I can recall building my first couple of AR-15 rifles and it taking just short of forever to install that “stupid” roll pin (or, at least, that’s how I felt about it at first) into the gas block for the gas tube. If you have ever had the great pleasure of installing (or removing) a gas tube roll pin into a gas block, you will more than likely agree that it would help to have a set of tools to make the process easier and faster. Fortunately, Geissele Automatics has done just that.
I have said it before and I will say it again, it pays to have the right tools for the job, and in this case the “right tools” are the gas block tools from Geissele Automatics. What makes these better or different than other tools that already exist? Good question. In this article, I’ll compare my AR-15 assembly experiences before discovering these tools from Geissele and then compare them to my experiences with the Geissele tools in the same scenarios.
Using Typical Tools
When I installed my first few gas tube roll pins, I used a typical roll pin starter and roll pin punch. My roll pin starter held the pin, but loosely. Every smack of the hammer would make the roll pin start walking on me. It was almost as if the roll pin consciously wiggled just enough to prohibit the hammer from getting a solid smack on it.
After I finally got the roll pin started and tapped into place enough to capture the gas tube, I then grabbed my roll pin punch to finish the job. Because the roll pin for the gas tube is so small, I had to use a small 1/16” roll pin punch. Because of this small size, the punch is very thin and can bend easily.
Whether or not this skinny roll pin punch bends or breaks depends heavily on the quality of the roll pin punch itself. I haven’t personally experienced that little snafu; however, I can attest to how difficult it is to hold the punch in place against the roll pin while simultaneously attempting to smack it with the hammer. It’s top heavy, and doesn’t have a lot of grip space, both of which only contribute to making the whole process more challenging and irksome.
Using Geissele Tools
All it takes to get the roll pin to stay in place with the Geissele roll pin starter is a quick smack on a hard surface. It captures and keeps the small roll pin in place because there is a slight taper inside of the starter. Once the roll pin is captured, all I had to do was put it right where I wanted it and start smacking it in. I can honestly say that this initial step was already roughly five times faster than my previous experiences.
After the roll pin was started, I was able to switch to the larger of the two punches that Geissele includes in the tool set. At its tip, this punch’s diameter is slightly wider than that of the roll pin. This meant that, even if the punch wiggled a bit while I hammered it, the Geissele punch was still able to solidly engage the roll pin.
When the roll pin was almost flush, I then switched to the the smaller Geissele punch. This punch has the exact same face diameter as the roll pin, and it only took about three quick whacks of the hammer before my roll pin was properly installed flush with the gas block.
Geissele Automatics designed both of the punches with thick faceted top halves. This feature makes for a larger target for the hammer to hit, while also making them easier to hang on to. Because the shape of both tools tapers down to the correct face diameter, there is no skinny, fragile stem to bend or break in comparison to some other pin punches.
I think it’s safe to say that if you want to get the job of installing roll pins done quickly, easily, and efficiently, then the Geissele Automatics Gas Block tools will benefit you. They have certainly helped me. I found that these punches not only help with the installation process, but also the removal process of the gas tube roll pin.
Geissele offers their roll pin starter punch for $12.50 and the other two pin punches in a set for $25.00. For more information on these pin punches or to order a set for yourself, visit www.geissele.com.
Featured image courtesy of Geissele Automatics.