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Best AR-15 Build Tools to Help You Get Started

If you’re looking to build or customize a rifle that looks and shoots exactly how you want it to, you’re not going to find a better gun than the AR-15.  

With a seemingly endless supply of upgrades at your fingertips, modding or building your AR-15 from the ground up has never been easier.

Modded AR-15s
Modded AR-15s

For the most part, modding or building your AR-15 from the ground up is relatively simple and straightforward.  And best of all, most of the tools needed for the job are probably lying around in your toolbox already.  

And if this your first time building an AR-15, make sure to take a look at our list of essential gunsmithing tools to see if you’ve got everything to get started.

Today, we’re going to look at…

  • Vise blocks
  • Pin punches
  • Wrenches
  • Tool kits
  • Screw kits

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the best AR-15 build tools designed to make gunsmithing easy and convenient.

Brownells Upper and Lower Vise Blocks

When assembling your AR-15, it’s important that you use vise blocks to clamp your receiver halves together without damaging or distorting your upper and lower receiver.

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

There are a number of different vise blocks available on the market, but the advantage of going with Brownells is that you’re able to get two high quality products without having to pay an exorbitant amount of money.  

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The lower vise block will run you about $50, while the upper receiver block costs roughly $60.  Brownells also has the two vise blocks available together for $80, which is a hell of a mark down if you want the pair.

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Both blocks are made from a heavy duty urethane plastic that’s strong enough to withstand pressure from your bench vise while also keeping your upper and lower receiver protected from damage.

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Sporting Conversions Takedown Pin Tool

A takedown pin tool is built form a heavy duty plastic that’s strong enough to remove takedown pins without damaging your gun.  It’s also helpful for installing your magazine catch without marring or scuffing up your lower receiver’s metal, because it lets you push the mag release back far enough so that you’re able to install your mag catch without any issues.

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Rock River Arms AR-15 Stock Wrench

The stock wrench is a basic spanner tool designed to make tightening and loosening castle nuts on your receiver quick and convenient.  The wrench is created to give a firm grip on the nut in three places, making it easier to exercise control over the nut without causing any damage.  

The Stock Wrench is a pretty straightforward tool, so don’t expect any fancy gadgets to be included.  The tool serves only one purpose, but it’s its convenient size and non-slip rubber handle make it better for tightening and loosening nuts than a regular spanner.  

Plus, it makes a great lightweight tool to carry around in your range bag.

Brownells AR-15 Armorer’s Wrench

Know how the Stock Wrench was a purely functional gunsmithing tool designed to get the job done more easily?  Well, if you’re not about living that minimalist lifestyle and want the Swiss Army Knife of wrenches, the AR-15 Armorer’s Wrench is right up your alley.  

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

As you can see, this wrench is significantly thicker than the Stock Wrench.  That’s because the Armorer’s Wrench is built for work.  This heavy duty tool is strong enough to withstand heavy use without breaking or bending, but is delicate enough to protect your gun from scuffs and scratches while handling stock and pin-style barrel nuts.

Magpul AR-15 Armorer’s Wrench

The Magpul Armorer’s Wrench is for when you want the Cadillac of spanners.  

Best Armorer's Wrench
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

This sturdy wrench is designed to maximize grip and comfort.  Just like the other armorer’s wrench, it works with both pin and stock-style barrel nuts, is compatible with standard-sized muzzle suppressors, and is able to tightly grasp castle nuts without causing damage to the nut.

Oh, and you can also open bottle caps with it, which is great for cracking open a cold one after you finish working on your build.

Overall, when it comes to armorer’s wrenches, it’s the quality and durability that makes the Magpul wrench stand out from the rest.  You can expect to put this thing to endless work with numerous builds without issue.

Brownells AR-15 Critical Tools Kit

The critical tools kit is perfect for the first-time gunsmith who has taken an interest in learning how to build or modify their AR-15.  

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Just like its name suggests, the critical tools kit come with all of the essential tools that you will need in order to work on your rifle, such as…

  • Brownell’s AR-15 armorer’s wrench
  • A lower receiver vise block
  • An upper receiver action vise block
  • Two pivot pin tools
  • A pin punch for your bolt catch

What really makes this tool kit awesome is its value.  For less than $100, you get a premium set of tools that will help you get started with your build.  That’s cheaper than most people will pay just for the two vise blocks!

Wheeler Engineering Delta Series AR-15 Ultra Armorer’s Kit

If you’re looking for everything you could possibly need in a gunsmithing toolbox Wheeler Engineering’s Ultra Armorer’s Kit has got you covered.  

This heavy duty tool kit is filled with literally everything you need to build, modify, or maintain your AR-15.  In fact, one of the selling points of this kit is that it enables you to perform more than 50 different types of operations when working on your AR-15.  

The kit comes with a number of useful tools, including:

  • A bench vise for your AR-15
  • Vise blocks for your upper and lower receiver
  • Combo tool for torqueing and tightening nuts
  • Pivot and roll pin installation tool
  • A workplace mat to keep your AR-15 parts protected
  • Delta ring tool
  • Bore guide
  • Bolt carrier, bore, chamber, and magazine brushes
  • Custom carry case for your tools

As you can see, the Ultra Armorer’s Kit is one of the most comprehensive set of gunsmithing tool sets on the market.  All of the tools are built with to be durable and easy to use, and are able to withstand heavy usage without any problems.

Wheeler Engineering AR-15 Armorer’s Essential Kit

If you don’t want to spend nearly 300 bucks on gunsmithing tools, but you still want to make sure that you’ve got everything you need to start your AR-15 build, Wheeler’s Essential Kit might be right for you.

This tool set is perfect for beginners and for people who’ve got some gunsmithing tools lying around already.  It comes with all of the heavy duty instruments that you need to build your AR-15 or modify the one you’ve already got. 

Each kit includes the following items:

  • An AR-15 combo tool for different types of bolts
  • A torque wrench
  • Vise blocks for your upper and lower receivers
  • Pivot and roll pin instillation tools

Additionally, the tool set also comes with a durable bag to carry around your tools and keep them protected from the elements.  And while the Essential Kit isn’t quite as comprehensive as the Ultra toolset, its tools are made with the same heavy duty design that’s built for longevity and maximum usage.

Multitasker Twist AR-15 Tool

The multitasker twist tool is a screwdriver multi-tool designed to help make maintenance and optics adjustments quick and easy.  This compact tool is the size of a pen, making it easy to carry around in your pocket or in your range back.  

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Features include:

  • 10 different bit heads
  • Adjuster for your Aimpoint sight
  • 3/32” pin punch
  • Pocket clip

While not a necessity for building your AR-15, this tool certainly is handy you’re trying to clean or adjust sights.  The tool also comes in a sleek black finish, but for about $10 more, you can get a desert camouflage tool instead.  

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Whelp, that’s our list of best AR-15 build tools to help you get started with your rifle.

As you can see, building or modding your AR-15 is a complex process.  For this reason, it’s always a good idea to come up with a tool checklist before starting your build.  That way, you don’t have to worry about stopping midway just because you forgot to buy a pin punch set or something.  

Also, if you’d like to learn more about building your first AR-15, Glock, or a variety of other popular guns, make sure to check out our build guides to learn a little but about gunsmithing.  

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9 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Jon. E.T. Miller

    Dang y'all high as the cost of your tools. Jett I

    March 8, 2021 1:00 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Nate G.

    Do you recommend a particular torque wrench?

    June 21, 2019 8:46 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Timothy J

    Holy cow Brandon must think every bodies loaded. You don’t need half that stuff to build an AR. And if you want to buy it you can get that stuff way cheaper at CDNN sporrts or DVOR. While I know these guys are writing for click rebates no need to get ripped off.

    January 22, 2018 8:05 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Thomas J Smith

      I agree... and Brownell's prices for vise blocks is unreal! The lower block is crap IMHO... it doesn't lock into the lower without wrapping it w electrical tape.. There are much better blocks out there..

      October 17, 2019 11:39 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Would you mind sending me a list of tools needed to built one. I am actually looking to built one from the ground up. Putting the upper and the lower. If you dont mind?

      October 7, 2020 3:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    You forgot to include the superior "Geissele" reaction rod and block. When Brownells has a sale on Geissele products, along with free S/H, Geissele tools are very price competitive with other AR brand tools. Geissele is second to none in design. function and quality.

    January 22, 2018 4:48 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Nobody special

      You can get the same thing for $56 thru Botach on their ebay page. It's the same thing just don't have Giselle name on it.

      January 28, 2018 9:27 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I believe you left off Magpuls BevBlock. Approx 50.00 you can work on Upper and Lower plus Barrel.. Its a good starting tool

    January 21, 2018 6:54 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      That's new to me...might need to check it out!

      February 13, 2018 8:15 pm
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