If you take your firearm DIY work seriously, Real Avid has intelligent options for all your benchwork needs.
by Bob Campbell
When it comes to precision work, the poor craftsman often blames his tools. There is no excuse for marring a fine firearm by using improper tools. Recently, I replaced several of the hand tools on my work bench with an upgrade from Real Avid. Some of my old tools were hobbled by lost parts, bits and screwdriver heads that were bent or chipped, and even some that picked up corrosion.
When you are working with handguns, proper tools make the job much easier. This is particularly true when dealing with revolvers. Revolvers have side plate screws and grip screws to deal with. Old-school self-loaders have grip screws and grip screw bushings to deal with. On the other hand, modern pistols such as the GLOCK demand a unique set of tools to disassemble, maintain, and to modify the handgun properly. And since gunsmiths seem difficult to find or are often more overworked than ever, “do-it-yourself” has become the answer for many enthusiasts. The GLOCK is easy to work with and reliable. Replacing a trigger group demands only a punch set. Changing a barrel is easier, and fitting sights isn’t difficult with the proper punch set or sight tool. The GLOCK is more easily modified than the 1911 and has equaled the 1911 in modifications and custom potential.
Let’s look at some of my upgrades and consider if these might find a good home on your work bench as well.
For GLOCK owners, one of the most useful tools in the Real Avid catalog is the 4-In-1 Tool. This nifty device features several tools required for GLOCK disassembly. The package is compact (important on a crowded bench) and affordable. The tool features red anodized buttons that are pressed to quickly deploy the tool you need. Among the most useful components of the tool is the 3/16-inch hex driver. I use this often when fitting GLOCK front sights. This is a steady demand at every shop and the tool works well. A welcome feature is that the 3/16 hex driver is magnetized, which helps you position that small front sight screw.
Many aftermarket sights use a .050-inch Allen wrench to adjust windage. With the Allen wrench attachment of the 4-In-1 tool, these sights may be easily adjusted.
A few months ago, I took a job on a GLOCK and did not have a 3mm pin punch. This punch is a requisite for disassembly of all GLOCK handguns and the 4-In-1 tool includes this needful item, along with a slot-head screwdriver.
When I began working on firearms more than forty years ago, I quickly learned the importance of having the proper tools. I made mistakes, marred screws, and mishandled bushings from using tools not intended for the job. It has been a long time since I made these amateur mistakes. Patience and the proper tools are the key to success in working with firearms. That is why the tools need to be updated and replaced from time to time. The proper tool for each job is necessary. If you have more than one firearm, you need several tools to cover all applications.
Not long ago, I was tasked to repair a revolver and find an original grip set and grip screws. One of the grip screws cost $17.25. I am often amused that shooters spend a ton of money on their firearms, holsters, and ammunition yet seldom spend the necessary money on maintenance. This includes spending money on purposely designed tools for use on firearms, not cheap junk from a chain store.
Work on enough guns and you’ll eventually discover screws that never seem to fit with your available screwdriver heads. That’s why you can never have enough tools in a wide range of sizes — less chance of damaging a firearm. Real Avid has a solution for that called the Smart Drive 90.
Like the top-grade tool sets I used to work on Chevy engines, the Smart Drive 90 comes with two handles. One of these will take care of most chores we run across, but another is specific for those hard-to-reach screws. This short handle works well for trigger guard screws and can be attached to the larger handle should you need more leverage.
The kit’s working load includes eighty-seven bits made from black oxide-coated tool steel. These bits will fit most anything you will run across. I used the set on the trigger guard screws of a Cimarron Lightning the first day the set was delivered. These screws are notoriously soft in Uberti-produced revolvers and easily stripped. I placed the bit into the driver, tapped it in place, and broke loose the screws cleanly without any difficulty. When you have the right tools, you are more likely to perform the necessary field stripping, maintenance, and occasional detail stripping.
It is important to understand the difference between hollow ground and standard slot-head screwdriver bits. Many gunsmiths are proud to have screwdrivers they have ground themselves. Lacking a grinding wheel and a few decades experience, most folks are better off using a driver kit like the Smart Drive 90 that is properly designed for the job.
I examined the Real Avid screwdriver tips under magnification. The sides of the tip are parallel, which is exactly what you want for gun work. You don’t want the usual tapered slot-head bits. A tapered slot-head bit will not fit square and flush in a firearm’s screw slot because these screws slots are not tapered—they run parallel. Hardware store screwdriver sets will slip because they are tapered, causing damage to the screw heads and possibly the work piece.
The Smart Drive 90 kit contains the most commonly encountered slot, Phillips, Hex and Torx bits needed for gunwork. Another cool feature is the LED light integrated into the larger driver handle. It works well for shedding light into those dark recesses. Additional features include a scope turret adjustment tool, a magnetic parts tray, and metric and standard parts bits.
The next item up is the Smart Handgun Mat. I have used desk blotters, towels, and other gear in the past. Few have worked exceptionally well, and you certainly don’t want to use a bench without a covering. The Smart Handgun Mat addresses all the important issues. The material is non-slip on the back and keeps parts in place on a flat surface. I especially like the parts tray supplied with the 19×16-inch mat. Take down the firearm and place the parts in the side tray for safe keeping. With most mats, you would need a separate box.
I also ordered the Accu-Punch hammer and punch set. We all need one of these. Several years ago, I ordered a brass punch set. The first time I put a hammer to it, a punch bent. The Accu-Punch set is affordable yet made of good material. Ten hardened punches are included, along with a hammer with interchangeable steel, brass, rubber, and nylon heads. The punches are ringed with rubber to provide a grip. The grip is good and I enjoy using the hammer for close work. Also included is a pin alignment tool, which helps in aligning those really small pins.
Another Real Avid product that solves a lot of maintenance problems is the Master Cleaning Station. The Cleaning Station contains tools that will clean bore, breech, and action. The attached storage box is a good design and the pieces are well laid out. I have seen cleaning kits thrown together a piece at a time in a cardboard box. This simply leads to frustration. With the Master Cleaning Station, the parts are labeled, accessible, and they are secure when stored. There is also an integrated non-slip cleaning mat, allowing the entire Cleaning Station to be easily rolled up and stored between use.
A last item I tested is the Real Avid Smart Bench Block. From a revolver action pin to a 1911 handgun’s barrel link, we need a solid surface to brace the item against as we drive pins in and out. I like this little tool because it replaces several fixtures on the bench.
Real Avid offers a wide range of gun products, as you will discover when you visit their website. These tools, especially the 90-piece kit, are essential for my work. They take up less space due to intelligent storage design and work well when put to the test. I think they are well worth their price.