I know I'm not the only one who has used a pen or a loaded cartridge to push tightly seated receiver pins out of an AR. However, that's the only egregious misapplication of improvised tools to which I will admit. Some atrocities should never be repeated.
The good news is that Fix It Sticks has a new AR-15 toolkit that is meaningful enough and portable enough to keep in a range bag. The design principle behind Fix It Sticks is a simple two-piece T-handle wrench.
Fix It Sticks is a small company operating out of Chicago. The company began when one of the owners busted his training bike. He looked around for the tools to make the repair and grabbed a three-way wrench before getting to work. Upon completing the repair, he tried to stuff the wrench in his pocket and couldn't get it to fit. The inconvenience this caused served as the impetus for a more efficient and portable tool.
Fast forward several months (and a handful of prototypes) and Fix It Sticks was born. The sticks are incredibly simple. There are two 3-inch long cylinders that have quarter-inch hex sockets in the middle and on each end. Any quarter-inch bit will fit in the ends. To tighten a fastener, put the appropriate bit in one end of the stick and use it like a screwdriver. When more torque is required, attach the second stick to the bit on the opposite end, creating a T-handled driver.
The latest offering from Fix It Sticks uses the same wrench system but with a number of tool attachments specifically designed for the AR-15. Most of the AR-15 tools are for improved cleaning and simplifying repairs in the field.
One of the tools that most interested me was a castle nut wrench that slips into one of the two pieces that make the T-handle wrench. I've seen a couple of castle nuts come loose at the range or at a training course, and there is usually no fast way to fix it. Once the castle nut is loose, the whole stock assembly rotates like a big screw.
Castle nut wrenches are big and heavy, and I've never seen one that would keep reasonably well in a range bag until now. The Fix It Sticks attachment is small and fits the castle nut snugly, making field repairs fast. Like everything Fix It Sticks makes, the attachment is tiny and conveniently sits out of the way until needed.
The other key pieces of equipment are cleaning scrapers. One is designed for hitting the inside of the bolt carrier and the outside of the bolt, and the other is a bronze scraper that handles general duties.
The kit also includes a steel pick for the hard-to-reach places, a metal pin punch, a polymer pin punch for the receiver pins, a cleaning brush, two small cleaning rods and a sight adjustment insert. All of these attachments sit in polymer carriers so nothing rattles around.
The set also comes with 12 chrome-plated bits that work with the Fix-It Sticks. These are invaluable for optics mounting and action screws on bolt-action rifles. When combined with torque limiters, the sticks and included bits become the most convenient torque wrench every range bag should contain.
While the AR-15 kit comes with no torque limiters, they are available from the company's website. I'd recommend getting the 20-inch-pound limiter and the 45-inch-pound limiter. Those will allow any shooter to mount a scope in just about any mount without fear of crushing the maintube.
At $100 for the AR-15 kit and $40 for each torque limiter, the user has the ability to assemble and maintain their rifle and optic at a moment's notice without breaking the bank. The kit has space to accommodate four torque limiters, and the whole thing sits in a small nylon pouch that fits in your pocket. It'd be foolish not to keep one handy.