When I started out building this new workbench I had a few options and opinions about work holding that I had to figure out. The most important I think, was what kind of face vise to use. This is a big one, because that vise is the one you are going to be using every single day in the shop. You don't want to put something on there you will regret every day.
Like many things in life, there are pluses and there are minuses. Nothing you choose will be perfect for everything you do. You will always have to come up with workarounds for certain tasks, but if you pick something that has a higher percentage of work-ability with your habits, then you will have found the best option for you. How do you do that? Well, grab a sheet of paper, go in the shop, and start writing down everything you do on your bench. Then, be honest with yourself. What vise, or whatever, will work the best for you in these situations? There's your answer. Wasn't that easy? No? OK. well, obviously experience with different vises helps, so here are some of mine and how I figured out the leg vise was better for me.
Lets start with the twin screw vise. After all, I have used this vise primarily for the past two years. First, this thing has great strength and amazing versatility. It really works like a leg vise, just horizontally, and is the ultimate for dovetail work. By working like a leg vise I mean, you can work on just one end and normally only need to turn one screw, making the other screw act like a parallel guide on a leg vise. There are some draw backs and a couple reasons why I didn't choose this for my primary face vise though. First, the thing is big. The vise is 3 feet long and on my new 6 foot bench, that's kind of big for a primary vise. Second, it doesn't work very well for edge planing wide panels because the vise screws are so close to the top of the bench. The third strike is the height of the screws themselves. They are right at groin level, meaning not very comfortable in certain situations, like planing the surface of a board flat on your bench. That was one reason why my planing stop was not at the end of my last workbench, it stopped right around where the vise started so I didn't have to bend over the nut buster. And the final nail in the coffen is simply that, you don't use the entire vise all that much.
However, because of how good this vise does with dovetail work, I did install it on the back side of my 6 foot bench (pictured above).
The quick release vise is probably the vise most people think of when thinking of a face vise. Super simple to install, has great grip strength, can be installed on just about every workbench, works fast, and will last for year and years. I actually have two quick release vises right now, and strongly considered installing one on the new bench, but there are a couple things I don't like about them. Now, my issues with the quick release vise are just my personal opinions. So, before people get bent out of shape and write me about how they use one and it is awesome, please don't.
The killers for me are these. One, yes they are simple to install, but if you want it to be flush to the bench front, you have some extra work to do. This is the biggest killer for me. I like the flush rear jaw, yes it can be done with almost every quick release vise, but I also don't want to cut into the front of my bench either. Second, again like the twin screw, it doesn't have a deep throat. This isn't a big deal on longer benches but is an issue with short 6 foot benches like mine. Third, when clamping boards vertically you just don't get that good of a grip because the guide bars make you clamp on the extreme ends. Yes, you can add wider jaws, but that just increases racking and that's not fun either. I do use a quick release daily at work and it works great for what I do there, but not for what I do at home.
In the end I chose the leg vise. Why? because 99% of the time it can do everything that I need it to do, as well as, or better than, any of the other vises. Plus, it can do one better. In the picture I have an 18 inch wide panel clamped to my bench for edge planing. This is only possible because of how far down the screw is. Now, again, you can plane wide boards on other bench vises by placing just the front edge of the board in the vise, but then that makes the board stick out the end of the bench quite far. With a six foot bench and a small shop, the leg vise was the best choice for me, and that is why I chose it.
The thing to take from this is not so much why I made my choice, but how you should make yours. Think about what operations you do most often, how much room you have in the shop, what is the most important feature for you, and then install the vise and work with it. Only you know what will work best for you. Don't let me, or any magazine article, sway you one way or the other. You will always regret those decisions, trust me on that at least.