How to Organize and Store Your AR-15 Small Parts

How to Organize and Store Small AR-15 Parts

Keeping Parts Organized Saves Time, Money, and Frustration

AR-15 builders often deal with many small parts, springs, and pins that are easy to lose or misplace. To prevent this, many builders have developed various methods for AR-15 parts storage. In this blog, we’ll give you some ideas to organize and store your AR15 Parts.

  • Some builders prefer to use magnetic bowls, which allow them to easily store and access small parts without fear of them rolling away.
  • Others use plastic organizers with labeled compartments to keep parts organized and easily identifiable.
  • Ziplock bags with labels are also popular for builders who need to keep small parts separate and organized.
  • Additionally, some builders use dedicated small parts trays with individual compartments or even specially designed storage cases for AR-15 parts.

Regardless of the method, saving small parts is an important step in the AR-15 building process, and builders have found creative ways to keep these parts organized and easily accessible. In this blog, I’ll show you the ones I’ve learned and made some subtle changes that work for me.

How Many Small AR15 Parts?

If you’re an AR-15 builder, you know the importance of having all the necessary parts and tools. One thing that can make your life easier is setting up a small parts organizer. In this blog, we’ll go over why having a small parts organizer is essential for AR-15 builders and provide some tips on how to set one up.

Finished Sharps Brothers Overthrow AR-15 Build
Finished Sharps Bros Overthrow AR-15 Build

Many small parts are involved in building an AR-15, and the exact number can vary depending on the specific configuration of the rifle. However, here is a list of some of the most common small parts you’ll encounter when building an AR-15:

  • Bolt catch
  • Bolt catch detent
  • Bolt catch spring
  • Buffer detent
  • Buffer retainer pin
  • Buffer retainer spring
  • Cam pin
  • Extractor
  • Extractor pin
  • Extractor spring
  • Firing pin
  • Firing pin retaining pin
  • Front takedown pin detent
  • Front takedown pin spring
  • Gas rings (usually three per bolt)
  • Hammer pin
  • Magazine catch
  • Magazine catch button
  • Magazine catch spring
  • Pivot pin
  • Rear takedown pin detent
  • Rear takedown pin spring
  • Safety selector detent
  • Safety selector spring
  • Takedown pin
  • Trigger pin

This list is not exhaustive, but there are a lot of small parts, and additional small parts may be involved depending on the specific build. However, it’s essential to keep all these parts organized and easily accessible to ensure a smooth AR-15 building:).

Why Set Up AR-15 Parts Storage?

Organization

The first and most obvious reason to set up a small parts organizer is organization. As an AR-15 builder, you know how many small parts are involved in building an AR-15. From pins and springs to detents and screws, many little pieces can easily get lost or misplaced if improperly organized. A small parts organizer will help you keep everything in its place and prevent the frustration of searching for a missing part.

your first ar-15 parts organizer
We keep an organizer like the one above during a build.

Assembling an AR-15 requires attention to detail, and small parts can easily get misplaced or confused with one another. When you start building AR-15s, you may not have an organizer. The more you build, the more you will see the need. Over time, as builders gain experience, they often develop their systems for organizing small parts, major components, and even magazines, such as using labeled bins or trays. By keeping parts organized, builders can avoid mistakes and reduce the risk of reordering. It’s a lesson that any DIY builder learns quickly, and it becomes an essential part of the process.

Time-Saving

Setting up a small parts organizer can also save you time. Instead of spending valuable time searching for a particular part, you can quickly and easily find what you need. This is especially important when you’re in the middle of a build and don’t want to waste time or wait for shipping to bring the spring you lost or the pin that didn’t come in your lower parts kit to finish your project.

Cost-Effective

Having a small parts organizer can also be cost-effective in the long run. When you have all your parts organized, you’re less likely to lose or misplace them, so you won’t have to spend money on replacement parts. Additionally, having a small parts organizer can help you avoid buying duplicate parts because you couldn’t find the original. Lastly, if you’ve ever lost a single spring, pin, or detent, you know how buying just that part can sometimes be a pain. Few retailers carry all AR-15 small parts and have them in stock steadily. Your next course of action is to buy a lower parts kit for 1 single detent, spring, or pin (this is how you end up filling your organizer:)

Finished Iridescent AR-15

Tips for Setting Up a Small Parts Organizer

Choose the Right Organizer

Choosing the right organizer is critical when setting up a small parts organizer. There are many options out there, from plastic bins to metal drawers. Consider the size and number of parts you’ll be storing, and choose an organizer that will accommodate your needs.

Label Everything

Once you have your organizer, be sure to label everything. This will make it easy to find what you need and put things back in their proper place. You can use a label maker or simply write on masking tape, sticky notes, etc…

Group Similar Parts Together

When organizing your parts, group similar parts together.

  • You can group by where the small parts go. I group by “lower receiver small parts, upper receiver small parts, gas block and barrel parts, etc…
  • Some builders group by putting all the springs in one section and all the pins in another, detents in another section, and so on down the line.

There are more ways to group, and you may have one you prefer; the important thing is that you (or someone you are working with) can quickly and efficiently locate your parts.

Keep it Clean

Finally, be sure to keep your small parts organizer clean. Regularly wipe it down with a damp cloth to keep dust and debris from building up. This will ensure that your parts stay clean and in good condition.

These steps will save you time, money, and frustration and make your builds go more smoothly. Following these tips, you can set up a small parts organizer that suits your needs. Happy building!

Best Practices for AR-15 Parts Storage

When building an AR-15, small parts organization and handling are critical to a successful build. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when working with small parts:

Finished Skull Themed AR-15 300 Blackout build
  • Keep small parts organized: As previously mentioned, many small parts are involved in an AR-15 build. Keeping them organized can help prevent loss and confusion.
  • Use a dedicated workspace: A dedicated workspace can help prevent small parts from getting lost in the shuffle of other projects. If a dedicated workspace is not an option, something as simple as a dedicated process will work.
  • Use the right tools: Using the correct tools for the job can help ensure that small parts are handled properly and not damaged during the build process. Invest in high-quality tools designed for AR-15 builds to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible. If not, start with the essentials and upgrade over time.
  • Handle small parts carefully: small parts can be easily lost or damaged. Use tweezers or needle-nose pliers to manipulate small parts carefully and avoid using excessive force that could cause them to snap or break.
  • Double-check your work: Before moving on to the next step in your AR-15 build, double-check that all small parts are in their proper place and properly secured. Taking extra time to ensure everything is in order can save you a lot of frustration. For your first couple of builds, it’s a good idea to have a gunsmith do a once-over when you’re done to ensure nothing was missed.

Following these best practices for small parts when building an AR-15 can help ensure a successful, efficient, and effective build.

Our AR-15 Parts Organizer Step by Step

We’re excited to share this how-to guide on the system we use to store small AR-15 parts. As firearm enthusiasts, we understand the importance of keeping track of these small but essential components. After experimenting with various storage methods, we have taken advice from around the web and added nuances to what we learned for a system that is efficient, practical, and easy to set up.

We hope this system can benefit other gun owners struggling to organize their small AR-15 parts. Our team is committed to sharing what we’ve learned and our experiences with you.

Parts and Materials

Below is a list of the parts we used for AR-15 parts storage.

  • Akro-Mils 06318 Multi Compartment Hardware and Crafts Portable Organizer- $35 to $45
  • As a label maker, I use an old PTouch labeler for everything, and it worked great in the project because I have different color tapes. If you go with the PTouch, you can get the label and tape for around $35 to $45.
  • Round Clear Plastic (Penny Cent) Size Coin Storage Tube Holders Screw on Lid- They come in packs of 20 or 25 and are between $11 and $17, depending on where you get them. We did try a few craft-size files and found these to be the biggest that fit well in the organizer.

For the storage organizer, we found this one on a blog and liked how it fit our needs, but there are others you can find in the links below if you feel like this one isn’t what you’re looking for.

Labeling and Organizing

lid snaps

The beauty of the organizer is it has removable dividers, so you can set a configuration that works for you. The organizer has two sections. The lower section can accommodate bigger items, and the lid is great for springs, pins, detents, and small parts. You can open the lids separately or both at the same time. The design lends itself well to organizing. The image to the left shows how the lid can be opened. The black clip opens the bottom, and the clear snap on the top opens the top organizer.

We decided to go with 20 slot configuration on the lid. Then we used three different color labels sectioned by the lower receiver parts (red), upper receiver parts, barrel (green), and barrel and handguard parts (yellow). We would have leftover slots and label those with the clear label as we determined what we wanted.

Organizer Layout

For the lid, below is the configuration we used:

  1. Takedown pins
  2. Takedown springs and pins
  3. Magazine release
  4. Magazine release pins and springs
  5. Trigger hammer and pins
  6. Left of the handle is a bigger space, and we put triggers parts there
  1. Pistol grip washers
  2. pistol grip screw
  3. Safety springs and pins
  4. Selector/safety switch
  5. Buffer springs and pins
  1. Bolt release
  2. Bolt release pins and springs
  3. lower receiver other
  4. Forward Assist
  5. Dust cover Springs
  1. Trigger guards
  2. Trigger guard pins/screws
  3. Gas block pins, set screws
  4. Forward assist springs and pins
  5. Dust covers
  6. Other side of the handle (bigger space)

We use the coin holder tubes to avoid parts sliding under the partitions or the lid and the partitions. It also helps when we are laying out our build and know what parts we need. We can lay the tubes out with the parts for the billed and not worry about mixing up springs and pins that look similar but are slightly different. Just so you know, the Brother PTouch doesn’t have spell check; if you look closely, you’ll know what I mean:)

PARTS ORGANIZER

The bottom portion we use for Bolt Carrier parts, Gas blocks, and Barrel nuts. This covers virtually all the small parts, and we have another system for receivers, charging handles, barrels, handguards, stocks, buffer tubes, buffers, and buffer springs. Some of these items would fit in our organizer, but for easy identification, we like to leave those items in their packaging until we use them.

The Finished Product

It seems as if with every build, we get some ideas to improve the organization of our parts. So we will keep this post updated with new ways to improve this system. If you prefer to purchase a fully stocked kit, they are available from time to time but will set you back $500 to $700. Setting up an organizer and stalking it over time, you will be surprised how fast it grows, and it will save you some dough.

AR-15 small parts organizer

In conclusion, maintaining your AR-15 is important; it’s much easier with some organizations. By implementing the tips discussed in this blog, you can ensure that your small parts are properly sorted, labeled, and stored in a safe and accessible manner. This will not only make it easier for you to maintain your rifle but also prevent the loss or damage of any essential components. Remember, taking the time to organize and store your AR-15 small parts properly can save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.

We appreciate everyone who so openly shares information to make everyone’s life easier collectively! As I mentioned a few times in this blog, we benefitted from the information several other bloggers shared for the final iteration of our organizer. They are listed below to thank them and provide you with places to see various other possibilities.

AR-15 Small Part Organization FAQs

What common small parts of an AR-15 need to be organized and stored?

Common AR-15 small parts that need to be organized and stored include springs, detents, pins, screws, and other small components that make up the firearm.

How can I prevent the loss or misplacement of AR-15 small parts during cleaning or maintenance?

To prevent loss or misplacement of AR-15 small parts during cleaning or maintenance, use a dedicated workspace with a mat or tray to keep the parts organized and secure. Take your time and work methodically, and always double-check that all small parts are accounted for before reassembling the firearm.

AR-15 Small Part FAQs

How can I tell if a small part of my AR-15 needs to be replaced?

Signs that a small part of your AR-15 needs to be replaced include excessive wear or damage, difficulty in operation, or malfunctions or misfires. Regular cleaning and maintenance can also help identify issues with small parts before they become major problems.

What tools or equipment do I need to replace the AR-15 small parts?

The tools and equipment needed to replace AR-15 small parts may vary depending on the specific part and firearm model. However, common tools include screwdrivers, punches, pliers, and specialized tools such as armorer wrenches or torque wrenches.

Author

  • Michael Hodgdon

    A firearm, shooting, outdoor, and hunting enthusiast for over 35 years. Thank you all for the suggestions on topics you would like to see; we'll keep posting as you keep sending them in. Please comment; we will try to answer all comments quickly.

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