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A Beginners Guide to Building an AR15 Part 3


You are going to need a clean place where you are not going to lose things!  Consider a real avid smart mat or something similar.  If you are bad about losing small parts, get a large clear bag and assemble those springs and detents etc. while inside the bag!  Always wear eye protection.

Tool Mats like those from Real Avid can be very helpful during assembly


A quality vice with an upper and lower vice block are going to come in handy.  I highly recommend you also have a reaction rod. The reaction rod offered by Real Avid (“LUG-LOK UPPER VISE BLOCK) and Geissele Automatics can be a real life saver for loosening and tightening barrels!

Real Avid “LUG-LOK” Upper Vise Block. This style of upper vise block keeps you from placing pressure on your upper where you can cause damage.
A Geissele Automatics Reaction Rod in a Vise for use with your AR15 upper. All of the twist is applied to your barrel lugs and not the upper itself.


Barrel nut wrench specific to what you are building.  Armorer’s Wrench, 5/64 roll pin punch, 5/64 standard punch, 3/32 roll pin punch, 3/16 standard punch, 1/16 Allen key, 9/64 Allen key, t15 Torx key, 19mm wrench. Mallet with nylon head and brass head.  Pivot pin tool.

I’m a huge fan of the Real Avid Armorer’s Master Kit for the AR15. Instead of searching out all the little tools needed to build or customize your AR15, you buy once, cry once with these quality and innovative tools that make the job of assembly much easier.

Real Avid’s Armorer’s Master Kit – AR15. This kit of Master Grade Tools and how-to information helps equip you to confidently tackle everything from building your own gun from the ground up to customizing or modifying an existing gun. It comes in a professional tool case to keep all your tools accounted for and can travel with you.


You are going to need some basic tools in addition to the specialty tools. Having these tools within reach when you begin will keep you from running to the hardware store or out to the garage tool box.

A Torque wrench, large standard screwdriver, anti-seize, lubricant, blue painters tape, an adjustable “Crescent” wrench, filings sets, a fine tipped black permanent marker (to help with gas block alignment), and a good pair of needle nose pliers will be handy.


A pair of high-quality safety glasses is a must when assembling an AR15. You are going to be dealing with little springs and detents that, especially when new to you, can be easily launched across the room or into your eye. If your vision isn’t what it used to be, try a pair of safety glasses from SSP Eyewear. They have a Top Focal AST Kit that has magnification placed in them. When you’re not assembling your rifle, you can use these glasses to help you shoot like your younger self with “Top Focal” magnification.

Stay Focused with SSP EYEWEAR

Speaking of launching parts, if you aren’t positive that you’ll put the spring/detent in correctly the first time and don’t want to spend time on your hands and knees searching with a flashlight, try placing your parts into a large clear plastic garbage bag while you’re assembling so you don’t lose things!

Have you built or assembled an AR before? If so, what tools did you find helpful that we didn’t list? Share your ideas and let us know what you found to be needed.

Are you just finding this series of articles? If you are, be sure you check out Part 1 and Part 2.

About the Author /

Heath has been a law enforcement officer in the Great Pacific Northwest since 1993 and trains as a pistol and rifle instructor for both law enforcement and civilians. He also serves as an advanced armorer on pistols and rifles. If you're looking for training or would like to contact him, he can be reached at

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