Basic Tools for Accessorizing an AR Rifle
Dr. John Woods 04.10.19
Working on “tuning up” an AR rifle is nothing like changing the spark plugs, points, and condenser on an old V8 engine. What, don’t remember those or never heard of them? Then you really need to get up to speed. Doing mechanic work on an AR requires a number of special tools as well as what I call small scale hand tools for the close quarters work of tightening screws, accessory attachments, and other enhancements.
The nice part about working on an AR rifle, too, is that you don’t need a multi-stack roll around tool cabinet like you see in a car repair shop. All the basic tools you might need for working on an AR rifle can be put together in one self-contained tool or storage box. This can be easily stored in a closet, garage, storage, room or tool work room at a Bug In home or Bug Out camp.
The AR tool discussion here is for the basics, not for detailed or more complicated gunsmithing work like changing barrels or fitting new bolt carrier assemblies. There are parts changes that could be done by self-knowledgeable AR owners such as changing out trigger units, or buttstock assembles, so those are left to the confidence of the individual owners.
Adding AR accessories and rifle enhancements is a very popular activity among rifle owners. Most of the add-ons can be done quite simply, but do require more than a junk drawer screwdriver and a pair of pliers. Here are some recommendations for basic tools to compile into an AR-15 tool box.
Start with a good quality set of gunsmith drivers including conventional Phillips and flat blade screwdriver tips, 2-3 handles of varying lengths with magnetic heads, both hex driver tips, and Torx driver tips of all sizes. There are small tool kits made with wrench drivers or socket like drivers that work well for AR gunsmithing work, too. For some applications a good set of Allen wrenches in universal and metric sizes may be needed to install some accessories.
Specialty AR tools include items such as an armorers wrench for advanced work, a handguard removal tool for swapping forends and rails, pin punches, and a plastic/brass hammer. For more tool choices check out www.brownells.com.
This rudimentary selection of gunsmithing tools will get anybody started on the road to customizing an AR to their specific liking and service. Building up an AR with accessories is half the fun of owning one.