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Hammerhead Rifle Tool
4/21/10 - Many of us who tinker with the AR-15/M4 family of weapons have dealt with difficult castle nut removal when changing out the retractable stock receiver extension/buffer tube. The HammerHead Rifle Tool is a multi-purpose tool designed primarily as an M4/AR-15 carbine castle nut wrench, which makes that job a whole lot easier. It comes in two variants - and armourer's model made of 1095 steel and a lightweight field deployment model made of 6AL-4V titanium.
Overall Description -I've been working on the AR-15 series of weapons for about 25 years at the time of this writing, and have installed, removed and swapped out quite a few carbine receiver extensions, both on my own and friends' rifles. The receiver extension, also referred to as the buffer tube, is threaded into the rear of the lower receiver and retained by the receiver end plate and a lock nut, called the receiver extension nut. There are generally two type of receiver extension nuts - an earlier one that has round pin holes and is tightened by a spanner wrench with round pins, and the more common style called the 'castle nut', with four slots that a wrench pins or teeth engage to secure the wrench to the nut.
A wide variety of wrenches are available, the earliest being short-handled stamped steel wrenches with only one, rounded tooth. Those sucked. They'd slip, the tooth would get mashed, you couldn't get any leverage with them and often had to pound the end with a mallet to loosen a tight nut. Some other wrenches were longer, but only had one pin, which was prone to breakage. Nowadays, there are quite a few good wrenches out there, and the HammerHead is one of the best I've used.
The HammerHead Rifle Tool is offered in two variants - a steel model made out of 3/16" thick heat-treated 1095 steel with a mil-spec black oxide finish, and a light weight model made out of 6AI-4V titanium .183" thick plate, finished in a grey 'Tiodize' aerospace finish. Both models share the same features, but the Ti tool is about half the weight of the steel tool, and intended for field/deployment use where weight savings are important. The Steel tool weighs 9.1 oz and the Ti tool weighs 5 oz. Not surprisingly, the Ti tool is not cheap to produce, and costs three times as much as the steel one.
The HammerHead Rifle tool is a little over 9" long and 3" wide at it the 'head'. The HammerHead portion has a 3/4" wrench designed for flash hider removal and installation. The wrench will fit all flash hiders with standard 3/4" flats. Some use adjustable crescent wrenches which can be too thick for some flash hiders with narrow flats. Midway down the tool body is a 3/8" square drive hole, so a ratchet or torque wrench can be used for the proper torque value. HammerHead recommends that the torque wrench is used perpendicular to the HammerHead Tool.
The main feature of the HammerHead is of course the castle nut wrench. To use, the collapsible butt stock is first removed. The HammerHead is then slid over the receiver extension. The HammerHead has a buffer tube-shaped cutout with four teeth that engage all of the notches on the castle nut. HammerHead advertises that it 'Bites Hard, Holds Hard', and it does pretty well at that. Since it encircles the entire castle nut, there's much less chance of it slipping off. I've also found it helpful to install the stock behind the tool, which is an added measure to keeping it in place. The castle nut can be hand-tightened, or torqued in place, then staked. It's also a good idea to have a receiver block to hold the receiver in place. I wish someone would come up with a nylon buffer tube block that slips over the buffer tube and allows it to be clamped, as I've seen some castle nuts loctited to the tube and trying to remove them ended up spinning the whole buffer tube, destroying the notch that the receiver end plate engages at the bottom of the tube. Anyways, don't loctite the castle nut to the buffer tube - just stake it and that will prevent it from loosening under use, but still make it easy to remove with a tool like the HammerHead.
The HammerHead has two lightening holes on either side of the 3/8" socket hole, and at the end is the 5/8" wrench for the rifle-length A-2 style stock extension tube. From past experience, A-2 extensions are typically a bitch to get started for removal, and using a crescent wrench can chew up and deform the flats. Note that the water jet cutting process creates a slight taper in the hole. When using the Hammerhead on A-2 receiver extension tubes, make sure that the side opposite the Hammerhead logo is used. That is, logo faces up if the tube is below the tool. If it's tight, you might try flipping it over.
The triangular point at the end is a receiver take-down and pivot pin punch, for tight-fitting upper/lowers. I'd rather use a round brass punch that's smaller than the hole in the receiver as the triangular point is wider at the base than the hole and can possibly cause damage the receiver if tapped too hard as the edges would dig into the hole. I think that the triangular point would be better rectangular-shaped and smaller than the receiver hole diameter with a flat point. As is, though, the point can also be used to depress the buffer retainer to remove the buffer. The small hole to the side of the A-2 wrench is a lanyard hole.
While I think that the HammerHead can benefit from a couple of small tweaks, it's the best tool of its kind I've used so far, and is made to last a lifetime.
8/6/10 - Listening to customer input, HammerHead Rifle Tool has updated their tool with added features and utility. Like the Gen I tool, the Gen II Hammerhead Rifle tool is a multi-purpose tool designed primarily as an M4/AR-15 carbine castle nut wrench, which makes that job a whole lot easier. The Gen II replaces the Gen I tool, and also comes in two variants - and armourer's model made of 1095 steel and a lightweight field deployment model made of 6AL-4V titanium.
Please refer to the writeup above for the full descriptions of the Hammerhead Rifle tool's functions. The differences between the Gen I and Gen II will be covered here.
.825" flash hider wrench - A .825" flash hider wrench has now been added to the side opposite the 3/4" flash hider wrench. The .825" wrench will work on the larger flash hider flats, like the AAC Blackout shown below.
1/2" torque drive socket - a square 1/2" torque drive socket has now been added, just below the 3/8" drive socket. This replaces the lightening hole on the Gen I tool.
1/4" hex drive socket - The round lanyard hole on the Gen I tool is now a 1/4" hex drive socket.
Re-designed pin punch - As mentioned in the writeup on the original tool, I'd have preferred that the triangular point be flat, or redesigned such that it could cause no damage to a receiver. The takedown/pivot pin punch now has a step, which is supposed to act as a stop and prevent the corners of the punch from marring the holes. However, it's still too tight, and the corners of the punch need to be rounded off, or the dimension of the punch needs to be made a bit narrower so that it goes into the receiver hole completely. I took a small file and with a few passes, rounded off the edges of the punch, with solved that issue.
It's nice to see Hammerhead take customer feedback and implement changes to their products, offering more utility in their tool and value to the customer.
BAD-T1 'The Armorer' M1/M1A/M14 Multi-function Tool
10/1/09 - The BAD-T1/'The Armorer' from Battle Arms Development (B.A.D.) is an ingeniously-designed, unique multi-purpose tool and precision ordnance gauge designed for the M1A/M-14 type rifle, and the M1 Garand. The Armorer is comprised of several multi-function components that can be assembled into different configurations to perform more than 30 weapon-specific functions. It isn't a general multi-use tool, but one with specialized functions unique to the M1A family of weapons, that replaces a host of weapon-specific tools. This is the first time M14 gauges and tools have been combined into one multi-functional tool, which should make M1A owners, armorers and enthusiasts very excited.
Overall Description - It's obvious that The Armorer BAD-T1 tool is a very unique-looking tool. The term 'multi-tool' or 'multi-function tool' immediately brings to mind (at least mine) something that looks like a Leatherman or folding pair of pliers. The Armorer is nothing like that. The Armorer is designed to replace a multitude of standard single-function tools and combo tools specific to M-14 style rifles, and intended both for field use as well as use by an armorer/gunsmith. The Armorer was carefully designed to save weight and cram the maximum number of functions into as small a package as possible. Its components are basically cylindrical, or rods, which allow it to fit inside the storage compartment of a USGI M14/M1A butt stock. A custom PALS compatible Cordura pouch is also available for The Armorer.
Here is a list of functions that the Armorer can perform in its different configurations. Note that certain parts perform multiple tasks.
•Trigger guard take down tool • .30 cal muzzle wear gauge (straight handle) • .30 cal muzzle wear gauge (angled handle) • M14/M1A throat erosion gauge • M1 Garand throat erosion gauge • trigger group takedown tool • extractor removal push tool • 3/8" hex socket gas nut wrench • bolt roller greaser • 1/4" hex socket for standard bits • gas piston holder • M14/M1 rear sight screw driver with torque handle • large flat head screw driver for butt stock. screws • large flat head screw driver for spindle valve (open/close) • magazine floor plate puller/disassembly tool • M14/M1A/M1 Garand trap door tool • multi stick with water tight storage container • grease stick • bolt face carbon scraper/ extractor claw cleaner • gas piston groove cleaner • connector lock pin tool • rear sight spring cover tool • handguard removal tool • M1 Garand front sling swivel & stacking swivel screw tool • grease cap tool • grease pot and grease cap • flash hider alignment gauge (short and long configs) • stock liner tool with torque handle • water tight storage container • butt stock or pouch storage configurations
Some of the main features of The Armorer BAD-T1 Multi-function tool are:
To provide as much utility as possible, most of The Armorer's components perform multiple functions by themselves, or combined with other components. Here are the components that make up The Armorer BAD-T1:
The Armorer components and functions
Each component, whenever possible, is designed to perform multiple functions, alone or assembled with other components. You might notice two different finishes in some of the photos. The darker ones have a natural heat treated finish, and hence have some dark spots and discolouration from the hardening process; heat treating and oil quenching. Instead of parkerizing or refinishing them to make them more uniform, BAD opted to leave them with the 'case hardening' look. It gives the parts a slightly 'antique' look and more character, which I like. The shiny parts are the muzzle and throat erosion gauges which are not heat treated in order to keep their tight tolerances/dimensions.
While I'm going to list all the configurations/functions of The Armorer, I didn't illustrate every one of them as there are quite a few, and Battle Arms Development already illustrates them all on their web site. I took a representative series of photos to illustrate some of them.
Part A - Main Tool Body
The main tool body has a 3/8 hex socket at the end which functions as a gas nut wrench. On the other side is a round hole, which is used to grease the bolt roller, when filled with grease. The small hole holds the Multi-stick (part D), or any 1/4" hex socket standard bit (user supplied). The circular hole with flat is the gas piston holder. The gas piston can be held and prevented from rotating when cleaning.
Part B - Alignment Gauge and Grease Pot, Part C - Grease
The Alignment Gauge is used to align flash hiders when tightening the castle nut so that the flash ider is centered on the bore, and not offset It can be configured in short and long lengths. The short configuration is for Smith Enterprise muzzle brakes, Vortex flash hiders etc. The long configuration is for USGI flash suppressors, Springfield Armory muzzle brakes and other standard length flash hiders. In the long configuration, the Throat Erosion Gauge (part H) is attached to the end of the Alignment Gauge.
Part I - Stock Liner Tool
Part D - Multi Stick
When the Multi Stick is attached to the Main Tool Body, and the body used as a torque handle, this combination performs a multitude of functions. The screw driver side is used for rear sight adjustment, butt stock screws, front sling swivel and stacking swivel screws, gas piston groove cleaner (when used in conjunction with a bore patch), and for the spindle valve (open/close). It's also used to tighten and loosen the grease cap.
The hook tip of the Multi Stick is used as a magazine floor plate puller/disassembly tool, storage trap door tool (it saves your fingernails), bolt face carbon scraper, extractor claw cleaner (clears foreign debris from under the extractor), connector lock pin tool, handguard removal tool (handguard clip puller), and rear sight spring cover tool.
Part E - Handle and Trigger Guard Lever
Part F - Punch and M1 Spacer
Part G - .30 cal Muzzle Wear Gauge
Part H - M14/M1A Throat Erosion Gauge
Part J - Thread Protector
Tool Pouch and Storage
The Armorer is also available with a deluxe Cordura nylon pouch custom designed/made for it. In this case, the Armorer is configured into two main assemblies. The first is the Main Tool Body and Alignment Gauge. The other is formed by connecting the two other assemblies that were put together for butt stock storage, and storing the Thread protector in the Main Tool compartment. The pouch has three tubular slot pockets and one main compartment behind them; the center slot pocket is for a future tool. It's about 9" long and 3.5" wide with a single columns of malice clip compatible webbing on the back. The flap is secured with an SR buckle in front.
Notes and Observations - The BAD-T1/The Armorer isn't cheap, but it isn't your run-of-the-mill mass produced tool; it's fully machined to exacting dimensions and standards, resulting in a very high quality tool that's designed to last. No cast parts. When I examined each part and saw how they all fit together in various configurations, it was evident that a lot of thought went into the design to make it as compact and efficient as possible. All the components assemble with ease, and fit perfectly together. Finger tight is all that's needed, when screwing the different parts together.
My M1A Scout isn't stock, and I wasn't going to disassmble the direct-connect flash hider or rear sight to try out all of the Armorer's functions, but I did use it for quite a few of the many functions. Battle Arms Development has a very informative photo gallery showing an illustration for each of the tool's functions on their BAD-T1 'The Armorer' page. It works very well, for those I functions I used it for.
Lee Emerson ('Different' on M-14 Firing Line Forum) did a two-part instructional video on how to maintain the M14/M1A using The Armorer, which illustrates its different functions. I highly recommend watching them: Part 1 Part 2
I'm more of an AR-15 platform guy than an M1A guy, but I can appreciate the convenience and utility of a weapons specific multi-functional tool/gauge like this. Sure, you can assemble a tool kit that will perform the same functions, with separate tools, but they're going to end up costing about the same when you add them up, and they won't fit into as compact a package. Speaking of compactness, the only change or variation I'd like to see is to make the Alignment Gauge a separate piece from the Grease Pot - in other words, the Grease Pot will be just a cap without the Alignment Gauge rod sticking out of it. Made that way, the whole Armorer tool should fit in a standard pistol magazine pouch, for a much smaller package.
If you already own most of these tools and gauges, then the BAD-T1 may not be cost-effective for you, but if you don't, and were thinking of working on the M1A more often, then it definitely demands a closer look. Battle Arms Development is a company to look out for - they've got more products in work.
BAD-T3 and BAD-T4 M1/M1A/M14 Tools
11/13/09 - To compliment their BAD-T1/'The Armorer', the multi-purpose tool and precision ordnance gauge designed for the M1A/M-14 type rifle; Battle Arms Development (B.A.D.) has come out with the BAD-T3 and BAD-T4 double-ended gas cylinder lock wrench tools.
Overall Description -The BAD-T3 and T4 tools are the latest offerings from Battle Arms Development in Henderson, Nevada. Like the T1 featured above, the T3 and T4 are specialized, high-end quality tools designed for the shooting enthusiast.
The T3 is designed for the M14/M1A and M1 Garand shooter, and features a gas cylinder lock wrench for the M14/M1A at one end and a gas cylinder lock wrench for the M1 Garand rifle on the other. The T4 features a gas cylinder lock wrench for the M14/M1A at one end and the lock wrench for the SEI Gas Lock Front Sight - Hooded (GLFS-H) at the other.
The BAD-T3 and T4 tools are both made out of 3/8" thick 7075-T6 aluminum, with the T3 hard coat anodized in OD green and the T4 in black. Both weigh 3.5 oz and have identical dimensions: 5.8" long, 1.5" wide and 3/8 thick.
Both the T3 and T4 have three holes in them - two are threaded gas plug holders and the center D-shaped hole holds the gas piston. The gas plug holders are a convenient place to store the gas plug during assembly/disassembly, while the gas piston holder holds a gas piston for cleaning, as it prevents it from rotating when using cleaning bits. The T3 and T4 fit into the pocket in the T1 pouch.
Shaddox Tactical Shooter's Rest Bean Bag and Shielded Shell Carrier
8/10/11 - Shaddox Tactical is full service custom sewing shop that will build from scratch to customer specs or perform gear modifications and repair, but also offer several pieces of tactical gear that they produce and sell in-house. Two of those items are the Shooter's Rest Bean Bag and Shielded Shell Carrier, aimed at the precision rifle market.
Shooter's Bean Bag -The Shooter's Rest Bean Bag comes in two sizes: small - 6" x 6" x 1.5" and large - 6" x 12" x 1.5" (sizes are approximate). The bags can be used as a rear bag or small front bag. They are made of 1000D Cordura and filled with just under one pound of polypropylene beads which will not soak up water or mildew. The height of the bag can be adjusted by squeezing or relaxing one's hold on the bag. A loop of 550 cord sewn at one corner provides a means of hanging the bag with a carabiner to a pack or belt. A webbing strap is sewn across the bag as a carry handle, or for attaching the bag to a rifle by running folded bipod legs through it, a sling, or the fore end.
The Large Shooter's Rest Bean bag is a bit larger than the ones I normally use, but I can see where a larger bag would have it's functions, especially when used at the front under the fore end or folded bipod of the rifle. The bag is about 3/4 full, so it doesn't really fold exactly in half. In the photo below of it folded over, you can see that it provides some height vs when flat/unfolded.
The bean bags I normally use as rear rests are smaller and squatter. I initally found the large bag a bit difficult to adjust in height, but it was because I hadn't discovered how to use it best. I found that it worked pretty well by slipping my hand into the webbing strap, and folding the bag at that point, so that it's almost folded in half, but standing on its seam side (if that makes any sense - see photos below). By squeezing and relaxing my grip on the bag, I can adjust the height quite easily. The Shooter's Rest Bean Bags are available in a variety of colours.
Shielded Shell Carrier - Shaddox Tactical offers regular shell carriers, which are flat panels with elastic loops sewn on the front, or the Shielded Shell Carrier shown here, which has a cover flap to protect the rounds from the elements. The cover flap has a 6" x 8" clear window for range cards or target data sheets. It's available in two sizes to fit .50 BMG (10 rounds) or standard rifle calibers like .308 up to .338LM (20 round capacity - shown here). The shell carrier is a stiffened board with a webbing handle on the top, and five rows of webbing on the back for use with malice clips for mounting to any molle platform like a pack. The flap is secured with a full length velcro closure. Depending on the caliber carried, the hook side strip can be trimmed, so that there's not so much velcro overlap. As it comes, with full velcro overlap, it's more secure (and noisy) than it needs to be.
Elastic loops made of 1.5" wide elastic webbing position the rounds so that the bullet tips are staggered in the carrier. I've illustrated the carrier with both .308 and the larger .338 Lapua Magnum rounds in it.
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