Village Praxis: Combat Application Tool (CAT) and Tactical Tolerance Talon Comprehensive Evaluation by Skip Lyttle

Publisher’s Note: Skip put together yet another outstanding tool review for the Village.  He is working on his comprehensive Amagi as we speak and we will publish that in the near term.  It is the one-stop shopping for delineating armaments packages for the Village faithful.  I do want to emphasize that it is one thing to have the kit but if you don’t train and prepare ahead of time, the most expensive and high-speed kit available will do you no good whatsoever.  A large part of good luck is meticulous and comprehensive planning and preparation (this applies to all aspects of life).  We have adopted the gas impingement versus gas piston systems for the family of AR platforms we have evolved to for reasons of costs and accuracy.  It has been a bit sad to evolve away from the FN FAL platform but technology marches on.  A preview of the M110A1 Carbine platform we are adopting can be seen in the review photos.   Therefore, this tool is critically important to keep everything in proper working order.

Comments and discussion on this review is here: -BB

A truly functional tool is one that compliments your equipment and other tools in such a way that means less overall equipment while you are on the move. It is for this reason I have evaluated the Combat Application Tool Inc. in the .223 (CAT-M4) and .308 calibers (CAT-762), as well as the new Tactical Tolerance Talon chamber tool. The analysis of capability vs. load definitely favors the CAT M4 over any bolt carrier or bolt cleaning tool with its very capable task of not only cleaning the carbon build-up inside of the bolt carrier of the AR-platform, but the tail of the bolt itself. Many a bore brush has lost its life, unknowingly damaged bores, and ended up discarded prematurely by the misapplication of using a bore brush to remove carbon build up on the bolt and bolt carrier.

Any soldier knows that carbon build-up is very difficult to combat in the field, and this tool fits the bill wonderfully. The capability vs. load test method is, quite simply put, “Is the benefit worth the weight?” Look at the discarded gear for miles past any large trail-head and you will understand the essence of this method. I have compiled a few suggestions for Combat Application Tool Inc., and of course, the operator that will deploy in harm’s way with the never ending possibility of a malfunction attributed to weapon maintenance, ammunition quality, and/or operator error.

The purpose of the Talon is to clear the chamber lugs quickly. In the 10-step AR Check by Ned Christiansen, step number 5 states: “Remove bolt and check for presence and condition of gas rings and check barrel for obstructions.”

I can see running the Talon to verify the lugs are also clear of obstructions at this point. The Talon also has a cleaning rod attachment point to use the chamber brush as well, since the cleaning rod handles seem to disappear so often, this was a nice addition.

The first impression I had on the CAT tool was how functionally simple, light, and small it was, the second was why I hadn’t thought of building this tool first? Ironically, I bought my first CAT M4 in a small gun shop in Tombstone, Arizona, a uniquely American town made famous for its mining in the 19th Century and one single gunfight that lasted 30.1 seconds longer than any of its participants, dead or alive, expected. Since the first purchase, I have evaluated their new CAT-762 model on my newly built M110A1 Carbine that I designed to be a more portable and handy version of the Army’s M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS).

I have also included a thorough interoperability assessment of the CAT tool and the other cleaning systems I have chosen to integrate into my combat platforms. This includes the standard segmented USGI cleaning kit for 5.56 and 7.62, the Leatherman MUT (one each), the OTIS firearm cleaning system, as well as the Hoppe’s 9 BoreSnake.

Functionality of the CAT
The CAT in 5.56 and 7.62 were very effective at removing the carbon deposits from inside the bolt carrier and outside the bolt tail. I found that the 7.62 CAT didn’t cover the bolt tail of my DPMS LR-308 bolt 100% because tolerances from one AR .308 platform manufacturer to the next varies just as the standard .223 platforms vary. To finish off that last 2% of the bolt tail, I used the carbon scraper tool on my Leatherman MUT, no worries. As a testimony of the CAT’s effectiveness, the CAT scrapes carbon much faster than the M249-style carbon scraper on the MUT. I found that the 5.56 CAT fit nearly every .223 bolt tail I had in my inventory. Having spent accumulated hours of wasted time uselessly brushing at the carbon with a worn down bore brush, there is something very satisfying watching the carbon literally crumble away in a matter of seconds.

Cleaning the inside of the bolt carrier is accomplished by using a bore patch. Tri-fold the patch over the scraper, give it a few drops of CLP and you can eliminate most of the carbon build up in a matter of a few turns, especially in a chromed bolt carrier. I used a second one to verify it was clean, but when patches are running low, one pass can bring a dirty rifle back into battery very quickly.

Cleaning the firing pin using the “+”  cut-out did aid in removing some of the more stubborn carbon near the firing pin head. While this application wasn’t exactly flawless, it still was a nice capability included in the design.

Interoperability of the CAT
Let’s put the down and dirty truth about cleaning kits right up front: There is no single silver bullet cleaning kit. There are functions that are absolutely imperative performed well by a few, then there is an over-lap area, and then there are complimentary capabilities. The object of layering this review was to pull out those most important functions and package it with my choices of what I’ve found work well together without taking up vital space or weight in your kit.

I divided the weapons maintenance into two field categories, as the third category (depot maintenance) I’m not covering in this review. Category I is necessary functions that require the item on your person, such as the Leatherman MUT Bolt Override Tool to aid in immediate action, and Category II, is field maintenance and daily weapons cleaning, usually located on a rucksack or a three-day pack. I chose to place the Leatherman MUT on my person, in this case, a Tactical Tailor Modular Assault Vest (MAV), along with a Gall’s gunshot trauma kit and Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK). The front little pocket of the MUT case is a perfect place to stow the CAT tool. In my particular case, I will have one dedicated MAV for 5.56 and the other for 7.62, so each will require a Leatherman MUT, one for the 5.56 CAT, the other for the 7.62 CAT, because mission changes require it to be a pick-up and go solution in support of either weapons platform.

The Category II cleaning kit includes a USGI segmented cleaning kit in both 5.56 and 7.62, the OTIS Deluxe Law Enforcement cleaning system,  the 5.56 Talon, a Craftsman 6-in-1 flat ground screwdriver, Leatherman Bit Driver Extender and Bit Kit, a set of Black&Decker driver bits and a set of hex and torx bits. All of this stays in my rucksack or 3-day pack. I keep the Hoppe’s 9 BoreSnake in the MAGPUL UBR and ACR butt stocks as a backup bore cleaner.

The ¼” hex in the CAT works on the traditional bits as well as the Leatherman Bit Kit, which I found to be a good mark towards my cleaning kits being interoperable. It is a good idea to take notes on which size hex, torx, flat ground, or Phillips bits you will need for your kit. For instance, I need the T-10 for my JP hand guard, but if I wanted to replace any of the blades on my Leatherman MUT, I need a T-9. Likewise, my CRKT M21-04 requires a T-9 and T-6. Even the smallest detail can mean the difference of whether you have a functioning clip on your knife or not.

While I was looking for future applications for the CAT, I realized there are no scraping tools for the inside of the bolt tail or the inside of the gas key. I’m not sure if that is because it’s a bad idea, or that no one had planned that far, but since the two dimensions appear slightly different, a two-ended scraper with a ¼” hex in the middle would enhance the CAT tool even more. Of course, that is assuming scraping the carbon out of these areas is recommended by anything harder than a Q-tip, which probably depends on who you ask. I thought both the CAT and the Talon made excellent additions and enhanced my capability without increasing the load disproportionately.

To the operator, I recommend they pack the tools to maintain their kit… and these two items definitely fit the bill. The CAT fits very comfortably in the Leatherman MUT case, but could also easily reside in the OTIS. The Talon can stow in its own case or inside a USGI cleaning kit as well.


6 thoughts on “Village Praxis: Combat Application Tool (CAT) and Tactical Tolerance Talon Comprehensive Evaluation by Skip Lyttle”

  1. Thanks! These reviews take alot of time, I hope it was worth the wait… I have two more I’m writing now, the OTIS, and of course, the Ama-gi is a never-ending update 🙂

  2. Hey Skip, you said-

    The first impression I had on the CAT tool was how functionally simple, light, and small it was, the second was why I hadn’t thought of building this tool first?

    Ha! In the auto biz I think that very thought almost daily. There is always some new tool that makes my job just a little bit easier.

    Thanks for giving me an excuse to buy a new tool!


  4. Pingback: “Keep It Running” Gear | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  5. Concise, informative and well done. I’d say a must for anyone rocking an AR platform. Quick question Skip, do you include any broken shell extractors in your kit? Just curious. Never had to use one, But I do keep one in the grip. Useful or not?

  6. Absolutely. I keep a broken shell extractor in .223 and .308 in my cleaning kit. I have also purposely cut a shell as well so I can demonstrate their use. Try to avoid practicing that too much or on match barrels though. Great question, thanks!

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