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Posted: 3/16/2011 3:56:30 PM EST
Hey guys,

I picked up a few of the PSA lowers from the group buy and I'm going to take my time learning to build and work on AR's starting with those. When I bought my first AR, the guy threw in one of the DPMS multi tools but that's about all I've got other than a punch set. What would be a good set of tools to pick up and make working on the rifles easier, more enjoyable?

Link Posted: 3/16/2011 4:18:16 PM EST
For just lowers, you pretty much don't need anything extra than what you've got, although I personally would use a 3 pin castle nut wrench (the one I like is the Tapco Enhanced stock wrench - cheap and makes tightening/loosening your castle nut easy) - and I also find a cheap spring loaded automatic center punch is handy for staking.

If you want to do uppers as well, I'd recommend at least a reasonable vise with halfway deep jaws and one you can put some force on without it breaking (the "heavy duty" (49.99) ones from Lowes are plenty good enough...and worth it over the 29.99 ones, a torque wrench (for the AR barrel nut, I personally prefer a cheap beam type wrench - as you are not working to an exact torque value I find beam is better to see roughly where you are in the range than a clicker - and you can also pick one up for about $20 or so), some barrel vise jaws (the $10 DPMS ones are fine) and an upper receiver action block (I personally prefer the DPMS panther claw type, YMMV). You already have a barrel nut/flash hider wrench. Think that is pretty much it for "essentials", if you can even call them that - other stuff I find myself using though are a torque screwdriver (Wheeler FAT wrench), some small spirit levels and a good metal ruler. You'd also be advised to have some loctite on hand (blue and red), and also some Moly grease for the barrel nut.

The best tool in your box however, is taking your time and learning all the little nuances of putting these things together - it really is very simple, but depending on your mechanical ability it would possibly pay you to really study some of the free guides available here and elsewhere on the 'net to really understand how the entire system works and where you need to be particularly careful etc.

Good luck with it all...but I warn you, once you start with this, there's no going back....you'll become obsessed with putting them together! :)
Link Posted: 3/16/2011 5:16:11 PM EST
[Last Edit: 3/16/2011 5:19:39 PM EST by LMTRocks]
Go on and get a good 1/2" drive torque wrench for barrel nuts and a PRI 5 pin barrel nut wrench. I use the Panther upper receiver block and consistently take the barrel nuts between 50 and 60 ft-lbs. The PRI upper receiver block can take an upper by either pins or picatinny rail and is useful for aligning rails to the upper half. I also keep a set of T handle allen wrenches for things like MBUS sights or rails for MOE, or VTAC type forearms. Having moly grease for your barrel nut and various types of loctite will also make installing things easier down the road.

Lower magwell blocks are supremely useful although an old mag body can work. Some will accomodate a lower positioning upside down for pistol grips.

I also keep grinding tools for making FSBs into low profile gas blocks. You'll find a dremel with a green grinding cone will make a very nice pinned FSB into a perfectly positioned low-pro gas block fairly quickly.

If you're delving further into gunsmithing a MOACKS carrier key staking tool will be invaluable. You can buy stripped carriers and gas keys and do it yourself, or just get them from BCM for about $10 more with proper staking.

Hope this helps. Its the most I can remember right now while being away from my shop. Welcome to BRD.

EDIT: I wrote all this on my blackberry and it took a while. Some of this is exactly what the previous poster said. Sorry for the doubletap.
Link Posted: 3/16/2011 5:54:32 PM EST
Thanks guys. Very much appreciated.

I actually have a 1/2" torque wrench already so there's one less thing.

I just looked in the box of stuff he gave me again and there is a Schuster Mfg Upper Receiver Jig, which is still new in the plastic wrap. I can see that being useful for cleaning and some assembly stuff but there is also a Wheeler Engineering Universal Bench Block and I'm not so sure what the purpose is. About to google it though.

Link Posted: 3/17/2011 5:17:43 AM EST
Roll pin punches. I bought the $20 Craftsman set from Sears and have had no problems building lowers using their roll pin punches and regular punches. Roll pin punches make life much easier while building lowers.
Link Posted: 3/17/2011 6:59:01 AM EST
Great list so far. I would add some cold blue for touch up. A pair of hemostats for holding small roll pins and such. Machinists hammer. Snap ring pliers are necessary if you are going to re-barrel uppers. It is like a set of pliers that can be adjusted to remove or install the split ring that holds on the delta ring and spring.


Also, when you order parts, do not forget to order extra little easily loosable parts like gas tube roll pins and buffer retainers, take down pin detents, and associated springs.... It sucks to hold up a build and pay $4 in shipping for a fifty cent part.

One final thing from me, do not forget to check in with your hometown forum. A lot of fellow shooters have the tools already and are very willing to show you how to use them and tell you where they got theirs.
Link Posted: 3/17/2011 3:54:53 PM EST
Thanks again to everyone for the help. Looks like I actually don't need a whole lot more than I already have to be set up pretty decent. I do want to build up a couple uppers as well before long. Thought I would be doing that real soon but ended up trading for another complete AR last weekend and I have a CMMG 22LR upper ordered for one of these lowers so it will be a little while before I do a full rifle build, I guess.

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