click on the two lower photos to see larger versions).

Success

Once I thought it was tight enough, I attempted to loosen the barrel locknut, and the barrel turned in the vise's wood blocks. I tightened the vise and tried again. The same thing happened twice more, and I really had the vise honking tight. So, I swatted my locknut wrench with a wood mallet, and that did it - the locknut came loose, and I was able to remove the action from the barrel.

Just a handy tip to keep in mind - sometimes, steady pressure won't loosen stubborn threads, but a sudden jolt will.

The barrel I installed in the Savage was larger than the factory barrel which I removed, and I used the wood bushing with the larger cutouts for that one. That, too, worked well.

More Doubts

My next project was a rifle overhaul using a Mauser 93 action. This vise refused to hold the barrel tightly enough for me to remove the action from it, no matter what I tried. I finally had to mill flats onto the barrel (which was too far gone to save - shame on me if I had wanted to save the barrel) and hold it in a bench vise.

When I installed the new barrel, I tried using rosin to keep the barrel from slipping in the wood blocks, but that didn't keep it from slipping. I used a long pipe on the action wrench and bounced it to get it as tight as I could and I'm convinced that it will be fine - but it would have been nice if the vise would have held the barrel more tightly. For that reason, I have changed the rating in this review from 4 stars to 3 stars.

Conclusion

This barrel vise is a good tool for a gunsmith, and I'm glad to own it. I'm convinced that there are better ones out there and this one has caused me some grief, but for rebarreling a rifle with a barrel locknut this will do very nicely, and it can be made to work for other projects as well.

- Russ Chastain

Disclosure: A review sample was provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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