May 05, 2012
By David Fortier
Today there is a host of gear available for cleaning and maintaining a member of the AR 15/M16 family. Two of the more interesting AR 15 multi tools recently developed for this task are multi-tools from Leatherman and Multitasker Tools LLC. Both of these well-thought-out tools are designed to perform a wide variety of functions to increase their versatility and usefulness. They were developed with a great deal of input from end users, and both were carefully refined from prototype to production. Either would make a useful addition to your shooting bag.
Leatherman developed the MUT AR 15 multi tool specifically to survive and thrive in a tough military environment. Looks wise it's very utilitarian, with as many tools as possible crammed into a stripped down chassis.
How many tools? How's 18 sound? These include pliers, replaceable wire cutters, electrical crimper, three inch knife, saw, replaceable cutting hook, bit driver with on-board bits (Philips and regular screwdriver, Torx and hex), a flat edge for hammering, carabiner and bottle opener. Plus it has a special tool for clearing bolt override malfunctions, a punch for take-down pins, special bronze carbon removal scraper, and it's threaded for cleaning rod and brush attachments.
The tool itself is five inches long and weighs just over 11 ounces. So it's not a tiny piece that you'll stuff in the pistol grip. It's best tossed in your range bag or carried in the included Molle pouch. The pouch has a pocket to carry the included 1/2- and 3/8-inch combo wrench. This is intended for tightening optic mounts and the like.
The knife blade would likely be used frequently and is easily accessed with one hand. It features a partially serrated blade. The pliers feature needle nose and regular jaws, work smoothly and sport replaceable wire cutters in case they get damaged from hard use and abuse. The saw features very aggressive teeth and it works well considering its size.
The bronze scraper is very useful for cleaning carbon from the bolt carrier and bolt. Let's face it: This is the biggest pain when it comes to cleaning an AR, scraping off the carbon. So a having a dedicated tool that is made from a material which won't damage the bolt or carrier is a plus.
Having a bit driver is handy and the three double-ended bits are securely retained yet easy to access.
The MUT is not an elegant tool, but it is well-designed and nicely made. Retail price is a bit steep at $180. Luckily a quick internet search will turn up a much more reasonable street price. While the MUT is not for everyone, if you are interested in a multi-tool and have an AR, then this is one to consider.
Multitasker Series 2 AR tool
The Multitasker (multitaskertools.com) is a handy "pocket toolbox" designed specifically to maintain your AR and keep it running. Not your average multi-tool, this is a well-designed and manufactured piece perfect for your range bag. It features G10 scales for a secure hold and a set of pliers machined from solid billet D2 tool steel that sports QPQ/Tufftride nitrocarburizing. The pliers feature dual ball bearings pivots for smooth and reliable service.
Poke around inside and you'll notice a variety of useful tools. These consist of a dental pick with 8-32 threads, making it compatible with Otis cleaning gear; a radiused tipped carbon scraper; A2 front sight tool, 1/4-inch magnetic bit driver; spanner wrench for tightening loose castle nuts; file; 8mm wide screwdriver, 3/8-inch box wrench perfect for LaRue QD mounts; and a 2.5-inch Tanto knife blade.
A MOLLE compatible pouch is included along with 1.25-inch bits. The Multitasker is just over four inches folded and weighs 11 ounces.
Build quality on the Multitasker is excellent, and it looks more refined than the MUT. It is also a bit more AR-specific than the MUT.
The knife is easily accessed using one hand and latches securely in place with a liner lock. The needle nose pliers operate smoothly, and all the tools are easy to access. Especially nice are the scraper and pick for removing carbon fouling. Just keep in mind the castle nut wrench is only for tightening loose castle nuts. It's not intended to break free staked nuts.
Overall it's a useful tool for the AR owner. Will everyone have need of the castle nut wrench or 3/8-inch box wrench? No. But they are handy if you do. I keep the Multitasker in my range bag when instructing and I have found it useful. Downside? Well, it's not inexpensive. Currently Brownells offers the Multitasker for $105