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Author Topic: Review - Brownells Magna-Tip Autoloader screwdriver  (Read 5132 times)

Bob

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Review - Brownells Magna-Tip Autoloader screwdriver
« on: May 09, 2014, 11:12:23 PM »

Brownells Magna-Tip Autoloader


One of the things you learn early on in gunsmithing is that you MUST have good tools, especially when it comes to your screwdrivers. One of the first and best tool purchases I made was a Brownells Magna-Tip bit set that included 24 Bits and a screwdriver handle. This set was what I needed for my workbench as I worked on my guns. The only thing I didn't like about it was that it wasn't well suited for taking to the gun range. I like to take a basic tool kit with me in case I run into a problem or I need to make an adjustment. The set I had purchased was too bulky for my every day range kit and I was always worried that I would knock the case over and have to try digging 24 bits out of the weeds and gravel. When I saw that Brownells offered the Magna-Tip Autoloader I picked one up for my range bag.

The Magna-Tip Autoloader is a screwdriver handle that has internal storage for up to 6 bits. The screwdriver at first glance appears like just about any other screwdriver that accepts interchangeable bits. You can place a bit in the end of the screwdriver and it is magnetically held in place. The "trick" to this screwdriver is that after you have placed a bit in the end of the shaft you can pull back on the black handle of the screwdriver and the bit will disappear down inside the shaft. While the handle is  retracted you can rotate it to any of the six available positions and slide it forward. This will cause the bit stored in that position to slide up and out of the shaft ready to use. You can place any standard 1 inch bit in the handle and have it ready for use with just a twist of the wrist.

I carry this screwdriver in my range bag whenever I head out to the range. This screwdriver has stood up to being dropped, knocked off of the shooting bench and being stepped on without any issues except for a few minor cosmetic scratches in the polymer handle. I have found that the six bits that I carry allow me to do all of the basic field repairs that I need. If I can't complete the repairs with the bits that I have available then I probably should not be performing the repair in the field anyways. While I initially bought this for use in my range bag I found myself using it for basic cleaning and repair work at my bench so often that I bought one for there also.

The handle is hexagon shaped and is just shy of 1 1/2 inch in diameter due to the mechanism for storing the bits inside the handle. This gives you a nice large gripping surface for tightening or loosening screws. I do not like to use this screwdriver for placing a lot of torque on a screw. It may be just me, but because of the moving parts and the system in the handle that stores the bits I hesitate to use this screwdriver for those situations. I always reach for one my fixed blade screwdrivers for anything that requires me to apply a generous amount of  torque. I have never experienced an issue but would just rather not take a chance.  The hexagon shape keeps the screwdriver from rolling around on the bench when you set it down.

I have two suggestions for improving on the Magna-Tip Autoloader. First is that I would like to see a cover for the bit end of the screwdriver. This cover when in place would make the Magna-Tip Autoloader look like a large Tylenol capsule. This would help while transporting the screwdriver in my range bag. Right now while it is in my bag the bit sticks out ready to snag on my range bag or scratch any item that it rubs against. I have tried retracting the bit up inside the handle but it is over 11" long with the handle retracted and there is no way to lock it in the retracted position. Usually by the time I get to my destination the handle has worked it's way back to the closed position exposing the bit again. A cover would allow you to toss it in your range bag without worry of damaging the bit or anything in your bag. The other change I would like to see would take more work to accomplish but I think would be worth the redesign. I would love to see them make the Magna-Tip Autoloader accept longer bits. They could then provide double ended bits that would then allow you to double the number of bits that you can carry.

I recommend that you pick up one or more for your workbench or range bag. 

 
The Magna-Tip Autoloader can be purchased as just the Screwdriver ready to accept the bits that you provide or for a few extra dollars as a combo set which also includes a set of 6 bits.

SPECS: Steel, chrome plated, and polymer. 7-5⁄8" (19.4cm) long with bit extended, 1-3⁄8" (3.5cm) diameter handle. Accepts 1” long Magna-Tip bits; Combo Set includes .035" thick straight blade, #2 Phillips, 3/32" hex, 7/64" hex, T-10 Torx, and T-15 Torx bits.

Link:Brownells Magna-Tip Autoloader

5/14/2014 I had a user email me and say that you can retract all of the bits inside of the screwdriver handle by pulling back on the black handle like you are going to switch to a different bit and then push the black handle back up about 1/4 of the way by swiftly and sharply hitting it with the palm of your hand, then close it the rest of the way as you normally would. This causes the bits to remain in the handle instead of feeding into place. I tested this on my screwdriver and it works.

« Last Edit: May 14, 2014, 02:18:49 PM by Bob »

 

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