Tools Needed to Build an AR15

Before you start slaving away at building an AR15, you might want to consider picking up some tools. Some will be absolutely required, some recommended, and some just to make your life easier. Building an AR is fun and easy…if you’re prepared. If you’re not I recommend finding a coping mechanism because you’ll need it.

Tools Needed to Build an AR15
Photo by Mitch Barrie

Required Tools

We’ll start with the basics and move up

1. Hammer

You need a hammer, plain and simple. You need to get roll pins through small holes, the hammer is to take out your frustration…and help with this task.

2. Roll Pin Punches

You need a full set of these punches. All different sizes or else your rifle isn’t getting built. Punches are vital to getting those roll pins into small holes. They’re actually not technically required. I used screwdrivers on my first build to punch the roll pins through. However, this is STRONGLY not recommended and therefore required. You can buy a set of punches for $10. Thank me later.

3. Armorer’s Wrench

Sadly, you need to go buy this tool to get the castle nut tight. You can get one for around $20, but you might as well spend a little more and get the one that does the barrel nut too, because that is required as well.

Tools Needed to Build an AR15 Wrench
4. Vise (Upper Receiver)

Now, if you’re just building a lower receiver, you don’t need a vise, but it does help. If you’re venturing into the upper, then a vise is required. You need to secure the receiver when you are tightening down the barrel. There is really no other option. I tried.

5. Action Block (Upper Receiver)

Tools Needed to Build an AR15 UpperAgain, if you are building an upper you will need this. It holds the receiver in the vise properly. You can’t just put gun parts in a vise and expect them to not bend or deform. This will save you lots of money.


These might as well be required.

1. Lower Action Block

Tools Needed to Build an AR15 BlockSimilar to the upper block, as you can secure it in the vise, but it is not required to make a lower receiver. You can use your strength and body weight to get things done.

2. Pliers

Yes, the ol’ trusty pliers. You probably already have some laying around. These help exponentially when working with small roll pins.
Work Bench: It helps to have a bench. Sure, you can work at your dining room table and scratch it up. It also helps to mount the vise to wood to keep it secure.

Make your life easier: You won’t know you need these until it’s time

3. Roll Pin Starter Punches

Remember those pliers? Yeah, teaming them up with these punches make roll pins a walk in the park. Not required at all, but it does save some headache.

Tools Needed to Build an AR15 Roll

4. Painter’s Tape

What? Did he really just say that? Yep. Tape has two uses when building an AR15. First, you can tape your receiver up to keep from marring it with tools. If you miss a hammer swing and strike metal, it’s going to scratch and you will be sad. Also, tape will secure roll pins on punches so you’re not picking them up for the 50th time after you drop them.

5. Anti-Seize

Looking far into the future, you decide to change something on your gun. Looks like it’s permanent unless you put anti-seize on all the threads.

You now should have a good idea of what you need to build an AR15. You will definitely use some tools and other you might not need, but learn from my mistakes and have everything ready.

Bonus Item: Creativity

Bring your creativity with you when building your AR15. Things don’t always go as planned and you might have to think outside the box to accomplish something. It is all very possible, you might just have to step back and think of a better way to make it work.

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