What’s in an Armorer’s Toolkit?
December 13, 2016 16 Comments
Well, currently, the Army has a thing they call the SARTK, Small Arms Repairman’s Tool Kit. Since we didn’t find a link to it on the public intertubes, we made you one. After all, your tax dollars bought these things, NSN 5180-01-559-5181, for approximately six to ten thousand dollars each. They are assembled by Armstrong Tool Group, a division of Apex Tools, and most of the tools are Armstrong brand. All the tools are made in the USA (required under protectionist legislation)
I’m guessing it looks pretty much like this, which is a civilian Armstrong set in a Pelican case, pretty nice set. $3,289.34 on Amazon
That seems fair enough to me, I grew up in a company that was required to buy everything US made as well. Far as I’m concerned if you value your time, you do that anyway, although I’d guess the Europeans make some good ones too. And my experience says that Armstrong tools aren’t bad, roughly what Craftsmen was fifty years ago, good enough for most uses, but not really top line like Snap-on or Wright Tools either. In any case, here’s what’s in the plastic box.
The kit itself is contained in a molded plastic (probably something like nylon 6/6) case with seven drawers, and custom inserts to hold the required tools. Inside, there’s a list of what goes in each drawer, although the custom cutouts for the tools make it readily apparent where a tool you have out goes. This derives from normal military and aviation tool control practice. (Leaving the tool out not only risks losing the tool, but risks screwing up the machine it’s left in or on. Few machines digest tool steel well).
Yep, almost all of us organize our tools in some similar way, foam inserts, racks, or pegboard. It saves tons of time and reduces losses more than you can imagine.
He goes on to speak of how the box is organized and such, in some detail, which you should read. And then he says this
Most of the stuff in the kit, it turns out, is not very exotic, and is not firearms specific. Indeed, most of the stuff we use to build an AR is not included, and one wonders what use a lot of half-inch sockets are whilst working on small arms.
Boy howdy, did I wonder that! In fact, this would be a great kit for a homeowner who wants to maintain his own car. And yes, even I know that there are a lot of specific tools, which make working on guns much easier. Heck, there are special tools for all fields, and often the are what makes a pro so much more productive, safer too.
These are quality tools, but you could put together a matching tool kit for far less money, even buying US-made-only (or EU only, if that’s how you roll) tools.
Far less, well, I would hope so. Mucking about at Wright tools, I looked at their largest set. 1136 pieces including roll cabinet, although likely without as much organizational stuff, since in the civilian world, we tend to do that our way.
Now, mind you this set isn’t designed for maintaining and repairing small arms, It’s likely designed to work on cars and heavy trucks, not to mention industrial maintenance. Thing is, Wright tools are arguably the very best of American tools, not only made in America but made of American steel. (Yes, if you want to give me that set for Christmas, I’ll be glad to give you my address!) 🙂 So how much does this set cost? About $20,000, depending on where you buy it. And that is one of the major problems with military procurement, they end up, because of their systems, spending far too much for many things they buy, especially if there is a civilian equivalent. I don’t really know the answer to that problem, but we should be able to do better.
Mind you, this looks a lot like a boondoggle, but I strongly doubt there’s corruption involved here, it’s simply that the military is willing to pay too much for what they buy, and experience says when one is buying a tool set, the manufacturer loads you up with what makes him the most money (that may explain those ½” sockets). And often, having that NSN (NATO Stock Number) turns into a license to print money.