Its hard to do a job correctly if one doesn’t have the proper tools. I have made a hobby of collecting armorer tools to go with the wide variety of firearms that come into my shop. Some I may never use, but are works of art, both in their concept and execution. Others are overly complicated for tasks that can be better performed with a hammer and punch. Here is a look at some of the many tools I’ve been designing and collecting over the last 20 years.The East Germans produced a nice armorer tool chest for the AKM (MPi-KM/KMS-72), RPK (MPi-LMG) and the Makarov (Pistole – M). With the help of John Baum at GermanManuals.com , I have figured out what they all are for. Here are the ones for the AK family. The numbers are the East German part numbers. V seems to associate to a fixture, while W seems to correspond to a tool, and L to a gauge.
ddr Tool Chest East German Armorer Tool Chest with tools removed for photographing. While sturdy, there are no drawers, just wood shelves cut out to fit the parts. The tools found a better home in my shop tool chests, and I gave away the chest itself.I’m not one of those who must have everything original, to fondle under candle-light . . . while naked. They are just tools to me.
V 111 firing pin protrusion.this holds the firing pin flat to the rear of the bolt, to allow the firing pin to be measured with a protrusion gauge.
V 111 bolt disassembly.The vertical hole is for the firing pin retaining pin, the diagonal hole is for the extractor retaining pin.
I rarely need it, but on the rare instance where a firing pin retaining pin is stuck, this is very helpful.
I made a sleeve for 5.45mm bolts.
V 112 support for rear sight base – tightening catch lever without removingI’ve used this frequently, on guns where the catch lever was flopping around. It’s important to support the rear sight base – not because the base will compress, but because the end of the catch is thin. Failure to support the overall length of the catch axle will result in the end of the catch bending, rather than the outside area flaring (ask me how I know).
V 112 support for rear sight base – removing or installing catch leverThis keeps force on the axle and off the rear sight base.
V 108, V108-1 top cover reshaping mandrels.given that new top covers, are relatively inexpensive, I’ve not found a need to actually repair a dented cover.
V 108 top cover reshaping mandrel – min selector clearance.a selector that bypasses the stop n the top cover, will push the disconnector forward and with it, causing the trigger to rotate back – firing the rifle.
W 42 staking tool, square, for pistol grip bolt, in useSince American shooters often want to switch their furniture around, I do not stake this bolt on customer guns. Once staked, this bolt becomes a threaded rivet.
W 108 gas tube reshaping mandrelI’ve not used it for its intended purpose, as gas tubes are usually cheaper to replace than to repair. I have used it to secure a gas tube in the mill vise, for recutting the cam angle for the retaining lever, after building up a loose one with weld.
V 102 in usethis is a tough one. I can usually remove an upper handguard by clamping the gas tube in a vise, on the receiver side, and then pressing down hard with my hand and rotating. Or by holding the handguard and using an open-end wrench. But there are times when the handguard is on so tight I must use this tool. The problem is, if it is tight enough to need the tool, using the tool will often mar the handguard. So it’s a last resort.
W 117 crank for installing and removing muzzle nut, closeupI don’t see many customer guns that use a nut instead of the slant brake, and the nut is so tight that the wrench is useful. If it is seized, vibrating the heck out of it with an air-hammer and a nylon tip, will usually work it loose.
W 117.1 crank for installing and removing slant brake, closeupThis is another of the last-resort tools. If the nut is so tight, and vibrating with a nylon-tipped air hammer is insufficient, then it’s also probably too tight to keep this tool engaged. The ramp portion of the slant brake makes the tool want to climb off. Where I do like it is when I have threads that are just tight – it allows me to work the brake back and forth and lap out any high spots.
W 104 magazine reshaping mandrelAt the time of this writing, quality steel magazines are $15. So there is a limit to how much time I can spend “repairing” a magazine, before it exceeds replacement cost. But there have occasions for it. The shortcoming is that it only helps for dents in the flats, not the ribs. For those I use shaped grade 5 bolts and a hammer – see the section on FAL magazine repair.
W 107 magazine catch axle flaring assembly, in use.I’ve found that for most magazine axles, the point on this punch and mandrel are too sharp – they bottom out while the flaring is still incomplete. So I rounded off the tips and they now work much better. Magazine catch height, particularly in 5.45 and 5.56 AKs, is a significant cause of feeding problems, so I use this tool all the time.
W 116 magazine catch assembly pliersThese are the single greatest prize in the chest. The job is so much harder without it. Assemble the mag catch and spring using a 4mm punch as a slave. Once squeezed, the slave can be removed, the assembly inserted in the trigger guard, and the catch axle inserted. Easier with three hands, but I’ve managed it by myself hundreds of times.
W 116 magazine catch assembly pliers, closeupFiling a little step in it makes it work better for the flat bottom AK74 mag catch.
L 102 inspects for 98 degree angle.when welding up an undersize mag catch, this is a quick and easy way to confirm the angle. Since the sides of the catch can be crushed if tightened in a mill vise, I typically reshape on a belt sander. Having this in one hand keeps my angle correct.
L 102 with G side against back of mag well, mag catch should contact gauge, with A side, there should be a gap.New magazine catches come with the stop oversize. It must be filed to obtain the dimensions G and A. I’ve had enough practice that I can eye-ball it, but it’s nice to be able to confirm with the gauge.
W 111 adjustment tool, front sight height, in useThe chest came with 2 of these and I’ve broken one already. The US commercial one that is closed on the sides, tends to work better.
W 120 rear sight pliersbroke them on first use. Could be a fluke, but the modified screwdriver shown in the ARS tools section, works very well.
L 103 gauge, measures front sight heightFiling a little step in it makes it work better for the flat bottom AK74 mag catch
L 103 gauge measures front sight heightthis has little application for the gunsmith. For a unit armorer, it allows a record of front sight height, so that it can be returned to that height after repair work. Presumably, this makes re-zeroing faster.
V 103 front sight adjustment, in useThis is very useful for installing a new threaded cylinder. For actual windage adjustment, I prefer the large Chinese unit, as it will work also on unitized gas block sights (like on the AK74u), and this unit will not.
W 35 Marking punch for front sight alignment.It is traditional after a rifle is zeroed, to stake an index mark on the cylinder, crossing the front sight base.
W 115 tip allows for pulling or pushing springsI really like this simple tool and use it all the time. The push function is particularly useful, as the pull function can be duplicated with any hook.
L 114 measures overall length of bolt carrier with GO/NOGOGenerally speaking, 1/8 turn of the gas piston establishes the proper overall length, but this is a convenient (albeit complicated) method for confirming.
W 121 staking punch in usean original stock screw is concave and designed to be fared, converting it to a flared rivet. I will counterbore commercial screws for the same purpose. Loctite is generally insufficient. The heavy vibrations of an AK firing, tend to make any screw want to walk out.
W 102 pilot and pre-threading tool for stock screwsLeave it to the Germans! This is actually a great tool, unfortunately the East German screw is different than Russian or Romanian, so it’s of limited use. But it sure is nice not to fight initial screw installation in in a virgin stock.
W 114 wrench, lower handguard retaining lever, in useAfter years of use, I broke this end, but using a carbide cutter, I was able to fabricate a new slot.