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Tools that will last?


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A lesson my mechanic father taught me growing up was to buy good hand tools that will last forever instead of the junk that breaks in the middle of a job.  OK, great, I can agree with this.  But now it's many years later, and I don't know where to look to apply that logic to my purchase of a few gunsmithing tools.  I'm not looking to get an expansive gunsmithing set, just the basic tools needed to do an AR-15 build with my daughter.  So, let's say I want to get a roll pin punch set.  I don't want to just get something Chinese off of Amazon, but I'm not sure of today's brands that make quality tools, or if any still exist.  Any suggestions to modernize me here?  Thanks.

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Brownells has pretty much anything you might need, but you can often get the same tools for less money from other sources.  Probably the biggest sources for machinists are MSC and McMaster-Carr.  MSC runs discount promotions quite a bit.  And ebay is a good source if you don't mind buying used.  A lot of times the old stuff is better quality than what's currently available.

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For your roll pin set example, I have 2 sets, a cheapo Harbor Freight set which is used more as disposable items, then a good Starrett set like this one:

https://www.amazon.com/Starrett-8-Piece-Diameters-Overall-Plastic/dp/B07K7S5F2C

 

You'll also want roll pin setting punches, notice the tips:  https://www.amazon.com/MulWark-Gunsmithing-Kit-Corrosion-Resistant-Automotive/dp/B01N1HXR7A/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1549986802&sr=8-2-spons&keywords=gunsmithing+roll+pin+punch+set&psc=1

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Perhaps I should clarify.  I'm wondering what brands of tools are of the best quality in today's hard-to-find-good-stuff world.  I don't care about the cost or online source for the tools, just the ones that are made the best.  With that information, I can go find the best place to buy them.  Thanks.

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It totally depends on what specific tool you are looking for as to which is the best brand today.

 

its kind of like what’s the best gun or vehicle question.  Gotta know “best for what”. 

 

I like getting a lot of hand tools on eBay from machinist chest type auction clean outs because lots of good stuff can be had for little money

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For roll pin punches, as per your example, Proto and Mayhew are good brands.  But as drewbeck said, it depends on what specifically you're looking for.  If you go to the MSC online catalog, you can see the various options for a given tool.  Typically the big name US-made brands are going to be the best quality.

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And while harbor freight stuff is generally considered cheap Chinese junk by most, I think there is a place and reason to own nearly all of their hand tools.  

 

I think a person is better off having the correct tool for the job even if that tool is of lesser quality than the “best” brand.  Ie id rather have every size ball pein, brass, rubber, plastic head, and dead blow hammers from HF than I would have one “best” brand hammer .

 

however there’s no quality “cheap” stones available for trigger jobs for example. 

 

Cheap abrasives are nearly always inferior to more to more expensive ones. 

 

The ability to hold your work will directly impact the final quality of your work (ie vises)

 

An appropriate set of hand files will be better, safer, and faster than a rotary tool.

 

Cheap (softer) punches are good to have so they fail and bend before you accidentally stake a stuck pin or something.  Good punches are needed to be able to actually stake something.

 

and little known fact, harbor freight hand tool are actually guaranteed for life if you want to go to the effort of bringing it back to the store.

 

I’ve also never had a good experience with Grace gunsmith tools.  Their screwdrivers are brittle junk and their punches are soft.  

 

Just my opinion from my experiences on the above

 

 

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I've have good experience with Eklind and Bondhus allen wrenches, and the Brownells magna-tip screwdriver set is bomb-diggity - I'm planning to eventually get all of the optional tip sets. I currently only have the blade style bits, but they've saved me from boogering up fasteners or scarring finishes enough times to have already paid for themselves.
As far as other gear, I can echo the prior comments: In general, the big name US(and some Japanese) made brands tend to be quite good(Starret, Proto, etc), and Harbor Freight's place is in tools where you just need them for the occasional specialized task or have a high likelihood of, say, dropping in the lake/river/bay.

All of that said, the only specialized tools you'll be likely to need for most AR builds would be a combination wrench(for stock and barrel nut installation), roll pin and other punches, and some sort of a vice block(mostly for barrel/handguard installation - I have a Wheeler engineering upper receiver vice block that served me well enough for a handguard installation).

Other than that, the other tools would be light hammer, screwdrivers, allen wrenches, and a torque wrench.

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Brownells barrel extension tool for torquing barrel nuts, and muzzle brakes. $49.99

 https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/rifle-tools/barrel-tools/ar-15-m16-barrel-extension-torque-tool-sku080000637-27452-53686.aspx?rrec=true

 

Unique Tek gas block aligner $9.99 I don't break the pin off to remove, I use it to locate the gas block.  Then mark the gas block and barrel for location and remove the gas block & pin.  Re-install the gas block to the scribed vertical & horizontal lines.

 https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/rifle-tools/gas-system-tools/ar-15-gas-block-aligner-prod68371.aspx

 

Brownells Bolt Catch roll pin punch $17.99

https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/rifle-tools/bolt-tools/dissassembly-tools/bolt-catch-pin-punch-prod26484.aspx

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  • 2 weeks later...

I use PB Swiss for my hex/torx keys. They are expensive, but they will last forever. Tight fitment too.

Wiha or Wera for your drivers.

Grace USA makes punches for Tekton so I would pick up this set. Great warranty if you bend one. https://www.amazon.com/TEKTON-Gunsmith-Punch-18-Piece-66564/dp/B012TKY0VI/ref=sr_1_7?keywords=tekton+gun&qid=1551207113&s=gateway&sr=8-7

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  • 2 weeks later...

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