Best all-around armorer's tool set?


May 2, 2003, 02:00 AM
Let's say if I mainly shoot the Beretta 92, Benelli M1S90 and AR15 (ok when I leave CA) is there THE tool set I should get to maintain them?

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4 eyed six shooter
May 2, 2003, 10:42 AM
First, get a Brownells catalog ( The catalog has basic tool sets and also has a tool set for the AR-15.
I prefer to buy tools as I need them. A good set of screwdrivers is a must such as the brownells Magna Tip set. Get a set of punches. Brownells sells the punches, but I get mine from Sears. Reason being is that when you break one you can return it and get a new one for free. A small ball peen hammer and a hammer with one nylon, one brass end are also helpful.
You can do a lot with these basic tools and add to them as you need them. They make a lot of specialized tools. Some you need to work on specific guns, some you can do without and use another tool in it's place. Some of the special tools only make the job go faster, which is important to the working gunsmith, but matters little to the person just working on his own gun.
Midway also sells G S tools. (
Best wishes, John K

4v50 Gary
May 2, 2003, 03:53 PM
I prefer the fixed blade screwdrivers, but those magna-tip are great for road work.

You need roll pin punches for modern guns (insertion & removal of roll pins).

Brass hammer, 4 oz.

Drifts - you can make from scrap pieces of brass or nylon.

Bench block - you can make from scrap hardwood (oak is good).

Ball peen hammer - 2 or 4 oz. 6 oz is mighty heavy and 8 oz is overkill for armorer's work and the lighter ones are just right.

Now, for the AR, you may want to get that tool for barrel removal & installation. If you're into barrel removal, there a circlip plier you'll need too. There's a few more fancy-smancy tools, but you can get by without much if you're making just one.

If you start getting into revolvers, then you're talking barrett files, bastard files, sharpening stones, blah blah.

This is the cheap route and more $ doesn't make a better armorer Skill with what tools you have do.

Art Eatman
May 3, 2003, 10:59 AM
Agree with comments above.

The one area where ya really gotta pay attention is in the choice of screwdrivers. Your standard screwdriver from Mr. Sears or Mr. Snap-On is wedge-shaped. That wedge tends to force the screwdriver up and out of the slot. That's why you see "boogered" screw heads and scratches adjacent to screws.

The not-so-secret secret is hollow ground screwdrivers. Brownell's sells these, or you can grind your own on a bench grinder.

No matter the source, they all get a bit of wear and become somewhat rounded--so you need to dress the edges from time to time. Either on a stone or very carefully on a bench grinder.


4v50 Gary
May 3, 2003, 12:27 PM
You can "hollow ground" on a belt sander and it's probably cheaper that way. I've taken files to some screwdrivers to modify them for specific screws. It's worth it to avoid marring the finish.

Standing Wolf
May 5, 2003, 10:07 PM
That wedge tends to force the screwdriver up and out of the slot. That's why you see "boogered" screw heads and scratches adjacent to screws.

Another invaluable lesson learned in the School of Hard Knocks.

May 6, 2003, 08:10 AM
Get a roll of masking tape. Use it as a bench block. It will hold the part/gun in place and will not mar the finish. Also very handy if you need tape on occasion.

July 30, 2003, 09:16 PM
Art - and others...

I'm tired of slipping screwdrivers... I have Makarov/1911/AR15 and some older shot/rifle equipment - have red dot and 4X scope on AR rails/Weaver rings.

I've browsed Brownells/Midway/Chapman and others - totally confused.
Please pass along the specific screwdrivers I should have for general maintenence and swapping in/out of optics.

The older I get the more tyro I am. This learning curve's a killer.

Thanks a bunch.


July 30, 2003, 09:30 PM
Ironbarr, the gunsmithing screwdriver set that has about 40 bits to it. They come in standard and metric, I think.

Replacement roll pins, Skunk. Once they come out, they don't go back in. Best thing to do is crush them with a set of pliers- keeps others from using the old pins.

A set of needle nose pliers, without serrations on the gripping part, better yet, a hemostat.

Safety glasses, and a mat, like a pistol rug, to lay stuff out on. A light colored piece of carpet or something like that to catch the small pieces that always like to fall out.

I've done the armorer's crawl a couple times and it is hard on the knees.

The good thing is that many tool kits have similar tools, and some you can get at a hardware store, saving some bucks. Some stuff is gun specific, so it is better to get those tools. Oh, forgot- good factory manuals, the armorer manuals if you can.

Gun Plumber
August 19, 2003, 06:20 PM
All from Brownells...

Magna tip Screwdrivers - 22 bit starter set ($55) OR 44 bit Professional set ($93) OR 58 bit MASTER SET ($102 - this is the one I prefer)

Hammer - 4 oz ballpeen ($21) AND 1" nylon/brass hammer ($15)

Bench block - Nylon ($16) - though I use hocky pucks that I've milled with v-slot and holes drilled - they work the same and are cheaper - plus, cut them in half and they make great sanding blocks

Punches - regular flat nose and pin punches in steel AND BRASS (prices vary - lots of choices)

Bench mat - I use an old white close fibered bathmat that is rubber backed - after five plus years its now kind of a grey color, but works great just the same

Hacksaw - with several different extra blades


For a great stock of pins, consider the 'oil tempered round spring wire' kit - they will give you tons of pins but only the smaller sizes

I also recommend that you purchase the Compression spring kits - both of them - the come in REAL HANDY when you find that spring you just removed is air soluable (IE you can't find where it just launched itself to)

Files - I own well over 150 different files, different sizes, shapes and functions

Sandpaper in varying grits

Lapping compounds

Bedding compounds

Set of dental picks

Several different sized tweezers

Several different sized hemostats (like they use in hospitals)

Pair of scissor (I have three different sizes)

Vises (I own three of varying sizes, including one that I mounted to a piece of wood - kind of my traveling vise)

I also have a black canvas bag that will fit a lot of this stuff into when I'm 'on the road'

A good tool chest that will separate the gunsmithing tools from the rest of your tools (especially automotive & household tools - you wouldn't use a plumbers wrench on a barrel, so why mix them in with those tools)

Prices are from catalog #53 and have probably gone up in the intervening time.

AND just because I'm listing all this 'stuff' don't feel compelled to rush right out and buy it all at once. WAIT until you absolutely, positively CAN'T live without it any more. MY rule of thumb is if I need a given tool more than five times in one month, the purchase is generally justified. IF NOT, do without.

Remember, your best tool is YOUR MIND and YOUR HANDS.

I forgot one thing - if you are going to do shotgun work, a good barrel honer is invaluable - generally comes with oil.

And a can of Marvel Mystery Oil. I also use WD-40 by the gallon. But only for first cleaning. It then gets wiped dry. Then I use Prolong's SPL100 in very LIMITED AMOUNTS for lubrication.

August 19, 2003, 06:49 PM
Thank you for details.

That's some list, GunPlumber - you must have a great shop area.

To all - thank you for your input. Catalog time.


August 19, 2003, 07:48 PM
Serious magnet.

Finds things in carpet or patterned hard floors.


4 eyed six shooter
August 20, 2003, 12:33 AM
Skunk, Looks like good info from all. I would get your basic set of tools and add the special ones as needed. One thing I didn't see was a set of roll pin punches. These should be in your basics. Someone mentioned getting your pin punches from sears. This will be the best investment you can make. You'll break more than a few. Buy several 1/16" punches so you have a spare around. The free replacement will pay for the initial investment many times over.

Don't forget the 5 LB. sledge hammer, you never know when a firearm will need some fine tuning:evil:

Good shooting, John K

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