I love working on guns, and I’ve tinkered with them since I was a teenager. Later on, I was trained by a military armorer to work on M1s, M14s, and M1911s, and I took several gunsmithing courses over the years. I’ve repaired many guns; however, the two firearms I enjoy working on the most are the grand old 1911 and the AR-15 family of rifles. More than anything, I usually can’t leave a 1911 alone, especially as it comes from the factory. So, I keep a decent supply of spare parts on-hand. The AR-15 doesn’t usually require a lot of repairs, which is a testament to the Stoner-design. However, when something breaks or needs replacing, it often calls for specialized tools. If I don’t have that tool, I make do with another tool that is not intended for the job but gets the job done. I also keep a small supply of the most often broken or misplaced AR parts.
Some of the most broken or misplaced/lost parts are small springs and pins, so I keep plenty of those little parts on-hand. My local gun shop often calls me to see if I have “this” part or “that” part for an AR. Most of the time I can help them out. If you own an AR of any make or model, you really need to have some spare parts for a SHTF scenario, when a gunsmith not be available and parts are scarce. Plus, you should, at the very least, have a good working knowledge of how your gun operates and have an armorer’s manual on-hand. Honestly, most work done on an AR is fairly easy to do, and most parts don’t require precision fitting; they just need replacing, in most cases.
I have three tool boxes full of spare parts and various types of gunsmithing tools. I’m always searching in the boxes for just the right tool to get a job done properly. Yes, you can make do with a tool that’s not specifically designed for a certain job, but it’s nice to have the right tool and have all the tools you need in one place.
That’s exactly the great benefit of the Deployable Compact Armorers Tool, also known as D-CAT. The D-CAT is designed and sold by Spaceage Weaponry , and it can also be found at my favorite gunsmith supply house, such as Brownell’s http://www.brownells.com/ (where I do much of my tool and spare parts shopping). The D-CAT is just about every tool you’ll need for working on the AR-15/M16 family of firearms, all in one nice little package.
A quick run down on the D-CAT is in order. First of all, the D-CAT was designed to fit into the butt stock of a standard, full-sized AR-15. It also weighs only 6-ounces. The tool (made of 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum, 303 stainless steel, and H13 tool steel) is designed to give you a lifetime of service. The D-CAT comes supplied with all the bits, punches, and other small parts located in the tool’s “magazine”and accessed by rotating the magazine gate to expose the individual storage compartments. You will find a 1/8-inch punch, a flat blade screw driver, front sight adjustment tool, and both 3/16-inch and 9/64-inch hex drivers. There is also a spare punch pocket and a hammer/trigger pin pocket. You can also use the D-CAT as a screw driver. Okay, I can already hear someone complaining, “How do I remove the barrel or the butt stock on my AR?” Glad you asked. You can buy additional tools for the D-CAT for that job. If you need to replace a barrel, you really should be trained in how to do it properly. Torquing it to the right poundage and aligning everything just perfectly is usually a job best left to someone properly trained to work on an AR. An adaptor is available from Spaceage Weaponry, so you can use the D-CAT for butt stock removal. For the majority of us, the D-CAT (as it comes from the factory) will take care of 95% of your needs, and is an all-in-one tool in one nice little package.
One of the AR-15/M16 tools I’m always using and breaking is the front sight adjustment tool. Most ARs that I’ve run across usually need the front sight pin moved up or down to get the proper zero, and I’ve lost count of the number of front sight adjustment tools that I’ve broken because of a stubborn or frozen in place (rusted) front sight pin. Well, with the D-CAT tool, I don’t worry about having to buy another front sight adjustment tool. Springs and pins break, wear out, or get lost if you are really serious about taking an AR apart. The D-CAT tool makes it soooo much easier and faster, plus it’s nice to have just the right punch on-hand. Some folks can’t quite figure out how to remove some of the little pins on an AR (not that they need replacing), but gun buffs get curious. Well, the D-CAT can nicely handle the job on all of the pins. Brownell’s has a short video on the D-CAT, and the Spaceage Weaponry website also has several videos you can watch and see the tool in action.
Have you ever tried replacing the factory trigger guard on an AR? You might want a larger one or an oval-shaped one. Well, it’s easier said than done, since you have to depress the little pin to get the trigger guard to release. However, with the D-CAT, the job is much easier to do. Do you need to remove the trigger assembly for replacement or a broken disconnector, or just want a match-grade trigger group in your AR? Once again, the D-CAT can handle the job.
Are you a military armorer? Just think how nice it would be to have a complete AR-15 “tool box” full of tools, all in one, that you can carry in your pants pocket? To be sure, you could also put some of the most often broken or replacement parts in a plastic baggie to keep in your pocket. This way, when an M4 or M16 goes down and a soldier needs it repaired “right now,” you can do the job, without having to take the rifle back to the arms room or armory to work on it.
Are you a police armorer? Once again, you will find how handy it is to have the D-CAT on-hand. If out on the range with your officers qualifying or just getting in some target practice when something breaks or a part gets lost, you can repair it right there with the D-CAT and a few of the most-needed, spare parts in your pocket. No need to go digging through your tool box to find the right tool; you’ll have it in your pocket.
If you are a serious Prepper, you absolutely should have a D-CAT on-hand, along with spare parts for your ARs plus a working knowledge on how an AR type of rifle operates and functions. They really aren’t all that hard to work on, if you have the right tool and the right parts.
The D-CAT is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” inventions. While it’s not a KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) idea, it took a lot of time, effort, and design know-how to come up with it. Still, you wonder why you didn’t come up with the idea for all the tools you’ll need to work on an AR-style rifle in one compact little package that fits in your pocket. The D-CAT retails for $149.99. It may sound like a steep price, but if you went out and purchased all the tools you’d really need to work on an AR, you’d probably spend that much or more, and they wouldn’t be in one nice, tidy little self-contained package, like the D-CAT.
Remember, though, all the tools in the world are useless if you don’t have the spare parts needed to do a gun repair on an AR, or any firearm for that matter. At the very least, get a D-CAT and then get one of the AR spare parts kits (or a couple of spare parts kits), so you’ll have it all on-hand when it’s needed. If you take your survival seriously, and you should, then take weapon maintenance/repair just as seriously. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat CascioPat Cascio