At a Glance: The Best AR-15 Armorer’s Wrenches
Comparison of The Best AR-15 Armorer’s Wrenches
|AR-15 is the Wheeler Engineering FAT Wrench||View Latest Price|
|Magpul AR-15/M16 Armorer’s Wrench||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Smith Enterprise AR-15/M16 Armorer’s Wrench||View Latest Price|
Whether you’re building, repairing, or customizing your AR-15, having the best tools on hand is a must. One vital tool all AR15 users should have in their toolbox is an armorer’s wrench.
An AR15 armorer’s wrench is essential during multiple stages of installing or dismantling ARs. Wrenches allow you to do many things such as install barrel nuts, castle nuts, receiver extensions, and flash hiders.
Although there are many options on the market, unfortunately, many lack the quality that you need. A poor quality armorer’s tool can do more harm than good to both your gun and your hands. This is why you should always opt for a high-quality, dependable, and safe tool.
In this guide, we’ll explain how an armorer’s wrench can help you with your AR15 customization as well as how you can use this tool to torque an AR barrel. We’ll also share some pointers on what to look for when shopping for your next AR15 wrench.
Our Guide To The Top AR-15 Armorer’s Wrenches Available In 2021
Because there is such a large choice out there, knowing how to find the best AR15 Armorer’s wrenches can prove challenging and overwhelming, especially if you’re new to AR15 rifle building.
This is why we’ve picked the 7 best AR-15 Armorer’s wrenches on the market and tested and reviewed them all. We’ve compared all 7 products, giving clear pros and cons for each. This will help you easily determine which wrench will serve you the best.
Brownells AR15 Armorer’s Wrench
Brownells AR15 armorer’s wrench has an overall length of 12.75 inches and works with either encapsulated or peg-style barrel nuts. What’s great about this wrench is that it contains all the essential heads, available in multiple sizes. This makes the unit flexible and easy to use for different purposes.
There is a carbine buttstock wrench with four teeth on the end of the long handle. The teeth are thicker and longer than many other wrenches on the market. This ensures full engagement of all four notches in the extension nut, giving both easy removal and installation.
The wrench features a 1/2″ square drive opening for torque wrench application. Moreover, there are 5/8″ and 3/4″ slots to fit receiver A2 receiver extensions and flash suppressors. The thick design prevents twisting under pressure, and the wrench also extends onto the castle nut a little to help prevent slippage.
This is a heavy-duty wrench made from solid steel and is very strong. The edges are rounded, and the working/facing surface is flat. We found it to be a high-quality wrench that does everything you need an AR wrench to do, for a much better price than some other name brand products.
This is easily one of the best value for money wrenches as it comes with every feature you need. Furthermore, Brownells give you a lifetime warranty on the product giving you total assurance and peace of mind.
- Durable and reliable
- Multiple choices of heads in different sizes
- Very well designed
- Easy to use
- Comes with a lifetime guarantee
Magpul AR-15/M16 Armorer’s Wrench
The Magpul armorer’s wrench is constructed with solid steel, has two hammer faces, and is finished with grip-enhancing phosphate to work on barrel nuts, castle nuts, muzzle devices, and receiver extensions. It features extended teeth for use with ASAP plates too.
The American made wrench will work with AR pistol receiver extensions that have three notches, but not those with only two. It will engage both stock and pin-style barrel nuts. It fits all standard sized flash hiders and works with 1/2″ torque wrenches, using the torque wrench attachment point.
We were impressed with the build of this wrench. It seems extremely durable, giving a long service life. The non-slip phosphate finish gives a firm grip and prevents corrosion too.
Rating high in construction, durability, and ergonomics, this is easily one of the best AR-15 armorer’s wrenches on the market. Furthermore, it’s suitable for multiple uses other than AR-15 customization, such as home improvement or repair. Therefore, this product offers fantastic value for money.
- Durable construction that will hold up against regular long term use
- Non-slip phosphate finish gives a firm grip
- Versatile wrench – can be used for multiple purposes
- Torque wrench attachment point
- Extended teeth for use with ASAP plates
- Ergonomic design with large, comfy handle
- Does not fit receiver extensions with two notches
Smith Enterprise AR-15/M16 Armorer’s Wrench
The armorer’s wrench from Smith Enterprise is a heavy-duty tool with an extra-long handle and smooth, contoured edges to give a comfortable hold. This gives easier installation and removal of encapsulated or peg-style barrel nuts with up to 1¼ inch diameter.
The American made wrench includes a ½ inch square drive opening for use with a torque wrench. It also has ⅝ inch and ¾ inch slots to fit receiver extensions and A1/A2 flash suppressors, however, the ¾ inch slot may not fit brakes, flash hiders, or compensators with less than .410 long driving flats.
We found the Smith Enterprise wrench to be one of the sturdiest tools on the market thanks to its durable construction, and it performs superbly too. Some experienced users have used this tool to install accessories too! It is forged from high-quality stainless steel with a black oxidized finish.
Not only will this armorer’s wrench tighten up all types of nuts and bolts on your rifle and hold them in place securely, but it’s a useful tool for all home DIY projects too. Therefore, it is a must-have utensil for your toolbox. What’s more, it is strong enough to handle the torque without slipping.
- Very sturdy and durable construction
- Long handle with contoured edges
- Ideal for encapsulated or peg-style barrel nuts
- ½ inch square drive for torque wrench application
- Easy to use
- Does not fit muzzle devices with driving flats less than .410″
Real Avid Armorer’s Master Wrench
Real Avid’s armorer’s master wrench has been designed specifically for AR builds with its precision surfaces and long handle. This allows you to mount barrel nuts, castle nuts, muzzle devices, and fixed-stock receiver extensions with total ease.
This wrench has a super ergonomic design, with some handy features such as the hammer located on the reverse side of the head. This has interchangeable heads too, including steel, brass, nylon, and rubber, enabling you to use a non-marring head when tapping pins in and out.
Something else I liked about this wrench is the firm but comfy grip it gives, thanks to its non-slip finish. There’s also a torque wrench attachment, with all the torque specifications laser etched on the side of the tool.
The Real Avid master wrench is full of simple but useful features. While this does make the design a little bulky, these unique additions make it extremely versatile and trouble-free to use. Because of this, it stands out as one of the best AR-15 armorer’s wrenches in 2021. If you’re looking to build an AR, this is the tool you need!
- Ergonomic design with precision surfaces for ease of use
- Hammer with interchangeable heads
- Torque wrench attachment with torque specifications
- Long handle for maximum leverage
- Rock-solid construction that will last
- Non-slip finish for a comfy grip
- It is bulkier than other models
Smith Enterprise 308 AR Armorer’s Wrench
Featuring the same functions and quality as the Smith Enterprise AR-15/M16 armorer’s wrench, this model has been designed specifically for use with AR-Style .308 rifles. Like the previous Smith Enterprise tool, this one works with encapsulated or peg-style barrel nuts, however, it will not work with DPMS 20 tooth pattern .308 barrel nuts.
The extra-long handle and smooth, contoured edges are also present in this model, and there is a ½” square drive opening for torque wrench application also. Crafted from stainless steel and finished with a sleek black oxide, this wrench measures 30cm long and 2.5cm wide.
Although this is a great tool for .308 AR rifles, you should ensure that it is compatible with your specific model. If it is the wrong dimensions, the projected studs will not fit in the holes of the barrel nut and could potentially damage your gun. That being said, if it is too thick for your muzzle device, you can grind it down thinner until it fits.
Other than the limited compatibility, this wrench is a strong, heavy-duty tool, which will break even the toughest barrel nuts loose without too much effort. It will make working on your AR much easier, and provide a lifetime of use!
- Heavy-duty construction with high durability
- Works on even the toughest barrel nuts
- Extra-long handle with smooth, contoured edges
- Supports torque wrench application
- Limited compatibility
- Could potentially cause damage to your gun if it does not fit properly
Arrington Accuracy Works AR-15/M16 Colt Law Enforcement Carbine Armorer’s Wrench
This heavy-duty wrench from Arrington Accuracy Works was designed especially for removing and installing barrel nuts on the Colt LE6940 Advanced Law Enforcement Carbine (ALEC).
On this wrench, you will find a ½-inch square cutout to use with a torque wrench, plus a notch for removing the ALEC flash suppressor. These handy features mean you can install and remove muzzle devices while checking them for the proper torque. What’s more, the torque wrench attachment doubles up as a tool for using with a breaker bar if you need to remove difficult nuts.
This nifty armorer’s wrench also features a large handle to give excellent leverage when installing and removing all kinds of nuts on your AR-15 Carbine. The wrench is made from solid steel and has a parkerized, matte black finish. The handle measures 3.17cm, giving the wrench an overall length of 23cm.
Bear in mind that the barrel nut wrench is designed for use with the Colt ALEC barrel nut only and is not universal. But, if you own an ALEC rifle, this is undoubtedly the best AR-15 armorer’s wrench for you as you will find the ALEC barrel nut very difficult to remove with wrenches not specifically designed for it.
- Long handle for better leverage
- Torque wrench and breaker bar attachment point
- A durable and strong tool
- Well-constructed and nicely finished
- Works on standard muzzle devices
- The most efficient wrench for Colt ALEC barrel nuts
- Cannot be used to remove castle nuts
- Not universal and will only work with Colt ALEC
Wheeler Engineering Professional Armorers Wrench
The Delta Series professional armorer’s wrench from Wheeler Engineering is constructed from top quality materials to serve as a universal tool for all processes of building and repairing an AR-15 rifle. The heavy-duty build means that it will last a lifetime, being the only armorer’s wrench you will ever need.
The Wheeler Engineering solid steel wrench stands out with its 6 essential AR tools in one, promising great value for money and versatile use. These tools include a castle nut wrench, barrel nut wrench 5/8″ fixed stock receiver wrench, 1/2″ torque wrench receiver, and a 3/4″ muzzle brake wrench.
The handle is another highlight. It’s made from soft rubber and over-molded so that you can tighten the barrel nut and adjust the muzzle brake with a firm but comfortable grip. Moreover, it has ingrained torque measurements for supreme accuracy every time.
This is a fantastic universal wrench that will work with all mil-spec barrel nuts and castle nuts. It will assist in repairing, upgrading, or building an AR-15 and will serve as an invaluable tool for DIY projects around the home too. Giving a lifetime of effective use, this is undoubtedly one of the best AR-15 armorer’s wrenches available for beginner and experienced rifle users alike.
- Provides 6 AR tools in one
- Includes a torque wrench receiver and muzzle brake wrench
- Soft, over-molded rubber handle for comfy hold
- Ingrained torque measurements on the handle
- Made from durable, long-lasting materials
What is an AR-15 Armorer’s Wrench?
An armorer’s wrench is an essential tool for building, maintaining, or customizing an AR-15 rifle. If you need to make any modifications to your AR15, you’ll likely need an armorer’s wrench.
An armorer’s wrench can also serve as a wonderful multipurpose tool around the home, offering a lot of usage in a small package. Each specific part of the wrench is designed for a different purpose, as explained below.
What can you do with an AR-15 Armorer’s Wrench?
Many AR15 armorer’s wrenches vary in the features and capabilities they give, but their most basic function is to tighten the castle nut on the buffer tube of the rifle.
Many armorers wrenches will also allow you to do many more tasks, such as:
- Tighten muzzle devices like a flash hider or compensator
- Serve as a useful buttstock tool and screw
- Attach to a torque wrench to tighten the barrel nut
The best AR-15 armorer’s wrenches will serve as a multi-functional tool for multiple processes involved in upgrading, repairing, and building AR-15 rifles. But their use does not stop here. Many are versatile enough to use around the house and garden for repair and DIY jobs, such as tightening nuts and bolts on plumbing pipes.
What To Look For When Choosing an AR-15 Armorer’s Wrench for your Build
Here are the top things to consider when looking for the best AR15 armorer’s wrenches.
An AR15 wrench can vary greatly in price.
- Some of the cheaper choices on the market can function perfectly fine for simpler tasks, but they may lack the functions or strength that you need. A cheap wrench is likely to be a single-purpose tool.
- Opting for one of the best AR15 armorer’s wrenches available is a small investment, but it will completely be worthwhile. Although it will cost you more, it will be more versatile, with the ability to perform many tasks. The more a wrench can do, the more helpful it will be.
- Expect to pay between $50 to $70 for the top quality wrenches, depending on their specific purposes.
One thing that separates AR15 wrenches from each other is the build quality.
- The build quality is perhaps the most vital aspect to consider before purchasing.
- The design of the wrench should be perfectly aligned.
- It must be able to take on all kinds of working pressure without being damaged easily.
The higher the quality, the longer it will last. Wrenches built from heavy-duty solid steel will hold up against regular use and last a lifetime. Therefore, to avoid the need to replace this tool, it’s worth spending a bit more on one that’s made from the highest quality materials and constructed well to create a strong and solid product.
Safety & Ergonomics
- Some manufacturers do not focus on an ergonomic design for their wrench. However, a tool with a basic design can lead to discomfort in your hands and thumbs when holding and using the tool, and potentially, even injuries.
- A badly designed wrench can also leave marks or scuffs on the surface or powder-coating of the gun.
- The best AR-15 armorer’s wrenches will allow you to adjust the tool or use a specific wrench head that gives the best fit for each type of nut and bolt on your AR-15. This will ensure every part stays securely intact for as long as possible, giving no movement or vibration from recoil.
- The shape and design of the wrench will also determine how easy it is to store when not in use. Some multi-purpose wrenches can be on the bulkier side, so for easy storage that will protect and preserve your wrench, look for one that will easily fit in your toolbox.
How To Torque The AR Barrel With An Armorers Wrench And Torque Wrench
As seen in the reviews above, the majority of AR-15 armorer’s wrenches have a square cut-out to attach it to a torque wrench. You need both types of wrenches to properly tighten and torque the barrel nut.
Choosing a Torque Wrench
Just as it is important to choose a top-quality armorers wrench, it is equally vital that the torque wrench you use is well-constructed with high-quality materials. Using a cheap torque wrench will not provide the proper torque reading and could even damage your upper receiver.
Our favorite torque wrench for the AR-15 is the Wheeler Engineering FAT Wrench.
This handheld analog torque wrench is our top choice as it lets you apply repeatable, accurate torque settings to scope rings, guard screws, and other screws. This promises high accuracy at plus/minus 2-inch pounds, which decreases any potential problems in the field.
Moreover, it gives torque adjustments from 10-inch pounds to 65-inch pounds and comes with a full professional set of 10 tool heads, including three different sized flat blade bits, three Allen bits in various sizes, and two different Torx bits.
Understanding Torque Spec
The standard torque spec for AR barrels is between 30 to 80 ft-lbs. Your barrel will likely provide torque specs, so check this first. If there are no specs, stick to 30 to 50 ft-lbs. This is the recommended torque spec from most manufacturers.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Torquing
So now you understand the spec to use, how do you go about torquing your AR barrel? Here is a simple step-by-step breakdown of the process.
- First, apply some anti-seize, non-metallic grease to the threads of your upper receiver. You will need to use grease to properly torque the barrel and prevent the threads on the nut and receiver from stripping.
- Now, insert the barrel through the front of the receiver. Thread the barrel nut onto the receiver with the wide, threaded portion to the rear.
- Set torque to 30-50 ft-lbs (or the specs indicated on your barrel) and attach the torque wrench to the armorer’s wrench.
- Torque the barrel nut onto the receiver, then loosen the barrel nut and re-torque to the same spec. Repeat this step three times.
- Check the alignment. The hole should be at the12′ o’clock position to align with the gas tube hole, allowing it to pass through.
- Use the gauge to determine the proper number of shims to align the holes correctly. Remove the barrel nut and add the appropriate number of shims.
- Torque the barrel nut onto the receiver. Using 30-50 lbs, you should be able to time your barrel nut correctly.
- Next, insert the gas tube and tighten the gas block.
- Finally, install the handguard.
Please note, this is not a comprehensive guide. If you’re unsure of the process, it is advised to take your components to a gunsmith to complete it for you. Attempting to do it yourself without fully understanding how could result in damage to your rifle’s components.
Other Handy Tools For Building An Ar-15
AR15’s are the top rifle choice to build and customize. If you’ve chosen to build your AR15, here are some other handy tools and pieces of equipment that you will need.
When assembling an AR-15, there are many operations where you will need to hold parts in position firmly while you torque. A bench vice is undoubtedly the best tool to use for these tasks.
- A bench vise lets you mount your vise block, and it securely holds your upper and lower receivers in place when torquing down your barrel and castle nuts.
- It also allows you to easily manipulate and install tiny parts that are difficult to work with.
Vise blocks are super strong and helpful tools. They are specifically made to hold your upper and lower receivers firmly in place when installing your parts.
My favorite AR-15 Lower & Upper Receiver Vise Blocks AIM Sports. It comes with a vise block for both your upper and lower receiver, a front sight tool, and a stock combo wrench.
- It is used with a bench vise, you insert the vise block into your mag well, and it secures in your vice.
- It helps to prevent crushing, marking, or scratching your finish. It’s a super handy tool that allows you to work on your receiver or rifle without the worry of crushing or scratching anything.
- By locking into the mag catch securely, you can torque your barrel nut without anything shifting around or any damage occurring.
- There are many times when you will need to use both hands when building your AR15, for example. when installing your trigger and hammer assembly. Using a vise block allows you to do this while holding the lower receiver firmly in place.
Looking for more info on Vise Blocks? Check out our review on The 8 Best AR-15 Lower Vise Blocks here
Nylon Vise Jaws
An alternative tool you can use to protect your AR15 parts when securing them is a set of nylon vice jaws. They are great to clamp down on the barrel and remove the flash hider without marring the surface at all. The jaws have embedded magnets, so they stay in place even when the vice is open.
This is one of the best Nylon Vise Jaws. You can use it for flat or round products, on any metal vise, and it has magnetic reversible pads.
Bolt Catch Kit
Installing and removing roll pins can be an annoying task. It’s not only difficult to install the roll pin for your bolt catch, but you can scratch your lower receiver in the process too.
Bolt catch kits are inexpensive products that make installing roll pins quick and easy. They are designed to provide clearance to your receiver, so you don’t scratch it. You can find a great bolt catch kit on Optics Planet here!
Pivot Pin Tools
- Roll pin punches feature a balled tip that centers the roll pin when you drive them in. This also prevents the pins from malfunctioning or crushing.
- Pin holders aren’t necessary tools, but they’re handy to have This helpful holder will hold your roll pin in place and align it properly.
- You can also buy a set of pivot pin tools for a very affordable price. This will allow you to install springs and detents with complete ease.
Buy a Real Avid Pivot Pin Tool on Amazon. Check Price
Hammers are great for stubborn roll pins or stuck parts. A 4 or 8-ounce hammer should be sufficient in most cases.
Pliers and Screwdrivers
Needle nose pliers are a brilliant tool for manipulating and holding tiny parts. They help push in detents and install your magazine release too. Screwdrivers are also useful for pushing down springs or detents.
A gunsmithing tool kit is a good option if it’s your first time building an AR15, and you feel a bit overwhelmed. This type of kit is great as it contains many of the tools and small parts you will need for various processes during the build. For example, a gunsmithing kit can make installing your fire control group much easier as you can use the punches to help align the trigger and hammer pins.
What you get in the kit will vary with each manufacturer and model, but in general, a gunsmithing kit will include most of the following.
- Flat bits
- Torx bits
- Hex bits
- A hex drill bit adapter
- A hex bit square adapter
- A magnetic bit driver
- A double-faced hammer
- A bench block
The Weaver Deluxe Gunsmith Tool Kit is a great product to start with. An 88-piece kit it has just about everything basic you will need. Check its price on Amazon
Which Is The Best Ar-15 Armorer’s Wrench In 2021?
We were hugely impressed with all the armorer’s wrenches we tested; however, the wrench that stood out the most was the Wheeler Engineering Delta Series professional armorer’s wrench.
We choose this one as it has more compatibility than some of the others, and it serves as a universal, multi-purpose tool that can assist in many of the processes involved in building or customizing an AR-15 rifle. The 6-in-1 tool cuts down on the number of utensils you’ll need and thus, saves you money.
Aside from its versatility, the Wheeler Delta Series wrench ranks as the best AR-15 armorer’s wrench in 2021 for its tough, durable construction and over-molded, soft rubber handle, giving a firm, comfy grip and ease of use.
As always, this is just our personal preference. All the wrenches included in this list will make AR-15 customization tasks like tightening nuts feel like a breeze. We hope this article has shown you why an Armorer’s wrench is a game-changing tool to purchase and what to look for to ensure you choose the very best AR-15 armorer’s wrench out there.