Every man has a few tools in his box that he can not live without. No matter how elaborate other tools may be, he'd give them all up if faced with the possibility of only having a few particularly useful tools. As any father knows, the AA Battery, while required to keep his child's high tech toys in operation, is useless without the Phillips head screw driver. No screw driver, no access to the battery compartment. While a ratchet is a wonderful devise, if push came to shove and space was limited, you'd take your crescent wrenches with you because they'll always get the job done.
CTK Precision has a similar concept for those in need of a gun vice. I've seen many elaborate solutions to a simple problem. Some solutions are so costly that they, financially speaking, are cost prohibitive. Others claim amazing feats while delivering instability. The CTK Precision Ultimate Gun Vice can be best described as a common sense solution, derived from good planning and design but carried out with simplicity in mind.
I've been working with the P3 Ultimate Gun Vice for about 6 months and it has drastically improved the way I have handled certain chores in the shop. I assemble Sniper Weapon Systems and Deployment Kits for the Sniper Country PX. When Curt Knitt of CTK Precision suggested I take a look at their new vice I jumped at the change. Around here, if I wanted to mount a base, rings and scope, I had to use sand bags and a Sinclair International Bench Rest type shooting platform to hold the rifle. While these work well on the bench at the range, they are not ideal for shop work because you are constantly bumping the rifle off level, moving equipment about, walking away from the job to answer the phone... well, you get the idea. More often than not I'd take a fair amount of time to make sure the rifle I was working was perfectly level on the bags, only to have it move on me during bore sighting. There is nothing like the right tool for the job and a day after the P3 Ultimate Gun Vice arrived I knew I had a winner.
Constructed of square 1.25" tubular steel, the vice consists of five major parts and multiple minor assemblies that as a whole create a very solid rest or vice. The base has a wide stance for stability with the front legs spanning 16" from foot to foot. The trailing beam is just shy of 24", leaving plenty of room for any kind of long arm you might wish to work upon. The vice is handsomely finished in a high gloss black coating and the tube-ends are capped with plastic covers to protect your equipment and enhance its appearance.
A sliding or telescoping rear vice slides fore and aft along the long beam and allows you to adjust the vice for guns running in length from inches to a few feet. When in its most forward position you can even clamp a pistol securely -- although CTK has a handgun specific vice as well. The Vice is padded with solvent safe foam that is thick enough to conform to any butt stock contour. The foam will not mar or scratch and will return to its original shape shortly after you remove the rifle from the vice. Its density and texture is such that once clamped properly in place, the rifle will not budge.
The vertical front post is a telescoping forearm rest which allows you to elevate or depress the rifle. Again, a large knob is present to set tension on the moveable portion of the post. The post is topped with a V block rest, which is lined with solvent safe foam. The angle of the V block is such that it will securely hold grips as thin as a com-bloc assault or sniper rifle (AKM, SVD, PSL/FPK) or other guns with extremely thin forearms, to larger beavertail forearms as found on M24s, M700 Varmint rifles or Bench Rest guns. When depressed a bit, the front rests allows you to position the weapon muzzle down so that cleaning solution will not run back into your action or bedding, a particularly nice feature if you use your P3 like I use mine. For darn near everything – bore sighting, cleaning precision rifles, scope mounting, and maintenance work. The average shooter will most likely use the vice more as a cleaning station. But its features make it handy for shop work and one added feature (detailed later) will turn it into a shooting rest.
For those using the vice in the shop, leveling the rifle is simple. Each of the three rubber coated feet act as leveling devices, allowing you to place the vice on an uneven surface and then, via large knobs, adjust the vice until it rests completely level. My counter top has got to be on a three degree slant as no pencil will remain still. With the P3 in place, a few seconds spent on dialing the knobs in brings the rest to a perfect level, allowing any number of precise adjustments to be made on the rifle's mount and scope. If you are working in a shop that offers scope mounting, collimation or bore sighting, this vice will definitely fit the bill.
The rear vice has a tensioning knob with which you can set precise tension via a jack screw. I've installed round 50 scopes on Romanian PSL sniper rifles and if you are familiar with the type, you know how awkward the butt stock design is to clamp down and hold steady. The vice on the P3 is tall, allowing complete or partial envelopment of the butt stock or pistol grip. Standard rifle stocks are simpler still. Setting up a Remington 700P police rifle is a cake walk. One item I would like to see incorporated in future models might be a bubble level on the front beam and long rear beam. Currently I just use a small level I keep in the shop but having such a convenience permanently attached to the vice would be icing on the cake.
Even if you are not in the business, the vice has multiple uses at home, at the range or in the garage. I use it as a cleaning center at home after a day at the range. The vice has a convenient cleaning rod holder built into the right side of the vice and front rest. The front holder is as simple as it is ingenious. A contoured drum is used as a spacer on the front adjustment knob screw, on which you can lay your cleaning rod. The rear vice has a simple hook fixture to lay the rear part of your cleaning rod. This unobtrusive and simple design means never having to worry about your cleaning rod rolling off you working surface or getting accidentally bent as it clatters to the floor. It also keeps a wet cleaning rod off the table top you are using. Always wipe the cleaning rod after every pass, but if you forget, now your wife has one less reason to kill you.
While simple in execution, a lot of thought went into the design of the P3. I say this because there is little I would change, meaning there was nothing that annoyed me about the design as I worked with it daily. So far I've probably mounted 120 rifle scopes using the P3 Ultimate Gun Vice as the base for my work. I am guessing I've cleaned maybe 60 rifles, upper receivers, stocks and shotguns using the P3. The thing is perfect for AR15 users who remove their upper receiver for cleaning purposes. It clamps the upper very securely, with muzzle down, making cleaning a breeze.
While I prefer a solid rear bag like a ProtekTor Model and heavy shooting rest like a Hart, Sinclair International or Wichita Rest for bench work, CTK Precision also offers a new Rear Rest to convert the Vice into a shooting platform. The financial benefits of this are obvious to any shooter on a budget. His cleaning station can also be used as a fairly solid bench rest, saving him the added expense of a 30 pound bench rest costing hundreds of dollars. The P3 Ultimate Shooting Rest rear rest has an adjustable plate which allows minute elevation changes to assist in bringing the scope on target. The front rest also comes with a ruler decal on the side facing the shooter which allows repeatable settings. This modularity means you can purchase the Gun Rest or the Gun Vice, and as finances allow, purchase the parts to convert it down the road. Price in 2006 Dollars is under $130 with the separate Vice Attachment or Rear Rest costing around $50. My advice for those looking for a rifle rest for shooting would be to buy the P3 Rifle Rest first and add the Vice attachment second. For the shop owner or gun smith, get the vice up front. I've used mine so much I can't remember how annoyed I was with my old methods of securing a rifle for simple cleaning and work.