Tools needed to change out AR15 upper?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by mgmorden, Oct 21, 2014.

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  1. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    Hey guys - just curious. I have a carry-handle AR15 upper and am looking to change out the upper to a flat-top. From looking online it seems that you need an upper receiver vice-block, but what (if any) other specialized tools does one need to carry out this task?

    Thanks.
     
  2. jerkface11

    jerkface11 Member

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    Making your own barrel block will be cheaper and just as good as a receiver block. You will also need a barrel nut wrench.
     
  3. MErl

    MErl Member

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    Is there some reason you don't want to just replace the whole upper? Much easier process and probably easier to sell the complete upper you don't want.
     
  4. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    I mostly just like working on things (I built the lower from parts). I figure the flat top upper is only like $50 shipped, and I might end up rebuilding the carry-handle one eventually to pair with an additional lower as funds allow.
     
  5. maxxhavoc
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    maxxhavoc Contributing Member

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    I used a Promag vise block and Tapco Armorers tool. Both worked well, and the armorer's tool has come in handy for many tasks on the AR.

    Oh, you will also need a torque wrench to do it properly, but you probably have that covered already.
     
  6. Fishbed77

    Fishbed77 Member

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    You'll likely also need some punches to remove the gas tube.
     
  7. maxxhavoc
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    maxxhavoc Contributing Member

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    Good point, I was only tooling on 9mm and .22lr ARs.

    Nothing with a gas tube.
     
  8. cgrutt

    cgrutt Member

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    If you're going through the trouble of changing out the receiver I'd free float the handguard too. If that's the case agree just sell your upper and buy parts to build a new one. Ar15 armorours tool usually has the barrel nut wrench but some brands are proprietary pattern so it really depends on what you've got. How is gas block attached? Some are hex screws some are pinned and others are welded. Taking it apart depends on what you've got. You may also need some punches for the dust cover and forward assist if your UR has these. Its been a while but you're getting me in the mood to build another upper lol... Good luck with your project whatever you decide to do.
     
  9. Jackal

    Jackal Member

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    I have built 3 AR uppers using 1/2 plywood blocks to hold the upper in the vise. Has worked nearly as well as my new polymer vise blocks.
     
  10. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    Unless you really want to get into building AR/M16 uppers, just pay a local gunsmith to switch the barrel to the new upper.
    Cost will be around fifty bucks.

    To do one correctly and minimize/ eliminate damage I recommend a good Receiver block the includes a carrier channel filler, A GOOD vice, a 1/16" roll pin punch to remove the gas tube roll pin, A small roll pin starter punch to replace the roll pin, an 8 ounce brass hammer to minimize/eliminate hammer marks, and my now all time favorite Precision Reflex handled barrel nut wrench.
    You won't need headspace gages since you'll be using the same carrier & bolt assembly and barrel.
    These will be needed when you decide to add a new barrel to your old handled upper.
    You will also need a set of snap ring pliers to install a new Delta Ring assembly if you go that route.
    I'm no great fan of free float handguards unless you're building a Match Grade rifle and many will require a good quality strap wrench to install correctly.

    This is an old pic of the goodies you will need to do complete builds and some items have been upgraded or added to my personal tool kit since this photo was taken.
    standard.gif
     
  11. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    Thanks for the links guys. I've got a pretty decent selection of "normal tools" like the vice, punches, etc, I just need to get the stuff specific to the AR.

    Even if I decided to do a full from scratch replacement I'd likely be looking at building (I just love projects), so if anything is welded in place it may go from a receiver replacement to just building a second upper entirely (and probably just putting together another lower at that point too).

    Thanks again!
     
  12. henschman

    henschman Member

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    You need a vise, some wood blocks, an AR armorer's tool (or just a barrel nut wrench), a torque wrench or just a break over bar, and a 1/16" punch for the gas tube roll pin.
     
  13. Jackal

    Jackal Member

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  14. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    Lol - thanks for that. Back when I built the lower I did indeed have to purchase some replacement detents as the originals went flying away never to be found again.

    When I work on guns I've actually taken to doing it in a hallway with laminate floors, and all the doors shot. If something flies away it's easy to spot and there's nothing else around for it to hide under :).
     
  15. zoom6zoom

    zoom6zoom Member

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    It's not pinned at the upper end. Doesn't need to be removed from the other end if OP is reinstalling the same barrel assembly.

    Go to the hardware store and pick up a two inch clevis pin, 1/4" diameter. Use it with a punch you should already have. Should cost you under a buck.
     
  16. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    That's only true if the original builder didn't assemble correctly to begin with and you CANNOT remove or install an AR/M16 barrel without removing the gas tube.
     
  17. cgrutt

    cgrutt Member

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    Exactly. Unless the gas tube wasn't installed lol...
     
  18. Blade First

    Blade First Member

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    "Its inexpensive, effective and it prevents those takedown detents from flying into the ether, to the land of missing socks." -- Jackal

    Or just pick up a 1/4" clevis pin at Lowe's...last one I purchased was just a $1.
     
  19. justice06rr

    justice06rr Member

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    If you're fond of building things, then just build the second upper with your choice of parts. Everything is cheap with AR's now so its the perfect time to build! This way you will most likely end up with another rifle =)
     
  20. ZGunner

    ZGunner Member

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    I just got done replacing my A2 with a flat-top about 15 minutes ago. All I had was an armorers tool some punches and a vice(not attached to anything). My take-aways:
    -Mount my vice...duh.
    -Get an AR specific vice block.
    -Don't take parts off a complete upper to put on a stripped on, just get a complete upper or upper build kit.
    -Make sure to put masking tape around pin hole when installing roll pins

    The rifle functions flawlessly from the 20 test rounds I fired. However, if I've ever had a rifle to paint this is now it. I shop rag doubled over for padding in a vice is not sufficient to keep from marring the upper.
     
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