How to Make a Barrel Vise

by Jeremiah Blanchard

A barrel vise is used primarily by gunsmiths or those doing work on their firearms, usually rifles and shotguns, as a means of securing the barrel and action. Typically, the barrel vise is used for this when removing the barrel for gunsmith work, or for cleaning the barrel while in a secure position. A gunsmith's barrel vise can be a costly item to purchase, but an effective barrel vise can be made out of an existing bench vise with a vertical jaw using wood blocks.

1. Check to ensure that your firearm is unloaded completely. Measure the circumference of the barrel at its thickest point on the outside of the barrel. Subtract 1/16th inch from the circumference.

2. Stencil the circumference of the barrel, minus 1/16th inch, onto the center of a 6x6x2-inch block of wood. Draw a line across the block of wood that bisects the circle you just stenciled.

3. Cut the wood block in half along your line using a saw. Cut out the semicircle stencil parts on both boards using a routing tool.

4. Open the bench vise jaws to accommodate slightly more than 6 inches of space. Set one of the wood blocks onto the bottom portion of the jaw.

5. Slide your barrel into the bottom half-circle on the wood until it fits tightly. Sprinkle sawdust onto the barrel: This will help create friction. Set the top wood block onto the barrel and slide it up to align with the other wood block, then close the vise down onto the wood blocks tightly. Your barrel is now secured in the vise and ready for work.

Items you will need

  • 6x6x2-inch wood block
  • Pencil
  • Saw
  • Routing tool
  • Sawdust
  • Standard bench vise (with vertical jaw)


  • You can use thicker woods or padded stock steel if you prefer more security for your barrel vise. Pre-made wood blocks or vise pads can be purchased where gunsmith products are sold. These pads are made specifically to fit several popular barrel diameters.


  • Never attempt maintenance on a loaded firearm.
  • Never put a loaded firearm into a barrel vise.