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HMH SX Vise

 

First Impressions.  Did the vise come in an attractive package?  Was it well packed and would the packaging serve as storage for the vise?  3.67

 

Directions, literature, parts lists and documentation?  Does this vise come with a set of directions that explain care and maintenance of the product?  Are there illustrations of the parts in case you need to order an accessory or replace a missing part?  Are there well written directions explaining calibration and set-up of the vise?  4.00

 

Vise fit and finish.  Is this a well finished product?  Did it communicate quality right out of the box?  4.00

 

C-Clamp quality:  Is the clamp well designed?  Did the clamp provide a solid, immobile mounting system for the vice?  Did it remain tight through a long session of tying?  Did it mark, or have the potential to damage the surface of the table to which it's clamped? 3.33

 

Vise stem finish, adjustability and length. Is the vise flexible in placement for a number of tiers and table heights?  2.83

 

Smoothness of operation of vise jaws.  Were they easy to open and close?  Are the jaws easy to calibrate for various hooks?  Do the jaws remain in the calibrated position or is it necessary to readjust the jaws after a few flies?  4.00

 

Rotation and adjustability.  Is the vise capable of rotating?   If so, was the rotating mechanism smooth and robust?   Use N/A if this vise doesn’t feature rotability.  3.50

 

Jaw grip, hold and clearance.  Does the vise hold the hook stable under both vertical and horizontal pressures?  Is there access to tie on any type of hook in the normal size range?  Can it reliably hold different sizes of hooks?  All vises must hold a minimum of size 20 to 2/0 to rate a 4 or better unless they are purposed designed and labeled as being designed for a specific hook size (tube, midge or saltwater, for instance). 4.33

 

Accessories. Is the vise capable of being customized with a bobbin cradle, material clip, background card, parachute tool, waste receptacle, etc.?  A good vise should have a material clip included as part of its design. 4.00

 

Reviewer’s Choice.  There is no category for this.  This is a gauge of “goose-bump” factor.  Did you like this vise?  Could you forget about the tool and do the job? 3.83

 

Country where manufactured?  USA

 

Silhouette SX Vise, click for enlarged view

 

3.75 Overall Rating

MSRP   $130.00

Jim's Comments -  I was impressed with the heft of this vise, when I opened the box. It has a weight that feels good in your hands, that translates into a very stable tying platform. There was no c-clamp but one is available. This is a very well engineered and produced tool and it's truly the logical evolution of the "A" type vise with the cam operated, draw-collet jaws. The machining tolerances are very high and the production quality is outstanding. I loved the way HMH engineered the jaw removal. You simply unscrew the jaw from the vise and attach the new jaw. Easily the least complicated system, in the review. There are three different jaws available. The 'Omni' jaw is the standard jaw. It has no serrations for holding big hooks like the 'Mag' jaw, but the holding ability of both jaws is darn good. The 'Micro' jaw does a great job of holding tiny hooks. I tied some #20 midges with no problems. Definitely read the copious instructions supplied. The Micro jaw's warranty is voided by using hooks bigger than #18, as they can 'spring' the jaws. The instructions are some of the best in the review. I have to admit I have a prejudice towards true rotary vises but If I'd bought this vise 5 years ago, when I upgraded from a cheap Indian Regal copy, I'd probably still be tying on the SX. It's got everything an entry level tier would need and the amount of accessories is as complete as any of the makers in the review. My only complaints are that you need a hex key to set the stem in the base. This was probably a cost saving measure but it's annoying to have to hunt up the hex key when you want to break the vise down. I'd much prefer a knob. The other was that the stem can't accommodate all the accessories I use. A waste basket, hackle gage and a bobbin cradle. That said, the SX is truly a solid tool.

Jim's Rating - 4.25

 

Joe's Comments - This is an excellent tool. There are no major complaints, or even minor ones, that I can think of from a practical point of view. The fit and finish of the vise is outstanding, missing a 5 only because the cam lever has some discoloration that may or may not be deliberate. A satin black finish would have been preferable. The jaws are superb and the standard jaws are all, and I mean all, any freshwater fly tier could want for hooks from size 20 to about size 4. The midge jaws are a trip! If you tie below an 18, this is the place to look for a serious bargain. Tailwater trouters, you've found your way home! The midge jaws are extremely well finished, very fine tipped and align damn near perfectly. I actually tied a size 26 on these just to remind myself of how much I hate (HATE) tying small. Still, the horse tail lacquered ant came out just right (for a ham fisted, far-sighted curmudgeon). The jaws rotated smoothly for me to see the proportions and tie-in points from any angle. The saltwater jaws worked as advertised, but I felt a bit uncomfortable working on a 2/0 Calcasieu Pig Boat on such a delicate and petite tool. Not to say it didn't hold the hook just fine, mind you. This is the Thompson Model A of my youth as interpreted by a loving mechanical engineer come machinist who sees the possibility of the design and is willing to pursue it. This is a professional-quality piece of gear with which I could live happily!

Joe's Rating - 3.85

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Mark's Comments This vise is quite nice with a real look of a much more expensive vise. It comes with a nice pedestal base but does not come with a C Clamp, I personally prefer the base so no complaints from me. I did like the ease of the cam mechanism and the quick changeability of the jaws. The HMH lets you choose the jaws you want in your vise, there are two other styles available. One thing I really liked was all the room at the junction of vise and hook, the jaws allow for a lot of room and even has a simple but impressively smooth rotary. For someone who enjoys tying simple flies without all the fancy gadgets and add-ons, this would definitely fit the bill!

Mark's Rating - 3.15

 

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Manufacturer's Comments

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