For firearm enthusiasts, there are certain rites of passage. For instance, there is the first time you fire a gun or the first time you purchase one. There’s the first time you have a major malfunction of the range and the first time you have the skills to address it. For the AR 15 crowd, one of the key moments in your firearm in a career is taking the time to build your very own AR 15.
Thanks to the huge number of specialty parts and accessories on the market, it’s easier than ever to assemble your own AR 15. While many spend hours of time researching and selecting each individual component for the rifle, very few spend any time thinking about what tools they’ll actually use to assemble the rifle. The fact of the matter is, the simple toolkit you keep stashed the back of your closet or tucked away somewhere in your garage simply isn’t enough to adequately assemble your rifle with any surety that it will work later. To make sure your first or next project goes smoothly, Rail Scales has assembled this list of AR 15 build tips on what tools you should have before you begin building your next rifle.
Before you rush out to buy new tools or even new parts, it’s important to ensure that you have enough space to actually work on your project. We’re sure that many AR 15’s have been built in kitchens or bedrooms throughout the country, but having a designated workspace makes the process easier and less stressful. If possible, designate a space in the garage and set your workbench there.
Having a clean, focused area to work in can make the process go much more smoothly and you are less likely to lose any parts. However, if space is at a premium in your home try and section off a space in your home. Don’t use this space for any other projects other than your rifle build.
Like all major projects, you get what you pay for when it comes to tools. When possible, get the best quality tool that you can afford. Using higher-quality tools often leads to higher quality results in fewer headaches when you first take your rifle to the range. Of course, you don’t have to break the bank paying for tools to build a nice looking AR. Simply purchase what you can afford at the time and make do when you can.
One of the reasons you want a clear workspace to work in is because you need a durable work surface. That’s because you’ll find that your bench vise becomes your closest ally during the AR 15 building process. Securely mount the vice to your workbench or work surface and will serve as an extra hand during your build. The bench vise will be invaluable as you mount major and minor parts to both your upper and lower receivers. It’s also nearly impossible to torque on your barrel and castle nuts onto your upper without one. At a minimum, you want a vise with the jaw size of at least 4 inches.
In addition to your bench vise, you’ll want a Weisbach kit. These blocks are specifically designed to hold your AR in place through the mag well while you’re working on it. Typically, vice blocks are made from high-quality polymer, but in a pinch, you can get away with a block of wood that slots into your mag well.
The AR 15 platform is known for its high tolerances and close matches between parts. This is made possible by the use of a variety of roll and punch pins. Without a set of punches for these pins, however, you can quickly mash, smash, and blunt these pieces into an unusable state.
When looking for a punch said, consider also picking up some rope and holders. These are helpful in getting the roll pin started into the receiver or component. You can follow by using the roll pin punch. These punches feature a blunted and rounded tip that naturally centers itself in the middle of the roll pin. This prevents crushing the ends of your roll pins.
Basically the Swiss Army knife of the AR15 world, an armorers wrench is a multipurpose tool that helps you quickly assemble and disassemble your rifle. Typically you will find that this wrench can help you install barrel and castle nuts, receiver extensions, and even place flash hiders. Some tools even have additional features that help you open bottles, so you can have a celebratory beverage after you finish your build. This is one tool you don’t want to skip out on, and it’s important to invest funds into high-quality armorer’s ranch.
In some cases, your AR-15 may require the use of a classic torque wrench. If you don’t already own one of these tools, you can typically find one for a low price at your local hardware store or even at many thrift stores.
You should never have to forcibly strike your rifle while you’re building it, but in some cases, a little gentle force needs to be applied in order to get the parts to seat properly. This is where a set of hammers comes in handy. Typically, a 4-ounce or 8-ounce hammer is enough. You should also consider investing in a brass or nylon hammer. These hammers are great because they are made of lightweight and soft materials that will not mar the finish of your rifle but still offer enough force to drive in a roll pin or knock out a stuck part.
You’ll find a variety of components on your AR 15 that make use of Allen’s head screws. Depending on where you sourced your parts, you may need a set of metric or standard Allen wrenches. In either case, it’s not a bad idea to have a set of both around as you work.
These tools can be used for a variety of purposes beyond their intended use. Some AR 15 pistol grips or accessories require the use of a screwdriver to mount them. In other cases, you can use a flat head screwdriver as a small pry bar. Needle nose pliers are invaluable in managing and handling minute parts. It’s likely that you’ll find more than one purpose for each of these tools.
Once you’ve assembled your workbench with all the tools outlined above, it’s time to start building your rifle. As with any project, it’s best not to cut corners on the quality of the parts your building with. That’s what you should order your AR 15 parts and accessories from Rail Scales. We use premium quality materials like HTP, G 10, and machined metals to create products that effortlessly fit on your KeyMod or M-LOK handguards. We offer hand stops, forward grips, and even fixed iron sights for your next AR 15 build. Order today.