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List of necessary tools #14872511 05/12/20
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Backroads Offline OP
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So, just getting interested in building a few from start to finish.

What tools would you buy if starting from scratch? Anything to avoid?

Much appreciated

BP-B2

Re: List of necessary tools [Re: Backroads] #14872546 05/13/20
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Yondering Offline
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I really recommend the Brownells action rods for assembling uppers, instead of vise blocks around the upper receiver. It's faster and easier, and doesn't stress the receiver like vise blocks do. It's also useful for muzzle devices, and for installing barrel extensions if you make your own barrels. https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-...el-extension-torque-tools-prod27452.aspx

A tip on using one of these reaction rods - instead of setting it up like the Brownells video shows, just clamp a 1/2" drive breaker bar in the vise with the 1/2" drive pointing up. Then you can just set the reaction rod on that, and the receiver and barrel on top of that; it's really quick and easy that way. You can even use the same method with the breaker bar in a trailer hitch receiver in the field if need be to tighten a muzzle device or something like that.

Also there is a nice 2-piece punch set from Geissele for the little gas block roll pins. https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-...nches/gas-block-punch-kit-prod68034.aspx

For that matter, I suggest just starting with Brownells for your AR building tools. They have most everything you need, and also have some good videos on assembling ARs.

Some Loctite products are useful tools for assembling ARs too. I recommend two in particular:

- Blue #243, medium strength that is oil tolerant (the more common #242 has similar strength but is not oil tolerant, no advantage to using that one). I use #243 on the buffer tube and castle nut when installing on the lower receiver, on gas blocks (both on the set or clamp screws, and between the block and barrel), and on muzzle device threads.

- Green #680, high strength sleeve retaining compound that cures in up to .015" air gap; this stuff is useful for bedding barrels in loose fitting uppers, and for securing handguards on barrel nuts for belt and suspenders prevention against loosening.

I've been using a fairly cheap DPMS AR15 wrench for barrel nuts and buffer tube castle nuts; I wouldn't call it a high quality wrench but it's done the job for at least 10 years now. There are probably better options to choose from these days.

The last tool that comes to mind is a pivot pin tool set; they aren't completely necessary but do make the job easier. I use something a little different than this one, but this looks like it'll do the same job.
https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-...oll-pin-intallation-tool-prod126521.aspx

Hope that helps!

Last edited by Yondering; 05/13/20.
Re: List of necessary tools [Re: Backroads] #14872551 05/13/20
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Yondering Offline
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Here's a quick visual on using the Brownells action rod:

Breaker bar in the vise. I made my own breaker bar to fit the vise, but an ordinary breaker bar or even a 1/2" drive ratchet can be used the same way.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Action rod on the breaker bar. The bottom of the rod fits the 1/2" square drive, top of the rod fits the hardened locking lugs in the barrel extension. Note I've pressed and machined a large nut on mine so I can also use it to lap receivers square; they don't come that way from Brownells.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Receiver and barrel on the action rod. The torque on the barrel nut is transmitted through the barrel and barrel extension to the action rod, and not through the upper receiver. You can use this tool with optics still in place on the receiver if desired, like for muzzle device installation, and will never break or shear a barrel extension pin with this method.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by Yondering; 05/13/20.
Re: List of necessary tools [Re: Backroads] #14875305 05/13/20
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Backroads Offline OP
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Thanks Yondering, I had not seen the barrel extension before. Does it replace a polymer vise block for upper assembly entirely?

Anyone else have a list to share? I have a simple tool kit with all the bits and drives, plus some punches and a hammer.

Just hoping to benefit from the experience of others and not from trial and error.

Thanks!

Re: List of necessary tools [Re: Backroads] #14875345 05/13/20
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plainsman456 Offline
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I like the rods and they have a block that pins to the upper receiver so it can be put in the vice.

There are many wrenches used for handguards these days so that took will depend on the handguard used.

They also have some nice punch sets just for putting the roll pins in the receivers.

IC-A

Re: List of necessary tools [Re: Backroads] #14875517 05/13/20
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Yondering Offline
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Originally Posted by Backroads
Thanks Yondering, I had not seen the barrel extension before. Does it replace a polymer vise block for upper assembly entirely?

Anyone else have a list to share? I have a simple tool kit with all the bits and drives, plus some punches and a hammer.

Just hoping to benefit from the experience of others and not from trial and error.

Thanks!


Yes, those action rods completely replace any sort of vise blocks. There is zero reason to use a vise block set if you have an action rod, and I personally will not use them any more because of the pin failures I've had to repair. I really suggest not using vise blocks; there is no benefit in doing so.

BTW for clarity - a "barrel extension" is the piece at the chamber end of an AR barrel that contains the locking lugs; it's a separate piece that is permanently attached, and contains the barrel extension pin that locates the barrel correctly in the upper.

The tool we are talking about is called several things - a reaction rod, an action rod, or a barrel extension tool; all refer to the same thing. Geissele sells their version for a lot more $$ and calls it a reaction rod, and that's the name most people seem to recognize.

Re: List of necessary tools [Re: Backroads] #14891322 05/19/20
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RPnKC Offline
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Similar experience here, started with vise block for upper and then bought reaction rod. No comparison.
Roll of blue painters tape to protect finish.
Absolutely use job specific roll pin punches as suggested.
Roll pin pusher for trigger guard is a good tool also.
roll pin pusher

Slightly off original question, it is wise to order more small parts than your build requires. Meaning roll pins springs detents etc.
There are dimension variances for every part and from every brand.

Re: List of necessary tools [Re: Backroads] #14903958 05/23/20
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hotrodusa Offline
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I also would recommend getting one of those action rods with splines. I do like shopping at brownells, but for that tool I like the ones from this source better as they have milled flats instead of a square hole on the end.
https://botach.com/kz-barrel-spline-socket-rod-for-ar15-m4-upper-5-56mm-receivers/

https://botach.com/kz-barrel-spline-socket-rod-for-ar10-sr25-7-62mm-receivers/

Roll pin starter punch set
Pin punch set
Watching some youtube videos will help with assembly knowledge and what you may want to buy or make for tools.

Good luck..........


hotrodusa.....N.R.A. Life Member
Re: List of necessary tools [Re: Yondering] #14904366 05/23/20
Joined: Aug 2010
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bsa1917hunter Offline
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Originally Posted by Yondering
Here's a quick visual on using the Brownells action rod:

Breaker bar in the vise. I made my own breaker bar to fit the vise, but an ordinary breaker bar or even a 1/2" drive ratchet can be used the same way.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Action rod on the breaker bar. The bottom of the rod fits the 1/2" square drive, top of the rod fits the hardened locking lugs in the barrel extension. Note I've pressed and machined a large nut on mine so I can also use it to lap receivers square; they don't come that way from Brownells.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Receiver and barrel on the action rod. The torque on the barrel nut is transmitted through the barrel and barrel extension to the action rod, and not through the upper receiver. You can use this tool with optics still in place on the receiver if desired, like for muzzle device installation, and will never break or shear a barrel extension pin with this method.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


Good stuff yondering. I have a question though. How are you using that armorers wrench on that particular barrel nut? That appears to be a proprietary barrel nut much like the Troy barrel nut, or maybe it's just a standard size? The reason I ask is because after I bought my Performance center 6.5 Creedmoor, I got it home and checked everything and found the handguard to be loose. Upon further inspection, I found the barrel nut was loose. I tried to use the funky armorers tool I have, but nothing I tried worked for that barrel nut. I decided I'd cut out my own tool so that I could properly torque down the barrel and take the damn thing to the range:
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Like some have said here, some manufactures make you have to buy their tool to remove the barrel nut. I was a little pizzed at Troy industries for making such an odd ball barrel nut that takes a special wrench. Hell, even my Noveske's just take an open end wrench (27mm or 1 1/16") to remove the barrel nut.


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I try to stick with the basics, they do so well. Nothing fancy mind you, just plain jane will get it done with style.

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