Gear Review: ShootingSight TAVOR Trigger Unit

SSTAV4

At the time of this writing, I know of three companies working on replacement trigger packs for the IWI TAVOR SAR: Timney, Geissele, and ShootingSight. If you haven’t heard of ShootingSight don’t feel bad; they’re a small “mom & pop” type shop out of Cincinnati, which first started out making aftermarket aperture sights for competition rifle shooters and then branched out into high-quality trigger units and FCG parts replacements. Although Timney beat ShootingSight to market by a few months, its TAVOR trigger has been plagued with light primer strike problems that, unfortunately, I was able to confirm in my review. With a little trepidation due to the Timney TAVOR trigger experience, I dropped in ShootingSight’s kit and hit the range…

Technical:

ShootingSight’s TAV-D is still in a pre-release phase before going to full production. When it does become generally available, though, it will be offered in the version you see here, which has a Delrin housing, and in a version with an aluminum housing. I liked the look of the aluminum-housed Timney (keeping in mind, of course, that these units are 100% not visible when installed in the gun), but on the TAVOR I can’t really say that I have a preference either way. The factory trigger assembly is in a plastic housing, and the ShootingSight Delrin job looks and feels as good or better. This one is machined from a block of Delrin rather than molded from whatever plastic IWI uses, and it’s clean and light weight. It does weigh less than an aluminum unit.

Inside that housing you’ll find machined components made from heat treated tool steel with an “ultra hard, low friction surface coating.” The sear surfaces are polished and honed. This is a self-contained, pre-assembled unit and you can literally drop out the factory one and pop in the new one in all of 10 seconds.

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The TAV-D is a 2-stage trigger, and you’d be just fine calling it a match trigger. Some folks don’t think a battle rifle benefits from this design, but Art at ShootingSight reminded me that the M1 Garand and M14 had pretty darn good 2-stage triggers and it was one of the things that made them superior. I personally prefer a nice single stage but the TAVOR falls into a category of exception where any trigger is really a 2-stage — due to linkage slack that you can’t tune out (at least without modifying or replacing the trigger blade itself or adding some sort of pre-travel adjustment set screw in the bottom of the trigger pack) — and the end result might actually be better from a company that embraces this reality.

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That said, SS managed to reduce the amount of slack by tightening up the U-notch in the ‘connector’ or ‘sear bar’ into which the end of the trigger linkage sits (in the first photo, we’re talking about the width of the “U” on the metal piece that sticks out of the top, middle of the housing). It’s narrower than the factory one and it’s narrower than the Timney one. Despite this, the trigger pack has dropped in flawlessly each of 5 or 6 times that I’ve had it into my TAVOR and back out. The end result is less slack/pretravel/takeup in the trigger than with either the factory or Timney units.

My Timney trigger pull gauge [apparently doesn’t hold a grudge and] showed the release weight of the SS unit to be very consistent, coming in each time at right around 4.75 lbs. In my opinion this is just about perfect for a firearm that may be used in a defensive role. 4.5 to 5 lbs is a great balance between light enough to target shoot for small group sizes and heavy enough so as to avoid accidents.

Feel:

There’s a bit of slack in the system still, but take that up and you hit the first stage of the trigger pull. This requires about 3 lbs of pull and a tad under 1/5″ of travel. At this point you’re up against the sear, which represents the second stage. Just the smallest amount of creep I’m capable of detecting as you increase pressure to 4.75 lbs, then snap to a really nice break. Very little overtravel.

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Letting the trigger back out rewards you with a solid reset that’s easy to feel and hear. It resets right on the point where the first stage becomes the second stage, so riding that reset closely effectively turns this into a single-stage trigger. You’re right up on the sear again and the thing becomes a dang on/off clicker — you know, those metal clicker things that snap a piece of sheet metal to one side then the other? That feels like the break and reset.

I should mention that I’ve been trying to show trigger pulls as clearly as possible in my videos, and this one is no exception. Check it out to see all of the above things done slowly and close-up.

While the first stage is great for getting ready to take a precision shot, it really isn’t noticeable if you’re pulling straight through the trigger pull. From zero to break, if you’re making that decision to fire quickly and you’re doing a full trigger press, you cannot feel the stages. It’s more like a gradual increase in weight from slack to sudden break.

Compared to the factory trigger, it’s better in nearly every way. Lighter (but not too light) pull weight, much smoother, 99% less creep, cleaner break, less slack. Reset is shorter but equivalent in feel, and obviously the factory trigger has the advantage of being “free,” as IWI does include one pre-installed with every TAVOR purchase.

On The Range:

After the Timney fiasco I made sure to shoot a range of ammo through the ShootingSight, including the types with primers too hard for the Timney to handle. In my stock those were IMI M855 and M193, Federal XM193, and Silver Bear (very similar in this regard to Wolf, Tula, etc). With the IMI, the Timney was igniting about 1/3 of them and with the Silver Bear about 1/2 of them.

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Well, I’m happy to report that the ShootingSight trigger saw no such issue. Every single primer dent looked textbook perfect on all brands of ammo tested.

If you cock the hammer by hand it’s easy to tell that it requires significantly more pressure to do so on the SS and the factory trigger (about the same on these two) vs. the Timney unit. This coupled with the depth and consistency of the primer dents and the quality of the steel and machining in the ShootingSight plus, of course, its flawless performance, makes me highly confident that it’s going to serve me well, well into the future.

Review Update: I did a bit of a “torture test” follow-up. Find it HERE.

Conclusions:

It works. It’s awesome. I’m happy to recommend it to any TAVOR owners looking for an upgrade from stock, and this one is staying put right where it is in my TAVOR.

Specifications: (from ShootingSight’s product page)

  • MSRP: $315 for Delrin housing, $325 for aluminum
  • 2-stage, giving a predictable glass like break
  • 3 lb first stage, 5 lb total pull
  • Machined from heat treated plate tool steel, for superior metal grain structure
  • CNC cut Delrin housing (also available in CNC machined billet aluminum, mil-spec hard coat anodized housing)
  • Utra hard / low friction surface coating allows lube free operation in dirty / tactical environments.
  • Polished and honed sear surfaces for butter-smooth pull.
  • Drop in trigger pack is fully assembled.

Ratings (out of five stars):

Build Quality  * * * * 
Really nice. Made in U.S.A. The housing is nicer than factory but it could still be a little cleaner, and it’s still plastic. I’d probably give the aluminum version 5 stars.

Slack (pretravel/takeup)  * * *
Improvement over factory, but it lags behind many other rifle triggers. Again, though, the TAVOR design makes tuning this out difficult.

Creep  * * * * 1/2
It’s really at the point where I can just barely notice it if I pull the trigger as slowly as physically possible. Any less creep and I couldn’t detect it. But it’s there so it isn’t perfect. The Timney I dropped into my Mosin Nagant is perfection.

Break  * * * * *
Great. No real room for improvement.

Reset  * * * * *
Excellent.

Overall  * * * * 
If it were either less expensive or got rid of nearly all of the slack, I’d give it five stars.

 

comments

  1. avatar mrT says:

    What is the purpose of the two different models?

    1. avatar SpeleoFool says:

      There is no functional difference between the two. The aluminum model is nicely anodized and screen-printed, but weighs a little more. If all you care about is functionality, go for the delrin version.

      I got the aluminum version because I tend to take a lot of people shooting and I wanted to help Art advertise any time I drop the trigger pack out to show how easy it is to install. Art shared the entire development process from conception to release over at bullpupforum (highly recommended resource for all manners of aftermarket support for the Tavor). It was obvious to me how much he cared about getting this trigger right, and I’m glad to see TTAG doing a review and giving him some exposure.

  2. avatar Puyallup devil doc says:

    I was excited until I saw the price.

    1. avatar SpeleoFool says:

      Yeah, it hurts a little. The Timney and Geissele triggers each retail for ~$350; Geissele’s “Super Sabra” hasn’t hit the market yet. If you want to lighten the pull weight without spending any money you can remove one of the springs from the stock trigger & get by with “less terrible.” 🙂

  3. avatar MattG says:

    Whoa cool, I live literally five minutes from their shop. Now I wish I owned a Tavor so I could roll up and just buy a new trigger pack off the production line…

  4. avatar Dave78 says:

    Does anybody know what the Stock trigger pull from reset is on the Tavor? It’s significantly less than from full let out.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Weight or travel distance? I can measure either to verify, but max weight should be the same regardless of whether you’re starting from nothing or starting the pull after riding the reset closely. All of that takeup prior to getting onto the sear doesn’t require as much weight as the final part of the pull that actually moves the sear off the hammer and trips it. Mine was 11.5 lbs from the factory.

    2. avatar Scrubula says:

      I saw a review that said it was 18lbs. An exaggeration, but it is supposed to be extremely heavy.

  5. avatar Peter says:

    These triggers are so fast to change out, at ~30 seconds, that you could use a nice light trigger for recreational shooting and reserve the stock trigger for the Zombie outbreak.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      That’s how I was using the Timney; swapping it in for .223 range time and swapping it out for the stocker before putting the rifle back in its home within my home. I don’t feel the same way about the ShootingSight piece, though, and it is currently installed in my Tavor and I don’t see it coming out. The hammer easily has as much striking power, if not slightly more, than the factory one (based on the pressure required to cock it and the similar hammer dimensions) and all primer strikes have been totally solid. Aside from perceived reliability, I shoot better with the 4.75 lb pull (which is also smoother) and the crisper, cleaner break.

  6. avatar Scott Neves says:

    Innocent question: is the Tavor a battle rifle?

    M1 Garand and M14 are .30 cal with long range potential. Military Tavor is an assault rifle. Why justify the slop as a 1st stage by comparing it to a different beast?

    The review is good without including this tidbit.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      You’re correct on the battle rifle thing. Technically that’s a rifle that shoots a full power rifle round. What was actually meant to be implied by that sentence was that many people think of 2-stage triggers as being for target rifles and not for combat/infantry rifles (“battle” or “assault” or “home defense” or otherwise, with probable exception of “sniper”).

      However, the ShootingSight unit here does not refer to the slop as the 1st stage. It is a legitimate 2-stage trigger after you take up the takeup (which is reduced vs. stock). In contrast, the Timney unit claims a “2-stage feel,” which does count the slack as a kinda sorta 1st stage. The intended point here is to make it clear that any replacement trigger pack is going to have slack still, since the slack is in the linkage and the linkage-to-FCG connection and not in the FCG itself. So if you’re the type who dislikes 2-stage triggers because you prefer a trigger that, at rest, is already right up against the sear with no slack and doesn’t travel backwards before it breaks, you aren’t going to find that at this time for the Tavor.

  7. avatar Friendly Neighborhood Gunsmith says:

    It seems like each aftermarket trigger we see borrows heavily from the AR-15 and discards the floating sear arrangement the Tavor ships with. I wonder if I can talk Art out of a test unit to show the three available packs side by side and piece by piece. He seems like a great guy and the quality is evident from your pictures!

    By the way Jeremy, I’ve still encountered zero failures to fire on the Timney unit and I’ve used a couple boxes of IMI and Tula in addition to my Freedom Munitions reman and American Eagle. Not sure if it’s because I got a later revision or what. Either way if I hit any light strikes I’ll make note of it on my own review post and probably swap the hammer spring to experiment with that.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      One thing that may be worth noting is that the trigger pack in the US market Tavor is different from the triggers in Tavors from other countries. Canada gets a different design, and Israel does as well. I don’t know how much similarity there is between them, but was informed that the U.S. market one is a completely new design that wasn’t based off of other, existing ones. Basically, I’m just saying that I’m not sure how meaningful it would be to retain certain design aspects of our U.S. factory trigger pack as it isn’t the system that has been so well-vetted and proven in combat overseas. …obviously the AR-15 trigger design has been around for a long time and I can’t say I have any hesitancy about effectively having that system fitted into a Tavor FCG chassis.

      The only thing I feel is still lacking in aftermarket Tavor trigger upgrades is a method of dialing out the pretravel. Either a replacement trigger blade w/ a pretravel adjustment set screw dealio or a set screw in the bottom of the trigger pack that pushes the U-notch sear connector bar thing to take up the takeup.

      I’ll shoot you an e-mail in a few, because if you’d like to borrow my ShootingSight trigger for a couple of weeks that would be fine by me. Shoot it back-2-back with the Timney and let me know your thoughts and I’ll add them to the review here. Just don’t forget to mail it back to me, since I’m pretty sold on this trigger and it’s definitely staying in my rifle.

  8. avatar SENTMKG says:

    Ugh man the more and more Tavor is getting press about how its getting small improvements here and there the more and more I am wanting one.

    That Faxon ARAK-21 may just have to wait another year.

  9. avatar rlc2 says:

    nice review Jeremy, and a great counterpart to Nicks first review on the Tavor, with the caveat that the trigger needs to be improved…

    Now, if only there were a way to make it CA compliant…

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Plenty of people have made Tavors CA-compliant. There are multiple companies making mag locks and to hit the 30″ minimum OAL requirement you only need a long muzzle device (doesn’t even have to be ‘permanent’). Beyond this, IWI just released a CA-compliant version.

  10. avatar Jeffrey Harned says:

    Quote “Compared to the factory trigger, it’s better in nearly every way”

    There is absolutely nothing the factory trigger does better except makes a better paper weight.
    (The TAV-D is better in every way, period)

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      No, I think the exception I mentioned was price. The factory trigger is “free,” and the TAV-D is $315. 😉

  11. avatar Kyle says:

    Just looked at the shootingsight website it’s price is $1,315 for delrin and $1,325 for aluminum. I think I will stick with the factory trigger until timney improves theirs or Geissele comes out with something much better at the same or a lower price than the timney.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Dude it’s pretty clearly explained right on ShootingSight’s product page that you visited. That high price is because they’re working through their backorder list and they only want people on that list to purchase at this time. When your place in line comes up, they e-mail you a coupon code that’s specific to you and good for only one trigger pack. You go on the site and that coupon code drops the price down to the MSRP that is clearly listed on their website and in my review: $315 for Delrin and $325 for aluminum.

    2. avatar Jeffrey Harned says:

      I hope your firearm handling abilities are better than your reading comprehension.

  12. avatar Paul says:

    The prices you see on the website is setup to give people on the waiting list first shot at them. They get a coupon code for $1000 off to place the order. Once the people that have been waiting since last year gets taken care of, the price drops to normal and they start accepting orders normally.

  13. avatar Paelorian says:

    First of all, props for representing Yonah Schimmel! I cherish all the remaining great specialty shops of the old Lower East Side.

    I appreciate the review, Jeremy. Not only did you do as good a job as possible in reviewing the feel of the trigger, but most importantly you are directly comparing your experience with the various Tavor triggers on the marketplace. I wasn’t sure I’d see a good review that directly compared the ShootingSight trigger to the Timney and the Geissele as well as the stock trigger, but it looks like the information will be available to make an informed purchasing decision. I very much look forward to the Geissele review. But if I wasn’t looking for a trigger my life might depend on, I might get the ShootingSight now and not even wait for the Geissele. It sounds like they’ve done a great job.

    My two questions:

    1. Does this trigger change the functionality of the rifle? Does this turn a Tavor into an SPR, or due to accuracy is it still just a combat rifle? Is it something in-between? Does a trigger like this open up new roles for the Tavor?

    2. Reliability. I’d be going with ShootingSight or Geissele. I’d rather support ShootingSight, but if I’m intending this rifle for defensive purposes and potentially putting my life on the line I desire the most reliable trigger. The stock trigger, for all it’s faults, I trust the reliability of. Even that unnecessary second spring in there that makes the trigger heavier, it was put in there to make the trigger slightly more reliable in extremely adverse conditions. The Tavor is a very reliable rifle and I do not want to handicap that in any way. Unlike most match-quality triggers, Geissele’s combat-oriented triggers have a reputation for reliability worthy of the battlefield. ShootingSight, I don’t know. I’d like to know if I am compromising the reliability of the rifle in anyway. I expect it will perform fine in range and target shooting use, but I want to know if it’s going to stand up to water, snow, extremely hot and cold temperatures, sandstorms, mud, etc. I don’t demand it be the best performer on the planet or do the impossible, but I like to know where I stand with a rifle and for what missions it might be suboptimal for. The Tavor has a reputation of outstanding reliability, and if I had to stick with the stock trigger to keep that reliability I would.

    I’m happy there is a choice between Delrin and aluminum so that we can save some weight. If there was any functional advantage whatsoever to the aluminum body I could understand why someone might want it, but it is not practical when they are functionally identical to add weight to a heavy 5.56mm rifle that is constructed with a large amount of polymer already. Unless you want to regularly fondle and show off your trigger pack, or you’re building a super-heavy varmint gun, the preference for metal seems a little misguided. Superior functionality is what turns me on.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      When I get my hands on the Geissele and stop forgetting how to pronounce Geissele properly I’ll be able to do a back-to-back factory-Timney-ShootingSight-Geissele piece. The ability to so very quickly swap the pack out will make that easy and a trigger pull and feel comparison all in a concise video will definitely happen.

      1) I don’t know. It’s the same rifle with a better trigger. I don’t think a 4.75 lb trigger takes a rifle out of a combat role. Better trigger fundamentals (less pretravel, less creep, cleaner break, smoother, etc) don’t detract from any functionality. There’s no advantage or purpose to having marginal trigger fundamentals other than faster and cheaper manufacturing. It’s mostly an issue of tolerances and careful fitting and finishing (hammer/sear engagement surfaces and alignment). It’s certainly going to be a lot easier for most people to shoot the Tavor more accurately with this trigger in it, though, both due to lower pull weight and just cleaner function all-around vs. the factory unit.

      2) The Tavor’s reputation for reliability comes from its use in Israel by the IDF and by militaries and such in other parts of the world. I definitely do have a ton of faith in it but I’d still caution to be somewhat careful about making that leap to the firearm we are able to purchase in the U.S. For instance, the trigger pack itself is different. It’s a different design for the U.S. market. The extra return spring that you talked about? That isn’t on the foreign Tavor trigger packs that I’ve seen. They use a different type of trigger return spring design in a different place in the pack. For all I know, the “extra” spring in the U.S. pack was added as an afterthought as a bandaid for weak trigger return. I do not know if this is the case and certainly hope it isn’t, but I’m just trying to drive home the point that the factory triggers in our Tavor are not really battle proven, as they were designed on their own and aren’t just a semi-auto version of the IDF trigger.

      My take on the ShootingSight is that I have a high level of confidence in it. The three main reasons for this are 1) it’s a modified AR-15 FCG design in a Tavor trigger pack body. There’s really nothing new here. Nothing that isn’t proven already from a design & engineering standpoint. 2) the hammer spring is really strong. It’s at least as strong as the factory one if not stronger, and Art from ShootingSight says it actually imparts more force than the factory hammer. I do believe that because it’s at least as hard to cock the hammer by hand as the factory one (whereas the Timney w/ all its light strikes is very easy to cock due to a much lighter spring). 3) the metal quality (based on appearance/feel and ShootingSight’s description of the steel used) and machining work are top notch.

      Next weekend (or possibly this coming Sunday) I’m taking it out to shoot a bunch of rounds suppressed. Since many of the early Timney triggers had issues only when shot with a suppressor on, there is a lingering concern among Tavor owners regarding any new triggers used in conjunction w/ a can. So… I’m going to double verify that.

      I’d honestly rather not fill my shiny new trigger with mud and such, but some torture testing like that isn’t out of the question 😉 … So take the pack out of the freezer, put it straight into the gun, and see how it works? Fill it with water and see how it works? Fill it with loose mud and see how it works?

      1. avatar Paelorian says:

        Thank you for the thorough response! I’m reassured by the good points you’ve made. The Tavor comes to the civilian market in a relatively authentic form (as compared to other rifles modified for the civilian market), but of course it is not the same, and the only true measure of reliability is experience gained over time as a change here and a change there can add up to a significant difference in function. Early word on the USA commercial Tavor is good, but time will tell for sure as it builds a reputation in the firearms community. I’d be extremely interested to see suppressor tests and torture tests as you suggest. For me, those are extremely pertinent tests (well, I try to keep my rifles out of muddy water but stuff happens and I certainly wouldn’t shy away from exposing a working rifle to heavy rain). A Tavor trigger should be able to handle some grittiness in there, it’s inevitable in some of the environments the Tavor was designed to handle. I like the idea of putting the trigger pack in the freezer to see if function is impaired when the unit gets cold. Thanks again for the review and I’m really looking forward to follow-up articles including the IMI-Timney-ShootingSight-Geissele shootout! I’m subscribed to you on YouTube now.

  14. avatar sam says:

    Jeremy,

    How are you coming on the comparison of the TAV-D to the Geissele trigger pack? I have one of art’s triggers already but thinking of also getting a Geissele if it is an improvement

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