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Range tools

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is a placeholder for one I promised earlier this week and forgot what it was. If you were looking for a particular report today and didn’t get it, please tell me what it is and I will reschedule it.

I was at the range yesterday, shooting off my rifle rest, when I discovered the rest was wobbling. That’s not good because one of the most important things a rest should be is stable. Normally, I would have been unable to fix the problem, which was loose bolts on the rest; but every tool I needed to make the repairs was in my range bag. So, I thought we could take a look at what I carry with me to the range. What you are about to read comes from years of shooting and thousands of hours on the range, where you sometimes need a tool.

Job No. 1
As things turned out, I needed special tools for 3 different jobs this day, and I had all of them in my range box. So let’s take a look. The first job was to tighten that rifle rest.

These three multi-tools and the small tool set have saved the day many times!

The rifle rest had bolts that were too hard for the pliers on my multi-tools to turn. But I also carry 2 small crescent wrenches, and one was the right size for the nuts on the end of the bolts. The bolt heads have large Allen wrench sockets, but I don’t carry an Allen wrench set with me. However, in a small tool set I do carry I found the exact size Allen wrench bit that was needed, so the bolts were tightened and the rest became rigid again.

crescent wrenches
I carry not 1 but 2 crescent wrenches because sometimes you need both. The duct tape has many uses and the plumber’s tape is for sealing pneumatics and CO2 guns. The shorter wrench is one I cut down years ago to carry on my bicycle.

Job No. 2
Then my shooting buddy, Otho, tried to sight-in his new Ruger .44 Magnum Deerslayer carbine. Turned out he needed a very tiny screwdriver bit for the rear sight’s elevation, and the small toolkit I carry happened to have exactly the right size! The ironic thing is that Otho gave me this set about a year ago!

We also had to drift (push sideways in a dovetail slot) the rear sight to get it aligned correctly, and one of my multi-tools has a small claw hammer that was perfect for the job. Otho had a brass drift punch, but the hammer he had was too small to move the sight. After getting the rifle sighted in, I put 8 out of 10 shots on a 6-inch bullseye at 100 yards, so the job was a complete success.

I always carry a wide variety of paper targets to the range because I never know exactly what I’ll need. I have 5-10 of each of these, plus targets not shown. The squares are great for 100 and 200 yards with powerful scopes!

You always need a stapler for the targets. And don’t forget to carry staples. I reload the stapler as soon as I hit the range and usually don’t need staples for the rest of the day.

Job No. 3
Then, we went to the 15-yard range, and Otho’s wife tried out a .32 S&W double-action revolver as a possible defense weapon. Otho had loaded the cartridges a long time ago, and they were very low power. So low, in fact, that they had ignition problems and one turned out to be a squib. The bullet was stuck in the barrel.

I always carry a .177-caliber cleaning rod to help extract rifle cartridges from guns with bad extractors. I’ve used it dozens of times just this year. But a .177 rod is too thin to drive a stuck lead bullet out of a barrel, so I also carry a military .30-caliber cleaning rod that’s broken down into many sections. One of them was perfect to drive the .32 bullet out the barrel so the gun could continue to shoot.

Cleaning rods
The .177 cleaning rod in the package has been used many times to push fired cartridges out of the chambers of rifles. The heavier .30-caliber jointed rod at the bottom is strong enough for many tougher jobs.

Then there are the supplies that I always need away from the house. For pneumatics, I carry a small jar of diver’s silicone grease to lubricate the o-rings on fill connections at the range. I also carry a couple CO2 cartridges in case I’m testing a CO2 gun and run out.

CO2 cartridges and diver's silicone
I carry diver’s silicone grease for pneumatics and CO2 cartridges just in case I run out. The gel pad was a Pyramyd AIR giveaway several years back. I use it sometimes to rest my elbows when shooting off a rest.

Finally, there’s safety to consider. I always have several sets of disposable earplugs, and lately I’ve had to give them out. People go to a rifle range and forget to bring hearing protection. It’s such a common problem that they sell packages of a dozen plugs just for range bags. The binoculars are not in place of a spotting scope, but to augment one. If the caliber is large enough or the target is close enough, I don’t go to the trouble of setting up a spotting scope.

earplugs and binoculars
Earplugs are always with me, as are the binoculars. As cheap as optics are, today, I have several pairs in key locations. The yellow tool is a combination set of Allen wrenches and screwdriver bits. It isn’t that useful, but I have used it occasionally.

Other useful tools
That’s a quick look inside my range bag. I didn’t show some of the oils and solvents, but these are the big things I carry. What do you carry?

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

41 thoughts on “Range tools”

  1. I pay, literally, for my ear plug sloppiness. I just brought home some new COSTCO/Kirkland hearing aids at $2000 the pair. But very nice, there goes the FT beast I wanted next year.


  2. I also have eye glass cleaner and a soft cloth to dry the lens of my scopes and eye glasses.

    And a light oil for lubricating multiple things.

    A laser range finder always and extra battery for the rangefinder, a spoting scope sometimes if I’m shooting a gun with a dot sight.

    I also keep a folding 3 section bipod in my box.

    And pretty well everything you listed, not quite the same things but similar and also about 3 extra O -rings for my Benjamin 4500 fill tank quick disconnect.

    A paper clip and tweezers. And I keep some extra screws and such in there also. And a roll of paper towels.

    I think thats it with out going and looking

  3. Since my “range” is my backyard I have access to a whole slew of wonderful tools no further than 150 feet away. But I do carry a .50 cal ammo box with me to my shooting position. I’ve got all sorts of targets, pasters, extra 12g co2, a couple small screwdrivers, assorted pellets, a set of eyepals, ( /product/eyepal-peep-sight-master-kit-for-rifles-pistols-bows?a=4497 ), wind meter, shooting glasses, scotch tape, shooting journal, pen, pellgun oil and various clips and magazines for my guns.

  4. A note on screwdriver sets….
    Seems that nobody makes a set of drivers (or bits) that covers everything. There always seems to be that one size that you need that was not included . Same goes for allen wrenches (and you better have metrics too).
    Then there is the problem of quality. Some of that stuff must have a manufacturing tolerance of +- 30% . Dangerous to work with . Causes damage. And really poor quality metal too.


  5. I also carry a spare button battery or two depending on what I’m using for the day – the CR2032 battery is for the red dot on my High Standard I use in 25 yard Bullseye and illuminated scopes. I have a multi-tool but mine includes various sockets and torx fittings (the high zoot model) including various screwdriver blades. I typically don’t have the plumbers’ tape, adjustable crescent wrenches or cleaning rods like BB has. However, in my trunk of my car, I carry a complete open end set of wrenches plus long bladed screw drivers and pliers so there’s always a fall back position. The rest like the laser range finder, I do have but rarely use it now.

    Lately when I’m sighting in and documenting where my air rifles shoot with different pellets and someone in the next port is blasting away with a .40 Glock, I will use the disposable ear plugs in addition to my hearing muffs. Those plastic guns are loud plus they tend to throw the brass onto me! No more wearing sandals at the range.

    Fred DPRoNJ

    • A BIG plus 1 for having a fully stocked trunk.I also have begun to use some giant push pins I found at wallyworld……and several sets of pins that incorporate magnetic ends that allow you to replace a target without pulling the pin out.I often grab pieces of cardboard from restaurants for backing too.Chapman makes the BEST gun screwdriver sets,but you need the supplemental allen wrench tips.

    • Nothing like hot freshly ejected brass hitting you. I qualify semi-annually on an indoor federal government range. A couple sessions ago, we were doing quals with the S&W .40 cal M&P pistol, the guy next to me was shooting a string of 6, one of the shells ejected flew over to me and got stuck between my upper cheek and safety glasses….yeeouchhhhh.

  6. I have a “Gun Box”, really a large plastic tool box, with everything I might need in it. I also carry brass rods just in case you get a stuck bullet like your friend had. The solid brass rods work a lot better than cleaning rods and are easy on the barrel. The Truck always has a tool box in it so it’s there if I need to fix something other than a firearm or air rifle. Our range is very nice with covered lines, 30 yard range, two 100 yard ranges, and a 200 yard range. We also have a small building with a restroom and a larger room for other uses. There are also three trap ranges, a skeet field, and sporting clays. I also make sure I have some rags to wipe down and clean guns as needed. Of course, the spotting scope is a must.


  7. B.B.,

    I very rarely go to shooting ranges, but if I did, in addition to what you’ve listed, I would put in my bag some light masking tape to go along with the duct tape, about five band-aids, two clean rags, a small but ultra-bright LED flashlight with fresh batteries, a small Swiss Army knife (for the scissors, tweezers, and toothpick), a small metal file, a sleeved and short hacksaw blade, visegrips, a pair of cheap, leather yardwork gloves, 50 feet of small but strong poly string or fishing line, a cheap plastic magnifying glass, and a 12 oz. bottle of drinking water.

    Oh, and a small paperback book, in case there is unexpected downtime.


      • B.B. and Fred,

        I can’t believe I forgot to include this one, it’s so important: I do not smoke, but I always want a small cigarette lighter or match safe either in my truck or if I’m going to be far from it, on my person. That has come in handy more times than I can count. I specifically bought a couple cheap pipe lighters so they would be mostly windproof (much better than regular lighters and matches). It’s amazing how cheap they are, and most are refillable with butane cans sold practically everywhere.

        Another one: a couple fast food packets of salt. First of all, if there is no salt on your drive-through fries, but also, how often have you had slightly oily or greasy hands and really needed to grip that screwdriver or knurled knob? If you keep slipping, empty one fast food packet of salt on your palm, spread it around, shake off the excess, and give it another shot. It often provides just enough extra traction on the tool to make up for the grease film on your hands. Just remember to clean all of the residue off of any metal, or you’ll have a corrosion issue before you can say, “RUST!!!!”

        Another: a four inch section of a cheap ruler with inches on one side and centimeters/millimeters on the other. I cut the ruler at 2 inches because that way I get 5 full centimeters/50 millimeters, too. After that, the multiplication is easy if you need it.

        One last one — two $20 bills tucked away and intentionally forgotten, until one day when all of a sudden you realize you forgot to go to the ATM . . . .

        I always keep two $20 in the card section of my wallet, apart from the bills section, just for that purpose.


  8. Howdy Mr. BB, Ms. Edith & the Gang, I ride H-D so only tools I need ta fix anything: a hammer, a bigger hammer & a much bigger hammer (cuz ya never force anything, ya just get a bigger hammer)duct tape (in case it moves & ain’t supposed to), WD-40 (in case it doesn’t move & it’s supposed to), bailing wire & chewing gum. A tape measure to size my groups (they don’t make calipers that big), a camera ta document that I really did get 3 on the same piece of paper, a stack of my buddy’s business cards in case I screw up & the Range Master asks for ID & a six pack, so after a typical day of lousy shootin’, I can kick back, pop a coldie & lie about it. Thanx ya’ll, have a great weekend. Shoot/ride safe,

    • The quintessential HD wrench or toolkit, a hammer and a screw driver. Haven’t heard that in years!!!! My dear old friend used to refer to a small adjustable wrench as a “mini-wini” after Winston Churchill. All the English bike riders carried one since no one had Whitworth gauaged tools when the English bikes first came to these shores after WW II.

      Fred DPRoNJ

    • Beaz,

      Back when I rode Harleys (in the 1960s), I had a 1947 74-inch panhead and a ’46 61-inch knuckle. To take the dry clutch off you have to remove that huge nut on the left side of the bike. There is a special wrench for it, but no one I knew owned one. We used a chisel behind one of the 6 points of the nut to loosen it. And behind the other side to tighten it. When the nut was rounded off on all corners, we go another nut.

      I’m guessing that you have seen these nuts with one or more of their points sheared off?

      Torques wrenches? We don’t need no stinking torque wrenches, hombre!


      • Thanx for the response Mr. BB, I’m honored. Yup, lotta valuable life lessons learned from ridin’, i.e. no need for onea them high falutin’ torque wrench thingys, just tighten ‘er up ’till she squeals, then back ‘er off a 1/4 turn!?! Back in the old days, rule of thumb was, if ya were packin’ it, ya’d never need it. Ya hadta travel light, cuz 2/3 of your bags were fulla oil & tools!?! Now my tool kit hangs off my belt, those who don’t ride call ’em cell phones. Big hug ta Ms. Edith for me, please? Thanx again, sir.

  9. I carry pretty much the same stuff in my range bag as everyone else. Cleaning kit, ammo, targets, staple gun, black or blue markers, rags, bags for used brass, etc. I always have a small flashlight, but I’ve never carried toilet paper, although I keep a roll in my Jeep. When I had a Desert Eagle I kept Bic pen springs because the firing pin would sometimes eject itself and I was lucky if I could find the spring. Can’t remember how many I lost until figuring it out.

    I also use of prescription bottles to keep brass separate for later inspection along with its corresponding notes when developing new loads.


  10. I don’t normally carry range gear. I pick 1-2 guns and some ammo for them, shove the cans of ammo in my pockets and off I go. If one of my pockets and off I go. If one of my guns breaks I set it aside and switch to my other gun. If that one for some reasons goes down I might just toss it in the pond in frustration and go do something else for the day. I figure out of a 75 gun collection the odds of two guns falling apart on the same range day is fairly slim.

    • You are right.

      But remember Murphy is always somewhere to be found.

      Happens to me all the time. Every time I think I got it covered somthing else happens.

      • Yeah, that old optimist Murphy is always around. Luckily my hunting area/range is not that far from my gun storage. But even then tools are a bit sparse since I have to keep all my tools at home or they have a habit of being used and lost by somebody else that might go rummaging in my box for tools. So if something breaks It has to come home for repairs. That or it has to be put away broken and I have to find time to bring tools out there. But it’s no big deal. At last count I had at least 75 guns to choose from. Quite a few have hardly ever been fired.

  11. Going a bit off topic, I see that in the new section they have IZH-Baikal MP-514K Air Rifle Magazines. Are they planning on making the MP-514K again? That gun is one on my most wanted list. If it’s coming back into the Baikal guns I’m really wanting to know.

  12. I stopped using crescent wrenches after I saw an aircraft mechanic friend of mine use his Knipex “pliers wrenches” (as the German company calls them) for a job which normally would have called for a crescent wrench or channel-locks. They’re like a combination of both, the jaws adjust quickly and stay tight and perfectly parallel to each other with almost no play. Expensive but worth it!

    A powerful flashlight is a great idea. Makes me wonder why I’ve never got around to putting one in my range box! 99% of my shooting is at home but I still find it worthwhile to keep all the regularly used tools and miscellany for shooting in it’s own box.

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