This is a guest review written by my buddy, CASES4CASES:
Elftmann Tactical offers to the market a nice lineup of high-end, high-performance, high-speed drop-in trigger groups. They have a diverse lineup of triggers, which includes a drop-in select fire trigger (Elftmann Automatics) and the unique X-2 that allows for a trigger pull of less than 1 lb. . .
My past experiences with Elftmann triggers have been outstanding – both in terms of product performance and customer service. I currently run several of their AR-15 Match triggers in rifles of mine and have no complaints after hundreds or thousands of rounds. So when I was presented the opportunity to try one of their newer triggers, the ELF AK-47, which Jeremy S. detailed the release of in September, I had high expectations.
Before we get into it, I want to make sure everyone understands that developing a drop-in trigger for the AK-47 platform is not an easy task due to the vast number of variants. Just last year Nick Leghorn detailed some of the trials and tribulations Timney Triggers has been going through as they try to design a drop-in AK trigger. Yet, Elftmann claims that installing the ELF AK-47 trigger is no problem when it comes to the vast majority of AK variants. More details regarding installation follow.
Out of the box and in my hand, the ELF AK-47 is a well-polished, precision instrument I didn’t want to put down. From the zero-tolerance hand fitting of the drop-in unit all the way to the crisp etching of the manufacturer’s logo and serial number, every single part of the trigger tells a tale of very detailed design and high quality manufacturing processes.
As with all Elftmann Tactical drop-in triggers, there are some outstanding features that shouldn’t be ignored.
- Full 3/8” Width Disconnector
- High-Quality Sealed Trigger and Hammer Pin Bearings
- “Absolute Drop-Safe Regardless of Pull-Weight”
- Double-Double Wound Hammer Spring
- Made in the U.S.A.
The pull weight of the ELF AK-47 trigger is adjustable from 4 lbs – 5 lbs, while the physical weight of the trigger falls on the lighter side of average for an AK trigger. Here are the specifics:
- Total Weight: 2.98 oz / 84.5 g
- Trigger Group: 2.811 oz / 79.7 g
- Retaining Clip: 0.141 oz / 4 g
- Set Screw Locking Screws (2): 0.028 oz / 0.8 g
For reference, the Tapco G2 trigger (a very common trigger in more recently assembled AKs) that was removed to make way for the Elftmann weights in at:
- Total Weight: 3.165 oz / 89.73 g
- Trigger Group (Trigger/Sear/Retaining Tube/Spring): 1.445 oz / 40.9 g
- Hammer Group (Hammer & Spring): 1.695 oz / 48.13 g
- Retaining Clip: 0.025 oz / 0.7 g
The Elftmann trigger saves just about five and quarter grams over the Tapco G2. When talking about an AK, grams aren’t typically a big deal. But it is nice to see the drop-in unit weigh less than a widely-used standard trigger.
One of my favorite refinements found in Elftmann triggers are the aircraft needle bearings that the hammer and trigger pins rotate on. They feel nearly frictionless and give the shooter the opportunity for smooth follow-up shots and rapid-fire. The bearings and pins are buffered by aluminum spacers, helping to reduce wear, guide the pins, and center the unit in the receiver.
Elftmann offers the ELF AK-47 with either a straight or curved trigger shoe. I was never much of a fan of the straight trigger until I tried Elftmann’s AR-15 Match Trigger with a straight shoe. The experience completely opened me up to the idea of a straight trigger and appropriate applications. And the Elftmann triggers I currently run on my ARs all have straight trigger shoes. Looking closer at the skeletonized straight trigger shoe, one may expect to find sharp edges. However, Elftmann Tactical has taken the time to smooth each edge, creating a comfortable and solid surface for your finger. And, personally, I believe the stamped receiver-esque styling of the trigger shoe is a great match for the Kalashnikov platform – especially the trigger guard. Whether your preference is curved or straight, I believe you will experience the performance of the trigger the same. If you’re on the fence, I recommend giving the straight trigger shoe a try.
VARIANT COMPATIBILITY & INSTALLATION
The ELF AK-47 is impressive by itself but before one can experience it, the unit has to pass one big test…installation and compatibility across Kalashnikov variants. For those unfamiliar with AK fire control groups, Elftmann has a good installation video to walk you through the basic process. And to further aid with installation and future removal, the ELF AK-47 now comes standard with a nice retaining clip, alleviating the need to hassle with e-clips and wire retaining springs. Just don’t let your kid bring the clip to school or they may end up expelled since it slightly resembles a miniature flintlock pistol…
I installed the trigger in both a 1972 Polish Underfolder and a 2014 Zastava PAP M92 PV – each in just a few short minutes, including removal of the existing triggers. The hammer and trigger pin holes on both receivers lined up very well with the trigger and a few small taps with a polymer hammer set them in place.
I experienced a small hiccup with the threading on one of the set screw holes. The threading was inconsistent throughout the hole and tapered towards the bottom of the chassis. It was not a great concern and I was able to widen the threading and allow the set screw to pass the bottom of the chassis by slowly turning the set screw through the hole.
The retaining clip slid into place and lined up nicely with both safety levers. The trigger was in so quickly I had to take a step back, look away, and look back to make sure I wasn’t daydreaming.
However, as was expected, the trigger needed a bit of fine-tuning to ensure full and precise performance. Because the hammer and trigger pin holes are set low in both AK variants I tried, the hammer was having a tough time clearing the floor of the receiver. To negate my chances of ruining the trigger I sought the expertise of Tyler Bellande of Bellande Custom at West Coast Armory in Bellevue, WA. He took a bit of material off of the bottom of the hammer and also tuned the hammer where it meets the disconnector, ensuring the trigger would run at peak performance in the ’72 Underfolder.
Tyler also set the trigger pull weight at a crisp 4.5 lbs by adjusting the shim system – a series of small plastic discs – captured within the unit by the bottom tension spring. While it is apparent that Elftmann has done a superb job designing the trigger so it will fit into nearly any AK variant, once it’s fine-tuned to a specific rifle or pistol, swapping the trigger to another AK may be less than ideal.
This was Tyler’s first experience working with the ELF AK-47 and I was interested to hear initial impressions from a gunsmith’s perspective. As he handed the rifle back to me – new trigger ready for action – he had a look on his face; one that I’d seen before. It said, ‘This is ridiculously awesome!’ And it is. It is, indeed.
Experiencing the ELF AK-47 trigger is like nothing else I’ve felt in any AK before. Zero takeup. Zero creep. A crisp, intentional break followed by extremely short, barely noticeable overtravel. And like a huge weight being lifted off your back, a mind-blowingly short reset. This reset is ridiculous, folks. You want a one-way ticket to Bump-Fire City? This is it. Once the weapon has cycled and is re-charged, releasing the slightest amount of pressure from the trigger shoe immediately separates the hammer from the disconnector. Trigger shoe reset was recorded at under 1 mm. There is absolutely no slop or grit to be found anywhere in this drop-in unit. Every movement feels deliberately solid, starting where it needs to and stopping where it should. This is how a precision trigger should feel.
I admit, at the indoor range I had to restrain myself from back-to-back-to-back mag dumps. But as I worked them in it was funny to take notice of the novices in the area looking over and clearly wondering, ‘Is that select fire?’ “No, son. It’s just a stupid-fast AK trigger,” I told the ones ballsy enough to come up and ask. And it’s no exaggeration, the ELF AK-47 is an extremely fast and precise trigger. Two out of the three RSOs I let fire the weapon commented to the effect that, ‘It would be easy to out-run the pace of the action with that trigger!’ and believe that’s realistic.
Another factor to consider, and one that I will need more time to test, is the ELF AK-47’s resistance to the popular corrosive 7.62×39 surplus round. Certain materials are more susceptible to damage from corrosive ammunition than others and the coatings Elftmann uses should help abate most of the negative effects of the toxic gasses. I will be keeping an eye on the springs and bearings, in particular.
After going through the installation process and putting hundreds of rounds down range with the Elftmann Tactical ELF AK-47 Drop-in Trigger I’ve found it to be an exceptional display of precision mechanics. I experienced fewer issues than expected during installation, and those that I encountered were the type easily foreseen and overcome. Bottom line, I believe the unit would make a great addition to any AK that will see use.
However, I’m sure many of you are having a tough time coming to terms with the fact that the trigger costs nearly as much as your AK did when you bought it a decade or two ago (current price tag is $295). That’s understandable and if upgrading performance of your weapon is not a priority, at least find a buddy that has one of these triggers and experience the difference for yourself. You guys and gals running AKs in 3-Gun and other competitions, this trigger should be at the top of your list. The ELF AK-47 trigger is truly performance at its best and will provide you with the blazing speed you require.
SPECIFICATIONS (ELF AK-47 DROP-IN TRIGGER):
Compatibility: Nearly all AKs and AK variants, including Saiga rifles and shotguns
Trigger Pull Weight: Adjustable from 4 to 5 lbs
Weight of Unit: 2.98 oz
RATINGS (out of five stars)
Performance (Quality & Speed): * * * * *
Crisp, Lightning-fast, & Efficient. The best AK trigger you’ve ever felt.
Fit & Finish: * * * *
Possibly the most luxurious internal AK component available on the market.
Ease of Installation: * * * *
There will always be some fine-tuning needed when installing a “one-size-fits-all” AK component. Elftmann has done an impressive job of mitigating the differences between variants. However, I would like to see them remove thin-out the material on the bottom of the hammer to help increase variant compatibility.
Weight: * * * * *
Elftmann has done a good job of offsetting the additional weight added by the full 3/8” wide disconnector and chassis. I believe there are some opportunities for additional weight reduction and I hope to see lighter iterations in the future.
Aesthetics: * * * * *
While the straight trigger shoe is no departure from past options at Elftmann, in my opinion, it is a perfect aesthetic fit for the Kalashnikov platform.
Price: * * * *
Yes, it may be pushing three bills but its performance backs up the price tag. Fundamentally, it is worth every penny.
OVERALL: * * * * *
If you love you AK(s) – this trigger should be your go-to. Superb design, construction, and performance.
(Not factored into the overall trigger rating, but worth mentioning)
Customer Service: * * * * *
I have had several interactions with staff at Elftmann over the past few years and I have found them to be extremely helpful, easy to reach, communicative, and receptive to feedback.