Anvil Atlas Review
Affordable fly tying vise with full rotary feature
If you are like me, you dont have the money to buy one of each vise on the market and test them out for the best one. With some manufacuturors charging upwards of $500+ for their flagship vise, its hard to even aford one vise, let alone multiple. I recently was on the lookout for a new vise, one with a full rotary feature, and also for a good price. My budget was $150 which does not leave a lot of full rotary vise options. I think there are only 3 main mainufacturors that have full rotary vises in that price range, Peak, Danvise, and Griffn. This was a hard choice for me as all 3 of these vises seem to be quality. Danvise and Griffin actually were a little under my budget of $150, but in my opinion the construction looked a little lower quality. I hear great things about these two vises, but the design leaves alot to be desired and I wasnt excited about how to adjust the jaws. Peak however looked like a great vise with quality construction at a decent price. I did a bit of research though and found this Anvil Atlas vise. It looked great, and looked like the thing would last forever. Exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a vise that wouldnt ever break, that I could use or years to come. Even pass on to my child when he grows up. The more research about this vise, the more I realized that it was exactly that, a vise made for a lifetime.
Fit and Finish
As you can see, the visual appearence of this vise is exceptional. It looks like a work of art, and looks like its quality enough for you to create some works of art with it (Flies). Just from looking at it, you can tell its created with quality materials and constructed with tight allowences. Almost reminds me of german enginering. If nothing else, the vise will look great on your desk with its light blue powder coated base and all stainless steel construction (escept the jaws and knobs).
Hook Holding Ability
The most important part of the vise is its jaws, and how well it holds the hook. If the hook moves at all when tying, or its difficult to set the jaws, then the vise itself is useless. At first when using this vise I had some trouble with setting the jaws. I had a few times of the hook moving when putting tourque on it while tying, and took a while to adjust the settings to different sized hooks. Previous to this vise, I had a Dyna-King vise, which is known for ease of use and hook holding ability. The first week I was a little disspointed thinking I got a vise that just wasnt good. But after messing with it, I ended up being able to adjust the jaws to the right strength very quickly, and learned the tightness needed for each hook I use. I now have not had any trouble with my hook rotating or coming loose in a while either. So once you learn the settings, I think the vise holds hooks really well, and the vise jaws allow for access around the hook also.
As I stated before, the construction quality looks great on this vise. After using it for a month or so, I will say that its as good as it looks or better. When I first got the vise, I was a little bothered by the plastic setting knobs. I thought maybe that was a weak breaking point for the vise and that it could be something needing replacing later on. However, after talking with some other people that have this vise, and also looking the knobs over, I realized that they are metal knobs, with a plastic coating for comfort. I actually like them better than all metal because they are more comfortable and grip-able.
Everything on this vise is made with quality. The base is heavy, and almost impossible to rock or move when tying. The knobs are all quality and do their job. The allowences with the vise are all tight, and even. There are no unneccisary gaps between the metal parts. Its a very high quality build.
Accessories and Features
There arent a whole lot of extra accessories for this vise that I have seen except for a bobbin cradle. Depending on who you buy this vise from, the bobbin holder doesnt always come with the vise. The stem is a 3/8" so any cradel that fits that, will work. I got one on ebay for $19.99 since mine didnt come with one. I paid a total of $129.99 for the vise itself, so adding another $20 makes it come right to my budget of just under $150. Features are plenty for a vise in this price range. First feature is that its a full rotary vise, that in itself makes it worth the cost. The vise also has an easy to use adjustment for height of hook, so its fairly easy to get the hook shank to rotate without rotation. Also the heavy base really is nice, and the vise comes with a C-clamp as well. That is a big feature since most vises make you pick if you want a C-Clamp or a base. The C-clamp also is good, and holds the vise firmly, just like the heavy base. Overal, I think this has many great features.
I would say this is where the vise lacks a bit. While its relatively smooth, it still isnt perfect. Adjusting the jaws is easy, but you can feel a bit of grinding when tightening the jaws with the lever. This has improved a bit over the past month from the day I got it, so maybe it will continue improving? I am not sure. But I do know that it is no where near as smooth as my Dyna-King. But for a full rotary Dyna-King you would pay almost $300. So for half the cost, I can handle a bit of grinding. The rotation of the stem however is fairly smooth, but not even rotations. There is no counter ballance to the weight of the arm, so when you rotate the arm up, it feels smooth, but as soon as it reaches the 180 degree mark, it starts wanting to fall down to the under position. So the rotation will sometimes fall a bit. I am not sure if its a setting problem on my end, but I think I read the directions as best I could. I tightened the rotation bolt as much as I could with my fingers, and it still does this. Maybe I need to get a pair of pliers, not sure. But that is probably the only issue I have with the vise, and the only thing I see that makes it not as nice as a $300 Dyna-King or $700 Renzetti.
Overall, I would say this is a very quality vise for the money. While I have not tried all the true rotary vises under $150, I do think that this is the best quality. I am no expert though, so if I offended anyone by saying this vise was better than theirs, I do appologize. If you are in the market for a new vise with a full rotary feature, and dont want to take out a 2nd mortgage on your home to pay for it, I would recommend this vise. There are only a few things about this vise that I dont like, but they are minimal. The vises construction is high quality, it holds a hook very well, and looks great!