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Most firearm malfunctions are caused by a lack of proper maintenance. Like any other machine, firearms experience wear and tear after prolonged use. Dirt, rust, carbon buildup, and worn-out or broken parts can cause stoppages or even catastrophic failure. Regular cleaning, lubrication, and inspection of a firearm is necessary to keep it operating smoothly and ensuring early detection of damaged components.
Modern firearm platforms like the AR-15 require specialized tools for sighting, cleaning, and adjusting. Even the 100-year-old 1911 platform requires a special bushing wrench for disassembly. The most basic field armorer kit typically consists of enough punches, wrenches, drivers, bits, and other tools to fill a medium-sized tool bag.
The expense of a full maintenance kit is more than most gun owners will ever wish to invest. Those who have sacrificed their hard-earned cash to acquire these tools will frequently find themselves stuck at the range in want of a tool they left at home, because their tool kits were too heavy and cumbersome to haul with them.
One of the best ways to increase productivity at the range is to have all the tools needed to make sight adjustments, tighten loose accessories, and disassemble and clean your gun. A quality gun maintenance multi-tool can provide most of those tools in a compact package that can be conveniently stowed in a range bag.
In this edition of Pocket Preps, we’ll examine some of the most versatile gun maintenance multi-tools on the market. As we look at the capabilities and limitations of each tool, we hope to provide the reader with the information needed to select the best multi-tool for the job.
Dimensions: 5 by 9/16 inches
Weight: 1.8 ounces (3.7 ounces with included bits)
The Twist is nothing short of a pocket toolbox packed into the size and shape of a large permanent marker. The rear section of the double-ended, threaded housing holds a pick for scraping stubborn carbon deposits and pulling retainer pins, a 3/32-inch pin punch, and a radial carbon scraper. These three tools attach to the 8-32 thread adapter located on the front cap. Underneath the front cap is a magnetic ¼-inch bit driver with an AR front sight tool installed. The Twist comes with a few Phillips, slotted, hex, and Torx bits, but any ¼ bit can be used with the driver. The rear cap has a two-prong Aimpoint micro sight turret adjuster on the end, making this tool invaluable to any Aimpoint shooter. When the rear cap is removed, the pocket clip becomes a field expedient, lightweight flathead driver.
Dimensions: 5 by 2 by 1 Inches
Weight: 118.4 Ounces
This 37-in-1 tactical gun multi-tool on a folding X-frame platform has everything necessary to remove carbon from bolt surfaces, make field repairs, add or remove accessories, and completely disassemble and reassemble a firearm. The AR15 Tool contains needle-nose pliers, carbide cutter, metal file, bolt carrier carbon scraper, 8-32 threaded receiver and post to attach all standard cleaning attachments, 3/32-inch detachable pin punch, 10-function bolt carrier group scraper, cotter pin puller, serrated tanto blade, detachable hook pick, three-position locking ¼-inch bit driver with 12 bits, and a bolt override tool. The MOLLE-compatible nylon sheath has elastic bit storage loops and an A1 and A2 front sight tool storage pouch on the side. Although it’s designed as an AR tool, this beefy device works for pistols too.
Dimensions: 5 1/2 by 2 by 1 5/8 inches
Weight: 13.3 Ounces
The Gun Tool AMP is a series of compact multi-tools that come in three platform-specific versions, AR15, Pistol, and 1911. The AR15 version shown here contains a tanto-style knife blade, bolt override tool, takedown punch, retaining pin puller, multi-surface bolt carrier group scraper, carrier scraper, firing pin scraper, and tap hammer. All tools lock in place using a liner lock system. The holster has a fold-out, locking ¼-inch bit driver and a nine-function bit set. Bits include hex, Torx, Phillips, flat, and A2 Front Sight Adjuster. The folding driver arm locks into place with a quick release lever. The holster has a MOLLE-compatible, metal belt clip for convenient stowing and transport. The AMP is a specialized tool, so the user needs to choose the right platform.
Dimensions: 1.2 by 0.5 inches
Weight: 0.1 Ounces
The Multitasker Nano Tool is a tiny pocket tool intended for making optic adjustments. It’s about the size of an aluminum can flip tab but packs a lot of practical utility despite its tiny footprint. The Nano features a dedicated Aimpoint T1/T2 turret adjuster on one end and a slotted screwdriver with radiused edges on the other. Although the Nano can be conveniently carried on a keychain using the built-in lanyard hole, the Nano has been specifically engineered with winglets on each side, which act as a dovetail for docking into the SpaceFrame storage slot found on the Gen3 MagPod. The Nano is compatible with a wide variety of popular optics and aiming lasers, including the Aimpoint M68 CCO, EOTech EXPS-3, Trijicon ACOG, Trijicon RMR, PEQ-15, and the B.E. Meyers & Co. MAWL.
Dimensions: 3 by 1.25 by 5/8 inches
Weight: 2.8 Ounces
The Gerber Short Stack uses a revolutionary three-piece magnetic design to form a compact, weapon-specific multi-tool. The Short Stack has everything needed to disassemble and maintain the AR rifle platform, including a front sight tool, firing pin scraper, bolt and bolt carrier scraper, cleaning cable pull-through handle, castle nut wrench, 4mm wrench/bit driver, 7mm wrench (fits M-LOK fasteners), ½-inch wrench, 3/8-inch wrench, ¾-inch wrench, curved slotted driver, and two double-sided Hex bits (#0 Cross Diver, T10, 1/8-inch Hex, 4mm Hex). This tiny, self-contained multi-tool can fit snugly into Magpul MOE and MIAD pistol grips so it’s always close by when the rifle is in hand.
Dimensions: 3.5 by 1 1/8 by 5/16 inches
The R2-0 (Return 2 Zero) is a lightweight minimalist tool designed through a collaborative effort between Emissary Development and Unity Tactical. The R2-0 is designed to interface with Geissele Super Precision Scope Mounts and snaps in place between the mounting screws using a clamp/hook design. The tool houses a T15 Torx bit that fits into a ¼-inch socket on the undercarriage. An additional ½-inch socket fits standard scope mount nuts and can be used to tighten loosening mounts or make mounting adjustments. The lack of any torque limiter means the R2-0 isn’t ideal for use with precision weapons; however, it’s a handy tool for tightening a loose scope mount on the range or in the field.
Dimensions: 7.25 by 3 by 4.25 inches
Weight: 26.2 Ounces
This all-in-one gun maintenance kit contains a variety of tools that come in handy at the range or work bench, including an A2 front sight tool, castle nut wrench, bolt carrier scraper, 1911 bushing tool, Glock front sight bit, universal choke tube wrench, metal pin punch and a non-marring plastic pin punch, bronze scraper, steel pick, set of brass 8-32 thread cleaning rods, set of two 8-32 bit adapters, cleaning brush, and mini pry bar. There are four torque limiters (15, 25, 45, and 65 inch-pounds), a ½-inch socket, and 24 assorted ¼-inch bits for mounting scopes, tightening chassis, and zeroing optics. Every tool pairs with the accompanying ¼-inch T-handle wrench. The entire kit packs inside a compact, MOLLE-webbed soft case. A magnetic Velcro patch on the outside of the case helps keep track of loose screws and bits. The Works has it all.