A couple months back I volunteered to test drive an AR-15 armorer’s wrench in exchange for an honest review. Full disclosure: the wrench reviewed here was provided to me by Products at Your Fingertips (via Amazon) free of charge for review purposes. Due to a bunch of delays, family medical emergencies and having most of the parts for the rifle builds I was planning to use this wrench on I wasn’t able to really give it a workout until recently.
As a ‘smith I’ve used a bunch of different AR-15 combo wrenches. They’re all over the place, everyone makes one and a lot of them are barely adequate or outright suck. Most of them have the same core functionality, give or take a couple of doodads, so as long as the wrench holds up to abuse you’re good to go. The first combo wrench I ever bought years ago was a DPMS in that hideous speckled grey finish, and despite being cheap it’s still holding up as a backup to get borrowed out to friends now and then.
The core functions that most wrenches have are:
- Barrel nut teeth and pegs
- 5/8″ and 3/4″ square slots for flash hiders and rifle buffer tubes
- Castle nut wrench teeth
- A screwdriver tip
- 1/2″ drive for torque wrench use
At a glance, the AIM wrench looks similar to the NCStar branded tool which I’ve had run-ins with in the past. NCStar are widely known in the gun world for cheap, sub-par products that fall into the “walmart grade” category. I’ve seen several NCStar wrenches fail miserably during barrel nut changes and free float tube installs. I can’t comment on whether it’s a re-branded product or not, so we’ll have to rely on its performance alone and hope for the best.
The wrench covers all of the basic functions you’d expect. It’s noticeably thicker around the torque-heavy areas forward of the grip, matching similar wrenches in profile. The barrel nut teeth are well defined and deeper cut than the aforementioned DPMS wrench, while the pegs on the flip side are shallower but equally sturdy.
I’ve known plenty of people to shear those pegs through either stubborn free float tube barrel nuts or misuse on a standard barrel nut. Being the type to push limits I decided to see how sturdy those pegs are and intentionally misuse it for science.
After several removal and installations the wrench pegs survived improper use just fine. Always be wary of extremely tight or loctited barrel nuts that can shear these pegs, however.
I completed two AR builds and have had to disassemble and reassemble the barrel on an A1 retro build several times now to shim the index pin. Throughout this process the wrench has performed admirably, with only a few scratches in the powder coated finish to show for it.
The AIM Sports wrench seems like a sturdy, low-cost wrench for those looking to get into building their own AR-15 or someone in need of a couple spares around the shop. It’s held up well, but I’ll continue to use and abuse it to test its limits. It’s a step up in quality over the old, hideous DPMS wrenches while staying under $25.