Hands-On: Short Action Customs Barrel Vises

Changing barrels can be easy, or a bit tricky. Having the right tools helps, and that’s where the Short Action Customs barrel vises come in handy!

Today we take a closer look at two vises from Short Action Customs, the modular vise and Bravo vise. 


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About the Bravo Barrel Vise 

This vise is a bit more budget oriented than the Modular Barrel Vise, but uses the same bushings. You have several options – a base form with one bushing (your choice) or a full kit with various bushings.  

From shortctioncustoms.com



The Bravo Barrel Vise does not come with the ARCA Mounting Base. But the ARCA Mounting Base is a great additional product that we recommend you to purchase with the Bravo barrel vise.

Based off of the same bushing design as our highly successful “Modular Barrel Vise”, the “Bravo” utilizes a simple 2 bolt design to clamp the top and bottom together. This clamping system greatly reduces the amount of machine time, materials and complexity of the assembly, therefore, allowing us to greatly reduce the price WITHOUT sacrificing any material or design quality.

Made from high strength 7075 Aluminum, we CNC machine all the parts for an amazing fit and finish.  Supplied with the “Bravo” are two alloy steel 1/2″ x 13 cap head screws 3.25″ long, Grade 8 washers and Grade 9, extreme strength 1/2″ x 13 Nuts. The supplied cap head screws can be used to secure the top and bottom together, or the end user can purchase Two hex bolts, insert them from the bottom and use the washers and nuts on the top.

The “Bravo” uses the same readily available barrel bushings as the “Modular Barrel Vise” .  When using the appropriate bushing and the supplied non-adhesive drywall tape, you can clamp onto finished or painted barrels with out leaving any handling marks or defects. Each “Bravo” vise comes with one bushing set of the customers choice, a $40 value.

Mounting the “Bravo” is very easy and can be done on just about any surface. There are 3 main options for securing your “Bravo.

    • Use the ARCA rail machined into the bottom of the vise and secure it to any type of ARCA mount like our ARCA MOUNTING BASE.
    • Drill Two 1/2″ holes in a surface, place the “Bravo” on the top and use Two bolts on the underside of the surface to thread into the Two 1/2″x13 threaded holes.
    • On a Milling Machine table or any other T-Slot, place the “Bravo” on the table, align two 1/2 x 13 T-nuts below the vise and use the top clamping bolts to thread directly into the  nuts for the clamping pressure.

About the Modular Barrel Vise 

Like the Bravo barrel vise, the modular vise is available in a base model with one bushing or a full kit. The full kit includes a nice stand with markings for the corresponding bushings, which are also marked for easy storage. 

Each bushing is secured in the vise by a nub that keeps the bushings from spinning.

From shortactioncustoms.com


Our Modular Barrel Vise allows you to quickly change your barrels whenever and wherever you want. Our innovative hinge lock bolt system allows you to quickly and separate your barrel from your action with unparalleled repeat ability and ease.

One of the best features of our Modular Barrel Vise is that it is just the first part of a complete system that we are developing. The ARCA bottom mount can easily be secured to a milling machine table, a bench top, or on a custom mounting platform like a 2″ square tube for a truck’s receiver hitch. We have other accessories being developed that will secure to the ARCA bottom mount that are intended for rifle care, maintenance and set up. All of this is done within seconds.

Because we built this product to last, our Modular Barrel Vise Kit has a 100% lifetime warranty for all parts manufactured by Short Action Customs!

Our vision is to empower every shooter to take rifle maintenance and barrel changes into their own hands. To provide a product system that gives all shooters the confidence to work on and maintain their own rifles. It all starts with our Modular Barrel Vise.

    • Mostly 7075 Aluminum Construction.
    • Made in the USA
    • Excellent gripping strength on the barrel with properly sized bushings with little to no markings on the barrel.
    • Only 1 torque bolt for the fastest lock up on any barrel vise.
    • Modular system with more accessories to follow.

What is included in the Modular Barrel Vise Kit?

    • Modular Barrel Vise
    • ARCA Mounting Base
    • Single bushing of your choice

What additional tools are needed?

    • Appropriate action wrench to fit your action
    • Breaker bar or torque wrench to apply torque

Mounting the Vise 

The Ultimate Reloader bench system is 8 inch on center between two tracks. I took a half inch piece of plate aluminum and drilled two holes 8 inches apart. We need 4 inches between center for an ARCA base. I created a custom mounting plate with holes for these and slid the custom mounting plate over the holes on the track and locked it down.

I typically use wing nuts, but wanted greater torque for a barrel vise. The ARCA base fits in the two holes places 4 inches apart, and I secured it with two bolts I shortened on the lathe to the exact length I needed. As I tightened them down, I made sure they were just slightly below flush and torqued them down. 

All I needed to do next was to secure the barrel vise onto the ARCA base. For any other barrel vise, you could mount any number of accessories. 

Barrel Swapping

Starting with a 6.5 Creedmoor barrel, I measured the shank diameter to be about 1.228. I have a 1.25 bushing set. I typically use powdered rosin between the bushings and the barrel, but Short Action Customs recommends and includes drywall tape. They recommend you use a couple wraps — I used two and still had a little bit of room to play with. I then added the bushings and pushed them into the barrel vise, ensuring that the anti-rotation nubs fell into the right spot. As I tightened down the top of the vise, I kept the gaps between the two parts of the vise as even as possible. This isn’t incredibly critical, but helps make sure torque is even. 

I set the torque to 35 foot-pounds (per the SAC video) and secured the Bravo vise. I upped the torque to 90 foot-pounds and torqued on the Terminus action with a 5/18 socket. I added TW25b grease to the threads and spun the action on. 

I used another great tool from Short Action Customs, the Modular Action Wrench, to secure the action.

Once properly attached, I slid the barrel out the end of the vise. At this point, I typically check headspace, but because I’m simply swapping a barrel, I didn’t bother. 

Using the same ARCA mounting plate, I secured the SAC modular barrel vise. One thing I prefer about the modular vise over the bravo is that you can open it and the halves stay attached for easier use.

This time with the action attached, I once again wrapped dry wall tape around the barrel, set it inside the 1.25 bushings, and torqued the top vise bolt to 35 foot pounds.

Using the modular action wrench and an old-fashioned torque wrench, I used 90 foot pounds to remove the action, with no slippage! 

The 25 Creedmoor barrel blank shank measured 1.250 — no need to switch the bushings! I loosened the vise screws, and lifted the 6.5 Creedmoor barrel up ever so slightly for easier removal, then switched it with the 25 Creedmoor. The rest of the process follows as above: secure the vise, torque it down to 35 foot pounds, add grease, thread the action on and torque it to 90 foot pounds using the SAC modular action wrench. 

Get the Gear! 

I’m completely sold on ARCA and honestly feel spoiled by this system. There’s nothing wrong with the Bravo, but if you have the money, I highly recommend the modular barrel vise for even greater efficiency. 

The Bravo barrel vise single bushing kit retails for $225 (currently $185 on shortactioncustoms.com as of 8/4/2022) while the full kit retails for $275.

The modular barrel vise single bushing kit retails for $365 but is currently available for $325 (as of 8/4/2022) through Short Action Customs. The full modular vise kit is $425.

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Gavin Gear


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