Tool Kits for the Range
November 01, 2018
I spend a significant amount of time traveling, which brings me to ranges all over the country. Many years and many ranges later, I have honed my range tool kit down to the most manageable kit that I believe can travel with me.
Allow me to preface this by saying, if you drive a truck to the range every day or you never stray too far from home to bust caps, you can disregard what follows. But if you are a traveling man who makes a lot of stops, this article is for you.
Typically, the first thing I notice after cracking open my hard case after a long day of air travel is a piece of armament recently modified by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Sometimes an airline’s goon squad goes for hang time when they toss my rifle case through the air and onto a belt. Broken sucks but out of whack can sometimes be adjusted.
A good example of what can be adjusted are the sights on your pistol. Having a small hex wrench that loosens the set screw, a Delrin rod and a small hammer or an adjustable wrench (more on this later) can save the day. If you want to bring a sight pusher, knock yourself out. I don’t have the room for that in my gear, so a punch and hammer always has to work.
Hex & Torx Wrenches
When your scope’s mounting system magically gets loose, it isn’t much fun when you realize you have every hex wrench under the sun and no Torx wrenches. I always have at least one set of each and recommend carrying certain spares.The key spare to have is the 1⁄16-inch hex wrench that is used to slip the scales on my scope turrets. Along the same line of thinking would be a torque wrench. For long-range marksman courses, I will absolutely throw in a sniper tool kit. On a regular outing, however, a small crescent or adjustable wrench will get the job done. In a pinch, a small wrench can substitute for a ball-peen hammer or for providing additional leverage for attaching or tightening pistol grips on an AR-type rifle.If you use the long end of a hex wrench, you can’t get enough leverage to fully tighten it. So, I simply use the adjustable wrench to make this a breeze. The adjustable wrench can also be adjusted large enough to tighten muzzle devices.
In my kit, I also have a small magnet, which helps to keep parts on the table when you are working in the wind, in the dirt or in the dark.
Another key piece of gear is Gorilla Tape. I prefer the narrow version since it fits in my bag better and allows me to fix (temporarily) just about anything that breaks. No kidding, this stuff does the trick. I usually have some wrapped around my water bottle and walking or shooting sticks, too. I don’t carry band-aids, so Gorilla Tape also fixes any boo-boos I get along the way.I used to carry a complete bolt carrier group for my AR, but I have not carried one for a few years now. Bolts just don’t break like they used to; the same can be said for extractors. In the old days, we used to fix several in guns per class. Those days are thankfully over. Now the only spares I tend to carry are screws and rail sections that I might want to add to my M-Lok forend. Carrying extra gun parts isn’t a bad idea but what parts do you really need to carry?
Files & Punches
I carry a small set of files; you never know when you might need those. I also have a file on my Leatherman, which is used to modify range steel stands to get them back together. Along with the file is a small wood saw, and yes, I have had to use this for range modifications as well.I always bring along an extensive set of punches. They are always handy to use as a guide when putting guns back together, and I make sure to have the right size to use as a slave pin when trying to put AR trigger parts back together.
Along with the punches, we need a center punch. This is used if we have to peen anything to keep it from coming loose. Gas keys on bolt carriers is the first part that comes to mind, the second being that pesky castle nut that holds your receiver extension in place.
In the sniper kit, the torque wrench I carry is a T-handled version. It’s military issue and set to a specification of 65 inch-pounds. This device has some backlash, so tighten until the wrench is about to slip then stop.
Last, I carry the Gerber Short Stack Multi-Tool (gerbergear.com, $47). This is a pretty cool little tool that eliminated a lot of bulky items from my travel tool kit. The Gerber multi-tool comes with some of the drivers you may need, but it also has a buffer-tube wrench built in used to tighten buttstocks when they come loose. There are also a couple of scrapers used to clean carbon off a firing pin, bolt carrier and bolt assembly. I don’t use these as much, but they have come in handy when I needed them.
Along with the tools, I have lubricant to keep systems functioning. Don’t be afraid to add oil. A wet gun will usually run much better than a dry gun.
So, that’s my kit. I never stop looking to improve it and neither should you with yours. Look at your tools and figure out what is absolutely needed. (Then write and tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.) Trim down the amount you bring and you will be happier that you did.