How to pick the right armorers wrench for you
An armorer’s wrench is one of the primary tools that every hobbyist AR-15 owner should have in their tool set. But far too many tinkerers and hobbyists think they can get away with modifying or maintaining their AR-15 or other weapons with regular tools.
The performance just isn’t the same, and when you’re dropping upwards of $1,000 on a precision-engineered firearm you need the right tools for the job. We’ve all used a screwdriver as a pin punch now and again, but the first time your tools slips off target and puts a nice 3” scratch down the side of your upper you’ll wish you did it right the first time.
Wrenching with anything other than a purpose-designed product won’t give you the fit, versatility, convenience, or piece-of-mind that a great armorer’s wrench can bring to your work table.
Let’s break down the best armorer’s wrenches on the market so you never have to make do with a standard wrench again.
Quick List: The Best Armorers Wrenches for Any Gunsmith
This Magpul AR-15 tool is solid steel and has a lot to like, starting with a special phosphate finish that makes it easier to grip even if you have a sweaty hand. It’s perfect for engaging with the majority of AR-15 and M16 bolts, including stock and pin-style barrel nuts when swapping out barrel or ar-15 upper. It can install and remove rifle receiver extensions, carbine castle nuts, and much more.
Magpul’s armorer wrench also comes with two hammer faces and a bottle opener on the bottom. With this, you can crack open a cold one and reflect on what a great job you did after you’re finished. It is a little pricier compared to several of the other options on this list, but we think the excellent design and overall durability make it a solid choice for most.
- Made of excellent steel construction
- Fits practically all the nuts and bolts you need to build an AR 15
- Comes with a bottle opener
- Fits standard flash hiders, too
- A little pricey
- Not as many features as other options
Best Combo AR-15 Tool
Here’s a much more affordable armorer’s wrench and combination tool. The Wheeler Engineering AR-15 Combo Tool works both as a standard wrench and can be used with a ratchet driver or a torque wrench. Even better, the set comes with a torque wrench included in the purchase – this is great value for money when you consider the budget-friendly asking price.
The kit overall will help you work on most of the parts included with a standard AR-15 firearm. Both pieces are made with rugged stamped steel so you don’t have to worry about them breaking or flexing over time. The wrench, too, has attached holders for a few of the most common bits to allow easy bit retrieval.
- Has a bit holder
- Comes with a torque wrench
- Very affordable overall
- Both pieces made with good steel
- The wrench isn’t as versatile as some of the others
- Maybe too many features – bit holders sometimes fall off
Best for Nut Removal:
This armorer’s wrench comes from Brownells, which is great because they’re known for parts, tools, and gunsmithing products.
It’s a perfect tool for using with peg-style or encapsulated barrel nuts. It comes with a long handle and has a carbine buttstock wrench at the back. This wrench includes four teeth that will help you engage all four notch types in typical M4-style receivers.
There are other versatile openings and uses as well, like a ½ inch square drive opening for torque wrench use, plus slots for A2 receiver extensions and a variety of different flash suppressors. All in all, it’s quite the versatile tool and it’s not too pricey, either.
- Reasonable asking price
- Made of good materials
- Has plenty of slots and teeth for multiple uses
- Nice long handle
- Handle isn’t particularly comfortable/ergonomic
The Real Avid armorer’s wrench comes with one of the most ergonomic shapes we’ve seen – it’s shaped a lot like a heavy duty hammer – with a slight angle so you can maximize the torque you apply to any action you like. Such an ergonomic design allows you to remove any stubborn parts or pieces (like bits which are carbon frozen in your build) much more easily than otherwise.
Even beyond the intelligent design, it comes with a variety of deep-seated sockets to be used for gripping barrel or castle nuts or other attachments like compensators, muzzle brakes, and flash hiders as well as interchangeable hammer heads in steel, brass, nylon, and rubber.
- Very versatile
- Super ergonomic handle
- Quality materials
- Hammer heads are interchangeable
- A little pricier than average
This last armorer’s wrench is a solidly versatile choice, and one of the less expensive on the market.
The Barska AR-15 Tool has a lot of what you’ll need to build and maintain an AR-15. The tool includes sections that act as a screwdriver, barrel nut wrench, receiver extension wrench, A2 extension tool, and much more.
The tool is made with cast iron, so it’s not as durable as more expensive options, but it’s treated with a special coating to protect the metal from use and wear.
- Has tons of uses
- Has a bottle opener
- Is made of great steel
- Inexpensive when compared to other options
- Not super ergonomic
- Not mil-spec
- Cast iron isn’t as durable as forged steel options
What Is an AR-15 tool and why do you need one?
An armorer’s wrench (or AR-15 tool) is a multitool commonly used by gunsmiths and hobbyist shooters that put together their own AR-15 or M16 builds.
In fact, you need an armorer’s wrench of one variety or another if you want to build an AR-15 from a kit rather than purchase a complete firearm. They’re designed to engage barrel nuts, flash hiders, install and remove rifle receiver extensions and carbine castle nuts, and can often work with torque wrenches to ensure you can get factory torque specs on key bolts and components.
These wrenches also make servicing and caring for your firearm considerably easier, and don’t bother modifying or upgrading your firearm without one. Suffice it to say that all AR-15 enthusiasts should pick up an armorer’s wrench eventually just for general upkeep and repair.
Things to consider before purchasing an armorer’s wrench
No two armorer’s wrenches are identical, so consider these main factors to make sure you pick up an armorers wrench that fully meets your needs.
The best armorer’s wrenches enable you to do a lot with just one AR-15 tool – often featuring multiple notches for different sizes of nuts and bolts.
Many of them will also have specific engagement teeth to help remove barrels and castle nuts. Still more wrenches might have hammer faces or additional functions – some of the wrenches below even have bottle openers, because why not?
Of course, great armorer’s wrenches will also be made with high-quality steel so they last for a long time and won’ round off or slip when applying force. Always look for solid steel wrenches, as these are the tools that can withstand the high wear and tear you’ll put on them.
It’s also a good idea to consider ergonomics. More comfortable wrenches – preferably designed with a phosphate or non-slip finish – will be easier to use over the long-term and will give you better leverage when trying to twist a nut or bolt from an odd angle.
The last thing you want at the end of a maintenance session is a blister from the wrench itself.
Lastly, be sure to consider the price – don’t go too cheap when it comes to buying a new armorer’s wrench even if you’re on a budget.
Otherwise, you may easily break a cheap wrench and have to buy another one afterward or damage your firearm when working on it.
In the end, we really liked the Real Avid AR-15 Armorer’s Wrench. It’s simply the best choice overall thanks to its phenomenal ergonomics, quality metal material and versatility. It’s not the most affordable wrench on this list, but it scores well enough for all the major aspects to provide a versatile and ideal tool for most users.
Whichever armorer’s wrench you choose, we think it’ll be a great addition to your collection and help you build or maintain AR-15 you’ve always wanted. Good luck!