If you are applying Cerakote or DuraCoat products to firearm parts with any frequency, or intend to, there are some tools you just need to have in your life! This is a short list of some of our shop favorites!
The Bev Block from Magpul is a multi-use AR vise block. It can be used to secure the upper receiver from the barrel extension, or flip it over and secure the lower receiver from the mag well. This is a great start if you don't have another method such as the reaction rod (more to come on that below). We predominantly use it for securing lowers from the magwell for disassembly and assembly of Cerakote or DuraCoat projects. If you are working with the AR platform, strongly consider adding a Bev Block to your shop!
The Reaction Rod is a tool for securing AR upper receivers. If you work on the AR platform frequently, this tool will make you smile a lot. It is designed to be clamped into your vise on the flat end. The upper receiver then slides over the rod. The end has splines on the end that index the barrel extension. The big advantage of this tool is that the torque is applied to the barrel extension and not the aluminum of the receiver. The reaction rod is also very convenient if you're doing a lot of assembly and disassembly as it allows you to rotate the upper to any position and re index the splines. This is very slick for accessing hand guard mounting hardware, and installing or uninstalling gas blocks, sights, forward assist, etc. as it keeps the upper secure but allows you to change positions quickly depending on your needs. Lastly, from a coating perspective, as the upper is being secured from inside the barrel extension and not clamping the upper from the outside, it prevents the possibility of marring the Cerakote, DuraCoat, or finish that you just applied.
You will use these on nearly every project so we recommend going for quality here. Yes, they will still get bent and/or broken at some point, but the less frequently, the better. There is nothing worse than having to stop mid project because you have to replace tools.
Punches come in many sizes and varieties. You can never have to many, but at the very least we recommend a nice set of roll pin starter punches, steel roll pin punches, and brass punches as well as a two sided mallet. The non marring side of the mallet comes in handy during reassembly of coating projects. For shops doing a lot of Cerakote or DuraCoat work on the AR platform, we recommend considering the Bolt Catch specific punch set as they are shaped very well to avoid marring the finish when re-installing the bolt catch.
Just like the previously mentioned punches and mallet, a great set of Hex and Torx wrenches are invaluable. Most parts are joined by either pins or screws so you need all of these tools to be able to effectively work on them. Quality can go a long way here as well. It is not uncommon to run into a finicky screw, or one that has been secured with locktite. When encountering these situations, you will be grateful that you have quality tooling!
The Wheeler Fat Wrench is a compact torque driver perfectly designed for mounting optics. If you are mostly Cerakoting or DuraCoating pistols or small parts, this may not be a high priority, but for projects that require removal and installation of optics, the Wheeler Fat Wrench is a handy companion!
Have you ever run into a hand guard with a special or proprietary sized mounting ring? You are not alone. This is becoming a little less common these days, but many special size mounting nuts are still floating around out there with their own proprietary spanner wrenches that never seems to quite accompany the project into the shop. For these situations, the adjustable spanner can save the day!
Several manufacturers over the years have pinned gas blocks with tapered pins. These can be tricky and sometimes even frustrating to work with. The Taper Pin Removal Tool from Wheeler simplifies the process! This is another one of those specialty tools that you don't hear much about and probably won't use everyday, but it's very nice to have when you need it! If you offer Cerakoting or DuraCoating on the AR platform with any frequency, this is friendly addition to your toolbox!
This one goes without saying, but we really can't make a list like this without mentioning it. There are four main components that we want on our Armorers Wrench: The Castle Nut Spanner, the Barrel Nut Spanner, the Muzzle Device spanner, and the cutout for a 1/2 Torque Driver. Our favorite Armorers Wrench was the Green one from Tapco, but as far as we know it is no longer in production. This one is a solid alternative!
A good Torque Wrench is a great compliment to the above mentioned spanner. This combo gives you the ability to torque barrel nuts, etc. to manufacturer specs.
If you coat slides, you need a clean and non marring way to remove and install sights with ease. Not only will the Sight Pro achieve exactly that, but it will allow you the versatility to do this to all the most popular models out there. This is also one of those tools that can make money as a stand alone tool. Professional sight installation is consistently in demand and can bring in great profit when you have an easy and quality setup like the Sight Pro. This is one of those tools that you get what you pay for. It amazes us how many people we recommend this tool too that refuse to go down this rabbit hole due to its price and end up spending way more replacing sights and finishes that get damaged from the "alternative" tools on an alarmingly frequent basis, not to mention the time and aggravation they invest doing it. Trust us, this tool will be a huge addition to your coating shop. Consider getting all the additional shoes for it as well. Yes, it ads up, but trust us, you can make the money back very quickly!
Head Space Gauges are an important tool to have around. Not only do you want to confirm everything before sending your coating projects back to their owners, but with the growing inconsistencies in quality of parts these days, we recommend checking all projects before even accepting them.
This one might seam silly, but these get used a lot. We keeps several sets stationed throughout the shop. They come in handy for all sorts of random tasks that you may not expect like fishing out little springs, or even your hooking your silicon plugs out of chambers and barrels during reassembly. Dental hooks and picks definitely have their place in the Cerakote shop!