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Demystifying the Modern AR15 Rifle: A Comprehensive Look at its Essential Components and Their Functionality

The AR15 rifle has earned a well-deserved reputation as a versatile and reliable firearm. At the heart of its success lies a precise assembly of various components that work in harmony to deliver exceptional performance. In this article, we’ll delve into the key parts that come together to create a modern AR15 rifle and explore how each component contributes to its overall functionality.

Upper Receiver:

The upper receiver is where the action happens. It houses critical parts such as the barrel, bolt carrier group (BCG), and charging handle. The upper receiver assembly is responsible for chambering rounds, extracting spent casings, and cycling the next round into the chamber.


The barrel plays a vital role in determining accuracy and range. Made from high-quality materials, such as chrome-moly steel or stainless steel, it provides stability and durability. The barrel’s twist rate affects bullet stabilization and accuracy, while its length influences muzzle velocity and maneuverability. For these reasons, the barrel is often considered the “heart” of the firearm. There are a ton of manufacturers out there that produce an equally wide variety of quality barrels as well. A good “in the middle” option is Ballistic Advantage or our line of JTF barrels.

Bolt Carrier Group (BCG):

microbest nitride bcg

The BCG is the heart of the AR15 rifle. It consists of the bolt, bolt carrier, and firing pin. As the rifle is fired, the BCG moves rearward, extracting and ejecting the spent casing, then chambers the next round from the magazine. It ensures reliable cycling and smooth functioning.


Lower Receiver:

The lower receiver serves as the foundation of the AR15 rifle. It houses the trigger mechanism, magazine well, and stock. Made from aluminum or polymer, it provides structural integrity and accommodates other essential components.

Trigger Group:

The trigger group determines the rifle’s firing capabilities and user experience. It comprises the trigger, hammer, disconnector, and springs. A quality trigger enhances accuracy, while proper sear engagement ensures safe operation. One of the largest manufacturers of reasonably priced, yet high quality triggers is Schmid Engineering and Tool.


Stock :

The stock provides stability and allows the shooter to properly shoulder the rifle. It may be fixed, collapsible, or adjustable to accommodate individual preferences and shooting scenarios. Comfort and ergonomics play a crucial role in stock selection. From fixed to adjustable and even specially designed precision stocks, there is a huge selection to choose from these days. A solid, dependable choice used by the military for years is the SOPMOD style of stock which features great ergonomics and even water resistant storage compartments.


The handguard protects the shooter’s hand from the heat generated by the barrel. It also provides a mounting platform for accessories like sights, lights, and grips. Various materials, such as polymer, aluminum, or carbon fiber, offer different levels of durability and weight savings. Popular options include mounting options such as the M-LOK system developed by Magpul or the 1913 Picatinny rail system which was in part developed by the US Army.


Gas System:

The gas system regulates the flow of propellant gases to operate the rifle. Most AR15 rifles employ a direct impingement or gas piston system. The gas block, gas tube, and gas key work together to control gas flow, ensuring reliable cycling and reduced recoil. Common gas tube sizes seen on the platform include pistol, carbine, mid length, and rifle and vary in length with pistol being the shortest and rifle being the longest. A wide variety of gas blocks also exist and often include “fixed” and “adjustable” types. Adjustable gas blocks allow the operator to increase or reduce the flow of gas returning to the upper to cycle the action. This can be a benefit for those shooting suppressed, which often forces more gas into the gun due to increased back pressure. Drawback also exist, such as an increase in the number of parts, therefore increasing the points of failure on a firearm.


The magazine is responsible for storing and feeding ammunition into the rifle. AR15 rifles commonly use detachable box magazines with various capacities. Quality magazines ensure reliable feeding, reducing malfunctions during operation.

Buffer System:

The buffer system comprises of the receiver extension (also called buffer tube by some), recoil or buffer spring, buffer weight and typically a castle nut and end plate to attach and secure the assembly to the lower receiver. This assembly of parts plays a massively important roll in the function and reliability of the AR 15 platform. The AR, like many mechanical devices, is a balance between forces in action. Pressure, velocity and friction just to name a few. If anything is out of balance, the system begins to malfunction. For example, if your BCG is moving to fast while cycling, it may fail to properly extract a spent cartridge or feed a fresh one.

Here at JTF we generally recommend the following setups for carbine buffer systems:

  • 14.5 to 16 inch 5.56 carbine gas system = Minimum Sprinco White, Red White, or Red spring and H1 Buffer
  • 14.5 to 16 inch 5.56 mid length gas system = Sprinco Blue spring and H1 Buffer
  • Less than 14.5 inch carbine or pistol gas systems = Red/White, Red or Blue Spring with an H1 or H2 buffer

These setups will change based on your barrel’s gas port size and if you add a suppressor into the mix or not, so don’t be afraid to consult one of our armorers if you have questions for your specific setup.


The modern AR15 rifle is an engineering marvel, comprising several intricately designed components that work synergistically to deliver accuracy, reliability, and versatility. From the upper receiver to the magazine, each part plays a vital role in the rifle’s overall functionality. Understanding these components and their interactions is key to appreciating the craftsmanship behind this iconic firearm.

Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or an aspiring enthusiast, gaining insight into the inner workings of the AR15 rifle enhances your appreciation for its precision engineering. As you assemble or upgrade your own AR15, remember that the quality and compatibility of each component contribute to the rifle’s performance and your shooting experience.

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Benefits Of An AR-15

As one of the most popular firearms in the United States, the AR-15 is a powerful weapon with a wide range of benefits. Despite the controversies that surround it, this rifle has earned a reputation as one of the most versatile and reliable firearms available. In this blog post, we will explore the many benefits of owning an AR-15.


One of the most significant benefits of owning an AR-15 is its versatility. This rifle can be customized in countless ways, allowing users to adapt it to fit their specific needs. Whether you need a firearm for hunting, self-defense, or recreational shooting, the AR-15 can be configured to meet your requirements.

This AR is configured into a PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) format and is compact but powerful using the 300 blackout cartridge.


Another advantage of the AR-15 is its accuracy. This rifle is designed to deliver consistent, precise shots at long distances. With the right scope and accessories, the AR-15 can be used for target shooting, varmint hunting, and even long-range competitions.


When it comes to firearms, reliability is key. Fortunately, the AR-15 is one of the most reliable rifles on the market. Its design and construction make it resistant to malfunctions and jams, ensuring that it fires when you need it most.



As previously mentioned, the AR-15 is highly customizable. From adjustable stocks to different barrel lengths and calibers, the AR-15 can be tailored to fit your needs. Additionally, there are a wide variety of accessories available, including grips, sights, and flashlights, which can enhance the rifle’s performance and usability.

AR-15 set up in a defensive configuration
An example of a defensive carbine


Many gun owners choose the AR-15 for its self-defense capabilities. This rifle can be a formidable weapon in the hands of a trained user, allowing them to protect themselves and their loved ones in a dangerous situation. Additionally, the AR-15’s customizable nature allows for modifications that can enhance its self-defense capabilities, such as adding a suppressor to reduce muzzle flash and noise.



For those who enjoy hunting, the AR-15 is a versatile and effective option. It can be configured for various types of hunting, including small game and varmint hunting, as well as larger game such as deer and elk. The AR-15’s accuracy and reliability make it a popular choice among hunters.

AR-15 in 350 legend
This AR is chambered in the excellent hunting cartridge – 350 Legend


Lastly, the AR-15 is an excellent firearm for recreational shooting. Its versatility and customization options make it a popular choice among gun enthusiasts, and its accuracy and reliability make it a great choice for target shooting and competition shooting.

In conclusion, the AR-15 is a versatile, accurate, reliable, and customizable rifle that offers a wide range of benefits to gun owners. From self-defense and hunting to recreational shooting and competitions, the AR-15 can be configured to meet your needs and preferences. If you are looking for a powerful and versatile firearm, the AR-15 is definitely worth considering.

Check out or store for a ton of AR related items and services! SHOP NOW

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The PHOKUS Hoplite NVG Refocusing Cover

The Hoplite was developed by SOF end users to reduce far to near focusing time.  This is accomplished through a simple hinged aperture control, similar to the field made ones used by operators for years. The patented technology provides unrivaled speed for target identification of threats at 5 feet or 300 yards. The hinged cover gives operators a critical advantage by allowing NVG’s to stay focused out to infinity while simultaneously allowing Target ID of near threats by flipping the cover closed. Warfighters commonly modify their dust covers to gain this same advantage only to discover unreliable transitioning and functional inconsistency.  The Hoplite also helps to protect the objective lens of the NVG.  Tens of thousands of NVG’s are damaged each year due to lens scratches and cracks. The improved Hoplite design replaces the existing dust cover and sacrificial lens.

The Hoplite is a great addition to your night vision goggle kit.  The rugged hinge allows the aperture to fold back against the goggle’s body so as to be out of the way.  But, it is immediately available for engagement.  The Hoplite makes use of three different apertures.  The kit comes complete with two smaller aperture inserts that can be placed into the larger aperture hole in the cover.  These sizes were carefully chosen to offer the operator the most useful focal distances.  They include 1/8″, 3/16″, and 5/16″ openings.  The smaller the opening, the more added infrared light is required to boost the image.

Obviously, the infinity/close focus effect is achieved by limiting the amount of the light gathered by the objective lens of the goggle.  So, your image will be darker when the Hoplite is engaged.  For this reason, we find it is best used in areas with higher amounts of ambient light to help offset the diminished light effect.  It is especially useful while driving a vehicle because the instrument panel is in focus at the same time as the terrain while the instrument panel’s lights provide the added illumination.  It is also a very useful tool in urban settings where there is more likely to be more man-made ambient light.  Regardless, it is a good idea to have a tertiary infrared illuminator at the ready.

The Stats

WEIGHT0.88 oz.

Polycarbonate, 18-8 Stainless Steel

1/8″, 3/16″, and 5/16″ Openings Included

Compatibility with the Phokus Research Hoplite

The Hoplite is available in both single and dual tube configurations and works with the following models:

AN/PVS6 || AN/PVS-7 || AN/PVS-7B/D || ANVIS-9

AN/PVS-14 || NEPVS-14 || AN/PVS-23 (F5050YG)

AN/PVS-15 || AN/PVS-18 || AN/PVS-31 BNVD


The Hoplite NVG Refocusing Cover is a well made and durable option for your NVGs that might help you with your mission. That being said, you’re the only one that can determine that. If you are interested in checking them out, you can find them on Phokus Research’s website HERE. And if you do decide to get some or any of the other great products from them, use this 10% off discount code for Phokus Reasearch, COPTALK10

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The Best Tools To Build And Maintain The AR-15

So you are building an AR, great! Welcome to the adult Lego club. Now you’re looking for the best tools to build and maintain the AR-15. Building AR’s is a lot of fun, and not nearly as daunting as it may seem, especially with the right tools. Trust me when I say is much more enjoyable and much, much less frustrating when you use the proper tools. Those same tools should also be a reputable brand and of high quality, remember the old adage, ” buy once, cry once”. So join me on our little stroll through armorer’s paradise as I list out the best tools for the job.

Midwest Industries Professional Armorer’s Wrench

A good armorer’s wrench is absolutely essential for any tool kit or box. A good wrench will help you install and remove barrel nuts, castle nuts, muzzle devices and much more. The one from MI is great quality and packed with features. Here’s a few facts from the website:

  • Designed to work with 5.56 and 7.62 AR platform rifles components
  • Works with encapsulated and pin style barrel nuts including the GI style nut
  • Drive end for all MI free float barrel nuts – Including CRM,SLH,CRT,CRLW,ULW,G3M,G4M,SP Series
  • ¾ inch wrench for A2 muzzle devices and designed to work with the thin flats on many of the popular suppressor mounts
  • Castle nut driver with 3 notch engagement
  • Combat bottle opener
  • Small hammer head
  • Torque specs features on wrench handle.
  • Constructed from 4140 heat treated steel
  • 1/2 Inch drive for torque wrench (2)
  • Made 100% in the USA

There is one thing not listed here, and that is dimensional tolerances. Tolerances are really important when fitting two things together, like a nut and a wrench. Many a time have I busted a knuckle or pissed myself off because I used a cheaper wrench that didn’t fit just right, causing it to slip off. You risk damaging your part and yourself.

This brings me to something important that is listed, its made from 4140 steel. Many of the cheap wrenches on Amazon are hit or miss with quality and you often times have no idea what they are made with. They can bend, chip or shear in the middle of you using it. Get a quality wrench and sleep easy.

PRICE: $65.99

Rock N’ Roll Pins

The AR-15 uses several roll pins in it’s assembly, so a good roll pin punch kit is vital. Trying to improperly install a roll pin will cause you to damage your firearm and look like an idiot. The Wheeler Roll Pin Install Kit is a great base to start with. It features all the roll pin starter punches and tools you will need to install and remove:

  • Bolt catch roll pins
  • Forward assist roll pins
  • trigger guards
  • Gas block/gas tube (Another option coming up soon)

The Wheeler kit isn’t bad, but there are better quality hammers and punches out there. As a starter kit or for the casual gunsmith, its a solid kit for a good price.

PRICE: $35.99

Pivot Pin Tool

The most common mishap when putting together a lower is launching a detent into the void, only to be found again with a vacuum 6 months later. Pivot and takedown detents are pretty small and under spring pressure during install, which is a recipe for disaster. Thankfully someone way smarter than me came up with an affordable easy solution, The Real Avid Pivot Pin Installation Tool. This cheap little thing makes it an absolute breeze to install your pivot pin and takes the frustration right out of it.

PRICE: $11.99

Get a Grip

Installing a grip screw can be aggravating. You can’t really see what you’re doing and the screw always seems to fall off. Many grip screws now use a hex wrench or key, this makes install and removal a little easier. Even easier if you use the Klein Tools 3/16-Inch Hex Key.

This comfortable T handle hex key is perfect for installing grip screws! As long as they are the proper 3/36 drive size. Of course it never hurts to buy a set of these just to have the other sizes available as well.

PRICE: $6.99 approximately

Other grip screws may use a slotted screw or like the MagPul grip screw, can accept both the 3/16 hex or slotted screw driver. For this reason its also good to get a good quality screw driver.

I like the Klein Tools 32303 Multi-Bit Screwdriver / Nut Driver. It’s adjustable for length and bit type so you can use it for a variety of guns or situations. Plus instead of buying a whole other screwdriver, you can just buy the bits you need instead.

PRICE: $19.99

The Rabbit Hole

If you really want to go down the AR-15 gunsmith rabbit hole, check out this list by Chad Albrecht of School of The American Rifle. SOTAR is one of the premier providers of dedicated AR-15 armorer’s courses and Chad is a wealth of knowledge.



My Students often ask for suggestions about what AR Tools, Gauges, and Jigs they should buy.

When I am asked this question its quite difficult for me to narrow down or compartmentalize a list due to the vast collection I have amassed. I promise my reluctance is not because I don’t want to help, it’s just a difficult task.

I try to buy every AR Tool, Gauge, and Jig available on the Civilian Market. I also collect U.S. Government M4/M16 Tools and Gauges. USGI Gauges and Tools are somewhat rare, very expensive, and collectible. My list will include alternatives to USGI options.

If certain Tools, Jigs, or Gauges are not available on a commercial market, I make them.

I do this because having a variety allows me to select the best tools for certain jobs. My Students also get to use, hammer on, and wrench on the tools, so I get to see how well they hold up. Students can mess up a cheap tool right quick.

So here it goes. Remember, this list is geared towards the AR but many of these items can be used to service your other firearms. If I dont suggest something you own, please don’t take offense. This list is a guideline, not the The Good Book. There will be 4 levels:

1) Basic

2) Intermediate

3) Professional

4) Insane

I will add part #’s when time permits, I’ll do my best to answer any questions.


******************BASIC LIST**************************

In my opinion these are the basic items for inspection, maintainance, and minor upgrades.

-Brownells Screwdriver (Best) or Wheeler Gunsmith Screwdriver Set (Good)

The Brownells has a lifetime warranty which means if you break a bit, Brownells will replace it with no questions asked. Using Gunsmith Bits are a MUST if you don’t want to hack up you AR, or your other firearms.

-SAE & Metric Socket Set

-Inch Pound Torque Wrench

I like the Wheeler FAT Wrench (Non Digital). The best prices are usually on Amazon. It does forward and reverse torque and clicks/breaks when it reaches it’s setting. These are great for mounting Rails, Optics, and Gas Key Screws. I own 5 of these and they have held up at my Work Bench and in Classes.

-Cheap Steel & Brass 17pc Punch Set

You can get these from Amazon. The kits come with a Spring Loaded Center Punch which can be used for Castle Nut Staking, or “Field Staking” the top of the Carrier Key.

-Tape Measure

For measuring Buffer Springs.

-.080 Weed Eater Line

-4 to 8 Ounce Ball Peen Hammer

You don’t want a roofing hammer or a claw hammer. A 4 Ounce Ball Peen is my favorite.

-Harbor Freight Rubber Mallet

Great for moving stubborn parts without damaging the material or finish.

-Harbor Freight Plastic Dead Blow Hammer

Great for moving stubborn parts without damaging the material or finish.

-Small Carbon Steel Washer

For checking parts for Magnetism.

-Digital or Analog Calipers

These are for basic checking of parts and for doing a crude a Firing Pin Protrusion check. You can buy a budget models but you can’t always trust them. In my opinion, it’s better to have a Harbor Freight Caliper than nothing, but if you can afford it a good Mitutoyo will give a lifetime of reliable service.

-1.4646 Forster 5.56 GO Headspace Gauge (Brownells)

-Feeler Gauge Set

-Obsidian Arms Punch Set

-Little Crow Gunworks Bolt Catch Tool

-Brownells Magazine Catch Install Tool

-Brownells Chamber Reflector Tool

-Starrett 117c (Best) or Mayhew 5/32×4 1/2 punch (Good)

These are for staking the Castle Nut if you don’t like using a Spring Loaded Center Punch

-Pivot Pin Install Tool

You can use an Exacto Knife, Magnet, ¼” Clevis Pin & Punch, Real Avid Tool, or other specialized Tools made for this job. The Real Avid is one of the easiest to use and cost effective.

-M-Guns Gas Tube Bender

-Brownells Gas Tube Wrench/Vise

-Snap Ring Pliers

-Geissele Hammer & Trigger Install Pin

This helps install an AR FCG, but can be used to Oil or Abrasive Lap the bores in an AR Lower Receiver if they are too small.

-AR General Purpose Brush

-Iosso AR Nylon Brush Set

I don’t use bronze or stainless brushes for firearms.

-Rapid Rod (Best) or Steel USGI Sectioned Cleaning Rod (Good)

These are not for regular cleaning. They are great for cleaning in the field and for dislodging a stuck casing.

-One Piece Cleaning Rod and AR Upper Receiver Bore Guide

-Optics Cleaning Kit

-Basic Chemicals/Solvents

Aeroshell 64 (Barrel Nuts and Castle Nuts)

Rocksett or Loctite 271/272

Blue Stick Loctite (NOT the liquid type)

Cold Blue (Steel Touch-up)

Aluminum Black (Aluminum Touch-up)

Synthetic Grease (Assembly Lube)

Kroil Oil (Seized Fastners)

Steel Wool

Loctite 620 or Permatex Indian Gasket Shellac (Barrel Bedding and for Carrier/Gas Key Installs)


Bore Cleaner (I like Wipe Out Products)

Birchwood Casey Barricade (Great for external wipe downs)

******************INTERMEDIATE LIST*****************

In my opinion, this is the bare MINIMUM for building and tearing down an AR.

-A SOLID Work Bench

You can buy small Work Bench from Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Harbor Freight, but most are very light, have very light/weak frames, and thin work surfaces. Some people are forced to use their kitchen countertops due to limited space or budget. If you mount a Vise to a flimsy or unstable Work Bench it will often move when you try to torque on things, or if you try to remove things like taper pins. If you want a good Work Bench you can get a great one for $200.00 at Walmart/Sam’s Club. Their Work Benches are named Seville Classic. They have 2″ Wood tops and are heavy. I have 5 in my Shop/Classroom and they are indestructible and they have a few sizes for those with limited space.

-4″- 6″ Vise.

You should bolt your Vise to your Work Bench and avoid clamp-on arrangements. You can get by with just a Harbor Freight Vise, but it may not last.

A Vise is a must for Installing/Removing a Barrel/Rail System, Installing/Removing a Receiver Extension, or Installing/Removing a Muzzle Device. I use the 4.5″ Yost 445 Vises from Amazon for my Shop/Classroom Work Benches and the have held up great.

Yes, people can do the above without a Vise and Work Bench, but in my experience, you’re not going to properly torque things down, or do clean work without a SOLID Work Bench and Vise.

-Vise Pads

You don’t want to grab a gun part in a Vise without Vise Pads. There are many options for this, but most are not great. In my opinion the best ones are made at home. I use Trex Decking material and Leather. The alternative is 4.5″ magnetic rubber Vise Blocks from Amazon.

-½” Foot Pound Clicker Torque Wrench

A Harbor Freight model will work here but not for a lifetime of uses. Do your research and buy the best one you can afford. The beam types will work, but they are not easy to deal with when cranking on an AR. Torque Wrenches remove the human element from a job and create consistency in the work. I can build an AR without one, but I still use a Torque Wrench.

-Tapco Multi Tool Green Armorers Wrench

Yes, Tapco. My second choice is the Magpul Armorers Wrench. It’s the most versatile wrench when it comes to aftermarket parts like barrel nuts, muzzle devices, and receiver extensions. It isn’t as comfortable to use as others, but it is a great wrench with a great warranty.

-Geissele Reaction Block or Kley Zion Buffer Tube Jig

Which one you select depends on what you will be working on. The Geissele ONLY works on Milspec Receiver Extensions. The Kley Zion works on Milspec AND Commercial Receiver Extensions. So if you only own Milspec Receiver Extensions, the Geissele is best. If you will be working on other people’s AR’s , you have no control on what they will bring you and I guarantee there will be Commercial Receiver Extensions you have to contend with.

-Wood Block

Good for supporting Barrel when using a Reaction Rod type tool, and good for hammering on FSB Taper Pins.

-Magpul BEV Block

The BEV Block does work as a Barrel Install/Removal Tool and a Magazine Well Block. If you only need a Magazine Well Block then a NoMar Magazine Block will be a cheaper alternative.

-Harbor Freight Diamond File Set

Sometimes you need a file a part to fit and these cheap files work very well. If you are not patient, don’t have a steady hands, or a precise eye, then DONT buy files. Remember to always file the cheaper part.

-Mark Brown Customs Gas Tube Gauge

-Needle Nose Pliers

-Schuster Sling Staking Tool

-2# Hammer

For removing Taper Pins

-1/2″ Tip Punch

For removing Taper Pins

-Propane Torch

For removing stuck/seized parts. MAP Gas is better but propane will work. Don’t get items cherry red.

-Canned Air

Turn it upside down and shoot liquid on parts you want to take apart or put together. Sometimes freezing a part is better than heat.

-1.4636 Forster .223 GO Headspace Gauge

-1.4736 Brownells 5.56 Field Headspace Gauge

This is made by Forster

-NoMar Rail Blocks or YHM Rail Blocks

These help alignment of Handguard Rails to the Upper Receiver when you are installing screws or tightening clamping bolts.

-½” Drive 2’+ Breaker Bar

For removing stuck Barrel Nuts.

-KNS Hammer Cage Tool

Good for people with large fingers, or those with arthritis.

-Digital Depth/Anvil Gauge

For quick and accurate Firing Pin Protrusion measurement.

-Midwest URR

I don’t recommend the Geissele Reaction Rod or the Kley Zion Clone. If you use a Torque Wrench, the Reaction Rod type devices are fine for Upper Receiver assembly, but if you plan on tearing down AR Uppers or changing Rails you really don’t want the Reaction Rod. The Reaction Rod is NOT good for trying to remove seized or overtorqued Barrel Nuts. Think about how the Reaction Rod works. It holds the Barrel in a static position but does NOT lock the Upper Receiver in place. If you have a stuck/seized Barrel Nut, the Upper Receiver will try to spin with the Barrel Nut. What keeps the Upper Receiver from spinning? The Barrel Index Pin does, and it will break off if you add too much force. Seen this countless times. This is why the Midwest URR is best tool for the job, it has a sail that locks into the charging handle slot, and teeth that lock into the barrel extension. These two features prevents the Upper Receiver and Barrel Extension from spinning. The Midwest URR is a gauge of sorts as well. If your upper is twisted, or the Barrel Extension is not timed properly, the tool won’t go into the upper properly. I have a video showing this issue from a few weeks ago. Clamshell Upper Receiver Blocks are great for removing a stuck/seized Barrel Nut, but the Clamshell Blocks won’t work on some billet Uppers Receivers, and you can’t use heat on the Barrel Nut without melting the Clamshell Blocks.

-PRI Gas Block Punch Block

Great for installing Gas Tubes in a Low Profile Gas Block

-Wheeler Bench Block

Works great for installing Roll Pins in the Trigger Guard, Charging Handle, and Bolt Catch. It can be used for removing FSB Taper Pins, but I don’t use it for that feature.

-Sinclair Bolt Vise

For removing Bolt Ejector and Reinstalling it. You can do this without a Bolt Vise but this tool simplifies the job.

-Sharpening Stone

For resurfacing/decking a Gas Key

-M-Guns MOACKS Staking Jig

There is no other good option. I have tried them all. I suggest you avoid using striking tools to stake from the side of the Gas Key. Doing so will stress the Gas Key Screws.

-Bondhus Metric & SAE Ball Tip Allen Drivers

-Blue Point Strap Wrenches

Best strap wrenches I have used.

-Timney Trigger Pull Gauge

-No-Mar or Brownells Hammer Drop/Dryfire Block

-.061-.250 Pin Gauge Set

That set will allow you to check the following:

Barrel Gas Ports, GO Spec for Bolt Firing Pin Hole (NO GO .070 requires a Taper Plug Pin Gage), GO Spec for Lower Receiver Hammer & Trigger Holes (NO GO.163 requires a Taper Plug Pin Gage), FCG Hammer & Trigger Holes, Carrier Key Bore, Cam Pin Bore, FSB/Gas Block Gas Tube Bore, GO Spec for Pivot & Takedown Bores (My NO GO Spec is .253, so that is outside the range of this Set).

You can’t do the following with this set:

Gas Block/FSB Barrel Journal Bore, and Bolt Carrier 3 Bore.

-Selector/Safety Bore

******************PROFESSIONAL LIST****************

-Brownells Apron or similar Apron

A good Apron is a must for a professional Armorer or Gunsmith.

-Hawkeye Bore Scope

This is for Barrel Inspection, Bolt Carrier Inspection, Suppressor and Muzzle Device Inspection, but most of all it’s great for aligning Gas Blocks. The Lyman Bore Scope is MUCH more affordable, but it’s not as clear and may not work well for Gas Block Alignment. I will be testing a very cheap alternative soon and if it works, I’ll update this post.

-Saturn Barrel Blocks

They grab like no other Barrel Blocks.

-.625 & .750 SLR or BRDE Barrel Dimple Jig

For Dimpling Barrels for Gas Block Set Screws. I recommend a drill bit collar and carbide bits to use these Jigs. A Drill Press or Mill is best but you can use a Hand Drill.

-Carbide Drill Bits for Dimple Jig

-PTG or Brownells Lapping Tool

Get training before using this tool.

-Brownells Magazine Lip Gauge

-Bushnell bore sighter/collimator

-Sweeny Site A Line Spud

Used with the Bushnell Collimator.

-Site Lite Bore Sight Laser

-Arisaka Leveling Kit

-CKT Level

-Badger Ordnance Dead Level

-.625/.750 Flex Hones

For deburring FSB and Gas Block bores

-Rotary Tool

Get training or practice A LOT before using this tool.

-Feed Ramp Rework Polish Kit:

-1/4″ Bullet Tip Stone (For cutting the Barrel Extension Ramps ONLY), #8 Cratex Bullet Coarse (Brownells Part # 190-025-081), #8 Cratex Bullet Fine (Brownells Part # 190-025-083), #4 Pointed Mandrel for Cratex Tips (Brownells Part # 190-001-004), 1/4″ x 3/8″ x 1/8′ Felt Bob (Brownells Part # 839-500-025), 555 Polish (For Felt Bob – Brownells Part # 080-555-001)

-M-Guns Throat Gauge

-BRT Gas Block Insert Tap Set

-PTG Muzzle Erosion Gauge

-Merchant/Brownells Throat Erosion Gauge

-PTG Barrel Straightess Gauge

-Schuster Thread Concentric Gauge

Checking for Thread to Bore Run-Out

-Geissele or Surefire Suppressor Alignment Rods

-Granite Slab

For checking for bent or untrue items.

-USGI Barrel Nut Wrench with 3 Prong F.H. Tool

-YHM Lock Ring Tool

-DPMS Armorers Tool

Needed for older Free Float Tubes and some Integrally Suppresed AR’s.

-Broken Shell Extractor or Cerro Safe

-Sight Adjustment Tool

-Law Tactical Tool

-AAC 3 Prong Flash Hider Tool

-Schuster Barrel Nut Alignment Rod

-Iron Pipe

Breaker Bar Extension

-Crows Foot Wrench Set

-Damaged Screw Extractors

-Two 3/32″ x 12″ Drill Rods

For Muzzle Device Alignment

-Geissele Gas Tube Punch Set

-Jewelers Screwdriver Cobalt 759897

-School of the American Rifle Firing Pin Hole Taper Plug Gauge

-School of the American Rifle Lower Receiver Hammer & Trigger Bore Taper Plug Gauge

******************INSANE LIST*************************

-Taps, Dies, & Handles

(Taps & Dies 1/4-28, 10-32, 8-32, 1 3/16-16, 1/2-28, 1/2-36, 5/8-24, 1 1/4-18)

-Tap Magic Aluminum

-Tap Magic Standard

-4-40 Tap

For Takedown Set Screw Modification

-NRA Trigger Weight Kit

-Stainless Shim Stock in .0005 and .0010

Barrel Extension Shimming/Bedding

-Number Drill Bit Set

-Campfire Wood Skewers

Put them in the bore when you have to open a Gas Port. When you see wood chips you know to stop.

-Drill Press/Mill

-Gunsmith Lathe

-Cut Away AR15

-Barrel Extension Install/Removal Tool & Barrel Vise

-Large Frame AR Tools

-Proprietary KAC AR Tools

-Additional AR Gauges (Gauges: Headspace, Barrel Straightness, Muzzle Erosion, Throat Erosion, Suppressor Alignment Gauge) (Calibers: .300 Blackout, .308, 7.62×51 NATO, 6.5 CM, 7.62×39, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8SPC, 9mm Luger, .458 SOCOM, .22 L.R.)

-Proprietary Barrel Nut Wrenches


-Ruby Stones

FCG Stoning and Deburring

-Brownells Castle Nut Tool

Good for old Style Castle Nuts & KAC Castle Nuts

-Impact Driver

For seized Fastners

-Present Arms Armorers Block Kit

Great for prefectly timed Receiver Extensions

-FCD Castle Nut Wrench

Needed for Present Arms Castle Nut work.

-.251-.500 Pin Gauge Set

-.501-.625 Pin Gauge Set

For measuring Takedown/Pivot NO GO, Bolt Carrier 3 Bore, Selector/Safety Bore

You can’t do the following with this set:

Block Barrel Journal Bore for the FSB/Gas Block

-Forster 11 Piece .223 Match Headspace Gage Set

-Mitutoyo 0-1″ Micrometer


-BRDE Universal Gas Plick Pin/Drill Jig

-Toaster Oven

For Thermal Fit items

-Bead Blasting Cabinet

-1 3/16-16 UN3B GO & NO GO Thread Gauge

For Castle Nut and Receiver Extension

-Parts Washer

-Bucket Heater

For Parts Washer

-Simple Green Precision (NOT regular Simple Green)

For Parts Washer

-Ultrasonic Cleaner

Suppressor Baffles and BCG Cleaning

-Air Compressor

-USGI Magazine Well Plug Gauge # 8439649

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Why The Taser Pulse Is Being Discontinued

Axon Taser pulse

Axon, the company that owns TASER, has several models currently out with most being geared towards the public safety market. They also have several specifically meant for the civilian market with one in particular: The TASER Pulse. So why is it being discontinued? First lets talk about the concept behind the Pulse and what it is.

What is the TASER Pulse?

Many people are familiar with the ubiquitous and highly recognizable X26 and X26P from Taser, but what about their little brother? The X26 series has shown on countless occasions that it can be an effective tool used for self defense or gaining control over a person that might be dangerous, so of course regular people looking for a self defense tool that don’t want to or can’t carry a firearm might be interested in one as well.

Only issue is, it’s big. The X26 series is not compact by any means and is often larger than full size duty handguns. Not exactly an easy thing to conceal or have readily available when the time comes. Cue the Pulse. It’s compact, lightweight and can even be used in open carry and concealed carry holsters. From the Taser Website:

TASER Pulse is an effective, less-lethal defense tool that can immobilize attackers for up to 30 seconds. Packing the same knock-down punch trusted by law enforcement, it was built with civilian self-protection in mind. Weighing in at just 8 ounces, this high-tech, intuitively designed device is revolutionizing the self-defense market.

Yes, you read that right. 30 whole seconds. I have taken the 5 second ride several times in my career as a police officer and I can tell you, that’s a very long 5 seconds. I can not even begin to imagine what 30 continuous seconds would feel like. The idea behind the 30 second ride is that the longer neuromuscular incapacitation or NMI, would give the user time to run away and seek help or to gain access to another weapon if need be. Kind of like fire and forget.

But wait, my Taser Pulse is still back there?

Safe Escape Replacement

Axon (TASER) offers a full replacement of your unit if you use it and lose it in a self defense situation. I have mixed emotions about this. I think it’s great that they replace a unit that’s been used by the customer to protect themselves, I wish more gun companies would offer something similar like Sons Of Liberty Gun Works. My hang up on it is this, you just gave that attacker another weapon. There is nothing stopping that person from getting up after the 30 seconds, grabbing your Pulse and taking off into the dark. All they have to do then is order a new cartridge and maybe a new battery and they are back in business. It’s all great if the police response of other intervention happens right away like it should in a perfect world, but it doesn’t. Police response times in certain areas are longer than they ever have been due to staffing, call volume and other variables.

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What does the AR in AR-15 stand for?

Many people, including many mainstream news sources often assume that the AR stands for “Assault Rifle”, which is entirely incorrect.

AR15 stlye carbine by JTF Consulting LLC
JTF Assembled AR-15

The AR actually stands for “Armalite Rifle”, Armalite being the first producer and manufacturer of the rifle designed by Eugene Stoner who was the lead engineer for the company in 1954.

Eugene Stoner designer of the AR15
Eugene Stoner next to some of his first designs

The AR has also at times been said to stand for “America’s Rifle” given its prevelance in American sport shooting and culture. This is not the official designation and usually referred to as such by users and operators of the platform.

So what does AR-15 mean?

Like I mentioned above, the AR stands for “ArmaLite Rifle” and the number 15 simply stands for the model number. So AR-15 simply means “ArmaLite Rifle, Model # 15”. Though at this point , AR15 is used to describe the type of firearm instead of the specific manufacturer since the platform is now made by many more companies.

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The New Taser X1 – Cheaper and Better?

Taser X1

As of 2021 The iconic TASER X26P has been discontinued by Axon and replaced is being by the TASER X1.  The units are basically the same except the X1 comes in at a lower price point and is available to everyone, including civilians. So what’s different and possibly even better about it? A police officer gives his perspective.

The Taser X26P

To get an idea about the new X1, lets talk about it’s predecessor, the X26P briefly. In our other article comparing the X26 and the X26P we talked about how prolific the X26 and X26P really are. At the time of the article, over 15,000 different agencies employed either model and it’s use has also been featured in TV, movies and video games. So if it is so successful and widespread, why put out a replacement? In short, money.

Tasers are expensive tools, the X26P is around $1200 and the Taser X2 at $1300 all the way up to the Taser 7 CQ coming in at $1600. If you are a law enforcement agency or security company, you can go ahead and tack on training and certification fees as well as maintenance fees as well. Of course just like your phone or any electronic device, they need to be replaced from time to time.

Cue The Taser X1

Taser X26P vs the X1
The X26P compared to The New Taser X1

Just looking at the X26P and X1 side by side, they look nearly identical no just what exactly is new and improved? That’s one of the beautiful things about it, it has really changed much at all. In fact:

  • The X1 uses the same cartridges
  • The X1 uses the same battery packs and add-ons
  • And the X1 shares the same holster compatibility
  • Like the X26 and X26P features a laser aiming system

But unlike the X26P, it does not feature a light in addition to the laser, which I often found underpowered and all but useless anyway. It also does not come with a holster in the kit, which is great for an agency that already issues X26P holsters and is another cost savings. Another plus for agencies is there is no learning curve or substantial re-training needed for officers, another cost and time savings. The other changes are cosmetic, it appears that at the time of the article, the X1 is only available in the grey color you see in the pictures. Personally I like it better than the yellow.

So what do you get then? The Taser X1 comes with a non-rechargeable battery, 2 cartridges and a practice target in a hard case. All of that for often less than $1000, a full $200 less than the X26P. It’s unclear if any of the internals have changed other than the removal of the LED light, presumably not much since it uses the same batteries and cartridges.

From Axon’s Site

Final Thoughts

To me it’s clear that the X1 from Axon is geared more towards the civilian self defense and private security market while they push the X2 and Taser 7 towards law enforcement agencies. that being said, I think the X1 is a viable option for an agency that is needing to replace the X26P but doesn’t want to or can’t spend the extra money on training, holsters and new cartridges. For those looking to have something at home but can’t or do not want to own a firearm for self defense, its also an option. I say at home because the X26P and X1 are in no way very concealable and would be better suited for protecting the homestead or in a vehicle. If you are wanting on to conceal carry, I’d recommend taking a look at the Taser Pulse.

Check out the X1 and Pulse on Amazon to help support the author.
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One Of The Best In Ar-15 Triggers: Schmid Tool & Engineering

Schmid Tool & Engineering triggers

Ok so maybe not a total secret, but it’s not commonly known just how common these triggers are! Chances are high that if you have EVER pulled the trigger on a factory or mil-spec AR/M4/M16 that the fire control group (FCG) was made partly, or in whole by Schmid Tool & Engineering. They produce thousands upon thousands of triggers and small parts for the platform to supply government contracts and commercial contracts, all from their Villa Park, IL location.

About Schmid Tool & Engineering

They have been around for a long time, since 1943 in fact, and are still a family owned business. From their website:

From Schmid Tool & Engineering Corp.

“Schmid Tool and Engineering is a third generation, small, woman owned, family business. We have been in business since 1943 in the Chicago area. Having started as a tool and die shop, we have developed over time into a full service CNC contract machine shop. Our specialties have been in machining small castings. We handle many government contracts as the primary and secondary supplier. Our philosophy is to manufacture parts for our customers with the highest degree of quality, with the best service to meet the customers needs. We are ISO (9001:2008) compliant. Our measuring capabilities are traceable to the NIST, with real time SPC visibility on the manufacturing floor.”

You can guarantee that a company with that much history, consistency and constant contracts has a high pedigree in the gun world.

So why aren’t they a (gun) household name like Geissele, Colt or LaRue?

Hidden In Plain Sight

Like I mentioned at the beginning, you’ve probably handled one without realizing it. If you look at the triggers and parts themselves, you can easily identify Schmid parts. Each one of their forged parts feature a distinctive “S” on them to identify the maker, Schmid.

Schmid Tool Nickel Teflon Single stage trigger
Notice the “S” marked in red

Another reason Schmid isn’t as widely known to consumers is the fact that they themselves don’t sell directly to consumers. Most of their triggers are either rebranded, repackaged or built into other brands since they only appear to sell to manufacturers, distributors and other businesses directly (Like us!). Some notable examples include:

  • Sons of Liberty Gun Works
  • Aero Precision
  • Bravo Company Machine
  • ALG
  • Many More!

What Triggers Does Schmid Tool Make?

Several in fact! Their most common by far is their mil-spec or one built to military specifications. This semi automatic trigger or fire control group is a simple, single stage trigger that is battle tested and proven and one of the most reliable and cost effective options out there. They usually run from $30-$40 in price including the springs and pins! Using the included springs, you get a 5 to 7 pound trigger pull usually that breaks in with use and dry fire and will last you thousands of round or trigger pulls.

Schmid Tool Mil-Spec Trigger $29.99

Their “upgraded” single stage trigger is probably one of my most favorite go-to triggers ever. The Nickel Teflon finished mil-spec style single stage.

Schmid Tool nickel Teflon Trigger
Schmid Toll NicoTef Single Stage Trigger

These break in so well and become so smooth with use, a massive upgrade to an already decent trigger. Featuring honed and polished engagement surfaces, a slick and durable Nickel Teflon finish and finely tuned spring rate for the trigger and hammer springs, you get a smooth trigger pull with very little take-up and a crisp clean break at 5 – 5.5 pounds. Not to mention the Nickel Teflon finish is also highly corrosion resistant, making it a great option for truck guns, rough use guns, or ARs that might be stored for long periods of time.. like buried or something (wink wink). You combine this trigger with either reduced power springs, or even better, JP Enterprises Enhanced Reliability spring kit, and you have a hell of a good trigger. Trigger weights are usually between 3.5 to 5 pounds and usually cost between $40 and $65 depending on where you get them.

Schmid also makes 2 stage triggers, similar in function to the Geissele SSA and LaRue MBT. These usually have great pull weights and crisp breaks making them a solid choice on competition or hunting builds.

Schmid Too 2 Stage Phosphate Trigger

For shooters seeking a combination of value, reliability and precision, the Schmid Tool & Engineering 2-Stage Trigger Group checks all the boxes. This trigger assembly takes advantage of a two stage fire control design that has been trusted in both competition and combat roles for decades. The first stage pull weight is adjustable based on the trigger spring being used. The factory spring will give you a 1.5lbs first stage pull and the crisp second stage breaks at 2.5lbs for a total pull weight of 4-5lbs (actual total pull weight may vary ± .5lb). The 5lb total weight gives the operator a greater level of safety and control in high stress environments but with a second stage pull weight of only 2.5lbs, the shooter can also squeeze off long range precision shots with ease. These triggers usually run about $60 to $80 and are a great price compared to similar other designs!

The next two stage offering from Schmid is the same as other, just with a Nickel Boron finish instead of the phosphate finish.

Schmid Tool Nickel Boron 2 stage trigger
Schmid Tool Nickel Boron 2 Stage Trigger

What makes the Nickel Boron, or NiBor finish any different? Well for one it adds corrosion resistance, but most importantly it makes the sear contact surfaces slicker and harder. This usually results in a smoother, lighter pull for the trigger, even using the same springs. In comparison with the phosphate model, the NiBor trigger has a total pull weight of 4.5 pounds instead of 5. This can be brought down even further with different spring sets. The price on these triggers usually hovers around $60 to $90 depending on the source, making them an affordable, quality option for your AR-15 or PCC.

More Than Just Triggers

On top of making insane amounts of triggers, Schmid Tool and Engineering also makes a whole host of parts for the AR platform including:

  • Milspec and Ambidextrous Safety Selectors
  • Detents and pins
  • Magazine Catches
  • Mag Release Buttons
  • Various Springs
  • And Much More

In Conclusion

I hope I was able to introduce you to, or at least inform you more about this awesome American company. Having first hand experience with both their triggers and parts using them to build, upgrade and maintain a ton of ARs over the years, I can honestly say they are quality parts. My favorite part is their track record and pedigree, combined with their relatively low prices, make Schmid a solid choice for any build. If you have any questions or anything, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll do what I can to help! Thanks for reading.

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The Aqua Quest Rogues: A Dry Bag for All Occasions

If you’re the kind of person who likes to be prepared for anything, then you need a Rogue dry bag from Aqua Quest. As someone who spends a lot of time outdoors, I know how damaging water can be to gear and equipment. Enter, the rogues…. These bags are 100% waterproof, heavy-duty, and come in a variety of sizes to suit all of your needs. Whether you’re a camper, in the military, a hiker, or just someone who likes being outdoors, the Rogue dry bag is perfect for you.

Aqua Quest Rogue Dry Bags


The Rogues’ fabric is waterproof-coated inside and out, and withstands even quick temporary submersion. Precision heat-taped seams and a reliable rolldown closure ensure that these dry bags show no sign of weakness when fighting off water. Also completely protects contents from snow, mud, sand and dust. I was pretty impressed with the light weight and sub $30 price point.

Aqua Quest Rogue Dry Bags


Constructed of resilient 70 D nylon with durable stitching, Rogues are AQ’s most rugged dry bag and are overbuilt to endure the toughest tests in outdoor adventuring. They’ve also mounted 2 burly D-rings to each bag, so they can be securely tied up, strapped down or lashed together. The Rogue comes in 5 sizes spanning 10, 20, 30, 60 and 100 L volumes to solve waterproofing dilemmas big and small. And with a wider opening and body than most dry bag profiles. It’s also one of the few quality dry bags I’ve found available in M81 Woodland Camo!

Aqua Quest Rogue Dry Bags
Click the image for the M81 Varient


AquaQuest products are backed by a Lifetime Warranty. AQ’s customer service is based in the Pacific Northwest, where they have designed and tested waterproof gear since 1994. See the AquaQuest website or call toll-free for more info.

If you’re looking for a dry bag that can stand up to anything, look no further than the Rogue from AquaQuest. These bags are 100% waterproof and heavy-duty, making them perfect for all your outdoor adventures. So whether you like to camp, hike, or just be prepared for anything, the Rogue dry bag is the perfect choice for you.

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The Snugpak Special Forces Bivvi Bag: Why You Need It

Snugpak Special Forces Bivvi Bag

The Snugpak Special Forces Bivvi Bag is a must-have for anyone who wants to be prepared for any situation, whether you’re an experienced camper or just starting out. The bivvi bag is made of Paratex Dry fabric, which is completely waterproof and durable, yet lightweight enough to take with you anywhere. The Special Forces Bivvi Bag is also windproof, so you can be sure you’ll stay warm even in the most extreme conditions. What makes the Special Forces Bivvi Bag different from other bivvi bags on the market is its center half-length zip and wider chest, which make it easier to get in and out of.

Snugpak Special Forces Bivvi Bag

The Snugpak Special Forces Bivvi Bag is also best suited for use with the Softie Antarctica or the Special Forces System. However, you can also carry the bivvi bag on its own for emergencies, or use it with a sleep system for wild camping.

Why Do You Need A Bivvi Bag?

A bivvi bag is an essential piece of gear for anyone who loves spending time outdoors. Whether you’re an experienced camper or just starting out, a bivvi bag can come in handy in a variety of situations. Here are three reasons why everyone needs a bivvi bag:

1. You never know when you might need it. Whether you’re out on a day hike and get caught in a storm, or you find yourself stranded overnight while camping, a bivvi bag can provide essential protection from the elements. If you don’t have a bivvi bag with you, you could find yourself in serious trouble if the weather takes a turn for the worse. With the Bivvi bag’s dimensions at 90 inches long by 33 inches wide when deployed, there is more than enough room.

2. It’s light and compact. A bivvi bag doesn’t take up much room in your backpack, so there’s no excuse not to bring one along on your next outdoor adventure. You’ll be glad you have it if you need it! It comes with a stuff sack and packs down to a travel-friendly 6 inches by 4 inches; lightweight and weighs 12 ounces.

3. It’s affordable. Bivvi bags are relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to other pieces of camping gear like tents and sleeping bags. Why spend hundreds of dollars on gear that you might not even need when you can get a high-quality bivvi bag for less than $150?


The Snugpak Special Forces Bivvie Bag is an essential piece of gear for anyone who loves spending time outdoors. It’s light and compact, so there’s no excuse not to bring one along on your next hike or camping trip or bug out bag. And at less than $150, it’s an affordable investment that could potentially save your life someday. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself a Snugpak Special Forces Bivvie Bag today!

Buy the SnugPak Special Forces Bivvie Bag on Amazon HERE.