Gear Review: Timney SCAR 17 Trigger

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The first time I held a SCAR 17S, the thing that struck me was how light it was as well as the convenience of the side-mounted charging handle. I’ve been a fan of left side charging handles ever since I got my hands on a LWRC REPR and I really appreciate the fact that when shooting this gun in the prone position, I don’t have to come off the scope to charge it.  Shooting it was also a pleasure as the muzzle brake was very efficient and produced less perceived recoil than my SIG SAUER 716 despite its lighter weight. The only real drawback that I noticed . . .

was the stock trigger, which at nearly 8 lbs. was a whole big plate of suck. Granted, if you’re using the 17S in a zombie apocalypse situation where you are running and gunning, the mil-spec trigger is going to get the job done, but the 17S also has potential to be a great designated marksman gun if only we could fix the trigger. Fortunately, old hands at replacement triggers, Timney and Geissele have solutions well in hand.

I have experience with both companies’ products. My AR-15 pattern rifles all wear some variation of Geissele’s SSA triggers and my precision .300 Magnum rifle sports a Timney. I considered both options for my SCAR, but the deal breaker was the fact that I found the Timney version on sale for over $100 less than the Geissele.

Like many of Timney’s triggers, the model for theSCAR 17  is truly a drop-in unit. When compared to the pile of parts (below) that is the FNH factory trigger, Timney’s is damn elegant and ridiculously easy to install, even for a novice.

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The conversion done, I pulled out my trusty trigger pull scale and found the Timney clocks in very close to its advertised 3.5 lbs pull weight.  Like just about every other Timney I’ve tried (and yes, I have shot other guns with Timney triggers), the SCAR one is nice and tight.  No creep, no takeup, just the proverbial cliff your finger drops off once you hit the break point.

The Timney is a non-adjustable single stage trigger as compared to Geiselle’s two stage model. One thing that steered me away from the Geiselle (besides the price) was the disclaimer on Geiselle’s web site that stated its SCAR-17 trigger was not a match grade trigger. Frankly, that confused me as most of their AR-15 triggers are match grade and I wondered why Geiselle would make one that wasn’t as it’s only option.

Timney originally fielded a single model trigger for both the SCAR 16 and SCAR 17, but early adopters found that the trigger sometimes lacked the force necessary to touch off the heavier primers found on military 7.62 x 51mm rounds. So Timney went back to the drawing board and came out with a SCAR 17-specific model that employs a stronger hammer spring. The SCAR 17 version of the Timney trigger has a red colored spring so you can be sure you have the right model.

I hit the range with my upgraded SCAR and found that it was indeed possible to hold much tighter groups with the new switch. It’s not a match grade rifle by any means, but it now could certainly handle the designated marksman role with aplomb. I tested a bunch of different ammo…and this is where I hit a snag.

Back before the 2013 panic buying, I had accumulated a decent stock of military surplus .308 ammo. I had a few hundred rounds of some nice Lake City M80 Ball as well as NATO ammo from Portugal and Peru. While shooting the Peruvian ammo, I got that sound that every shooter dreads – the click when I expected to hear a bang. Upon ejecting the cartridge, I could see that the firing pin had indeed struck the primer. I reloaded the cartridge to try again and this time got the bang I wanted. In further testing I found that out of every twenty-round magazine, one or two of the Peruvian cartridges would not detonate the first time, but always fired the second time.

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This of course had me concerned, so I did some more testing. As you might imagine, I don’t have the financial resources to pour hundreds of rounds through this gun simply to test the trigger. Since I regularly experienced initial failures with each 20-round box of Peruvian ammo, I surmised that if light primer strikes were a problem, then they should manifest themselves with some regularity with other ammunition, too.

I dug out some of my precious Lake City M80 and experienced no problems burning through a full magazine. I also tried some Lake City XM118LR ammo and again shot an entire magazine with no issues. I finally turned to my Portuguese military surplus and had one failure in that box.

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The difference here was that I tried that failed Portuguese cartridge two more times and still was unable to ignite the primer.  Given the general condition of the ammo, I’m willing to chalk that one up to a bad round. I also shot a magazine of each of four commercial loadings through my SCAR and experienced no failures there either. A full magazine of hand loadings using Federal Primers also went off without a hitch.

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So, does the the Timney have a light striking problem or did I just have a lousy batch of ammo? That still remains to be seen. I’ve only been able to repeat the problem with regularity using the Peruvian ammo. I’ve shot the Peruvian ammo in other .308 guns and while I’ve not experienced the primer strike problem, that ammo has caused extraction issues with other guns (the SCAR had no extraction problems).

Would I trust my life to my SCAR at this point? I’m not sure I would – at least not until I’ve done a lot more shooting with it.  That said, I wouldn’t trust my life to this batch of Peruvian ammo either and I’ve not yet experienced any problems with U.S.-made ammo. In the end, I’m not in a position where I need that level of trust in this rifle (or any rifle for that matter) and the night-and-day difference in trigger pull weight afforded by the Timney trigger more than makes up for the uncertainty.

One final note: given the design of the charging handle, even if you do experience a problem like I’ve described, it’s fairly trivial to clear the bad round and stay in the fight without losing your sight picture on the scope. It’s not a perfect solution, but its a compromise that I can certainly live with.

Timney SCAR 17s Trigger (Model #691S)
MSRP : $332.95

Ratings (out of five stars):

Design: * * * * *
Everything you need in one easily-installed package. Changing a rifle trigger just does not get any simpler than this.

Functionality: * * *
It works…most of the time.  If I had experienced no failures to fire, it’d be a five star rating. As it is, I don’t have enough rounds through the gun to definitively say whether or not the trigger is temperamental or if the ammo I used simply sucks.

Overall Rating: * * * *
For what I plan to use it for and given the price I managed to get ($245) , this is a real winner. Again, the ammo question keeps one star off the rating, but if you don’t plan to bet your life on this gun, then it’s nearly perfect.

comments

  1. avatar Craig says:

    One thing I can never understand about ARs, G3 clones, and the SCAR is the safety and apparently charging handle on the SCAR are on the left. I’m right handed, so the AK and M1A/M14 are a lot more “natural.”

    Maybe someone can explain why it’s better to have the controls on the left when most people are right handed.

    1. avatar Nick D says:

      You can charge the weapon without moving your right hind off of its grip, and your right thumb will be on the left side of the weapon if holding a pistol grip. It makes it so you can use the controls on the weapon without ever having to remove your primary hand from its position.

      1. avatar Rabbi says:

        Correct. For defense and battle, you want to keep the gun in the most shootable position possible during mag changes and action cycling. The means keeping the strong hand on the gun at all times with the support hand doing the mag changes and cycling the action.

        On AKs, right-handed folk need to roll the gun over or reach under to the other side to cycle the action.

        1. avatar Nick D says:

          Or make a little cut in the dust cover and weld a second handle onto the side of the AK’s BCG. now you have two charging handles. Recyclers may choose to cut of the original charging handle and place that one the left side. There are also after market safeties, I think Kreb’s makes one, that can be actuated with the thumb of the right hand, or the knuckle of the right hand index finger. The Galil has something like that, as do most VEPR rifles. The Galil also has an extended charging handle that you use by placing the left hand on top of the gun, no turning required. Sorry, Mikhail, there is no gun a Russian can design that an American or an Israeli can’t improve upon.

    2. avatar Pedro says:

      The safety is ambi and the charging handle can be moved to either the right or left side.

    3. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      People probably have already said this, but it is so that you can charge the weapon with your off hand keeping your strong hand on the pistol grip, allowing you to get back on target/shooting faster.

      Also because the charging handle protrudes from the weapon and reciprocates when fired, it is less likely to snag on something for a right handed shooter as it is protected by their left arm/ body.

  2. avatar stateisevil says:

    I will never buy a $3k rifle that comes with a crappy trigger. No excuse for it.

    1. avatar Rabbi says:

      It is not a “crappy” trigger, it is designed to survive the rigors of war. Match grade triggers are not as durable.

      1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

        BS, they suck because they are designed so that giant robot can stamp them out one after the other and any two pieces will fit together and go bang only when intended and 90% of combat operators could care one way or the other/ it wouldnt matter even if they did.

        Look at triggers like a Giessele “Super Automatic” SSF for the M4 (the giggle switch version of the SSA). I seriously doubt that trigger would fail under combat use. A good trigger can also be durable, its just expensive as hell to make.

        1. avatar Lars says:

          Wrong. Match grade triggers fail frequently under stressful conditions. I shoot both bolt and ar long range and the Timney, Geissele and even the Huber all failed in both of my modified rem 700s and both of my ar’s in sand, cold and rain conditions. Match triggers are not meant for battle rifles which the SCAR is. The only reason to install a match trigger in any rifle is for competition use only. While I admit some triggers that come stock in both rifles and handguns need work the majority of both firearms and shooters have no need for them. Unless you are competing in matches there is absolutely no reason to upgrade a trigger, especially in a battle rifle.

      2. avatar JohnB says:

        Correct.

        It was designed as a select fire trigger group. Then it was modified to simi-auto only.

        Personnaly I like the stock trigger. But then I was shooting stock M-16/4’s (select fire) for 30 years.

      3. avatar prodical says:

        You are wrong these triggers were specifically designed for special forces use. I know for a fact SF would not use these triggers if they did not hold up in engagements. Also giesslle just got a contract with the military to fit all the triggers for the Scar 17. So these triggers would have to be military grade at the very least for such a contract. The stock 17s trigger is mediocre at best.

  3. avatar Larry says:

    If you have a Ruger 10-22 and want to transform it into a great gun for squirrel and rat killer at longer distances then the timiney trigger group for the plinker is transformative and worth every penny I added an aftermarket bull barrel as well and I have been amazed at the improvement
    Expensive yes overpriced no…. And the anodised red bang switch is just plain fun

  4. avatar Neil B says:

    How well does that PPU 168 match shoot? I’ve been considering buying some but can’t seem to get a lot of unbiased info on accuracy. Federal GMM 168 is just too expensive to shoot on a regular basis.

    1. avatar Jim Barrett says:

      Not so good. I bought it as part of my testing procedure for my LWRC REPR (coming soon) and it did no better (and sometimes worse) than the regular mil surp stuff. It’s not precision ammo, but then again, that’s in my gun. Your’s may love it. That’s why I bought a bunch of different vendor products and tried them all.

      Though you can’t really go wrong with the Black Hills stuff. Haven’t found a gun yet that did not like it.

  5. avatar Scott says:

    The “G” trigger for the 17S is better. FN designed a more robust trigger mechanism for the SCAR products and the Geissele keeps that robust design with improvements in trigger feel. All extra parts you complained about make for a stronger fire control system.

    You wouldn’t have any concerns about making your SCAR your “go to” rifle if you had gone with the Geissele trigger. The Geissele goes for $325 which is what, about two or three boxes of .308 ammo difference in cost over the sale price you got? JMHO

  6. avatar Desert Ranger says:

    When I dropped in my Geisselle trigger into my SCAR 17S I noticed a significant increase in accuracy- about .25MOA. This made a huge difference in shooting out to the transonic range of my load.(175gr Federal GMM).
    I would like to try the Timney Trigger next but have to wait to buy another SCAR 17S to test it in 🙂

  7. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    There’s a ton of confusion about the term “match grade” with respect to triggers.

    Are you shooting a benchrest match? OK, then you’ll likely have a very light trigger on your rifle. Absurdly light. So light that you’d be insane to have it on a field gun – like single-digit ounces of trigger pull. I’ve seen benchrest rifles with 2 ounce triggers. This sort of thing isn’t new – I’ve seen classic Schuetzen rifles with double set triggers that, once the set trigger is pulled, the breaking trigger is down to 8 ounces or less.

    Are you shooting a DCM service rifle match? Well then, you need a trigger that has at least 4.5 pounds of trigger pull to even participate in that match.

    Are you using an AR-15 in NRA High Power rifle matches? OK, you might want a trigger in the 1 to 3lb range, two-stage.

    What do all these triggers used in these different matches have in common? They should have no creep, they should have repeatable breaking weights and they should be crisp in their break. That’s it. Are they all “match” triggers? Yes. Are they all the same? No. They have a pretty wide span of pull weights.

    Why is there no “match” trigger in Geissele’s offerings? How many people are shooting accuracy matches with a SCAR? Not many, I’d wager. Is Geissele’s SCAR trigger a nice trigger? From all the other Geissele products I’ve seen, I’ll bet it is a huge improvement on the original SCAR trigger, just as the Timney is.

    Are Timney triggers “match” triggers? They can be, but many people shooting in the accuracy game like two-stage triggers, and Timney wants nothing to do with two-stage triggers.

    “Match” or “match grade” is one of those terms that gets tossed about (like “billet”) in the gun industry that is really, really annoying in that theres’s a gross mis-use of the term. It used to be understood that by saying “match trigger” on a gun, you were telling people “don’t use this gun for field use, hunting, self defense, etc. This is for controlled use on target ranges only.”

    1. avatar Jim Barrett says:

      I won’t disagree, but your point is kind of like screaming into the wind as the tornado levels your house. As you note, a relatively small section of the gun buying community really understands what the term match grade really means. An even smaller section gives a damn. Take Springfield Armory’s XDm line of pistols. One of the upgrades over the standard XD is a “match grade” barrel. How many people are really going to be able to shoot the difference between a 4″ regular and 4″ match grade pistol at 25 yards? This of course doesn’t stop Springfield Armory from playing on the term to justify a higher cost for their premium line. Hell, I’ll admit it – I fell for that particular one before I learned to know better.

      Today, many consumers equate “match grade” with “better” without understanding the real distinction. This is why we have a proliferation of “match grade” springs and other doo-dads. For many other people, match grade does not mean high power bench rest – it means any firearm match from IDPA to 3 Gun. In that context, people are indeed using the SCAR in matches (just ask the FNH team), so it seems kind of foolish for a company to explicitly state that they don’t consider their trigger match grade. Timney doesn’t say one way or the other and I think Geiselle could do themselves a favor and follow suit.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        I’ve learned that “match grade” is often marketing gunspeak for “wallet draining.” Not always, but often.

      2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        You’re right, of course. Just me and bunch of other gunsmiths won’t change the veritable tsunami of stupids coming out of corporate marketing.

        But since I do trigger work on guns, I get this issue nailed down with customers – well and in writing, and I have very good reasons of liability to do so.

        There is no way I’m sending someone out my door with a rifle with a trigger under 3.5 pounds on a hunting rifle, or a real bullseye “match grade” trigger on a pistol that’s going to be a CCW or bedside gun. Most people really don’t know how to handle a light trigger. Everyone claims they do… until you actually give them a real “match” trigger with a sub-pound pull weight and they squirt a round off before they even thought they had their finger on the trigger, then they can’t help but admit that no, they don’t really understand what a real “match” trigger is.

        So when Geissele labels a trigger with (eg) a sub-3.5# pull (eg triggers that adjust from 1 to 3 pounds), as “match,” there’s some butt-coverage going on there. When someone asks me for a light trigger, I make them sign a statement saying that they understand that this light a trigger is not to be used for hunting, field work, self defense, or any sort of competition where they’re moving off a fixed point on a firing line. This would include 3-gun, IPSC/IDPA or other moving-to-position shooting matches. Any activity where you’re moving with a gun, IMO, is cause for not going “match” light in pull weights.

        As for “match grade” barrels: There’s something behind that for both rifles and pistols, but different things, and I can explain.

        Rifle barrel companies use a process known as “air gaging” to determine how consistent and close to spec the bore of a barrel is. Basically, a precision ground pin is dropped down a barrel that is turned up vertically, and compressed air is pushed into the bore at the bottom. The rate of air released past the ground pin is measured coming out the top of the bore, and as the pin is pushed or dropped down the bore, the measurement of air volume/pressure tells you whether the barrel bore gets wider or narrower as the pin traverses the bore.

        “Match” barrels in the rifle world are held to no more than a 0.0001 (one tenth of one thousandth of an inch) up and down the bore, and they indeed do cost more – and they deliver more than barrels held to 0.0003 to 0.0005″ up and down the bore. That’s proven by top-level competitors.

        “Match” barrels in a pistol are often something different because (IMO) there are several factors in handguns that affect your group size more before we get to the point of worrying about the uniformity of the barrel bore. eg, how the barrel locks up (if the barrel moves as in a 1911 or Glock), or how well the front of the barrel fits into the slide or bushing. Most “match” pistol barrels have over-sized dimensions on the outside of the barrel or breech (or on the locking lugs of a barrel like a 1911’s), which allows a gunsmith to fit the barrel to the pistol (slide or frame) very closely. For my “match” 1911’s, I buy barrels that require I fit the locking lugs to the slide and the front of the barrel to the bushing and the bushing to the slide. The bore diameter? I don’t worry about that so much.

        If your barrel isn’t uniform to tight levels of consistency, or it didn’t need to be fit by a gunsmith to your gun, then you’re paying money for an adjective, probably not results.

        1. avatar Paelorian says:

          Dyspeptic Gunsmith is right about what constitutes a match trigger, and he’s not being pedantic or old-fashioned in his usage, he’s being accurate. Geissele’s Super SCAR trigger is designed to be a good trigger for combat and other potentially stressful “real world” applications, not competition. You don’t need to take my word for it, click here to view a video of Bill Geissele himself explaining the differences between his triggers. In that video he explains that his combat triggers, like the SSA author of this post Jim Barret is so fond of and upon which the Super SCAR is based, are designed to function differently than match triggers. Geissele also offers match triggers, like their “Hi-Speed National Match” line. Geissele’s combat triggers are designed to break “like a carrot”, not “like an icicle”. In a match you might want that ultimate crisp break, but Geissele considers that very slight mush before the break necessary to avoid inadvertent fire under stressful conditions. That does not mean that Geissele’s combat triggers are inferior to their match triggers, although often shooters are able to produce smaller groups with the low-pull-weight adjustable match triggers. They’re designed for different purposes. The SSA/SSF and derived triggers are excellent off-the-shelf triggers, and are very appropriate for accurate long-distance shooting. I would not hesitate to compete with them, and they are the kind of trigger I prefer. They are designed to be reliable and safe even under stressful field conditions, whereas match triggers are designed especially for traditional competition, to the point of being too light or high-maintenance for field work or combat. The quality of a Geissele “non-match” trigger is just as good or better than most “match” triggers, “non-match” just means it’s a different kind of trigger.

          Thank you for the educational “match barrel” aside, Dyspeptic Gunsmith. Forgive me if I used any uncouth verbiage above or made any mistakes, I am aware that I am an ignoramus in these matters. I may be going to gunsmithing school for a few years, perhaps I’ll learn what’s what.

  8. avatar Thomas says:

    First, the review was well written and very useful. On the Ammo I have tell you a story. Knew this Guy, Owned a MARK 23, Carried it all the time but would run Wolf ammo through this two thousand dollar gun. One day at the range he heard that Click with no bang you mentioned. He looked at the round, had a strike but no detonation. put the round in another gun No Issue. This happen several different times. Then there on the range he broke the rule and completely disassembled the Upper to the Mark 23. The Primer pocket was full of crud. The lacker from that crap ammo. Cleaned it out and gun fired again fine. When he told Steve at Alaska Tactical Steve pointed out what an Asshole he was for firing that crap in that gun. Steve was right… I was wrong.. I Mean the guy was wrong for running crap thought a great gun. LOL

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