Info for Newbies - Bench Vice
One of the most-used pieces of equipment on professional gunmiths/armourers benches is a large padded vise to hold firearms and parts. Most shops that I have been in use vises from four inches to six inches in jaw-width. They are available from automotive supply shops and machine shop suppliers. Special pads are available from Brownells, p. 141. I got a #5 (5") vise many years ago and I find it one of the most-used tools that I own. I mounted it on a heavy work-bench near a corner so that the rifle sticks out beyond the bench.
My vise has a pair of leather and felt pads that fit nicely over the jaws so that nothing gets scratched. They were made by a shoemaker. The vise is used most for cleaning rifles, setting triggers and for mounting scopes. It is really nice to work at right angles to the rifle when mounting scopes, the rifle sticks out past the bench and I can work on it from either side.
I angle the rifle downward a bit to drain solvent when cleaning and place a Patch Hog on the muzzle to catch brush-spray. Again the rifle sticks out from the bench so I can work directly behind the rifle when cleaning.
Rifles are virtually always clamped in the vise by the barrel, usually right near the front of the forend. If the rifle has a Harris bipod on it I simply snap it open so that I can clamp right at the front of the forend.
Like a lot of things in this game, a heavy vise is expensive and seems like over-kill, but they are sure nice to have.