TFB Armorer's Bench: Closer Look - Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Tool

Sam.S
by Sam.S

Welcome everyone to the TFB Armorer’s Bench! As mentioned in the little blurb, this series will focus on a lot of home armorer and gunsmith activities. In this article sponsored by Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal, I decided to take a look at the Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Tool. I have little experience lapping receivers beyond a handful of bolt action rifles let alone AR15 receivers so this was mostly a first impressions sort of thing and it has been a hot second since we have done much in relation to AR-related stuff. A lot of that has to do with me planning out future “assembly/reassembly” articles since we took apart a Smith & Wesson Sport II last year. If you are curious about those aforementioned articles you can find Part One: The Lower, Part Two: The BCG, and Part Three: The Upper at their respective links. That all being said, let’s dive right into this closer look at the Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Tool!

Note: I am still compiling a list of AR15 upgrades that are common or cool to cover and demonstrate on the rather generic (and disassembled) Sport II. Please feel free to mention some in the comments!

TFB Armorer’s Bench: Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Tool

Welcome to our recurring series of Armorer’s Bench which is made possible and brought to you by Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal who are our sponsors. Here, we at TFB hope to inform, entertain, and even inspire any would-be gunsmith or armorer out there. Ideally, with the information I provide and with the help of our sponsors, you can have some useful knowledge pertaining to the conservation and improvement of firearms technology while at the same time sharing experiences and teaching each other new tips and tricks along the way in the comments. Digging deep into what it is to be an armorer or gunsmith has significance but what is important is what those people do to show they’ve earned that title. I am happy to share my experiences and knowledge and hope it is informative!

Make your personal safety a priority:

  1. Practice proper gun safety. Always make sure before the firearm hits your bench that it is unloaded and safe to be handled.
  2. Wear the proper safety equipment. The main one would be safety glasses (decent ones) since parts are often under spring tension and you may work with high RPM tools. Other honorable mentions would be latex gloves or a respirator when working with potentially harmful solvents and oils. Also hearing protection when working with loud machinery or test-firing firearms.
  3. Modifications, alterations, and customizations will void your firearm’s warranty 9.5 times out of 10. Please take that into consideration before attempting any at-home gunsmithing.
  4. If you are unsure about proper safety practices, disassembly procedures, or warranty standards, stop, put down the tools, and consult a competent gunsmith.

Brief Overview: Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Tool

The Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Tool is intended to aid in accurizing an AR15. Obviously, the addition of a free-float handguard or different barrels can help as well but with the Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Tool, some progress can be made with the stock setup. Receiver lapping is the act of truing up the front face of a receiver where it meets the rear face of the barrel. This is done with the use of a receiver tool, a drill, and some lapping compound. Barrels, by nature, are typically already precisely machined to be true on their chamber end. The same cannot be said for receivers. Yes, receivers may be machined precisely but they also have to go with a finishing process after the fact. Various finishes may cause the tolerances and or precision to change.

Specifications and Highlights: Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Tool

The Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Toolset comes with a lapping mandrel, lapping compound, and a flexible bit that threads into the mandrel and gets chucked into a handheld drill. These toolsets are available for either the AR15 or AR10. The Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Toolset also comes with a small easy-to-follow manual. It gives little tips and notes along the way which was thoughtful on their part.

  • Compatible with battery-powered or electric drill
  • Steel construction with a black oxide finish
  • Includes: Flex driver shaft, 220 grit lapping compound, steel lapping bar
  • Lapping a receiver ensures a perfectly square and true surface for the barrel to mate against, enhancing accuracy. Also, honing the surface can produce optimal positioning of barrel nut so ideal torque can be achieved along with proper gas tube hole alignment.

The current MSRP of the Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Tool for either the AR15 or AR10 tools is set at $34.99. This is a pretty fair price for the amount of material in steel alone you are getting. The lapping compound is the exact same stuff you can use for lapping scope rings or other more abrasive polishing projects.

Upper receiver/barrel alignment is critical for accuracy. Lapping the receiver ensures a perfectly square and true surface for the barrel to mate against, and produce optimal positioning of the barrel nut so ideal torque can be achieved along with proper gas tube hole alignment. Use with a battery powered or electric drill to square the receiver face on an AR-15 helps align the gas tube through the barrel nut holes, helps align front and rear A2 style sights.

Closing Thoughts: Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Tool

In conclusion, my opinion of the Wheeler AR Receiver Lapping Tool is one of both an uneducated viewpoint and skepticism. I do not think this tool is entirely necessary for the average AR. When I went to school for gunsmithing I learned about receiver lapping and to my knowledge, it is only really ever done or asked for consistently in bolt action rifles. Guns with the bare minimum number of parts and all major ones are fixed parts (barrels, receivers, etc). I am not claiming AR platforms are not accurate or worthy of being accurized. That is for you folks to debate in the comments.

My opinion is that for any old AR set up this is not worth the effort unless everything is already taken apart or you were trying to make an ultimate accurate AR build. Chances are if you are doing the latter, the quality precision parts you buy will probably already be plenty enough on their own. I am no long-range or precision shooter (just does not trip my trigger) so maybe this matters more the further you are shooting. Then again, I do not see many people using the platform for extreme long-range shooting either. Next week I plan on running down exactly how this setup works but until then please feel free to talk on the topic below in the comments! Take care and be safe out there!

Note: As of writing this, I saw that Wheeler currently is offering a Free 89 Piece Professional Screwdriver Set with $100+ Purchase.

As always, thank you for reading TFB! Be safe out there, have fun while shooting, and we will see you next time for the TFB Armorer’s Bench brought to you by Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal! Also, let us know what you think in the comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.

Pro Range Glasses, Clear

Learn more here!

The Caldwell® Pro Range Glasses feature a stylish wrap-around design and are a great choice for all shooters. They feature an adjustable nose piece and temples for all day comfort. The scratch resistant lens meets ANSI Z87.1 standards and offers 99.9% UV protection.

AR Receiver Lapping Tool

Learn more here!

Upper receiver/barrel alignment is critical for accuracy. Lapping the receiver ensures a perfectly square and true surface for the barrel to mate against, and produce optimal positioning of the barrel nut so ideal torque can be achieved along with proper gas tube hole alignment. Use with a battery powered or electric drill to square the receiver face on an AR-15 helps align the gas tube through the barrel nut holes, helps align front and rear A2 style sights.

Wheeler Delta Series Compact Multi-Tool

Learn more here!

There is no longer a need for a tool box at the range when you have the Wheeler Delta Series Compact Multi-Tool. With a satin finish and stainless steel construction, this tool is not only handy, but durable. The multi-tool design can be used to perform many different functions in the field. When you need to make adjustments, or scrape some carbon build-up, simply reach down and grab this tool out of the included nylon belt sheath and go to work. After you are finished, snap the tool back in and continue shooting.

Stainless Steel Dial Caliper

Learn more here!

Reloading ammunition requires attention to many critical cartridge dimensions, including case length, neck and base diameters, overall length, primer pocket depth, etc. Verifying these dimensions is quick and convenient with the Frankford Arsenal® Stainless Steel Calipers. These calipers are accurate to within .001″. The calipers allow you to measure inside and outside diameters, plus depths. You will find them useful for many measuring tasks on and off the reloading bench. Packaged in a convenient and protective case.

Sam.S
Sam.S

Writer | TheFirearmBlogWriter | AllOutdoor.comInstagram | sfsgunsmithOld soul, certified gunsmith, published author, avid firearm history learner, and appreciator of old and unique guns.

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2 of 14 comments
  • Joe R. Joe R. on Apr 11, 2022

    Precision "forming" of AR parts does not equal precision "coating", so I could see this system doing a little true-up in that regard. I think you need to take a Hippocratic Oath approach when it comes to removing much metal though.

    I am not thrilled with any of the internet videos shown using this device (the one above excepted) because they always seem to extract the tool when partially finished to check the 'cut' then push it back in to finish, and the cutting compound then gets pushed (and spun/ground) into the area that mates with the barrel extension. W T F?

    I think pushing the limit on accurizing everything is worth it to some extent (if you are really improving something). And IMHO greater accuracy at long ranges is 'easier' greater accuracy at short distances, and vice versa.

  • BeoBear BeoBear on Apr 16, 2022

    We did it on my most recent semi-precision 6.5 Grendel AR. Early shots shows it's shooting well but without doing the break in, then shooting a set number of rounds before lapping, then taking it apart and lapping it, then shooting the same number of rounds with the same ammo in the same conditions, it's really impossible to know if it helped or not. Personally, I think it's an easy thing to do and it might help so why not.

    I can say that my receiver was definitely not perfectly flat from the factory. It was after lapping.

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