When your weapon goes down, it’s never at a happy day. At best, you lose some valuable time at the range training. At worst, you’re left vulnerable in a high risk situation. Having spare parts and relevant tools for your firearms at home should be standard practice, and it doesn’t hurt to consider carrying the essentials in your range kit and “get home” bag. . But which parts and which tools should you prioritize having on hand? We’ll touch on the most common parts that are prone to failure but are also replaceable with minimal skill.
Common Pistol Parts
Some of the most common parts that need replacing on handguns are springs. Guide rod springs, and magazine springs, to be exact. Both of these springs are high-wear items and both are required for your pistol to function reliably. Another common spring worth having on hand is your firing pin spring. In fact, because the firing pin is so crucial to operation, you should consider having a spare firing pin on hand as well.
You should also consider investing in a backup extractor, as this is another high-wear item. Depending on your model of pistol, the skill needed to replace your extractor may be beyond the level you are comfortable with, so do some research as to what is involved with changing the extractor on your pistol.
Grip screws may or may not be necessary depending on the make and model of your pistol. However, owners of 1911’s, Beretta 92’s, and other similar guns that require screws to secure the grip to the frame, should always have a small package of grip screws on hand. While grip screws are not as mission critical as springs, firing pins, and the like… they are also not made from as high of quality materials and can be prone to breaking as a result.
Common AR Parts
AR-15 owners may want to consider having a spare bolt carrier group or “BCG” on hand. While pieces of the bolt carrier group can be swapped out individually, having a full spare on hand will minimize your down time. If having a full BCG on hand doesn’t fit your budget, consider keeping a spare bolt, cam, cam pin, and gas rings on hand.
While a charging handle is not a common failure point, it doesn’t hurt to have a cheap one handy in case of failure to minimize down time. $15 for a little extra peace of mind is worth it.
Milspec lower parts kits can be found online for as low as $50 at the time of this article. They include everything from the grip, to the trigger, on up to the small spring and detents. While you may not need some of these parts, it’s not uncommon for small parts to go missing while you’re disassembling or reassembling the rifle to replace a part like the trigger or safety. Having the full lower parts kit on hand will ensure that if your takedown detent skyrockets to the moon, you’ll have a spare on hand.
Buffer spring’s are relatively inexpensive and worth having on hand since they are a high wear consumable part for the AR. The same goes for magazine springs. It’s way cheaper to replace a mag spring than a full magazine, so having some mag springs on hand can be a cost effective way to stay ready as well. For more on magazine springs, check out our recent article on whether you should store your magazines loaded.
Common Shotgun Parts
Shotguns, especially pump shotguns, are relatively simple machines. Two of the best parts to have on hand are the magazine spring and magazine follower. These parts are fairly common and shouldn’t cost much to have on hand.
You may also want to consider purchasing a spare extractor and depending on the model of your shotgun, consider picking up a charging handle (for semi-automatic shotguns with detachable options).
What tools you need will likely depend on what guns you have. But we’ve assembled our top 5 picks for tools to have laying around.
Real Avid Pistol Tool: At around $40, this multi-tool is a must have. With appendages for 1911’s, Glocks, and more - you’ll have everything you need. Plus, it is convenient to carry in a range bag or pocket.
Real Avid Armorer’s Master Wrench: For anyone with an AR-15 this wrench is a must. It will tackle barrel nuts, castle nuts, receiver extensions, muzzle brakes, and more!
Real Avid Core Tool: The Core Tool is a small multi-tool type platform that helps you keep your AR running and gunning and includes tools for removing carbon, clearing malfunctions, punching out stubborn takedown pins, optics adjustments and more!
The Wheeler Engineering Pro Plus Screwdriver Set: Coming in at $90 this set is more expensive than the other tools on the list. However, it’s 89 pieces include 54 flat tips of various sizes, Allen bits, Philips bits, and Torx bits, and even includes two sets of the thinnest bits since those are most prone to breaking.
The Wheeler Roll Pin Install Tool Kit: This kit includes punches of various common sizes, a double-sided brass/rubber mallet, a trigger guard install tool, and bolt catch install tool. At roughly $50, this kit is a bargain!
The last bit of advice we have…
Keep old parts on hand!
If you like to customize your guns, keeping your stock parts on hand for emergencies is a great practice to keep in mind! Think of it this way: any part on your gun that’s important enough to customize should be important enough to keep a backup for! Even the stock parts can come in handy in a pinch.