Last year, I had a bulb that burned out in my right rear tail light. I found that out when I got pulled over by the Johnson City PD. When I made it out to the ranch, I discovered that the head of one of the Phillips screws holding the lens in place was completely stripped. If you do any work at all on your guns, you’ve surely had a similar issue. Usually it’s some infinitesimally small Allen head screw. You strip it, curse loudly, and then try to figure out a way to get it out . . .
My dad was an automotive mechanic for the better part of three decades and has amassed a large Snap-on toolbox full of various tools, many of them specialized for a single job. He saw my tail light predicament and headed over to his large chest of tools and returned with a drill bit. He chucked it in a cordless drill, and slowly started turning it counter clockwise. Like magic, the screw backed out. My dad smiled, returned the bit and drill to his toolbox, and poured himself a cold drink.
A few weeks later, he came to Austin to visit and handed me a Matco 5-piece left hand bit set. The set I have isn’t for sale online, but there’s a 10 piece set that includes five drill bits and five screw extractors. They sat largely unused in my toolbox until Tuesday night. Whilst removing a MegaFins rail from my AR in favor of a new rail I’m testing (hint: it’s from a company known for triggers), I stripped one of the Allen head screws. I snagged by bit set, selected the proper bit, and just like my father before me, extracted the ruined screw. The machinists and gunsmiths that frequent TTAG will probably laugh at my ignorance of left hand drill bits, but I was blown away at how well they worked at screw extraction.
I’m not necessarily saying you need a set of left hand bits, but if you’re as prone to destruction as I am, it certainly can’t hurt to keep them around. You’ll rarely use them, but when you need them, you’ll be really pleased you have them on hand.