A professional armorer seeks reliable engines and mechanisms for his company, factory or etc. If you want to find the best gunsmith lathe, you’ll better look attentively all the variants.

You can use it to face out:

  • whetting and boring of cylindrical, conical and shaped areas;
  • threading;
  • trimming and finishing;
  • boring;
  • countersinking.

All products represented in various price ranges. There are products from 500$ to 4,300$. In this review, I decided to reveal the most popular, reliable and actual models.

Let’s examine the wide range of gunsmith lathes.

Here are TOP-5 the best lathe in economical sense where it will be perfect variant for everyone:

Manual (universal) lathes, semi-automatic, automatic and CNC machines, are divided into horizontal and vertical depending on the location of the spindle.

Vertical lathe (they are also lathe-carrousel) machines are located into a separate category.

Lathe horizontal machines are designed for processing external and internal surfaces of parts and screw-cutting work on black and non-ferrous metals, including all types of turning operations, cutting metric, modular and inch carving.

1. Top horn Metal Lathe 8x16 Inch Precision Mini Lathe 2500 RPM 750W Lathe with Digital Control System

It’s good for work with metallic, nephritis, and wooden examples. You only have to prepare appropriate stand.


This product will be suitable for a solid workbench. It can be used with the stand-alone unit when it’s set on a congruent stand. You can control spindle speed.

It has the lowest level is from 50 to 1250 RPM (), the highest is from 100 to 2500 RPM.

The spindle is the main node of the lathe. Such characteristics allow increasing productivity. The maximum length of the billet that can be installed and machined is 15-3/4" (400 mm). It’s also a distance between centers.

It has characteristics of motion. Compound rest is 2-1/8" (54 mm) and cross slide compile 3" (76 mm).

This product power source is hardwired.

Motor Characteristics

It has 750W of power. It’s very good for wood processing, but it will work slowly with metal billets. You need to fix the correct level of the RPM to use all opportunities of the motor of this product.


You can run a four-inch aluminum tube or a two-inch industrial steel bar to start working with materials. It will cut both well without any conspicuous decline in RPM.

It supplies with metal gearwheel while other use plastic ones. But read the instructions attentively and use engine oil for everything because it comes dry.

The digital readout works well, so it makes processing easy and more rapid.

You also have to be ready to spend a few hours for installation. There are needed a tailstock clamping screw shortcut. This will simplify movement lengthwise the bed of the product.

You also have to check whether the compound was locking in place, check the presence of compound handle and make a cleaning and lubrication actions for proper working.


Expect you will have to clean, tune and also fix things up front. It can take up to eight hours to make it function on maximum.

This unit is good for areas like mini precision parts processing, ordinary processing, and works connected with modeling.

2. SHOP FOX M1016 10-Inch by 20-Inch Metal Lathe

SHOP FOX M1016 10-Inch by 20-Inch Metal Lathe
  • Cross slide table
  • 11 change gears
  • 2 dead centers
  • 4-way turret tool post
  • Eye shield

This lathe has a small size, but it is an excellent product. It will be useful for model makers, toolmakers, those who fall over guns and machinist.

This is an opportunity to produce precision parts, threaded parts, fittings and dies very economically.
This is the best mini metal lathe for people who don’t want to spend much money but seek qualitative model.


It has an incredible 9-3/4-inch swing and a 21-inch distance between centers. This unit can represent handy accessories 5-inch 3-jaw chuck, eye shield. It’s important also to mention 4-way turret tool post.

It’s easy to remove or set chucks and faceplates on this model. On this metal lathe, was installed a spindle nose mounting system. There is a circular lock plate equipped with notched holes that are bigger at one end.

Spindle speed of this variant is 1725 RPM. It’s suitable for perfect wood processing and basic metal examples.

Motor Characteristics

This motor isn’t as powerful as the previous model but also can show good characteristic. It has 3/4 HP that enough to work with wood and nephritis. The power is 110V and it’s a single-phase variant (you have to plug phase and neutral wires to the lathe).


After rotation of lock plate toward the back of the lathe, the oversize holes transform to the proportions of the studs. And the mounting nuts are tightened against the back of the lock plate and indemnify the chuck or faceplate.


The turret tool post economizes by holding various cutting tools. And it can be turned to make the desired cutting tool in position. This variant manages with different materials easily if you fix all details in a right way.

3. Shop Fox M1112 12-Inch by 36-Inch Gunsmithing Lathe

Shop Fox M1112 12-Inch by 36-Inch Gunsmithing Lathe
  • Spindle Bore: 1-5/8-Inch, D1-5 Camlock Mount
  • Range of speeds: 70, 200, 220, 270, 360, 600, 800, 1000 and...
  • Includes: 6-Inch 3-Jaw chuck with two sets of jaws, 8-Inch...
  • Halogen work light, coolant system, ball bearing steady and...
  • Cast iron stand with extended base, cast aluminum gear...

This model is improved in contrast with other lathes that have such size and quite solid. It looks well gathered and fit. You will see good made Chinese machine with higher than average example.


This gorgeous gearhead lathe has high-tolerance bearings, D1-5 cam-lock spindle. It has also outboard spindle bore supports and gearbox that change rapidly, induction-hardened bed ways. A bolt hole size in the base is 5/8".

It also has extra a fine longitudinal feed rate of 0.0011 inches/r and crosses feed rate of 0.0004 inches/r.

In this model, all fit together nicely and tight. Parts wouldn’t get damaged because of the durable package. It’s important to have own 220v plug for it and also a cable since it is not placed.

Motor Characteristics

This model has less HP than other our models, only 2. The power of the motor is 220V. Also, it’s a single-phase model that needs to plug 2 wires: phase and neutral.


You can even break carbide tooling, cobalt drills or countersinks but the lathe never passes a beat. The cooling system is great no issues there and really help when working on rustproof materials.

You can use this lathe for machining barrels, suppressors, and other various examples.

There might be no complaints about how everything comes out to specification every time. If you are a self-taught master for working on the lathe, you’ll be satisfied with it.

The carriage handwheel moved the carriage left or right along the bed. Such control is needed for setting up the machine for turning. It will be useful for manual movement is desired during turning operations.


6" 3 Jaw is small for a 12" machine. But you can use it very effectively for small products. Quick change tool holder that represented here is a cheap piston type.

It isn’t precise enough. Chuck doesn’t have chip guard so you need to produce one.
Check this video:

4. Best Equip 8x16 Inch Metal Lathe 2500RPM 750W Mini Bench Lathe Variable Spindle Speed Lathe Machine

BestEquip Metal Lathe, 8" x 16" Benchtop Lathe, Mini Metal Lathe 0-2500 RPM Variable Speed, Mini...
  • Infinitely Variable Speed: The mini metal lathe with metal...
  • 400mm Large Swing Range: The benchtop lathe is equipped with...
  • Professional Compound Rest: The mini lathe machine quick...
  • Supportive & Protective: Soft start, change-over switch for...
  • Adjustable Tailstock: Taper in Tailstock Spindle: MT2....

This variable-speed variant will help to provide metal, jade, and woodturning. It’s one of the best small metal lathes for professional work or for a hobby.

This lathe uses for providing professional processing of materials. You can make simply process of various examples and do perfect modeling.


It is tooled with metal cogwheel. The main characteristics of this mechanism are wear-resistance, durability, more precise spinning and qualitative assembly.

The distance between centers of the product is 15-3/4" (400 mm). The material for processing has to suite these options.

Spindle speed range fluctuates from 50 to 2500 RPM. You can fix the level of the resale price maintenance that is needed.

Mark of the swing over bed is 8-1/4" (210 mm). It has a number of the electronic control system. This system uses the magnetic induction digital single-chip control. There is 2-speed mechanical speed transition wheel system.

This product has telescopic sets with scale. The lathe can scale in an exact way. It is digitally standardized. You can adjust work of this model by collateral movement.

Motor Characteristics

Motor power is 750W. This is a good index, which allows working quickly with wood, nephrite, and metal without spending additional time and energy.


This metal lathe has a high price and it can show worthy performance ratio. It is very easy in use for beginner or intermediate wood and metal masters. They don’t have to spend much money and time to get respectable. There are no problems with set up and use, the lathe will be working just as expected.


This type of lathe is useful for turning of metal materials and also for hobbyists who want to work on a mechanism and create an ultimate details for own project or construction.

5. Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe by Central Machinery

Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe by Central Machinery
  • Variable speed control knob
  • Automatic feed
  • Chuck guard with micro switch
  • 0-2500 RPM (high)

If you want to provide counter facing or making bushings or models, this precision, this product will cope with all! 18 threads make this product suitable for use in labs, workshops, engineering.

After scraping off the packing grease and carefully wipe it down, you will have to read the instruction well or go to any search engine for understanding details of work with this unknown monster staring at you.

Then you need to install it for trouble-free functioning.


I need to emphasize that there are automatic feed and a chuck guard that has a microswitch that makes work of this mini lathe more quick and simple.

There are different speeds for this product. The lowest is 0-1100 RPM and the highest is 0-2500 RPM. You will need also to find cutting tools, hex keys (adjustments) and some goodies like starter kits.

The one you get has the thread dial indicator on the apron and is set against the lead screw. The standard turret style tool post holder is really good, steel and solid as frig.

There is 3/8 in tools a little above center. It doesn’t have to be above center because it would reduce the quality of mechanisms’ work. This product weighs about 75lbs.

For carrying this product upstairs you have to remove the chuck, the tailstock, and the carriage. These actions lead to weight down to 50 pounds and you’d better read how to do that in a right way and how to install these details back.

Dual-pivot radial compound is a bolt-on accessory that has an effect on converting the lathes machining versatility from an Etch-a-Sketch into a Spirograph tool control approach.

This product has a set of wrenches extra jaws for the chuck and even an oil bottle. It was built very precisely with no slop on the pinion bearings or in other places.

Motor Characteristics

Power of motor is 120V. It has a 3/4 HP. What characteristics help to provide a high level of capacity and increase qualitative results of processing?


You have to see how it “behaves” and what would be better, according to the basic information and experience of fettling it. First of all, you have to examine your lathe, puzzle out with its vibrations and noises.

The bottom and ways are in a good condition for working with materials from the first minutes. You may have to work with details location on the carriage underside where it sets on the ways.

You need to get an opportunity pulling it apart, cleaning, lubing, and turning. It will help to increase the productivity of handling materials.

Best uses are:
second operations
small details and engines.

Masters recommend using 3/8" or 1/2" bits and cutting them down to 5/16" because it’s better than shimming up a 1/4" bit. This prevents dangling. Also, make sure the quality of a drill chuck for the tail-stock to get MT2 SHORT. With this sort of bottom, you will have to get extra 3/4".


You need to pull out the sheet metal cover off the lead screw because you need to clean and oil it. Also, it is needed to install the threading dial for high efficient work.

This lathe will take some cleaning and adjustment for good work, but for the price, it is a perfect deal.

The motor belt is a skirmish to tighten properly. You have to use a 4 amp preventer instead of a 4.5 amp preventer that was recommended. That way the fuse blows before you put too much stress on the machine, specifically the motor belt, and have to re-adjust it.

So, this product can with ease cut, turn and drill different materials without excess efforts. It can be used for performing other actions on the external and interior surfaces of a basis of the revolution that has cylindrical or conical shape.

This product is classified with considering a number of features connected with the type of work performed, the level of productive results, possible automation, the highest number of turns of the spindle, the diameter that can be admissible of the workpiece being milled, the maximum height of the tool, and so on. 

If a continuous production is planned, the household lathe must withstand such loads. According to the precision of processing, you can identify the class of the lathe. The high accuracy class means that this variant is more expensive.

I picked up the most popular units but there are sundry because it will be good for you to show various products.

I can affirm that represented lathes have one of the highest marks on the sites of technical online-stores. So, you don’t have to worry about its quality.

I’ve shown you TOP-5 the best lathe for the money that has an affordable price, qualitative engines and also is easy in practical work. You can evaluate the pros and cons and choose the best variant for you.

If you want to save all documents intact, you’d better familiarize with TOP-10 best fireproof document storages.

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About the Author Anton Scharff

Anton is a hunting expert who respects nature. Ask him anything about large game. Lover of the great outdoors.

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