Real Avid is known for delivering clever solutions for the DIY gun enthusiast. If you are into building and modifying AR-15s, their Master Armorer’s Kit has the tools you need all rolled into one.
by Rob Reaser
There’s no question that the AR-15 platform has fundamentally altered the firearms landscape. By far America’s most popular long gun, the AR-15’s inherent modularity is credited for giving rise to the greatest aftermarket explosion the shooting industry has ever seen. With its universal core component design and easy to work on nature (compared to its arch rival, the AKM), the AR-15 is a rifle that anyone with skosh of mechanical aptitude can work on, modify, and even build from a box of parts on their garage bench.
Name another rifle platform that allows you to do that.
Although the AR-15 is quite the plug-and-play firearm, allowing you to change pretty much everything you want, doing so efficiently and conveniently is greatly assisted by having the proper tools for the job. There are, in fact, a few specialty tools that make the job of building, modifying, or maintaining an AR-15 a whole lot easier — barrel nut wrench, vise blocks…one of the biggies is a bolt vise. Then there are the assorted flat punches, roll pin punches, bench block, torque wrench…you get the idea.
Last year, the folks at Real Avid — a Minnesota-based company with a strong yen for developing innovative tools to make life easier on the do-it-yourself firearm enthusiast — came out with a “why didn’t someone think of that before” product directly aimed at the AR-15 crowd.
Called the AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit, this tidy bundle of must-have, great-to-have, and I-didn’t-know-I-needed-to-have tools puts the complete scope of AR-15 building, servicing, and modifying essentials all in one place. That’s great all by itself. Making a good thing even better is that all these tools come packaged in a uniquely molded case, where every tool and tool set has its own stay-put recess. Forget the box of loose tools or the, “Where did I put my…?” It’s all there and that’s where it all stays until you’re ready for your next project.
We acquired the Real Avid AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit shortly after it came available, and have been putting it to good use on several projects we’ve been working on over the last few months (pandemic quarantining has a way of creating time for those “been meaning to…” projects).
Right off, we were impressed with the thought and engineering that went into this product. Most, if not all, of the tools are Real Avid’s designs, so this is not some box of assembled tools gathered from multiple manufacturers and pitched as a unique kit. Furthermore, there are tools that you will find nowhere else outside of the Real Avid realm.
The first one we used just happened to be the included AR15 Master Bench Block. Needing to disassemble a bolt to do a headspace check on a new barrel installation, we reached for the Master Bench Block and were absolutely delighted. The block is molded to accept the bolt and includes an integrated ejector pusher, making disassembly of the bolt a cinch. Pretty much everything that you need to do to an AR that requires support for pin driving you’ll find here. The block face even includes the names of the parts and the size of the pins to be used for those parts. That eliminates the guesswork of which punch to use.
Another big plus are the magnets embedded in the block. When you drive out a pin, the magnets grab the pin so it doesn’t roll away. Sure beats crawling around on the floor with a flashlight, trying to find those runners.
The Bench Block also provides that “third hand” we sometimes need. A perfect example is the upper receiver recess. The AR’s spring-loaded forward assist is secured by a roll pin. The problem is, it’s tough to hold a hammer in one hand, hold a small roll pin in another, and simultaneously push in on the forward assist while driving home the pin. As you can see here, the bench block pushes in on the forward assist, providing the necessary clearance for the pin and leaving both hands free to install it. Very nice.
The Master Bench Block serves many functions, more so than a conventional AR bench block, and it eliminates the need for expensive, one-off tools, such as a bolt vise.
To install and remove the many pins found in an AR-15, the AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit comes with all the essential punches (flat-face and roll pin), a pin alignment tool, and roll pin tweezers. All of it stows in molded holders, making it easy to keep everything together.
For the hammer side of the equation, Real Avid incorporates that into the multi-purpose Armorer’s Master Wrench. The kit comes with six hammer faces (2 nylon, 2 brass, and 2 rubber) that screw onto the end of the wrench. The combination is heavy enough to drive those tough pins, yet the long handle lets you position your hand so you can ease up on the leverage when a lighter touch is needed.
Also included in the kit is a deflection torque wrench, which is required for properly torquing barrel nuts, muzzle devices, and receiver extension nuts. Of course, the torque wrench fits to the armorer’s wrench.
Another one of those nifty solutions we’ve been talking about is the Armorer’s Master Kit’s Lug-Lok upper vise block. Instead of a clamshell-type vise block traditionally used to secure an upper receiver to a bench vise, the Lug-Lok inserts into the receiver to engage the barrel lugs. Use it to torque barrel nuts, muzzle devices, or, as seen here, to install a handguard. Two pins included with the Lug-Lok allow for angle adjustments in the bench vise and help keep the Lug-Lok in position. A machined lock knob prevents receiver rotation.
Yet another included bench tool is the Smart-Fit Vise Block. This one is for the lower receiver. Like conventional lower receiver vise blocks, it fits into the mag well. The difference is that it is adjustable, allowing you to eliminate the slop and wobble typical of one-piece vise blocks.
While the Smart-Fit Vise Block is ideal for building a lower receiver assembly, it’s also useful for maintenance and modification work. Here, we’re using the block to install a TRUGLO Omnia 6 scope on our Anderson Manufacturing .300 BLK upper receiver at a comfortable work height.
The Smart-Fit Vise Block is not the end of the innovative tools included in the Armorer’s Master Kit. Another is the Pivot Lock.
The Pivot Lock engages the takedown pin hole in the upper receiver and accepts the lower receiver takedown pin. When the rifle is supported in the Smart-Fit Vise Block and the Pivot Lock is installed, the upper receiver is held securely in a muzzle-down attitude, allowing easy cleaning of the barrel.
One final tool in the Armorer’s Master Kit worth mentioning is the AR15 Pivot Pin Tool. This three-piece device makes easy work of depressing the pivot pin detent pin and spring into the lower receiver while installing the pivot pin. This is not a required tool for this operation, but if you’ve ever had a detent pin and spring to eject from the lower receiver, never to be seen again, you’ll welcome the help.
Modifying an AR your way, or even building one from scratch, is straightforward stuff with the right instruction, patience, and a willingness to learn. That process is made even easier if you have all the right tools for the job within easy reach. From our experience over the last few months, the Real Avid Armorer’s Master Kit fits the bill for the DIY enthusiast.