[Review] Real Avid AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit

They say there’s nothing quite like the right tool for the job.

After all, ever tried to make a Thanksgiving dinner on your dorm room hot plate? Dig a ditch with a kid’s sandbox shovel? It ain’t fun.

Needless to say, building an AR-15 without the right tools can be pretty miserable, too.

Inside the box
Inside the Real Avid AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit

Real Avid’s might have the answer with their AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit. You get a complete set of every tool you need for your next AR build, plus a bunch of really handy pieces of kit for other firearm-related projects.

So I did what comes naturally when I hear extraordinary claims, I put it to the test!

A simple project, but one that would involve tested every part of the kit – I went about building a new AR-15 using only the Real Avid kit and a vise. I won’t take you step-by-step, but I’ll give you the highlight reel from this little project–plus a whole lot more!

If you’re looking for a complete guide on how to build an AR-15, you’ll love our AR-15 Definitive Resource!

Table of Contents

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Why Real Avid?

Surprisingly, the options you have when it comes to gunsmithing tools are fairly limited. 

Finding well-made, well-designed tools built for a gun owner is a bit sparse.

Real Avid for me started with a multitool, the Gun Tool Max. The more I’ve used it, the more I liked it and the more impressed I became with the sheer quality of engineering and good sense that went into its design.

53
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Several months later, I found myself at the Real Avid booth at SHOT Show and discovered they had a whole new line of awesome products for 2019.

Their AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit caught my eye and I just had to try it out. They were nice enough to send me one so that I could do this little project of mine!

240
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Project

A complete AR-15 build using only the kit from Real Avid and a vise. The vise I’ve had for a couple of years, a Yost LV-4 Home Vise. Cheap, but effective.

Palmetto State Armory had a killer deal on their 20″ .224 Valk 1:6.5 Stainless Steel Barrel & BCG combo not long before I decided to do this project, so it seemed like the perfect thing to use for it.

And to finish things off, this gave me the perfect chance to use my PSA Space Force lower that was in need of a good home.

Space Force Lower for Real Avid Project Edited
Real Avid Armorer’s Master Kit and PSA Space Force Lower (color-filled by me)

The rest of the parts was just a Brownell’s order away:

What Comes In The Kit

A lot. Really, a whole mess of tools. Much of what is in the kit is also sold separately, but when bought together you get it all in one place and for less than you could if you got it part-by-part.

Inside the box
Inside the box

And it comes in a nice hard case.

What is really nice about this kit, other than all of the tools being well made and well thought out, is that it provides everything you need for drop-in AR-15s and free-float AR-15s.

It doesn’t matter what kind of rifle you’re building, you can build it with this set.

Heres a list of the tools you get:

  • Armorer’s Master Wrench
  • Lug-Lok Upper Vise Block
  • Smart-Fit AR-15 Lower Vise Block
  • AR-15 Master Bench Block
  • Torque Wrench
  • Easy-Grip Handguard Tool
  • AR-15 Pivot Pin Tool
  • AR-15 Pin Punch Set
  • Accu-Grip Picks
  • Bore Illuminator/Safety Flag
  • A1 & A2 Front Sight Adjuster Tool
  • Hard Case

Of these, there was a few that I simply didn’t use, such as the picks, safety flag, sight adjuster, and the handguard tool.

My build didn’t require any of them so they were left unused. I did handle them a good bit though, they feel sturdy and workable as does everything else.

Best Real Avid AR-15 Tools

To go part by part and step by step would require more words than you would be willing to read and I am willing to type. So we’re going to just stick to the important parts and the impressive bits.

Orvile Important Parts

All of the tools in the kit I used were solid, well made, and did what I hoped they would. But several of them stand out as being the stars of the show.

Armorer’s Master Wrench

Right off the bat–the name doesn’t come close to telling you everything that it does, mostly because it just does it all.

Best Armorer's Multi-Tool
70
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It’s a hammer, a muzzle device wrench, a handguard wrench, a bit for the torque wrench, and an alignment tool all in freaking one!

As a hammer, it’s decently hefty, much more gravity to it than my normal tap hammer. For an AR-15 build, that it’s not bad but for the little pins, it can be more difficult to work with than a dedicated tap hammer. Good enough for an AR build, but it wouldn’t be my one and only hammer if I was going to work more than just ARs.

A really nice thing is the removable hammer heads that are stored in the handle of the hammer plus an extra set in the hard case.

Hammer-Head Real Avid
Removable and storable hammer heads

A common theme I’m going to mention is that these tools are well thought out and that starts with these hammer heads.

What sets them apart from other’s I’ve had is that they not only screw onto the hammer itself, but they also screw into their storage compartments both in the hammer’s handle and in the hard case.

This makes it basically impossible for them to fall out and that’s nice when you’re swinging this around.

Hammer time
Can’t Touch This

Lug-Lok Upper Vise Block

This doesn’t seem like a very impressive thing at first glance, but after using it I have to say that out of the 4 upper vise blocks I own–this is my new favorite.

Upper Vise Low
Upper Vise Block in a “Low” setting

Basically, a rod with a star chamber lug on one end and a flat bit at the other. What is cool about this vise block is that you can adjust the angle that it sits using two pins. The pins also store nicely in the block when you’re done using it.

80
at OpticsPlanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

I never thought about changing the angle of my block before because with my other vise blocks that isn’t an option. But now that I have that freedom… it’s awesome.

Upper Vise High
Upper Vise in a “High”

Taking the upper off and on the block is super easy too, another option I never had before. This came in handy when my handguard decided to strip a screw and I needed to get creative with my approach to the problem…

Smart-Fit AR-15 Lower Vise Block

I didn’t really find the lower vise block to be as impressive as the upper vise block. Don’t get me wrong, it works and works nicely–I just didn’t find it’s extra features to be all that helpful.

“Smart-Fit” is marketing for “adjustable.” Using the bottom screw/handle you can adjust the vise block to turn a screw that mechanically expands the vise block in all directions.

Unnecessary
The locking isn’t bad, it’s just kind of… why?

Doing this gives you a really good tight fit in the magazine well. It feels positive, has nice loud clicks as you turn the adjustment knob, and does it’s intended job well… I just didn’t really feel a need for it.

26
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

I like it, I think it will become my go-to lower vise block, but I don’t think I’ll really ever use the adjustment knob that much. I’ll set it for a “good enough” middle ground and leave it there.

AR-15 Master Bench Block

More engineering went into this bench block alone than some rifles get. It basically does everything at once all the time.

28
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Need to hammer a bolt catch pin in? This block has a spot for it. Need to completely disassemble a bolt? This block has spots for every step of the process.

Bench-Block-and-Pins
Bench Block and Pins

Thankfully, Real Avid gives you a booklet that covers how to use this block because otherwise, I don’t think I would have ever worked out what goes where.

Once you do know how to use it, the block is really handy.

AR-15 Pivot Pin Tool

Do you need a pivot pin tool? I think if you asked 10 random AR hobbyists at least 8 of them would say “No.” I myself would have said no, too, before I used one.

I have big hands and big fingers. Doing small pin work is annoying at best for me and rage-inducing at worst.

Hulk smash tank
Ya, that’s how it feels.

Normally, installing pivot pins is somewhere in the middle.

Pivot Pin Tool - Spring
Step 1: load the spring and pin in

 

Pivot Pin Tool - Flag Up
Step 2: plunge them down, turn the flag, install pin – done!

On average I would guess that this part of the build takes me maybe 5-10 minutes and at least 5 muttered curses, mostly because my fingers have a hard time holding on to the small stupid pins.

20
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Using the pivot pin tool it took me about 30 seconds, I didn’t drop anything, I didn’t wish a pox on anyone, and I actually smiled after getting it installed.

Real Avid Punches

A good pin punch set should be a standard part of anyone’s workshop. You can get any random one–or you can get a good one.

choosewiselymeme

Once again, Real Avid sets themselves apart by taking a normal tool and just plus-ing it up a bit.

The punches are solid, beefy, well made, I didn’t bend a single one (the same can’t be same for all of the punches I’ve used in the past). But then there is that extra something even a simple punch can do.

Cut away Punch

Take a close look. See how half of the punch is ground down? That doesn’t seem awesome, but it is.

Because the punch is designed this way you can get RIGHT in there on an AR-15 when using it.

Cut away punch used

For something like getting the bolt catch pin installed, this is awesome. Instead of attacking the pin at a slight angle, like my other punches force me to do, I can set the punch directly over the pin and get the full force of the hammer down on top.

40
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

This one change to a simple punch has made installing bolt catches noticeably faster and easier.

Tweezers

These are magical. I have big hands and as anyone with big hands can tell you, small roll pins suck.

Rollpin Pinchers
Roll Pin Pinchers pinching a Roll Pin

These tweezers aren’t normal, the pinching end is sized for roll pins to hold them tight enough they don’t fall but loose enough they aren’t under a vise grip.

AND they have a clamping lock that snaps closed in the handle so you don’t have to death grip them!

Hard Case

It’s a case. It’s hard. There isn’t much to say about it except that it was well made, sturdy, and was actually really handy to use as a mini-holder for all of my small parts.

I’m not sure if Real Avid did that on purpose, but it was handy either way.

Space Force Lower for Real Avid Project Edited

I tend to judge companies harshly based on the case that they do or don’t provide. I like a good case. A good case isn’t that hard to make or that pricey.

But sooo many brands decide to make a great product and then REALLY cheap out on the case that comes with it (cough, Beretta, cough).

I’m glad that even when it comes to something simple like their case, Real Avid didn’t disappoint me.

Who Is It For?

This is clearly designed for someone who is just starting in the AR-15 world. If you’ve never built an AR-15 before or if you’re on your 2nd or 3rd build and don’t have a well-stocked workshop yet, then this kit is a great “do-all” starting point.

Real Avid also throws in a nice booklet covering a bunch of how-tos on building your AR-15.

Booklet Edited
Booklet that is actually helpful and has good pictures. I was shocked, honestly.

This not only details how to use the kit, but also covers a bunch of upgrades and mods you might make to your rifle. Directions are well written and have full-color pictures!

Instructions
See? Told you it was a good booklet!

Assuming everything goes right in your build, this should have everything you need–barring unforeseen complications.

A vise and this kit will get you through 99% of builds, assuming you’re doing a fairly standard build or at least have anything weird (such as proprietary barrel nut wrenches) provided by the brands you buy them from.

Cons?

Three things, to my mind, are missing from this kit. A set of Allen keys, grease, and Loctite.

5
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Not all AR-15 builds use Hex head screws for the handguard, but almost all of the ones I’ve built have. A set of keys in the kit would have been nice, but I can understand why it was omitted.

Grease and Loctite on the other hand really should be in the kit. A tin of Aeroshell 33ms and a bottle of Loctite is, in my opinion, needed to complete any AR-15 build.

9
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Other than that, for this project, the kit would have had everything I needed… if it wasn’t for the FM Products Ultra Light Monolithic Upper and Handguard I decided to try.

If everything had gone to plan, I would have only been missing an Allen key and Aeroshell.

Sadly, FM Products decided to use really soft metal in their screws and I stripped one with barely finger tight pressure. This lead to the need for a flathead, hack saw, WD-40, and an hour of my life.

However, since that was a complication due to the exact handguard I used, it isn’t reflective of the tool kit itself.

But it does highlight something: this kit is (nearly) perfect if everything goes to according to plan

Plans

Pros!

99% of what you need to build an AR-15 is in one easy to use, well made, and ready to go kit. That… is awesome.

Thumbs up

All of the tools are well made and well-engineered. Attention was paid to the details and every piece was clearly designed and produced by people that not only know tools but they know how to build ARs.

Nearly every item in the kit that I used is now my default favorite for its job and I’ve already used most of the kit for several other smaller projects.

Finished Space Force Rifle
Finished Space Force Rifle

This brings me to one final point–while designed for AR platform rifles, the kit covers a LOT of basic firearm tools that you will find very helpful for other projects.

The Armorer’s Master Wrench and Punch Set are particularly notable for the wide range of applications they will find.

VG6 Episilon

And The Builds Go On…

I started this as a project to finish one build from start to end, but after using the tools for the one build I decided that I wanted to give them a longer run before writing my thoughts on it.

6.5 Grendel Build
6.5 Grendel AR built for coyotes and deer

Over the next several months I completed 4 more AR-15 builds, a Glock build, and customized/changed/tweaked another 5 non-AR rifles–all using tools from this kit.

HD AR
One of the iteration of my Home Defense AR

The more I’ve used it, the more I like it. Every single tool and bit has worked perfectly and surpassed my expectations.

Long term durability is looking good also, the most worn of the set is by far the upper vise block

Upper Vise Used
Upper Vise looking a little used, but still going strong

But most of the wear is cosmetic so far. Streaks and wear marks, but no scratches or gouges.

The star chamber lugs are definitely worn and a bit beat, but there is no peening, chipping, or anything that might damage the chamber lugs.

Upper Vise Used - Lugs
Upper Vise after heavy use – Lugs

All of the firearms I’ve worked on have been outstanding. Every build has proven to be reliable and lacking in nothing due to the building process.

HD Glock
My still in progress optics carry Glock 19 with Apex Trigger, Brownells Slide, Faxon Barrel, and Holosun optic

Plus, building and modifying things have become markedly quicker and easier thanks in large part to the nice features and design from Real Avid.

By The Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

Nothing broke, nothing stripped due to the tools, nothing gave me a single issue even after lots of builds and several months of hard use.

Ergonomics: 5/5

The grips are grippy, the handles are a bit large and that fits my hands really well (if you have small hands, some of these might be a bit on the beefy side), and nothing felt undersized or lacking.

No annoying finger groves or weirdly sized palm swells to be found!

Looks: 3/5

Maybe it’s the old fashioned back-on-the-farm mentality about tools I inherited from my cabinet maker grandfather, but flashy tools aren’t my thing. Flashy tools are normally low quality and are just more likely to get stolen by people that don’t know a good tool when they see it.

Real Avid clearly makes awesome tools that are high quality, but they are just a bit flashy for my arbitrary aesthetic taste.

However, if you want your vise block to look awesome in the background of those glamour pictures you’re taking of your newly finished build–these do look good.

Bang for the Buck: 5/5

Value delivered will depend a little on you and your tool sets. If you have a mostly finished workshop, you might be better off just picking up one or two of the standalone tools that Real Avid offers to round out what you need.

(I HIGHLY recommend the upper vise block, armorer’s wrench, and pin/punch set)

But if you are toolless or this is your first AR build or maybe this is just your first time working on guns vs. working on other things like home improvement or cars, then the AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit is outstanding.

This kit offering you an almost one-stop-shop for AR tools is a major boon for a new AR builder.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Parting Shots

Are you looking to start your first AR build and need to equip your workshop? This kit is perfect.

Are you working on your 2nd+ build and want some really good purpose-built tools? This kit might be for you too.

240
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

After well over a hundred hours of use, 5 AR-15 builds, and a whole lot more little projects–it’s safe to say that Real Avid tools won’t let you down.

Do you have a favorite toolkit? Let us know about it in the comments! Need a guide to follow for your next AR-15 build? We got you covered: Ultimate Lower Guide, Ultimate Upper Guide

5 Leave a Reply

  • Aiden

    Actually that would be handguns

    1 second ago
  • Michael Vandergriend

    Does that bench block work for dpms style ar10s?

    1 month ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      No, it is sized for AR-15s only.

      1 month ago
  • Pete Cannata

    David, I would trade out the Loctite for Vibratight thread locker. Much better and the screw once treated can be removed and replaced up to 5 times without having to be reapplied. And it won’t vibrate loose, it makes like a gasket around the valley of the thread and it won’t come out unless you want it out!

    1 month ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      Haven't tried anything other than Loctite, I'll give Vibratight a look though - sounds interesting!

      1 month ago
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