View Full Version : AR15 Build - Necessary Tools

May 12, 2011, 01:43 AM
Just wondering, what tools do you think are absolutely necessary when building your AR and what tools are beneficial but not necessarily needed.

May 12, 2011, 08:07 AM
The only specialty tool I found necessary is a barrel nut wrench. A clevis pin for installing the front take down pin detent is also a big help and so is a castle nut wrench for the buffer tube. The rest is just basic hand tools.

May 12, 2011, 08:25 AM
An AR15 multi-tool, and a set of punches are all you NEED. I'm sure you can rig up some way to clamp it in a vice, but buying the proper blocks is very helpful. Get one that fits in the mag-well of the lower, and one that clamps around the upper for installing the barrel. You will want a sturdy vice for installing the barrel/free-float tube.

May 12, 2011, 09:08 AM
The armorer's tool kit is frequently recommended, it's built from old school recommendations on how to disassemble and repair existing guns in large volumes. A typical armorer in a MP company has to maintain hundreds of M4's and equal numbers of M9's; M60's, M249's, Mk17's, M2's, shotguns, etc.

To assemble one AR15, not so much. Some insist it has to be done with a healthy investment of tools - which still require a practiced, experienced hand to use.

Punches come to mind, very often recommended to assemble a lower. They are NOT the typical automotive punches sold everywhere. True gunsmith punches have a raised bump in the middle of the face to fit into the roll pin and prevent slipping off - a typical auto punch leaves a nasty scratch right down to the aluminum when it slips. Better off with medium vicegrip pliers with taped jaws, they work and don't bounce around being hammered. If you need punches, old drill bits work fine, you get a lot more sizes available, even new they can be cheaper.

Reading posts on the arfcom builders forum, lots of scratched lowers and broken trigger guard ears come from new builders hammering on punches.

A special vice jaw set, torque wrench, and barrel wrench are often recommended for barrel assembly. You can use simple Bessey jaw inserts in a vice, some just use a piece of wood deckscrewed to a solid bench or whatever. It's just a matter of keeping the upper undamaged and prevent it rotating. The torque wrench is used to prevent overtorquing the threads on the upper, it's a worse case situation. Uppers are tightened to get the star on the barrel nut to line up for the gas tube - not to meet a spec. I personally know one builder who assembled the barrel to his upper with a pair of 12" channelocks on the nut, worked fine. :cool:

It's about knowing how to use handtools, not necessarily collecting a pile of expensive one time use specialty items that have no other purpose for the owner. If the skill isn't there, then the "official" tools can actually cause more damage than some substitutes.

Old saying, the user has to be smarter than the tool.

May 12, 2011, 10:45 AM
The list of tools I use:

DPMS Panther Claw vise block
Barrel nut wrench
Handguard removal tool (not required, but useful)
1/2" drive breaker bar
1/2" drive torque wrench
Adjustable crescent wrench (for muzzle devices)

Magwell vise block
Carbine stock nut wrench
Small tack hammer
Small (precision-size) needlenose pliers
Screwdriver or hex driver (grip screw)

AR-specific tools are in italics. The punches, pliers, and hammer can be used
for a couple items on the upper as well, but even if you're building you won't often build a completely stripped upper.

May 12, 2011, 10:58 AM

May 12, 2011, 12:49 PM
I would get a clam shell type upper receive block. It provides much more support than other types. The one Midway carries isn't that pricey either.

May 12, 2011, 06:02 PM
Some free float hand-guard assembles require a strap wrench instead of a barrel nut wrench.