TFB’s 2nd Day Of Christmas: Tools

TFB’s second day of Christmas may not be the most exciting category, but receiving tools as a gift has can be extremely satisfying. Whereas it is easy enough to drop $500 on ammunition, spending $20 on a single hand tool for yourself seems outrageous – even though we already know paying for quality tools is a wise investment. So why not put gunsmithing tools on your holiday gift giving (or receiving) guide to family and friends. Some are small and inexpensive enough to be stocking stuffers, other’s can be the main event.

If the list seems biased towards the AR15 platform, it’s for good reason. The modularity of these rifles make them easy enough to work on by almost anyone.* Parts supply is bountiful, relatively inexpensive and options are almost limitless. And because almost everyone owns an AR these days, information on modifications and maintenance is easy to find.

The last thing I will mention here is that for gift-giving, stick to multifunction tools that serve a wide variety of purposes. Even though we would all love to have a $400 sight pusher tool, the casual shooter may only use it once a year. On the other hand, a magnetic parts dish or non-marring vise pads can be used every time you enter the shop.

My personal go-to supplier for parts and tools is Brownells, however there are plenty of other places to source everything you may need or want this season. Have a tool supplier everyone should know about? Post it up in the comment section below. I am not beholden to any one manufacturer.

* Let’s go ahead and keep cousin Eddie away from the Dremel and all of your guns.

Dremel Rotary Tools – $50 – $200 (EST)

No, I’m not being sarcastic. Used properly and with discretion, a rotary tool like the Dremel can do anything from basic polishing to grinding and precision cutting. The poor Dremel gets a bad rap – like the guns in our safe, it’s not the tool itself that is either good or evil, it’s the person pushing the power switch.


Torque Wrench – $50-$300 (EST)

Make 2017 the year of ‘no more guesses’. Yes, you too can now torque that muzzle device to exactly 30 foot pounds.


AR Armorer’s WRENCH – $40 – $60 (EST)

Everyone who owns an AR should also own an armorer’s wrench and know how to use it properly.


Brass punches/Roll pin punches – $40 – $100 (EST)

Stop mangling pins and scratching receivers. A good set of punches that includes brass, polymer and roll pin specific options will save you from making frustrating decisions in the heat of battle. Like grabbing that finishing nail to drive home a bolt catch roll pin.


Precision DriverS – $10 – $400 (EST)

Standard big-box hand tools are fine for around the house projects, but the screws on your Browning shotgun deserve better. Whether you know it or not, even flat head screw drivers can be profiled in many different shapes. Make sure you pick the right one for the job.


Barrel Extension Support Rod – $40 (EST)

Installing flash hiders and muzzle breaks should be an easy task. Supporting an AR barrel using a extension support rod allows you to torque down on that muzzle device without putting strain on the upper or lower receivers.


BENCH block – $10-$20 (Est)

Tired of propping up a few different thicknesses of wood to hold a part in place while you work on it? Consider a punch block cheap insurance from avoidable frustration.


Dial Caliper – $30-$80

Measure twice, cut once right? But raise your hand if you have ever used your kid’s elementary school ruler to make a “precise” measurement. A solid set of calipers should be in all of our toolboxes.


TFB’s 12 Days Of Christmas:

Day 1:  Back Up IRON Sights – ‘BUIS’

Day 2: Tools

Day 3: HEaring Protection

Day 4: Rimfire Silencers

Day 5: Cleaning Kits

Day 6: First Aid And Survival





Day 11: (Non-alcoholic beer)

Day 12: (Decaf coffee)


LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Twitter: @gunboxready
Instagram: @tfb_pete


  • derpmaster

    Skip the dial caliper and get a Mitutoyo IP67 caliper. Life is too short for mediocre measurement tools.

    • Edeco

      You forget yourself, sir. That’s a Starrett you’re calling mediocre 😛

      • QuadGMoto

        When I was looking for a good caliper, I looked at the Starretts, and bought Mitutoyo (500-196-30). The Starretts are good, but they’re not that good.

        • Edeco

          Well, they’re not as colorful if that’s what you mean.

          Mostly kidding. I mean, I know Mitutoyo has the momentum now. I’m not sentimental, rather I have a soft spot for iconoclasm. But I prefer analog, because less is more between me and the part, and I see no evidence of Starrett being beat at that.

      • derpmaster

        Starrett makes fine stuff, my dial indicators are all made by them. I just like a digital caliper because it’s fast. It’s an incredible tool with millions of applications beyond guns/reloading.

        • Edeco

          Ah, ok. Yeah, confusing in retrospect, it has $30-80 up there, not sure what one gets for that

    • billyoblivion

      Plus it is impervious to dust, and can be immersed in up to 3 feet of water.

    • Disarmed in CA

      Ooh, that’s a good one. Need to do a lot more re-loading to justify that $$$

  • Major Tom

    Go go C-C-C-Chia Pet!

  • A bearded being from beyond ti

    Those punch things would be nice. So far i’ve relied on pencils or the likes.

    • roguetechie

      A good set of punches can be had for very reasonable prices if you just shop around.

  • it’s just Boris

    Remember too that you generally pay for quality when it comes to tools. Expensive doesn’t always mean good, but cheap generally means regrets.

    For instance, you can buy a plastic dial calipers for $20 and good to 0.01″ until it flexes too much. Or you can spend $5-10 more and get a stainless dial or digital caliper that gets you to 0.001 and is more durable.

  • The Dremel tool, the gunsmith’s best friend because it keeps him with plenty of work from customers with Dremel tools monkeying up their guns.

    • nova3930

      If a Dremel is your first or even 5th answer to a problem, you’re wrong….

  • AndyT

    Hockey pucks make for amazing bench blocks. They can be had for very little and with a file and or a drill you can make them do exactly what you need them to.

  • Dougscamo

    Wheeler make about the handiest torque wrench set out there….$50+/-….and it comes with an assortment of tips in a case….like you guys didn’t know that already…. 🙂
    PS….didn’t know that caliper fanboys existed…. :p

    • Russ Kell

      F.AT (Firearm Accurizing Torque) Wrench. Great little bench tool.

  • Russ Kell

    Armorer’s wrenches and roll pin punches…

    There is a LOT of junk out there, shop wisely.

  • Jake

    if I cant do it with a flathead screwdriver, than it cant be done with hand tools

    • Dougscamo

      AHH…..don’t forget the hammer….

  • Gary Kirk

    Brownell’s has the barrel extension torque tool listed at 69.99..

    Also Geissele makes one that I like better for around $100

  • Dougscamo
    • QuadGMoto

      LOL! Not just for firearms.

      But there needs to be a roll of duct tape next to it.

  • Dukeblue91

    Duct tape.
    If it can’t be fixed with duct tape and a hammer then it just can’t be fixed.

    • Steve Truffer

      Fiberfix. Fix anything short of a volcano.

    • Amanofdragons

      You’re forgetting about the wd40.

  • hking

    A hockey puck with a few holes drilled out makes a really really good $1 bench block.

  • Disarmed in CA

    barrel vise
    trigger pull weight gauge

    Is a $30 dial caliper precise enough to measure OAL to .001″?

    • Billy Jack

      Bus ticket to Arizona?

      • Disarmed in CA

        Party bus, maybe..

    • roguetechie

      Honestly we are blessed with an embarrassment of affordable measuring tool riches!

      Even the cheap stuff is pretty damn excellent these days, however I tend to recommend digital calipers over dial when helping someone build up their arsenal of tools and measurement devices…

      For personal use however I retain a mix of both digital and non digital stuff…

      I personally can’t wait for the next generation of measuring tools and some of the really cool functionality they’ll bring to the table in conjunction with stuff like autodesk inventor and next generation hobbyist grade multi machines.

  • Wolfgar

    Human Fund, I love it 🙂

  • roguetechie


    No love for the magpul bev block?

    Easily one of the best “tools” out there for the guys that ONLY own 1-3 black rifles and or who can’t dedicate an entire workbench / toolbox to gun projects!

    I waited to mention it until I ordered the last two I needed to complete my own Christmas shopping haha.