• Ken Farrell Barrel Vise

    One of the unique benefits of the Savage 110 design (and the Axis as well) is the use of a barrel nut to set the headspace which makes it quite easy for the average person to change out their barrels. In more recent years other manufacturers have started using the barrel nut system on some of their rifles (Mossberg, Marlin and Remington to name a few), aftermarket options have become widely available to utilize a nut on other rifles like the Remington 700 and Tikka T3, and several custom actions are now being offered with threads to accept Savage pre-fit barrels and a nut as well.

    The process of swapping out a barrel is fairly simple and has been outlined on this and other sites numerous times so I won't go into that here in this article. There are however a few specialty tools needed to successfully do the job. Those tools include a barrel nut wrench, a set of Go/No-Go gauges, and an action wrench or barrel vise. There's some debate as to whether an action wrench or a barrel vise is the better option, but both options work perfectly well when used properly so you can decide for yourself which you prefer - or when in doubt, get both.

    As the title of this review indicates, today we are looking at a barrel vise offered by Ken Farrell Industries of Warsaw, MO. Made of heavy aluminum billets and utilizing a v-block design, the standard blocks included with the Ken Farrel Barrel Vise will hold barrels ranging in diameter from 0.850" to 1.375". Custom jaws are also available for different barrel contours at an additional cost. Two 3/4" bolts with 1-1/8" nuts are used to apply tension to the v-blocks and secure the barrel in the vise. A set of lift springs are utilized move the upper jaw of the vise up and away from the barrel once you loosen the tension on the nuts. Retail price for the barrel vise is $133.00 on Ken Farrell's website, or it can also be purchased through Brownells - though at the much higher price of $221.99 at the time of this writing.

    To date I have been using the Ken Farrell Barrel Vise for a little over two years and I have been extremely happy with it. Yes there are cheaper options out there on the market, and I have tried some of them in the past, but I find that the Ken Farrell vise does a much better job of holding the barrel secure - especially when removing factory installed barrels/nuts where the threads are full of residue from the tumbling and bluing processes.

    Factory sporter barrels can usually be removed with the standard blocks, but you may find it beneficial to add a piece of leather or thin hard rubber between the jaws and barrel to account for the taper in the barrel. It's best to "choke up" on the barrel and clamp it as close to the nut as possible as shown the photos below. I typically leave about 1/2" of barrel between the nut and the vise to allow room to slip the wrench off the nut for repositioning.

    When removing or installing a heavier contour barrel the use of the leather or rubber is not required. However, I will usually wrap the barrel with a layer or two of masking tape to protect the finish - especially on blued or parkerized barrels. Stainless barrels I don't bother with as any minor scuffing caused by the v-blocks are are easily removed with 0000 steel wool.

    Build quality and durability of the Ken Farrel Barrel Vise is second to none. In fact, it's the barrel vise used by well known Savage gunsmith Fred Moreo of Sharp Shooter Supply (sharpshooter on our forum). Fred modified his vise to be easier/faster to clamp down and release by fitting it with longer bolts and a 2-ton hydraulic bottle jack. Fred has been using his vise for more than 20 years now to install and remove well in excess of 10,000 barrels. If it can hold up to 20-years of Fred's use and abuse in a professional shop it should have no trouble lasting a lifetime for hobbiests like you and I.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. PhilC's Avatar
      PhilC -
      Thought I'd share, as I'm planning a future build, the Farrel vise on his site is now $185.