Boulders & Bullets: A Wheeler Tools Adventure in Moab, UT [VIDEO]

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Wheeler Tools is such a staple among home and professional gunsmiths that I’d wager three-quarters of the folks reading this article own something with the Wheeler logo on it. I know I’ve had all sorts of their goodies at home for over a decade, and we use a bunch of their tools on the assembly line at Black Collar Arms.

When launching a new product, generating exposure, coverage, and reviews is hugely important in getting the word out and driving awareness among one’s customer base. Sometimes that puts gun writers, bloggers, YouTubers, and other “influencers” in the enviable position of attending a media event like Wheeler Tools’ “Boulders & Bullets” event held last week in Moab, Utah.

Unfortunately for Wheeler’s checkbook and Cliffhanger Jeep Rental‘s poor Can-Am Mavericks, I was invited to this event to get some hands-on experience with Wheeler’s new F.A.T. Stix preset torque limiting wrench set.

How did it go? Check out the video embedded above or click HERE to view it directly on Rumble.

To put the Wheeler tools through their paces, we first assembled an AR-15. Aero Precision, Ballistic Advantage, VG6 Precision, Wheeler (with their scope mount), and Crimson Trace came together to provide all of the loose components necessary to build a rifle from the ground up.

The lower receiver went first. With a set screw for the bolt catch and for the takedown spring hole, this Aero Precision lower was particularly easy to assemble.

Next we assembled our upper receivers, again from the loose component parts. We all used a Wheeler Delta Series Upper Receiver Action Rod, which is a pretty cool piece of kit.

The upper receiver slides down over the action rod and is prevented from rotating so the user can tighten the barrel nut, handguard, etc. It also has a gas port alignment rod and lugs that lock the barrel and receiver onto the action rod via the barrel extension lugs (what your bolt locks into). Lock and unlock by twisting a knob at the rear of the action rod. Nice.

The new F.A.T. Stix worked great for properly torquing the scope ring screws and scope base mounting nuts, plus things like the handguard clamp screw, grip screw, etc. Overtorquing or undertorquing? Fuggedaboutit.

When the preset torque is hit, the driver “pops” and skips a step. Clack clack, torque is set to the designated value.

For an actual review on the F.A.T. Stix I’ll be following up in a couple/few months after this single set has been used day-in and day-out to assemble stuff at Black Collar. We’ll see how they hold up and I’ll use another, trusted torque wrench with an analog meter on it to verify accuracy before and after.

After the AR was built, Polymer80 provided their new AFT (“Assemble For Thyself”) build kit for us to put together. This is effectively a finished-out P80 frame in that isn’t an 80% receiver but, rather, a serialized firearm ready to accept all of the internal components.

With one Wheeler punch and mallet the AFT went together smoothly and surprisingly quickly. As you can see in the video, it ran great on the range.

Now that’s a sexy sight.

We got in Jeeps and hit the range out on a ranch in Moab (or maybe just outside of Moab). Caldwell steel targets were set up from close for pistol use all the way out to 1,000 yards.

After sighting in my freshly-built rifle at 100 yards, I started lobbing 5.56 at the 1,000-yard silhouette. The Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 1-6x‘s BDC reticle has holds for out to 600 yards. Which, incidentally, isn’t the same as 1,000 yards.

Holding the bottom stadia line at the height of the very tip of a conveniently-located tree and a few feet to the right, I was absolutely floored with the consistency of my shots. Misses splashed dirt within about a foot of the silhouette, and hits happened much more often than I had expected. The gun’s a shooter! And the glass in the Hardline Pro was quite nice.

Then…off to the trails!

I broke a side panel off of one Can-Am.

Things got a little sideways with another. My embarrassing failure is in the video for y’all to enjoy at my expense.

Before the crash. (That’s @9_Dolls on Instagram. Rei’s a fantastic long-range shooter! Give her a follow if you’re on the ol’ Insta)

After the crash. (Note the sweet Klik Belts 2-ply gun belt that kept my pants up and my dignity inside even while we were inverted)

While I’m giving shout-outs to Instagram celebs, that’s “other Jeremy” AKA @WhatTheKicks on Instagram. He’s a good follow if you like sweet guns, nice whiskey, and fancy shoes that I don’t understand.

Shoes that I do understand are my Salewa Wildfires, which were also being rocked by @FlatBrimKJ of Gun Talk (who, in the photo above, is proned out behind a .50 cal). I gotta say, if my Can-Am was wearing these there’s no way in hell it would have ever slipped on those rocks. These shoes climb slick rocks like they have suction cups on the bottom.

My F.A.T. Stix set is being pressed into daily assembly service soon. Expect a follow-up after a couple months of hard use. I’ll likely loan the rifle and the pistol to Jon Wayne Taylor and/or Dan to review independently.


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  1. {Cliffhanger Jeep Rental}

    They rent Jeeps, at the trail head? Where you can easily flip ’em and destroy them?

    That can’t be cheap, and how do they not go bankrupt?

    • I don’t know, I figured the rental fee would have been more. They must have some sweet insurance policies.

  2. had a lot of fun with a couple gals from utah the other night.
    first one i’ve known a while, she left the mormons, married into jewish and moved to israel.
    her besty lives in the loop and wants to move to the big (rotting stinking corpse) apple.
    right thinkers politically.

    • Keep in touch with them, if you can.

      That could prove to be a valuable contact…

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