I have spent many hours cleaning, taking apart and replacing parts on M4 and AR15 rifles and if there is one thing I can say is “I would love to have a single tool that could take care of all aspects of maintaining said weapon platforms.
When I first received the Gerber Short Stack AR Tool my first impression was “wow, this is a pretty cool looking tool”. It is versatile tool and does fit all of the different parts, areas and able to function together with other maintenance tools and AR accessories as advertised. Taking this tool apart and setting it up for each use is difficult at first because of the magnets that hold it together. I had to walk away from it, after my first 6 futile but successful attempts at separating the pieces of this tool (ha ha ha…arrgghhh). Once I stumbled upon the magical way to separate the three pieces, it is quite simple. It is easier to show with a video then it is to describe, so here it is.
Once you get it apart, it is very easy to set it up for each use as described in the IKEA style instructions. I am still trying to wrap my brain around who actually tested this tool within the Gerber company? After watching the video, I realized that they did test it as advertised, but only to show that it fit properly. I had to figure these questions out, so I decided to look it up on Google and found Gerber Gear , where this tool has a video that, showing the different functions of the tool, but do not actually show it doing the actual job. Some of the functions that it does are true and take practice. Would I use this tool for most of the functions that it says it can do? Probably not. It is not that I am stuck with my quote-unquote “old school ways” I just know what works for me and just not a huge fan of this particular tool.
The tools that I use in the field are:
- A fixed blade knife with hard rubber handle or metal handle (usually the old school UDT-Kbar) for banging, prying or hammering. I usually used a cold steel tanto.
- I used a Gerber Multi tool for field problems, or taking my M4 (when I was still in the SEAL’s) or AR15 (what I own now as a civilian) apart to clean or inspect/repair.
- A bore brush worked great where the chamber meets the upper receiver.
- The tooth brush that comes with the cleaning kit is great for cleaning all the other areas of the AR platform that it will “FIT” in.
- Back in the day, we would screw three rods together with a 556 brush on the end, push the rod down through the barrel from the front and pull it back out (repeat one or two more times depending on severity of shooting). The gauze square would get used next with a little bit of oil and run back and forth to lubricate and pick up any leftover residue from shooting.
- These days I just use a bore snake, which accomplishes the task in about a 1/4 of the time. I am not going to go into detail on this one, because I am sure that most readers know what it is.
- Last but not least a red lens flashlight (tactical, during exercises and operations), white lens flashlight (admin situations) and a long flat head screwdriver in case you have to pry a jammed round out of the chamber.
- I have used the short stack tool on everything. What I will say, it does most of the jobs as described and fits all areas as advertised.
What it does not do by itself is loosen the flash hider. I have found that it actually marks and damages nut portion of the Flash Hider. It is not as snug a fit as it should be and the handle digs into your palm. I give this portion of the GSST an “F”.
The buffer tube lock nut wrench is a good solid fit, but the handle digs into your palm once again. I give this portion of the GSST an “F” as well.
I tried using it on flash hider and buffer tube lock nut, but was unable to loosen either one of them with just my hand and the tool itself. The GSST does not have the necessary leverage to do the job by itself. You would have to do one of two things, I was not willing to do on my own rifle.
- Use something to increase the leverage length and torque of the SST. I don’t know if it is designed to handle this kind of pressure. I have tried this already on my own AR and was unable to loosen either the flash hider or the buffer tube locking nut.
- I used a wrench to bang on the GSST to loosen the parts, but was unsuccessful. I did not push this tool, because I did not want to damage my AR.
Given my constructive criticism of this tool and the abilities and inabilities of each part of the tool as a whole, I will say that some may purchase this tool out of plain curiosity and just to have it on hand, because it is compact and there may be only one or two things on the tool that you really need. Some may purchase it to test how tough it is and if they can use it with extra leverage or banging on it as I have described above. Others may just pass up on the whole idea of testing it and stick with what they know to work without any doubt in their mind.
I can say that I will not be using this tool, because I have other means of maintaining my AR an servicing/repairing it.
Good luck with this tool if you decide to buy it and I hope that the information that I have provided here, assists you in the functionality of the GERBER SST or another option.
When I am provided the opportunity to review, test and evaluate each item that is sent to me, I give it a “no-bullshit” review and opinion. After all, this is what everyone is looking for and all of you are entrusting in the LOR writers to do exactly that.
Now, I know that there are going to be some haters or people that don’t agree with what I have to say. That is your choice and right.
There will be others that will take the advice, out of appreciate of our honesty and run with it or discard it as a true professional would.
I have learned very valuable lessons as a special operator in the military. the most important lesson is, test your gear and see if it has any breaking points or limitations, without exceptions. PERIOD.
(featured image courtesy of ar15news.com)