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Hi, My name is Tyler, and I’m a trigger snob. I’ve been a trigger snob my whole life. I feel it is arguably the most important part of any gun, and if anyone asks about potential upgrades, I tell them to spend good money on good triggers. There are a lot of AR trigger manufacturers, and one day, I’ll test ’em all. But one company always comes up first when it comes to quality triggers for the AR platform – Geissele . . .

According to owner, Bill Geissele, in a reply on AR15.com back in 2011, Geissele does a lot of business with the military. And doing business with the military almost always equals major sales in the private sector according to the  “If its good enough for them, its good enough for me” principle. But naturally, I’m skeptical. I’ve put fingers on a “milspec” trigger before so I don’t always assume that if the military accepts it, that implies that I’ll enjoy using it.

For the purposes of my test, I was using the SSA-E trigger which you can think of as the trigger that every lower parts kit milspec trigger dreams of being when they grow up. Geissele makes eleven trigger models for the AR 15 in total. They range from the tame to those made strictly for competition. Here’s a list of what they offer.

  • Geissele 2 Stage (G2S) Trigger
    • Type: 2 Stage
    • 1st Stage Weight: 2.5lbs.
    • 2nd Stage Weight: 2.0lbs.
    • Total Pull Weight: 4.5lbs.
    • Adjustable: No
    • Trigger Bow: Curved
    • Price: $165
  • Hi-Speed National Match – Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) Trigger
    • Type: 2 Stage
    • 1st Stage Weight: 2.3lbs.- 3.6lbs.
    • 2nd Stage Weight: 0.5lbs.- 1.5lbs.
    • Total Pull Weight: 2.8lbs.- 5.1lbs.
    • Adjustable: Yes
    • Trigger Bow: Curved
    • Price: $279
  • Hi-Speed National Match – Match Rifle Trigger
    • Type: 2 Stage
    • 1st Stage Weight: 1.5lbs. – 2.5lbs.
    • 2nd Stage Weight: 0.3lbs. – 0.9lbs.
    • Total Pull Weight: 1.8lbs. – 3.4lbs.
    • Adjustable: Yes
    • Trigger Bow: Curved
    • Price: $279
  • Hi-Speed National Match – Service Rifle Trigger
    • Type: 2 Stage
    • 1st Stage Weight: 3.2lbs. – 5.0lbs.
    • 2nd Stage Weight: 0.5lbs. – 1.5lbs.
    • Total Pull Weight: 3.7lbs. – 6.5lbs.
    • Adjustable: Yes
    • Trigger Bow: Curved
    • Price: $279
  • Super 3 Gun (S3G) Trigger
    • Type: Single Stage
    • 1st Stage Weight: 4.0lbs
    • 2nd Stage Weight: N/A.
    • Total Pull Weight: 4.0lbs. (3.25lbs. or 4.0lbs depending on spring)
    • Adjustable: No
    • Trigger Bow: Curved
    • Price: $250
  • Super Dynamic 3 Gun (SD-3G) Trigger
    • Type: Single Stage
    • 1st Stage Weight: 4.0lbs
    • 2nd Stage Weight: N/A
    • Total Pull Weight: 4.0lbs. (3.25lbs. or 4.0lbs depending on spring)
    • Adjustable: No
    • Trigger Bow: Flat
    • Price: $260
  • Super Dynamic Combat (SD-C) Trigger
    • Type: 2 Stage
    • 1st Stage Weight: 2.5lbs.
    • 2nd Stage Weight: 2.0lbs.
    • Total Pull Weight: 4.5lbs.
    • Adjustable: No
    • Trigger Bow: Flat
    • Price: $230
  • Super Dynamic Enhanced (SD-E) Trigger
    • Type: 2 Stage
    • 1st Stage Weight: 2.3lbs.
    • 2nd Stage Weight: 1.2lbs.
    • Total Pull Weight: 3.5lbs.
    • Adjustable: No
    • Trigger Bow: Flat
    • Price: $250
  • Super Semi-Automatic (SSA®) Trigger
    • Type: 2 Stage
    • 1st Stage Weight: 2.5lbs.
    • 2nd Stage Weight: 2.0lbs.
    • Total Pull Weight: 4.5lbs.
    • Adjustable: No
    • Trigger Bow: Curved
    • Price: $210
  • Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced (SSA-E) Trigger
    • Type: 2 Stage
    • 1st Stage Weight: 2.3lbs.
    • 2nd Stage Weight: 1.2lbs.
    • Total Pull Weight: 3.5lbs.
    • Adjustable: No
    • Trigger Bow: Curved
    • Price: $230
  • Super Tricon Trigger
    • Type: 2 Stage
    • 1st Stage Weight: 2.5lbs.
    • 2nd Stage Weight: 2.0lbs.
    • Total Pull Weight: 4.5lbs.
    • Adjustable: No
    • Trigger Bow: Hybrid
    • Price: $235

I didn’t compile this list just because I like smashing the copy and paste buttons. I do enjoy that, but the clear message I wanted to send is that unlike some of their competitors, Geissele offers a lot of options for AR 15 triggers. Very likely, you can find the trigger that suits your shooting style best. Now on to business. The SSA-E trigger they sent me to test. But first, a video of what its like to operate.

Unfortunately, I just can’t seem to convince Santa that TTAG needs a Dvorak TriggerScan (MSRP: $4000), so for now, you’ll have to bear with my subjective opinion which I’ll try to present as objectively as possible. First, this is a good trigger, and I’d venture to say that if you care about a good trigger, $230 is what you’re expecting to pay for a quality bang switch. Installation was a snap, easier still thanks to my Geissele Armorer’s Package. Once in place, you can say goodbye to that gritty, rough takeup with the mushy vaugue break you’ve experience before. There’s a gentle and very even amount of takeup in the first stage, you hit a wall, goose it just a touch more, and the break comes clean as breaking glass. There’s no overtravel to speak of and the reset is firm and crisp enough to push your finger out to the beginning of the first stage again.

The reset distance is long by single stage trigger standards, and those looking for a fast firing trigger should look at something else in the catalog like the Super 3 gun which can be brought down to 3.25 pounds and includes the very short reset necessary for fast follow up shots. But for a really nice, precision 2 stage trigger, I think the SSA-E would be hard to beat. If you’re more comfortable with a bit more weight, the SSA model comes in at 4.5 lbs. instead of 3.5 lbs. like the SSA-E. On that note, without the Dvorak machine, I’m in the dark to tell you if Geissele’s first and second stage numbers are legit, but I can tell you that using my trigger scale, this trigger broke at EXACTLY 3.5 lbs each and every time.

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Specifications: Geissele Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced (SSA-E) Trigger

  • Type: 2 Stage
  • 1st Stage Weight: 2.3lbs.
  • 2nd Stage Weight: 1.2lbs.
  • Total Pull Weight: 3.5lbs.
  • Adjustable: No
  • Trigger Bow: Curved
  • Price: $230

Overall Rating * * * * *

Geissele has built their excellent reputation in the marketplace for a reason. You really can’t go wrong with one of their triggers, and the SSA-E really proves that for me. Two-stage triggers aren’t always the best option especially for something like 3-gun where rapid follow up shots can mean the difference between first and second. However, for those times when you need a two stage trigger, the SSA-E from Geissele should be top of mind.

28 Responses to Gear Review: Geissele SSA-E Trigger

  1. Agreed. I have three SSA-Es running in different setups (.308AR, a DMR’esque 20″ 5.56, and one lower that I use for general sighting of all new uppers I build).

    That said, I only like 2S triggers in ARs with magnified optics of some kind. I stick to single stage triggers in all my other applications (CMC 4.5# is my normal choice).

    And a drawer full of other triggers I’ve played with over the years (POF SS, Timney, RRA NM2S, ALG, and more)

  2. I’m a big fan of the SSA-E. It’s on most of my AR-type rifles. I should NB, tho, that I’m a guy who prefers two-stage triggers over single stage triggers by a wide margin, because I don’t do lots of rapid-fire shooting.

  3. Geissele got famous by making AR trigger for his *OWN* gun. He was discovered by the US Army marksmanship unit at a match where the armorer saw his work and use of mspec springs and design and immediately commissioned him to make triggers for the team. The rest is history. To say he makes products for the military is under selling it. His products started out at the marksmanship team, basically at the highest levels of MSR competitions.

  4. Cool, an expensive trigger that works as intended.
    Reading the article I couldn’t help but feel like trigger was being promoted rather than reviewed.

    • It’s hard to talk about Geissele’s triggers without sounding like a fanboy. They really are that good. The first time you roll with a SD-3G, you’ll have an epiphany.

      I know some people think 3.5lbs is too light for a trigger, but I’ve always had a lot of success with my SSA-E.

    • Agree with OEE on this. I prefer a single-stage trigger on AR’s, and the S3G and SD3G are unbelievably crisp. (I don’t use AR’s for distance slow-fire shooting.) “An epiphany” says it.

  5. I have a G2 in my AAC 300 BLK MPW and loved it so much that I put an SSA in my DD M4V7. Totally love them both. They earn 5 stars for me as well. I also have an RRA 2 stage that comes pretty darn close by the way, which is impressive for a ‘factory trigger’ on a sub 1k rifle.

  6. When it comes to a “G” trigger. You do get what you pay for. Installed the Super Tricon (Super T) and it is amazing.

  7. I never understood two stage triggers (which I have admittedly never shot). In my mind, if you are not ready to shoot, your finger shouldn’t be pulling the trigger.
    I would have liked a higher end trigger than the ALG QMS I bought when I built a fun gun, but it has a very crisp break, zero creep and a short travel. I have no idea what the pull weight is, but it is probably around 7 lbs. Not great, but not gritty or creepy either.
    There are of course a couple of other custom triggers out there s same clas, so a face off would seem to be the best way to review these items. I would like to see that with a CMC (made in Texas and a bit cheaper than the Giessele).

    • A two stage trigger is a compromise between a heavy trigger for safety and a light trigger for precision. Once you’ve pulled through the heavier first stage, the second stage is light and is less likely to move your aim. However, the overall trigger pull is heavy enough that jostles and the like are unlikely to fire the weapon.

      • It also allows for a large amount of sear engagement for total safety. Then when the first stage is squeeze through, the sear has very little engagement left so there can be a crisp, light let off with minimal creep.

    • “I never understood two stage triggers (which I have admittedly never shot).”

      Shoot one. you WANT to…The light bulb of enlightenment go on over your head.

    • As good as the Geissele triggers are, to fully appreciate two-stage triggers, you need to try a true competition two-stage trigger like an Anschuetz.

      The reason for two-stage triggers is this: By the time you get your one-stage trigger pull as light as you can make the second stage on a two-stage trigger, you’re set for very dangerous failures because you have almost no sear engagement in the single stage. This has been the cause of lots of misery and tragedy over the years – stupid fools trying to set a one-stage trigger with no take-up to be as light as a competition two-stage or a double set trigger.

      Two-stage triggers are able to be set to “ounces only” light because they have a first stage that will prevent the second stage from disengagement on shock or dropping of the gun.

      My Annie’s trigger can be adjusted so down to ounces of trigger pull – I have it set to a bit under 2 lbs, which is fine for the shooting I’m doing with it. I could set it down to less than 8 ounces. Yet even at 8 ounces, I could drop that rifle all day long and the trigger won’t fire – because the first stage is there to prevent the second stage of the trigger from disengagement.

      Once you see how light and how crisply you can set a two-stage, operated properly, you get the “ah-ha” moment.

      Same thing for double set triggers: You get safety and a light trigger pull. Your second trigger isn’t “set” until you pull the first (typically the rear) trigger, which pushes the second trigger to the edge of the sear:

      http://www.hallowellco.com/double_set_triggers.htm

  8. I see one of their fine single stage triggers in my future, with a couple of 2 stagers in the future. Timneys are also pretty sweet. I’m going to keep a couple of builds mil-spec because that’s what we use on our Sig M400’s at work.

  9. My favorite aftermarket AR trigger is the ALG QMS. Cost vs. benefit compared to standard parts kit trigger is great, but if price were less of an issue than it is right now I’d go with the SSA-E. It’s great for distance and it’s easy to shoot fast, it really has no downsides to speak of outside of costing 6 times more than the QMS.

  10. Tyler,

    I myself am also a trigger snob. I’ve got a match trigger of some kind in every military style rifle I own. In fact I’ve got a Geissele in one of my SCARS and a Timney in the other, just because i wanted to know which I’d like better (the Geissele).

    With that said, I’m also cheap. It kills me to spend $200 on a trigger to put into a $550 beater AR like the M&P Sport. Which is the best rifle under $1000 that you can buy.

    To that end I’ve found a couple of inexpensive alternatives:

    1) The Geissele G2S you noted above. AIM Surplus often has this trigger on sale for about $120 and at one time had them for $109. I scooped 3 up at that time. I haven’t yet installed them so I can’t comment, but lets face it, its a Geissele, so its going to be good.

    2) Rock River Arms Service Rifle Match trigger and Varmint trigger. RRA claims a trigger pull of 4.5# and 3.5# respectively for each of these. My real world experience with a Lyman digital trigger gauge puts the numbers for each about a pound higher than the claim.

    Regardless, both of these triggers are head and shoulders above a military style trigger, they are reliable and despite being 2 stage, are very fast. The best part is that they can be had on Gunbroker for about $85.

    Even better, is that if you have a C&R FFL, RRA will sell them to you at dealer cost, which varies between $65 and $75. For that kind of money, there is no reason ever to endure a mil spec trigger again.

    Decent triggers don’t have to be expensive.

    Don

  11. I have a S&W M&P15T with a very nice trigger. Very short take up and crisp break and not too heavy. I have wondered how much if any I would benefit from a SSA-E trigger. Anybody familiar with the M&P15T trigger used both?

    • I like the M&P’s trigger as well. It is great for a single-stage combat trigger. That being said, it is not an SSA-E. They are worlds apart. The M&P is still a long travel (though low-grit) 6+ lb trigger, while the SSA-E is effectively a 1-2 lb crisp breaking trigger (second stage is what you feel).

  12. I have the SSA-E in both my 5.5.6 long range rifle and my 6.8 SPC. While those cheaper alternatives sound great on price, they aren’t as well made and have much harder pulls. The trigger is one of the most important parts of any firearm and going cheap can substantially affect accuracy. I don’t skimp on key parts.

  13. I have an AR platform (not black any more) gun that I shoot a few times a year and in a couple of kinds of matches (Heavy barrel, floated, most of the rifle coyote brown Ceracoated, 4-16 power FFP scope that I usually shoot on 10 or 12 power). The last time I shot, I had another brand’s “Aftermarket” trigger in the gun and i am SURE I lost more than just several target to the crappy trigger pull that one had. A friend of mine at the same match had a similar rifle but with the SSA-E trigger in it and I got to try it out between relays to see if I liked it enough to buy it in spite of the kind of steep price…..Well….I should get it this afternoon and have it installed by this evening. Need I say more?? I have several “precision rifles” and use single stage triggers in them (all the same models cor continuity/consistency), so I tend to like singe stage for that use in spite of having spent an entire military career mostly using two stage triggers. BUT NOT FOR THE AR….I can not wait to get the SSA-E in that thing and go out and practice with it!!!

  14. Good review. I myself have run many triggers over the year and I’ve found that the SSA E is one of my top two for my applications. For my home target rifle I can’t say enough, how nice it is to have a light two stage feel with all the reliability of a stock mil trigger. With that being said, I do not run a 2 stage on my duty weapon. Instead I’ve actually found the POF 4.5 drop in to be absolutely fantastic with its KNS antimigration set. Yes I’ve tried other single stage but the POF kit is fantastic. The SSA E is about as good as it gets for a 2 stage however and if they’re better ones I haven’t found one to my liking yet.

  15. How would the Geissele single stage stack up against some of the best drop in triggers from your drop in trigger round up? I recall you rated the Elftmann highest and had good reviews for the Velocity. It would be good to know how you would stack them compared to the S3G.

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