Wheeler AR Bolt Catch Punch Set Makes The Job Way Easier

If you are new to building AR lowers, there is one step that is, in my opionion, the most risky in terms of making a mistake and scratching the finish if not even gouging the aluminum.  That’s when you go to install the bolt catch.  You must juggle the receiver, spring, detent, catch, punch and hammer all at the same time while being right against the nicely finished receiver!

The two ears that hold the cross pin of the bolt catch are just above the magazine catch.  In the small hole will sit the spring and the detent pin.

Historically, you had to get ready for battle and would tape your receiver to protect it from slipping punches or glancing blows by a hammer.

I would apply duct tape, Gorilla tape or something thick to protect the finish.  Note, if you are starting out, taping is always a good idea no matter what.

Installing the slide catch is way easier now with the right tools.  I have really come to rely on three punches to get the job done.  The first is a purpose specific punch set from Wheeler this is flat on one side and has a protective rubber coating.

The Wheeler set has two punches.  The starter punch has a hollow end that the pin sits in.  This allows you to focus on the hole and hitting the punch with the hammer.  The other is a roll pin punch that you can use to align the catch at the start and also drive the pin the final distance.


Here the pin is being started.
See, I use the roll pin punch on the left to align the bolt catch and also to capture the detent pin and spring.  Once that punch is in, you can let go!  Whew.  You can then focus on tapping the starter punch on and making sure everything is aligned.

Now plenty of guys can get their build done with the above.  Because of my tremor, I like to drive the pin in the rest of the way by using a really long roll pin punch that safely clears the receiver.  I have a Tekton gunsmith punch set and the 1/8″ roll pin punch works great for me. 

This is the nice Tekton gunsmith punch set that I really like.
This is me with the 1/8″ roll pin punch.


I hope this helps you out.  This is what I do every time now.  It’s also what I use if I need to remove and replace an existing catch.

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