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Read this article and see what 9 essential tools you need to have before doing this.
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When Eugene Stoner first submitted his new AR-10 rifle to the U.S. Military in 1955 for their rifle evaluation trials in order to provide U.S. soldiers an advantage over the AK-47, there is no way that he could have known that the scaled down model M16 later designed by his chief assistant Robert Fremont and gunsmith Jim Sullivan at the request of the U.S. Military would result in what is quite possibly the most popular service rifle in the world!
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However, despite the fact that it was originally designed for military use, the M16/AR-15’s modular design and, ease of disassembly and reassembly, as well as its rugged reliability (plus its cool look!) have made it one of the most popular civilian rifles in America and in other countries around the world.
Of course, this is no wonder since the M16/AR-15 can be easily configured for any task from Close Quarters Battle situations to sniping for military and police use and, for civilians, it can be configured to be the ultimate home defense rifle as well as a rugged and reliable hunting rifle for any game species ranging from squirrels to moose simply by replacing the bolt carrier and/or the upper receiver/barrel assembly and, the magazine.
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Consequently, due to its relatively easy assembly and its modular nature, it is also no wonder that many amateur and professional gunsmiths are now building their own AR-15 rifles either from kits or disparate parts that are readily available from numerous different sources.
However, it should be noted that according to U.S. federal law, a person can purchase any AR-15 part from any vendor except for the lower receiver without the need for the legalities associated with purchasing a fully assembled rifle. But, in order to purchase a lower receiver, you will need to fill out the same form that you would if purchasing a fully assembled rifle, and you will also have to pass the accompanying federal background check.
Then, of course, you will need to decide whether to build your new rifle from parts kits or disparate parts. But you should be aware that while purchasing individual, disparate, parts may be less expensive than purchasing parts kits, the differences in tolerances may not always allow for various parts to mate without alteration. Whereas, if parts kits are purchased and especially from the same manufacturer, they are far more likely to fit together without alteration.
There are certain essential tools you will need to perform the assembly, as well as several tools that are not necessary but are extremely helpful . However, for the scope of this article, we will focus on the tools absolutely essential to assembling an AR-15 rifle.
You will need both a flat workspace, such as a workbench or table, and a sturdy vice. Of course, the purpose of the work bench is that you will have a significant number of parts to keep up with, and the purpose of the vise is to hold your first, absolutely essential, tool – an AR-15 Vice Block that is specifically designed to tightly grip an upper receiver without damaging it.
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Next, an assembly of an AR-15 rifle requires the seating of a significant number or roll pins and, while they most certainly can be seated using standard punches, the flat surface of a standard punch does not mate very well with a roll pin. Therefore, a far better solution is to purchase a set of roll pin punches from Brownells that have a small, half-round protrusion on the end, which mates with the hole in the center of a roll pin and prevents the punch from sliding off of the pin. In addition to a set of roll pin punches, a specialized Bolt Catch Pin Punch is necessary to drive the Bolt Catch Roll Pin straight without damaging the surrounding metal due to its contoured design which rides over the raised portion of the magazine well.
Last, you will need to secure the Castle Nut on the Receiver Extension Tube (aka buffer tube) to prevent it from rotating and thus, you can either use Loctite or stake it with a center punch, such as the Starett 264E Center Punch. You will also need a small, combination, brass/nylon hammer to stake the Castle Nut pin and to drive the roll pins.
Besides, you will need a Stock Wrench to tighten the Receiver Extension (aka buffer tube), the Castle Nut on the Receiver Extension, as well as an AR-15 Multi-Tool to tighten the barrel nut. And, unless you are absolutely determined to make the building your AR-15 as difficult as possible, you should also purchase a Brownells Pivot Detent Installation Tool, or otherwise be prepared to spend a significant amount of time on your hands and knees looking for your detent!
Last, but not least, you will need one other essential tool called a Headspace Gauge, which is absolutely essential for positioning the barrel so that the shoulders of the chamber are precisely the right distance from the bolt face to prevent accidental case failure.
So, while you may have heard that an AR-15 rifle can be assembled with nothing more than a punch and, although that statement is essentially true, attempting to do so would be like attempting to play 18 holes of golf with nothing but a putter or a driver in your golf bag!
Consequently, although it does cost more to purchase the correct tools to do the job, having the correct tools to assemble your AR-15 makes the assembly process much easier. Plus, with only 9 tools being absolutely essential for assembling an AR-15, you will not need to purchase a 100 drawer mechanics tool chest to hold them all!