drop-in-triggers

There may be a zillion aftermarket triggers for the AR platform, but there’s a fairly finite number of drop-in units. In fact, in the photo above you’re looking at very nearly every drop-in trigger available — plus a standard, 3-piece unit — and a couple that aren’t quite on the market yet. After shooting with all of them and running each through the Dvorak TriggerScan, we’re ready to present the following roundup . . .

drop-in-triggers-2
Left-to-right: Timney, POF, Nord-Arms, TriggerTech, KE Arms, CMC, AR-GOLD, RISE red, RISE black, Velocity, Wilson Combat, BRO, ELF

Below, you’ll find photographs plus subjective and objective information on the following triggers, in the following (alphabetical) order:

Not included in this roundup are the non-traditional triggers from Tac-Con and Franklin Armory, or any “white-labeled” versions of the triggers listed above (e.g. the Lantac-branded CMC, JJFU-branded ELF, Tactical Sh*t-branded KE, etc). Additionally, some brands offer both single-stage and 2-stage models, and in those cases I opted for the single-stage version since the majority of drop-in triggers are only available as such, and this would allow for a more direct comparison.

Drop-In Trigger?

A drop-in trigger unit means that all of the fire control group internals — trigger shoe (the part you put your finger on), sear (if not part of the trigger shoe, which it typically is on an AR), hammer, disconnector, springs, etc. — are contained in their own housing (or “cassette”) and are ready to use. The entire unit simply gets dropped into the lower receiver and held in place by the hammer pin and trigger pin (hereafter just referred to as “the trigger pins”). However, the pins have no bearing whatsoever on the physical relationship between hammer and sear, nor are they pivot/friction surfaces for hammer or trigger.

ar-mil-spec-trigger

This is a departure from the standard AR-style fire control group. As seen above, hammer, trigger, and disconnector are all separate, loose pieces. This makes installation more difficult, but that’s the smallest benefit of going drop-in. Since the standard FCG parts pivot on the hammer and trigger pins, the hammer/sear relationship is controlled by the relative locations of those pins.

And the relative locations of those pins does vary. Different manufacturers using different equipment produce receivers with those holes on different ends of the acceptable tolerance spectrum. Assuming they’re in tolerance. For this reason, traditional format trigger manufacturers have to err on the side of excessive hammer/sear overlap to ensure safety and proper function. Installed in one receiver, a given trigger may have noticeably more or less creep than when installed in a different receiver.

None of this applies to drop-in triggers. The trigger manufacturer sets the exact relationship between hammer and sear via the housing. They can then tune that engagement, tune the spring tensions, tune the disconnector tension and overlap, tune in an overtravel stop, etc., and lock that all down. Regardless of your receiver’s trigger pin tolerances, you will have the exact trigger feel the manufacturer intended. Additionally, a factory-assembled drop-in unit allows for departures from the traditional fire control group (FCG) geometry and layout. A handful of the units tested here would be physically impossible to assemble on only one hammer pin and one trigger pin, and those manufacturers feel that they’ve improved on the standard geometry and function in various ways.

The Test

Subjective information for each trigger will primarily include my thoughts on how the trigger pull feels in person, how the trigger shoe feels, any quirks or flaws in machining/finish, etc. Objective information will include relevant statistics like materials, finishes, and MSRPs, plus data and graphs on some of the trigger pull fundamentals thanks to the TriggerScan unit. Trigger pull fundamentals will be defined as follows:

  • Take-up. Also referred to as pre-travel or slack. This is rearwards trigger shoe movement prior to any sear movement. It could actually be intentional as in the case of a 2-stage trigger where that first stage is designed take-up, or it could be a necessary evil as in the case of a firing pin block that must be moved out of the way before the trigger can release the sear. On a single stage trigger, though, it’s generally undesirable. No slack and no play is the target.
  • Creep. This is the distance the trigger shoe has to travel from when the sear begins to slide off of the hammer/striker hook(s) to when the hammer/striker fires. This is affected by the amount of overlap between the sear and the hammer hook, the shape and angle of that overlap, and the trigger linkage geometry. The ideal creep measurement is zero.
  • Break. This is when the sear “breaks” off of the hammer/sear hook(s) and the hammer/sear fires. The break on different triggers feels different. On some triggers, it’s an instantaneous and sudden release of all tension on the trigger shoe. It’s a clean and total break. Imagine snapping a glass rod or a crisp candy cane. On other triggers, the trigger travel after the break (“overtravel,” defined below) has resistance, grittiness, sponginess, etc. It can feel like more creep and, sure, creep and a bad break can blend together. The break can be vague and it can even happen at slightly different points in the trigger pull each time.
  • Overtravel. This is the amount of trigger shoe travel from the break to when the trigger stops as far rearwards as it can go. Like take-up, this is basically wasted motion and the ideal amount is no amount. This isn’t entirely practical, though, as reliability necessitates some fudge factor to ensure the trigger is capable of moving rearwards far enough to release the sear. Overtravel distance is an objective measurement, but there’s also a subjective aspect here, and that’s feel. At the rearmost point in a trigger’s travel it can be spongy or it can feel like it stopped up against a solid wall (and in some cases it actually does that, as it butts up against the trigger guard, frame, drop-in cassette, etc).
  • Reset. Like overtravel, there is both an objective and a subjective aspect to trigger reset. Objective is, again, the distance measured in inches or millimeters for the trigger shoe to go from its rearmost point of travel forwards to the point where it resets (“reset” being defined as the first point at which you could pull the trigger rearwards again and it would fire again). The subjective part of a trigger’s reset is the feel and sound of it. Most shooters want a tactile reset — one that can easily be felt through the trigger finger while shooting — and an audible reset — one that can be heard, even while shooting. A tactile and audible reset says, “Halt! Reverse course.” It allows one to “ride the reset,” which means not moving one’s trigger finger farther forwards than necessary. This aids speed, accuracy, and consistency. The opposite of this would be the bad practice of “slapping the trigger,” which means lifting one’s trigger finger completely off of it and then coming back onto it for the next shot.
  • Pull Weight. This is the rearward force, measured in pounds, that must be applied to the trigger shoe in order to fire the gun. It actually isn’t as important to me as the other fundamentals, but suffice it to say that a light trigger makes accurate shooting easier, as a lighter pull is less likely to affect the shooter’s aim. On the flip side, it’s a potential safety risk in certain scenarios. Some triggers offer end-user adjustable pull weight, some do not. There is no ideal pull weight number; it varies by situation and shooter preference.

Dvorak TriggerScan Information

TriggerScan

A graph has been included for each trigger, and it visually demonstrates two main things: the trigger pull and the trigger reset. The trigger pull is the bold blue line, and the reset is the skinny red line. The vertical axis is pull weight in pounds, and the horizontal axis is trigger shoe travel in inches.

To assist with identifying the trigger pull fundamentals as shown in graph form — and with imagining what the pull feels like in real life based on a graph — here’s an example graph covered with annotations (green = trigger pull notes, bright red up top = reset notes, bright red text at bottom = notes on the numerical data shown for each graph):

annotated-trigger-pull-example

So the trigger in the graph above has a 3-lb pull weight and travels 0.068 inches from first touch to break. Most of that travel is creep, rather than take-up. We can see from the graph that the creep is pretty smooth but for a couple points of grit in the first third or so and that the weight required on the trigger shoe during this creep actually decreases leading up to the break. After the break, resistance on the trigger shoe is reestablished quickly and it only travels 0.037 inches before 12 lbs of pull weight is hit (which I chose as the overtravel stop indicator). That’s right, it moves barely over a tenth of an inch from first touch to hard up against the overtravel stop.

On the reset graph, it appears smooth and consistent with the trigger spring pushing the shoe forwards with approximately 0.85 lbs of force. The blip at 0.090 inches of forwards travel is the actual reset point, and the tactile nature of that “click” is recognized by the TriggerScan as a very sudden jump to ~1.75 lbs of return force. With shorter overtravel and take-up distances, the reset distance can become closer to the “travel to actuate” distance.

Click any photo in this article to enlarge it.

Triggers:

Typical Mil-Spec or “Parts-Kit” Trigger

Your standard trigger is a bit of a mess, but is fairly typical of a “battle trigger.” Note: the scale on this TriggerScan graph is different from all of those that follow in order to fit the over 9-lb pull weight and long pull distance on it:

Parts Kit

At 7 lbs of pressure the trigger begins to creep. And creep, and creep. Oh, and what rough creep it is. That bumpy graph visualizes a gritty, inconsistent pull. At about 9.2 lbs the pressure starts to drop and somewhere in there the actual break happens. Overtravel is extremely minimal, actually, but the full travel distance of a bit over 0.13″ makes it the longest in this test by at least 30% and in some cases by much, much more. And absolutely all of that extra travel comes from gritty creep.

Parts Kit vs ELF

For the life of me I couldn’t get the return graph to work on the parts-kit trigger. No issues with any of the drop-in units tested, but it simply refused to perform for the standard one. At any rate, for scale comparison the graph above shows the ELF trigger’s pull and reset as compared to the parts-kit trigger’s pull. The parts-kit trigger travels ~160% farther with about 800% more creep.

American Trigger Corporation AR-GOLD

AR-gold

The AR-GOLD uses a novel internal design that is a large departure from traditional AR trigger geometry. By moving the sear engagement point to the very tip of the hammer, there is less leverage and pressure on these friction surfaces. This helps to provide a low trigger pull weight without sacrificing hammer spring strength.AR-gold-inside

Hammer, sear, and disconnector are all particularly skinny. Now, I’m not really sure if this matters but some manufacturers like to brag about having full 1/4″ width parts and some people claim it aids long-term durability. I have no real opinion on the topic but will continue to point out how each model is built.AR-gold-bottom

Only two triggers in this roundup lack a method of snugging up the unit inside of the receiver, and the AR-GOLD is one of them. There are no set screws, springs, or rubber pads on the bottom of the housing to provide that sort of tension.

trigger-pin-retainer-springs

However, the AR-GOLD (right) and the Wilson Combat trigger (left) do use spring wires to create a snug fit on the trigger pins as well as to hold standard trigger pins in place. On the AR-GOLD this does lessen trigger-pack-in-receiver wobble vs. the CMC, which employs no snugging feature whatsoever, but it isn’t as effective as the methods used by every other unit in the test.

AR-gold-installed

Installed, the gold trigger shoe stands out and looks good.

AR Gold with reset

There is a significant amount of take-up with the AR-GOLD. The company refers to it as the first stage of a two-stage trigger — designed to feel like the take-up of a nice 1911, which it does although it’s longer than most — but with a pull weight of ~0.35 lbs compared to the break weight of ~2.85 lbs I think it’s too light for a “first stage.” No matter what the marketing might say, from where I’m sitting this is nothing but slack (though I believe, functionally, it’s actually clearing a drop safety sear out of the way). If it wasn’t for that, the effective travel distance of ~0.016″ from on-the-sear to the break is the shortest in this test (e.g. closest to zero creep). It’s an extremely crisp break for sure, although it would feel even better if the tension on the trigger shoe dropped closer to zero after the break. Overtravel is short — normal for the triggers in this roundup.

As you can see in the graph, the reset is much shorter than the pull. In fact, it lines up pretty closely to the beginning of the actual trigger pull after the take-up is, well, taken up. This is no coincidence, as riding the AR-GOLD’s reset means the shooter does not have to repeat that take-up — well, maybe a tiny bit of it — and is, instead, right back up against the sear. Unfortunately, the reset itself is not very tactile at all and is barely audible, so it’s going to come down to muscle memory to stay right on top of it.

Housing Material & Finish: Machined aluminum, hard coat anodized
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: Hammer and sear are hardened S7 tool steel. Trigger shoe appears to be cast metal and TiN coated.
Receiver Tensioning System: Springs hold unit on trigger pins, but there is nothing to truly snug it up in the receiver
Trigger Pull Weight: ~2.85 lbs as tested
Adjustable: Yes. Pull weight adjustable from about 1.8 lbs up to maybe 4.5 lbs. Factory setting is ~3 lbs.
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.075″ (~0.016″ after slack is taken up)
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.058″
Overtravel Distance: 0.037″
Travel to Reset: 0.055″
MSRP: $299.95

Black Rain Ordnance Drop In Trigger (DIT)

BRO

BRO is making a simple, affordable drop-in unit. The curve of the trigger shoe is a bit tighter than most, and reminds me of a lot of DA/SA pistols. It has some scalloping on the back for aesthetic purposes.BRO-inside

Hammer and sear are 1/4″ width, disconnector is a bit skinnier. I believe a standard hammer spring is used, which opens up the door for easy end-user replacements. Trigger pull weight is not adjustable.BRO-bottom

Like most of the drop-ins here, a pair of set screws (tightened from the top side, after you figure out how to move the hammer spring tails out of the way) will protrude from the bottom of the housing and snug the unit up in the receiver by pushing it firmly up against the trigger pins.BRO-installed

That scalloping on the rear of the trigger shoe helps it stand out just enough for anyone who’s looking closely.
BRO with return

This is the graph of a very good trigger. Among this group of drop-ins it isn’t a standout — all of these triggers are pretty freaking amazing — but it’s a solid performer that anyone would very much enjoy shooting. That’s enough creep to feel and notice if you’re pulling the trigger very slowly, but it’s nice and smooth.

The DIT’s reset is strong, with a solid click that can be felt and heard.

Housing Material & Finish: Machined aluminum, hard coat anodized
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: steel, but unspecified otherwise
Receiver Tensioning System: Set screws
Trigger Pull Weight: ~3.5 lbs as tested
Adjustable: No. Factory set to 3.5 lbs
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.044″
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.00″
Overtravel Distance: 0.037″
Travel to Reset: 0.064″
MSRP: $199

CMC Triggers Standard Pull (single-stage, straight shoe)

CMC

I actually like the simplicity of CMC’s bent stainless steel sheetmetal housing design. Certainly much more efficient than CNC machining a block of aluminum and then anodizing it, while functioning just as well for the purpose. That said, I do feel it should translate into a bigger cost savings for the consumer (although CMC asserts on its site that cost savings is not the reason they designed it this way). A full TTAG review on the CMC Trigger can be found here.CMC-inside

Hammer and trigger/sear appear to be investment cast steel, with the engagement surfaces very nicely ground and polished. The hammer and sear are about the “full” 1/4″ width, and the disconnector is the standard (i.e. Mil-Spec/parts kit), skinny style. Hammer spring is full Mil-Spec strength but made of much nicer stainless steel.CMC-bottom

The CMC unit offers absolutely no provision for snugging it up inside of the receiver. No set screws, rubber, or springs underneath the housing, and not even a spring wire to hold onto the receiver pins (the use of locking pins is mandatory). As such, the unit will wiggle a little bit in most receivers. Were I running this trigger in my AR, I’d likely stick some stiff foam-style double-sided tape to the bottom of the CMC’s housing so it had to be compressed during install, effectively tensioning the trigger unit in the receiver.

CMC-installed

CMC’s triggers are available with a flat trigger shoe as seen here (that indexing hook on the bottom is to assist in consistent trigger finger placement) or with a more standard-looking, curved trigger shoe. There are also cerakoted units in various colors and some white-labeled units with unique trigger shoe shapes, such as the Lantac-branded one. Two-stage models are also available.CMC with return

That 0.005″ of take-up is due to the unit’s wobble room inside of the receiver. After that, the CMC exhibits decently smooth, linearly-decreasing-in-weight creep — the most creep of any trigger in this test — for nearly 0.06″ before a clean, albeit gentle break (as seen in graph form by the minimal drop in weight upon break rather than a deep plunge down towards zero lbs) and a quick overtravel stop. A reset distance of 0.09″ is long for this group of triggers but, as you can see, it’s smooth and consistent in feel on that return stroke and the reset itself is decently pronounced.

Housing Material & Finish: 410 stainless steel sheetmetal, raw finish
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: trigger and hammer appear to be investment cast steel, although material and finish are not specified by CMC. Disconnector appears to be machined from stock and blued, but this is also not specified by CMC.
Receiver Tensioning System: No
Trigger Pull Weight: ~3.025 lbs as tested
Adjustable: No. Factory set to 3.5 (as tested), 4.5, 5.5, or 6.5 lbs.
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.068″
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.005″ (unit wobbling in housing)
Overtravel Distance: 0.037″
Travel to Reset: 0.090″
MSRP: $195.99

Elftmann Tactical ELF Match / 3-Gun Trigger

ELF

I won’t beat around the bush; this is my favorite trigger. Elftmann Tactical’s Match (solid hammer) or 3-Gun (skeletonized hammer) triggers are as good as it gets for zero creep, crisp break, short overtravel, and short and strong reset. The trigger shoes look awfully cool, the hammer springs are full power, the trigger and hammer pivt on sealed needle bearings, and a half-cock hammer notch provides increased drop safety. They’re also adjustable for pull weight. TTAG review can be found here.

ELF-inside

Wire EDM-cut, hardened, A2 tool steel is used for the full 1/4″ width hammer, disconnector, and sear (trigger shoe). The housing is machined aluminum, which is then anodized. Hammer springs stop short of the set screws for hassle-free adjustment.
ELF-bottom

The ELF employs two set screws to tension the unit inside of the receiver. Unique to Elftmann is the inclusion of two additional, shorty little set screws that get installed on top of the snugged-down receiver tension screws. This provides locked-down, won’t-back-out assurance without going the thread locker glue route. A thin, steel plate is also included — again, unique to Elftmann (although Timney will send one on request) — for optional use between trigger unit and receiver to prevent the set screws from scratching the inside of your receiver (highly suggested for use in polymer receivers).

ELF-installed

From this side-on view, that skeletonized trigger shoe almost disappears. In practice (i.e. “in real life”) it stands out a bit more and I love the look, curved or straight.

ELF with return

An ELF trigger shoe is rock solid at rest, with 0.00000″ of take-up. Pulling on it results in about as much flex and movement as does pulling on a telephone pole. Well, up until, in this case, 2.9 lbs of pressure is met and the trigger fires. The TriggerScan can feel 0.0185″ of creep, but I can’t at all. It feels just like the proverbial glass rod. The graph demonstrates just how drastic the break is, going from full trigger pressure down to almost zero pressure near instantly, which it does even if you’ve adjusted your break weight up to 4 lbs. The hammer hits so hard that it bounced the TriggerScan back in time briefly before heading back up to the trigger break weight on its way to the overtravel stop.

The reset is smooth for its short ~0.047″ life, before the strongest, most pronounced — in both sound and feel — CLACK in the match-grade trigger reset game.

Housing Material & Finish: aluminum, anodized
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: hardened A2 tool steel, finish not specified
Receiver Tensioning System: set screws with lock screws
Trigger Pull Weight: ~2.9 lbs as tested
Adjustable: Yes, from about 2.5 lbs to about 4 lbs
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.0185″
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.00″
Overtravel Distance: 0.041″
Travel to Reset: 0.047″
MSRP: $259 Match, $279 3-Gun

KE Arms DMR Trigger

KE-arms

Like the ELF, all the critical bits in KE’s DMR trigger are wire EDM-machined from A2 tool steel. They’re then either TiN treated for a gold finish or melonite treated for a black finish. The housing is machined from aluminum and anodized. MSRP on the DMR is extremely competitive, as is the quality. Full TTAG review here.
KE-inside

Hammer, sear/trigger, and disconnector are all full 1/4″ width. Hammer springs stop short of the set screws. The silver set screw seen above is intended primarily to adjust trigger reset weight and tension, but does affect trigger pull weight a bit as well.KE-bottom

In keeping with the norm here, a pair of set screws presses the unit up against the trigger pins and holds it securely in place.

KE-installed

It isn’t subtle, but it definitely is good looking. The gentle curvature plus the radius across the front of the trigger shoe make it comfortable on the ol’ trigger finger, too.

KE Arms with return

That’s what I like to see in a great trigger break; a cliff dive right down to zero lbs. Sure, it creeps a little bit before that but it’s only noticeable when pulling the trigger very slowly. You’ll be able to feel that bit of grit to it, too, which I think is the TiN coating. I only shot a couple hundred rounds through the DMR before running the TriggerScan, and I bet it would smooth out after a few hundred more shots. Or, of course, with a light polishing job.

The reset is a tad gentler than ideal, and is respectably short but not worth writing home about in this crowd of very tough competition.

Housing Material & Finish: aluminum, anodized
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: A2 tool steel, TiN or melonite treated
Receiver Tensioning System: set screws
Trigger Pull Weight: ~3.32 lbs as tested
Adjustable: Yes. From the factory it should be at about 4.5 lbs, but I’ve had success adjusting it from about 3 lbs up to nearly 5 lbs
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.035″
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.00″
Overtravel Distance: 0.050″
Travel to Reset: 0.075″
MSRP: $189.95 (TiN treated), $179.95 (melonite treated)

Nord-Arms AR15 Match Trigger

NORD-Arms

Nord-Arms is located in Estonia and will be selling a handful of AR-platform products — muzzle brakes, triggers, etc. — in the U.S. beginning late spring or summer of this year (through Brownell’s first, I believe). The AR15 Match Trigger tested here is a production-level trigger, although Nord intends to sculpt the aluminum housing design to make it sleeker and capable of fitting in more receivers (some receivers are actually more restrictive than Mil-Spec near the rear of the fire control pocket) before final versions hit our shores.

NORD-inside

The hammer, trigger/sear, and disconnector are machined from hardened tool steel (S7 for the hammer, A2 for the rest) and are full width. The housing is anodized aluminum. The hammer spring feels full-powered and solidly dents NATO-spec primers. Set screws adjust for trigger pull weight and for disconnector overlap.NORD-bottom

Two set screws at the rear of the unit tension it inside of the receiver.

NORD-installed

The trigger shoe’s shape and profile is pleasing to the touch. Aesthetically, it’s basically keeping the match-grade trigger pull a secret.
NORD Arms with return

Nord’s trigger has what I would describe as a rolling break, rather than a crisp break. Frankly, in this one case the graph here doesn’t do a great job of visualizing what it feels like. Instead of feeling like pulling against a solid wall until it suddenly snaps, the Nord trigger shoe feels disconnected from the hammer. The sensation is that of light, smooth trigger shoe travel and then you realize the hammer has fired, but the trigger shoe just kept on moving like nothing happened. Despite that upwards blip in weight on the graph right before the break and the obvious, sharp valley right after the break, in practice that break just doesn’t translate much to my finger. That plus the light pull weight define “surprise break,” which can be quite desirable for certain styles of shooting.

Likewise, while holding the trigger shoe pinned back against the overtravel stop, manually cocking the hammer isn’t felt as a bump (disconnector popping over hammer hook) through the trigger shoe as it usually is. And again, on the reset, it’s gentle in feel and fairly quiet. Overall, the trigger is very smooth and the trigger shoe feels isolated from the mechanics going on above. If you’re looking for a rolling, surprise break — as some definitely are — Nord-Arms’ AR15 Match Trigger is a solid contender.

Housing Material & Finish: 6061-T6 aluminum, hard coat anodized
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: Hammer is S7 tool steel, trigger/sear and disconnector are A2 tool steel
Receiver Tensioning System: set screws
Trigger Pull Weight: ~1.97 lbs as tested
Adjustable: Yes. Adjustable from ~1.3 lbs to ~3.3 lbs. From the factory it’s set to 1.8 to 2.0 lbs
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.032″
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.00″
Overtravel Distance: 0.057″
Travel to Reset: 0.0755″
MSRP: $145

Patriot Ordnance Factory Trigger System, Drop-In

POF

POF makes their single-stage, non-adjustable trigger in a few pull weights and trigger shoe variants. In this case we have the standard, curved trigger shoe and the 4.5 lb pull. Like many or most of the units in this roundup, POF uses A2 tool steel for the trigger/sear, disco, and hammer, all of which are nitrided. The housing is anodized aluminum.

POF-inside

Hammer and trigger/sear are 1/4″ width, disconnector is skinny. Looks like a normal AR-15 hammer spring. No internal adjustments at all, including no set screws to tinker with.

POF-bottom

That doesn’t mean the POF trigger is wiggling around inside of the receiver like the CMC unit, though. Instead of set screws like nearly all of the drop-ins here, POF’s trigger housing has two urethane rubber feet. The rubber has to be squished just a bit during installation, and that results in consistent tensioning pressure up against the trigger pins. Simple, functional, and can’t be forgotten by the end user.

POF-installed

Standard looking trigger shoe. For those wanting to jazz it up a bit, POF offers their EPF (enhanced finger placement) trigger as well as a skeletonized flat trigger.

POF with return

This amount of creep can only be felt if you’re pulling the trigger very slowly while looking for a surprise break. While hitting steel out to 880 yards with this POF installed, I’d find my trigger pull briefly stopping at that little dip about 0.028″ or so into the travel, and then feeling like the break after that was very nice indeed. I like these breaks where the weight on the trigger drops nearly to nothing and then the hammer hitting home can be felt slightly through the shoe.

The graph shows a reset click that looks a bit slow and gentle, but it feels and sounds about average for me. POF’s drop-in actually spent quite a while in one of my guns and it’s a truly great trigger. The graph above may look a bit rough against this group of stellar triggers, but that belies the fact that the POF is super crisp for normal or competition shooting purposes and is a reliable, solid performer at a very good price point. It’s also dummy-proof since there is no end-user adjustment capability or special installation steps required.

Housing Material & Finish: machined aluminum, hard coat anodized
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: A2 tool steel, nitrided
Receiver Tensioning System: rubber feet
Trigger Pull Weight: ~4.48 lbs as tested
Adjustable: No. From the factory it’s set to 4.5 lbs (POF also sells 4-lb and 5.5-lb triggers)
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.041″
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.00″
Overtravel Distance: 0.045″
Travel to Reset: 0.068″
MSRP: $199.99

RISE Armament RA-140 Super Sporting Trigger

RA-140

RISE Armament’s “Black Fallout” trigger went all regicide(y) on the Velocity Trigger, taking its place as low price king of the hill. At an MSRP of just $129, it’s a heck of a good trigger and it comes with the simplicity and convenience of a drop-in. Build appears pretty typical, and I can’t say RISE skimped on much to achieve this low price point.
RA-140-inside

Hammer and trigger/sear are full width, disconnector is slightly skinnier but not as skinny as some. I believe it uses a standard-format AR-15 hammer spring, which does mean the spring’s “legs” interfere with the receiver set screws (as is the case with many of these other drop-ins).

RA-140-bottom

Set screws? Check. I kind of like how they’re positioned right between the receiver pins, horizontally. They’re serrated on their faces to inhibit loosening.RA-140-installed

I’m not a huge fan of the aesthetics or feel of a trigger shoe with a tight curve like this one (or the BRO), but functionally it’s obviously just fine. On the plus side, it’s understated so the quality of the trigger pull hiding in there is a bit of a surprise.

RISE Black with return

No slack to it at all, smooth travel with only about 1/3 as much creep as the parts kit trigger, awesome break, short and smooth overtravel, smooth and solid reset. It’s a good, single-stage trigger. Actually a very good trigger. For $129 it’s an amazing trigger.

Housing Material & Finish: machined aluminum, hard coat anodized
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: tool steel, finish not specified
Receiver Tensioning System: set screws
Trigger Pull Weight: ~3.97 lbs as tested
Adjustable: No. From the factory it’s set to 3.5 lbs
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.042″
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.00″
Overtravel Distance: 0.047″
Travel to Reset: 0.0655″
MSRP: $129

RISE Armament RA-535 Advanced-Performance Trigger

RA-535

RISE’s APT, or Advanced Performance Trigger, was released before RISE’s black trigger and offers even better performance plus aggressive looks. Of course, it almost doubles the price of the black trigger.

RA-535-inside

The sculpted, skeletonized aluminum housing looks pretty sweet, and one nice benefit to the angle at the rear is that it just barely exposes the tips of the hammer spring legs. This makes it easier to push them inwards for access to the set screws. Trigger/sear and hammer are full 1/4″ width and the disco is a bit skinnier. The set screw for pull weight adjustment is locked in place at the factory and is not intended to be end-user adjustable.

RA-535-bottom

Just like RISE’s black trigger, two set screws in the same general location snug up the red trigger in the receiver.

RA-535-installed

Don’t worry, it only looks like a razor blade. The trigger shoe has a fairly straight profile but isn’t flat, and it has a tight radius on the leading edge. I actually think it would be a bit more comfortable on the trigger finger if that radius were slightly flatter, but it still feels fine.

RISE Red with return

It isn’t totally perfect, as the break would feel better if that pre-break curve looked more like an inverted bucket or more like a sharp mountain (e.g. ELF), but in most shooting it feels as crisp as anything. If you’re going crazy slow, that decreasing-weight creep makes all of that travel feel like break, so the break can feel ever so slightly squidgy. But, realistically, in 98% of shooting use this amount of on-paper creep is not detectable at all and you’re working with that desirable glass rod feel.

The overtravel here is insanely short — the shortest in this test by a decent margin, in fact — and the reset is audible and tactile.

Housing Material & Finish: machined aluminum, hard coat anodized
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: tool steel, finish not specified
Receiver Tensioning System: set screws
Trigger Pull Weight: ~3.75 lbs as tested
Adjustable: No. From the factory it’s set to 3.5 lbs
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.034″
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.00″
Overtravel Distance: 0.026″
Travel to Reset: 0.054″
MSRP: $259

Timney AR-15 Skeletonized

Timney

Timney is a gold standard for aftermarket triggers, and not just because many of their models are actually gold in color. The company can generally be trusted to provide an absolutely top-notch trigger for all sorts of bolt-action and semi-auto rifles, and their AR trigger is not an exception.

Timney-inside

The Timney does have a set screw for adjusting trigger return/pull weight and one for disconnector overlap, but they’re tuned by the factory then locked down. End users are not supposed to mess with it, only having to move the hammer spring tails aside to access the receiver tension screws. The disconnector is wider than many, but not the full width of the hammer and trigger/sear.Timney-bottom

Said receiver tension screws. In most cases these do actually provide enough upwards pressure to lock standard trigger pins in place. Many drop-in trigger users will opt for locking pins (e.g. KNS), and some of the units in this test come with a set of pins, but it’s rarely necessary.

Timney-installed

The skeletonized shoe comes at a premium, but it does look cool. Of course, now that Timney is offering a straight shoe I’d have to go that route instead. I admit I’m a sucker for the look and feel of a straight trigger shoe.

Timney with return

Another superb trigger and yet another case where I can move the trigger shoe without firing the gun — it has just enough creep to accomplish that — but it takes a careful effort. In normal shooting use, it’s super crisp with a clean, full break. The reset is quite tactile and audible.

Housing Material & Finish: machined aluminum, anodized
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: steel, but type and finish isn’t specified
Receiver Tensioning System: set screws
Trigger Pull Weight: ~3.42 lbs as tested
Adjustable: No. From the factory there is a 3-, 4-, and 4.5-lb option
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.034″
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.00″
Overtravel Distance: 0.042″
Travel to Reset: 0.060″
MSRP: $291.15 ($228.75 for standard trigger shoe)

TriggerTech TT-AR-15

Trigger-Tech

TriggerTech’s design is a departure from the standard layout with an internal linkage(s) controlling the sear and disconnector. Additionally, their “Frictionless Release Technology” involves a free-floating roller between sear and hammer instead of making the two surfaces slide on each other.

Trigger-Tech-inside

Also unique are all stainless steel internals and a set screw pull weight adjustment with click detents. Trigger-Tech-bottom

Two set screws at the rear of the housing press the unit upwards against the pins, securing it in place inside the receiver.

Trigger-Tech-installed

The long, curved trigger shoe will go top-to-bottom when running a standard, flat trigger guard, which I think looks very nice. TriggerTech also offers a great looking flat shoe. The raw stainless finish stands out, but isn’t quite as loud as the gold shoes of the AR-GOLD and KE.

TriggerTech with return

Like all of the charts in this article, there are actually two trigger pulls overlaid on top of each other. Some triggers are obviously a bit more consistent than others, and the TriggerTech is one of the most consistent. This is one stated goal of the roller release system, and it seems to hit the mark. Now, the linkage system does create some take-up slack, but with that out of the way we’re left with about 0.020″ of on-the-sear travel before the break (creep), which is among the lowest in the test. Indeed, the break feels super crisp.

The TriggerTech’s reset is clearly shorter than the total travel, which translates into the ability to ride that reset so you don’t have to repeat the take-up on subsequent shots. It’s about average for having a tactile, audible reset. Overall it’s an excellent trigger and for those shooters who prefer a bit of a “first stage,” which is many, it’s a top contender at a competitive price.

Yes, what I said about the AR-GOLD’s take-up applies here as well, but I find it more “acceptable” on the TriggerTech for two reasons. First, the take-up is over in less than half of the distance (TriggerTech also wants it to feel like a high-end 1911, and in this case the take-up distance is more in-line with that). Second, at ~0.70 lbs of pull weight it’s twice as heavy as the AR-GOLD’s slack and therefore feels significantly more like an actual first stage. Additionally, the reset is stronger so it’s easier to avoid repeating that take-up on subsequent shots.

Housing Material & Finish: machined aluminum, anodized
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: 440C stainless steel, raw
Receiver Tensioning System: set screws
Trigger Pull Weight: ~2.39 lbs as tested
Adjustable: Yes. Click adjustable from 2 lbs to 5 lbs
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.045″ (~0.020″ after slack is taken up)
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.024″
Overtravel Distance: 0.035″
Travel to Reset: 0.053″
MSRP: $199.99

Velocity Triggers Velocity AR Trigger

Velocity

This was the budget champion until the RISE black trigger came along, although I’ve seen the Velocity on sale from a few retailers at prices as low as $115. TTAG’s 4.5-star review is here. Tom Vehr, owner of Velocity Triggers, designed and managed production at Timney and Knight Rifles for a combined 27 years before starting Velocity, so it’s fair to say he probably knows a thing or two about a thing or two. That said, there has been some recent controversy regarding the safety of the Velocity AR Trigger, and I’ve addressed that in the “Safety” section later in this article.

Velocity-inside

Hammer, disco, and trigger/sear are EDM-cut from hardened tool steel. The hammer and disco are Robar NP3 coated, while the trigger is black oxided then hand polished. The hammer spring has shortened legs to provide clearance to the receiver tension set screws. A set screw can adjust trigger pull weight/pre-tension, but is not supposed to be messed with by the end user.Velocity-bottom

As we’ve come to expect, two set screws snug up the Velocity Trigger unit in the receiver.

Velocity-installed

Another aesthetically-understated trigger shoe. The gentle curvature radius and rounded front feel good.

Velocity with reset

There’s an obvious blip in pull weight during the creep section of travel, but overall the creep is so short that once again it isn’t detectable at all unless you’re pulling the trigger as slowly as physically possible. When you do, the trigger can be “staged” at what I assume is that little blip. Most likely this would polish itself out over time like any other friction surface. That square (upside down bucket) look to the pull and break feels great, and the break itself is a clean, crisp, sudden drop to zero lbs of tension.

In this case the reset appears long because the overtravel stop is a bit squidgy, and the TriggerScan unit continued pulling until 12 lbs of pressure was met. Were the vertical scale of the graph extended up to 12 lbs, we’d see that overtravel line continuing towards the right out to about 0.077″ of total travel, which means the reset has to move forwards that entire distance as well. In actual shooting practice, there’s no way you’re going to pull on the trigger with 12 lbs of pressure after it breaks at only 3.14 lbs. Since, like most of the triggers here, the Velocity has no take-up slack at all, the reset distance will always be an extremely close match to however far the trigger shoe travels rearwards. In real use, I believe that will be more like 0.066″. The reset itself is a little gentler than average in this group, but can still be felt through the trigger finger easily.

Housing Material & Finish: 6061 aluminum, anodized
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: all are tool steel, trigger shoe is black oxide treated then hand polished, disco and hammer are Robar NP3 coated
Receiver Tensioning System: set screws
Trigger Pull Weight: ~3.14 lbs as tested
Adjustable: No. Available pre-set to 3, 4, or 4.5 lbs
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.034″
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.00″
Overtravel Distance: 0.042″
Travel to Reset: 0.080″
MSRP: $150

Wilson Combat Tactical Trigger Unit, Single Stage

Wilson-Combat

Wilson Combat offers five drop-in AR-15 triggers, three of which are 2-stage and two of which are single stage. They stand apart from the rest of the pack here in quite a few ways, including the milled steel bar stock cassette, unique internal design, internals made from a different grade of steel than the others, stiff springs instead of set screws to provide receiver tension, a pin retaining spring in each bushing, and a half-cock notch for drop safety.

Wilson-inside

Wilson’s units are set from the factory for a specific pull weight; in this case 4 lbs. Eliminating set screws of any sort means there’s nothing at all for the end user to screw up or forget. Like the POF, this unit is dropped in and immediately good-to-go.

Wilson-bottom

Those two receiver tension springs are very stiff, and must be compressed in order to get the trigger pins through the bushings. I’d actually say this is the hardest unit to install because of the jockeying between pressing it down forcibly until each bushing aligns with the receiver holes and the fact that the pins also need a firm tap to pop them through the retaining spring in each bushing. Of course, everything is relative and this is still a significantly easier, way more fool-proof installation than a typical, multi-piece trigger setup.

Wilson-installed

It looks a lot like a standard, Mil-Spec trigger, but it doesn’t feel like one. The edges are more rounded and the finish is nicer. Oh, and the break is outstanding.

Wilson with reset

Longer than some in overtravel and, therefore, in reset, but this break feels incredible. Easily one of my favorites, and perhaps it takes my second place spot behind the ELF for best break. Actually, it likely occupies my personal second place spot overall as well.

While the overtravel is on the long side, because most of it is so low in weight it disappears instantly with the break, and the overtravel stop then feels sudden and solid. Basically, with some triggers I can trip the break and stop my finger before touching the overtravel stop. With the Wilson, the break is so complete (to near zero lbs) and the overtravel travel so light, it instantaneously goes from break to up against the travel stop and the transition in the middle isn’t something I can feel. Still, I’d like to see it shorter just so the reset is shorter. If that were the case, it would nearly tie the ELF if not for the ELF’s ace-in-the-hole, ridiculously strong reset. The Wilson’s no slouch, though, resetting with more intensity than average.

Housing Material & Finish: machined steel bar stock
Trigger Shoe/Disconnector/Hammer Material & Finish: H13 steel
Receiver Tensioning System: stiff springs
Trigger Pull Weight: ~3.35 lbs as tested
Adjustable: No. Factory set to 4 lbs
Trigger Shoe Travel To Break: 0.025″
Initial Take-Up Distance: 0.00″
Overtravel Distance: 0.060″
Travel to Reset: 0.072″
MSRP: $269.95

Data Roundup

Triggers-Stats

Triggers are ordered alphabetically in the chart above. An Excel doc with all of this data can be downloaded by clicking HERE, which will allow you to sort and rank them however you please. Ranked by “Travel to Break,” which is the total amount of trigger shoe travel from first touch to the point where the hammer fires, and put into graph form, we get:

Triggers-Travel-Graph

Elftmann Tactical’s triggers win here, and also place first for shortest reset distance. They’re middle-of-the-pack for overtravel distance. While they’re my favorite triggers in this roundup, followed likely by Wilson Combat’s then a toss-up between Timney, Velocity, and KE Arms, a lot of this is highly subjective. I’d absolutely understand if a shooter preferred the rolling, surprise break of the Nord-Arms or the “2-stage” sort of feel combined with the extremely crisp breaks of the TriggerTech or maybe AR-GOLD. Or decided that the RISE black trigger is a totally stellar trigger in every way, which it is, and is the best choice for them due to its low price. Well, to be completely candid I’m not sure I’d understand, for instance, choosing the CMC when less expensive options are demonstrably superior in multiple ways, but maybe that flat trigger shoe with the hook is what does it.

Safety

All of these triggers are tuned very precisely, and have minimal sear/hammer overlap. In most cases, if the end user neglects to tighten down the receiver set screws and/or adjusts the trigger pull weight too light, the hammer will fire when the trigger shoe is let forwards towards reset. This scared some Velocity Trigger users and one retailer stopped selling them due to safety concerns. I absolutely do agree that it’s a safety concern, as nobody would expect their gun to fire upon releasing the trigger, but this behavior isn’t unique to Velocity. Again, nearly all of them will do this very thing under the right (wrong) conditions, the primary one being that the receiver tensioning set screws were not tightened.

While I personally do very much like the ability to tune my trigger myself, if I were a manufacturer I think I’d go the route of POF and Wilson Combat and produce a unit that not only has no end user adjustment but doesn’t even require the end user to remember to snug the thing up in the receiver. If you do use an adjustable trigger, just make sure it’s within the correct trigger pull specification range and that the receiver set screws are tight. A dab of non-permament thread locker wouldn’t hurt. After installation, dry fire (including holding the trigger back, cycling the action, then releasing the trigger to simulate a firing and reset cycle) to ensure proper function.

One other safety note is that the travel is so dang short on most of these triggers that it’s really easy to bump-fire them, even accidently. If you aren’t pinning the trigger rearwards after each shot but instead are trying to fire it rapidly without any extra pressure or travel in either direction, most of these will start bump-firing on their own (especially ones that slightly kick the trigger forwards upon reset — caused by a stiff disconnector — which is actually exactly how the Tac-Con 3MR works).

As an aside, three triggers in this test have an additional, back-up safety mechanism. Both the ELF and the Wilson Combat have a half-cock notch, which is supposed to catch the hammer should it slip off the sear for some reason other than a pulled trigger (e.g. a hard drop). The AR-GOLD has a hammer block plunger type deal in it that’s cleared out of the way by the trigger pull, but otherwise prevents the hammer from firing.

Other Comparisons

Lancer L30 HM (Geissele)

The graph above is of the Geissele Super Dynamic 3 Gun (SD-3G) trigger, which comes installed in Lancer Systems’ L30 Heavy Metal rifle. The scale on this graph is different from the other ones in the article here, so take note of that plus the stats. On both the Travel to Actuate and Overtravel distance categories, were the SD-3G in this roundup it would place 12th out of 14. And this is a great trigger. That’s how amazing the drop-in trigger competition actually is.

Geissele-vs-ELF

For an even easier-to-visualize comparison, that’s the Geissele in bold sharing the same chart as the ELF, at the same scale as the graphs in this article. It travels more than twice as far and is a total creep monster in comparison. Heck, the $129 RISE black trigger is crisper and shorter than this $260 Geissele. Again though, nobody in their right mind would say that the SD-3G isn’t an excellent trigger.

CZ 455 Trigger Scan

This is the trigger in the CZ 455, a nice bolt-action rimfire. It’s a great trigger. For those who think a semi-auto trigger can’t be as good as a decent bolt-action trigger, think again, as most of these AR-15 drop-ins have it licked.

RPR_trigger_scan_2

Rimfire trainer a little lowbrow? Here’s the Ruger Precision Rifle graph starting [mostly] after the trigger safety blade is taken up. We’re talking like 0.0265″ from on-the-sear to the super clean break. That’s incredible, but it’s still beaten out by two of the drop-ins in this test (ELF and Wilson), and by two more if you discount take-up (AR-GOLD and TriggerTech).

Conclusions

The trigger pull quality of these drop-in units is insane, and it’s all due to the manufacturers being able to set the relative locations of hammer and sear themselves. Thanks to the housing keeping those parts fixed in space, no compromise has to be made to accommodate the varying tolerances found in lower receivers. Each unit can also be tuned by the manufacturer prior to shipping to the end user, ready to drop right in and function in the most ideal way possible no matter what lower you’re dropping it into. There is simply no way for a standard, 3-separate-piece trigger to accomplish this.

trigger-spring2

Of course, there are still ways to screw it up at the end user level. If your trigger has set screws for snugging it up inside of the receiver, don’t forget to tighten them down after the trigger pins are in place. As seen above, this may require sticking a knife or pick down inside of the cassette to pull the hammer spring legs out of the way in order to access the set screw with a hex wrench, but it still needs to be done. If your pull weight or other feature (e.g. disconnector overlap) is adjustable, stay within the manufacturer’s stated specs and dry fire it to ensure proper function.

After playing with and shooting with all of these triggers, I do have a favorite, but that doesn’t mean it’s the “best.” All of them are great, and whether aesthetics or price or total travel or pull weight or reset distance or something else is the most important factor in a purchasing decision, you’re going to get a really good trigger that will be a night-and-day improvement from Mil-Spec/parts kit.

Did I miss one? Is there a drop-in trigger that wasn’t included here? Let me know by e-mailing TheTruthAboutGuns@gmail.com. Happy shooting.

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136 Responses to The AR-15 Drop-In Trigger Roundup

  1. AR-GOLD is what I have on my AR-10, I like it just fine.

    Oh, and that’s some post, looks like great info, I will have to read it when I have like an hour free.

    🙂

  2. HO …

    LEE …

    $#!+!!

    Somebody has a lot of time on their hands. I’m gonna have to set aside a good part of my Saturday afternoon just to read all that.

    But thank you.

      • Yes you have! LOL
        Great write up Jeremy. I truly have been waiting for this. As you mentioned to me on the YouTube threads, you really can’t go wrong with any of these. As an engineer, I really appreciate the attention to detail along with your “feel” perceptions of the graphs. Graphs can be deceiving! Outstanding article!

    • I don’t know about the others, but the AR GOLD has both AR-15 and AR-10 versions. Mine is a real AR, that is to say an Armalite, but I do believe it works in DMPS pattern also. Which by the way are *not* AR-10s which it seems not everyone knows…

      • Armalite = Real AR. Isn’t just precious. That joke wins the internet today.

        Sorry bud, but the Armalite is a far cry from the original company.

        • Well I don’t have an original AR-10 to compare it to, but I’m not sure what you are complaining about. I have seen other AR pattern receivers in both 308 and 223 versions with fit, finish and functionality cannot compare to the rifle I have.

          No doubt that there are other awesome brands out there. That’s fine.

          So what is it you think makes a modern Armalite such a joke? You called it. My rifle is rock solid and goes bang every time. Works for me.

          And hey buddy, it is an AR-10 and your DPMS, or whatever, *isn’t*. That’s all I was saying, and while I could be wrong… of course, I am not.

        • You do realize the AR stands for Armalite Rifle… don’t you?

          Eugene Stoner was an engineer for Armalite when he came up with the original design, so yes Armalite was the original… As someone else pointed out below, the DPMS/Sr25 patter rifles came later

        • Go on now, take your time explaining how awesome your guns are and how much my AR is a joke.

          Any time now is fine.

        • If you all have not already heard of or read this article, Google “KFC Theory of the AR15′. It add perspective and demystifies the AR15. It’s worth reading.

        • “AR-10” is trademarked, DPMS can’t use it, so their rifle is called something else. I don’t actually care about that, both re AR-10s regardless, my DPMS uses AR-15 parts including triggers but it can’t be sold as an AR-10. Who cares?

        • To Tex300BLK;
          you said “Eugene Stoner was an engineer for Armalite when he came up with the original design, so yes Armalite was the original… As someone else pointed out below, the DPMS/Sr25 patter rifles came later”

          Stoner did not come up with the current design if this is what you are referring to as “the original design”
          Stoner’s “the original design” had the charging handle on top of the AR vertically and it pointed straight up about 6″ higher than the “flat top” of the rifle. It was a really strange design.

          The current design “now” which all the manufacturer’s copy is a Colt design and a Colt original. Do some intense research and you will see all the changes Colt made to the original Stoner design.

      • Mr 308- Armalite is not the same company it was when the original rifle was designed. It is now a subsidiary of Strategic Armory Corps. And if you think im going to (or have to) explain why my kac sr25 is a better rifle than yours…. Well, thats funny.
        Think yugo vs ferrari.

    • Nearly all of them will fit and function. The ones that say they likely won’t work or that are offered in a different, .308-specific version, are usually exactly the same but have a stiffer hammer spring. Or sometimes they have a heavier hammer. Or both. NATO 7.62×51 primers are apparently harder to dent sufficiently. In most cases, especially with American-made factory ammo, any of these would work completely reliably in either an AR-15 or AR10/DPMS/SR-25. But some of the drop-ins in this test do definitely have stiffer hammer springs than others.

      • I have a dpms lr-308 so I should be good. I’m looking a gisselle and timing eyes but will consider some of these triggers if they assure me they will work. I don’t want to take it apart to find out it doesn’t run.

        • Installed a Gisselle DMR in an Lr308 (DPMS). I got excellent results from this adjustable FCG..easy installation (approx. 30 min). In a word….SWEET!!

        • If what I select works in my DPMS GII, I’ll most likely buy 2 more for my .300 BLK SBR and my standard 5.56 AR-15. If it does not work adequately in the DPMS, it just gets moved to one of those 2!

    • I put a Wilson NM 2-stage in a DPMS .308 and it worked great.

      I’ll second the vote for the Wilson 1S, that has been my go-to all around best trigger for years. I also use the 3G version in my 300BLK SBR, it is disgustingly fast.

    • I have the Velocity 3lb on my DPMS AR10 (that’s what folks are calling them, get over yourselves, Armalite fanboys), and it functions perfectly.

      • I never said you couldn’t call it an AR-10… (but Armalite does).

        Just that it’s *not* an AR-10.

        🙂

      • I more often see AR-308 (or AR308) or LR308 (The DPMS specific brand name). Sometimes DPMS pattern 308. Usually now days AR10 refers to the Armalite pattern 308s only… to avoid the confusion of buying incompatible parts.

        • Fair enough. I personally refer to mine as AR308, or DPMS AR10. Amost never AR10 as a standalone identifier.

        • There is Armalite AR10 and there is DPMS/SR-25 pattern. They are different in various, big ways, but most of the triggers in this article should work in most .308 rifles of either style. More of the market is for DPMS/SR-25, which means where the parts actually are specific to AR10 or DPMS you’ll find more parts for the DPMS/SR-25 platform at lower prices than for the AR10.

    • I know Timney sells a different one for .308s. I suspect it’s not a size thing (since Mil Spec triggers work in both platforms) but a spring thing. .308 primers often need a harder hit.

  3. Thanks for doing this test. Saves me a big bunch of time. I’m not a fan of single-stage triggers, but that’s what most shooters prefer, including customers.

    Sometime, you’ll have to do a test on real “match” triggers. I just had fun with my class on the subject of triggers by bringing my Annie in for them to try the trigger. Then we put it on the trigger scale.

    It’s under 8 ounces, but because it’s a two-stage, you can manage it.

  4. Excellent write-up!

    One personal observation on the RISE Black (which can be had for a street price of below $100 if you look hard enough).

    I just acquired and installed a couple of them for two new builds. They are superb triggers and deliver great bang for the buck, but I found that the cartridge housing is ever so slightly longer than many of the others featured. Indeed, out of the box they would not fit into the fire control pockets of my Underground Tactical lowers, and I had to make judicious use of a bench grinder and Dremmel tool to relieve the rear edge and corners of the cartridge housing before they would.

    It’s an easy fix and no big deal, but just be aware that they may not be truly “drop in” out of the box for every receiver.

    • Yeah, it’s hard to accommodate for that when some receivers aren’t actually Mil-Spec. It seems to always be the case that the FCG pocket is restricted somehow in the rear if it’s going to be smaller than Mil-Spec, and I’d expect that any of the cassettes could be sculpted a bit for clearance or the inside of the receiver could be instead. Most of them are going to fit right out of the box, though, regardless.

      • Everything else equal, I’d rather sculpt the lower, if possible, to conform to the standard, who knows whether I might want to install a different one?

  5. Good to know the triggertech stands up to the rest, now I don’t feel like I’d be taking a risk in getting one XD

  6. Any one of the list of triggers would be better then the mil-spec, my mil-spec trigger 8 pounds, but home defense I chose Rise Armament (black) @ a cost of $99.00, purchased when they first came on the market. To me a very sweet trigger over that mil-spec trigger thing!

  7. I would like to see how some of these stack up to the Hiperfire triggers and I suppose some of the most popular non-drop in’s.

    I’m in the market for another trigger for a short course 3gun rifle. I have a JP tigger (as done by JP) in my normal 3gun rifle and a Timney 3lb (that I won at FNH) that’s going into a 300 blk SBR build. That build’s not done, so I can only dry fire the timney and I have to catch the hammer because the uppers not done (though now that I think about it I could prob mate that lower with the JP upper and try out the trigger…god I love the AR’s modularity).

    Looks like I’ll have to add the ELF 3 gun to the list.

    • I’ve got a Hypertouch 23E in my AR300, it’s almost scary when it’s set to the lightest trigger pull. I too would love to see a graph on it for comparison.

      • Also another happy Hiperfire Hypertouch 3G user here. I am very curious to determine where that trigger, or any of the Hiperfires for that matter, would rank in this competition. They also have the added benefit of being the only trigger in this roundup that I am aware that *exceeds* mil-spec hammer force specs. Many triggers sacrifice reliability to achieve a superior pull. Plus, that extra hammer force is welcome for those pesky, hard Russian primers commonly found on 5.45×39 and 7.62×29.

        P.S., thanks for the excellent work, Jeremy!

        • Ah, read the further comments below to discover why the Hiperfire was not tested–it’s not technically a drop in trigger, nor do you have one available. All excellent reasons. Hopefully you get that review sample in the future, I am highly interested to see where the Hiperfire design(s) rank among this excellent roundup. Please, Jeremy, we need this for bragging rights! How am I suppose to impress the fellows at the range with my trigger if it isn’t reviewed and determined to be the best? Oh, with my *shooting* you say? Don’t be absurd!

  8. “not moving one’s trigger finger farther forwards than necessary”

    I may respectfully chime in that, if you are training for defensive/offensive purposes, you should release a bit farther than the reset point, just in case you happen to be wearing gloves on that big day

  9. Bought an Armalite 2-stage adjustable trigger (non-trigger pack style) for $79 off ebay. I can’t imagine spending $200 for these kinds of significant yet minor improvements. Then again, Ijust got out of grad $chool last year.

    • All of these triggers are vastly too expensive for me. I have been patiently waiting for some super cheap drop in triggers made in “Vietnam” or “China” or “who cares” to hit the market. Not of exceptional quality, but certainly better than stock, and of sufficient ruggedness to be reliable. Recently I purchased a drop in for $90 on ebay (not adjustable) fixed at 4.0 lbs, with stainless QPQ components, with a trigger and body almost identical to the velocity trigger shown above. Even at $90 I felt it was way too much for my cheap a$$, but was very impressed with the quality, smoothness, and crisp break. After quickly selling 160 of them, that guy is now gone, but I’m glad I got one of them, wished I had bought more.

    • All together my rifle was like 17 or 1800, that is including 6-24×50 Vortex Viper scope. Look at it that way and the delta between a $79 trigger or a $200 trigger seemed to me an important enough item to spend the extra $$s on.

      • I’m more of a Bushnell Legend Ultra HD DOA 600 man @ like $200 – 225.
        Look at it that way and the delta between a $90 trigger or a $200 trigger with like a $49 LPK seemed way too much for even an aftermarket trigger at all. Haha. Think $49 anderson lower parts kit with crappy fire control group included. So a $90 drop in is like beyond excellence here.

        • Yea, well I can tell you that after buying this one my next AR looks like it will be built up starting with one of those $40 receivers as I can’t seem to get ‘honey I need to buy another gun’ past the wife lately.

          🙂

        • The Anderson fire control group works like a beauty in my lowers. almost no take-up or creep, very crisp break, very tiny over-travel, short crisp tactile and very audible reset. The only down side is the wight.. and even that is prob around 6-7 lbs, as opposed to the normal mil-spec 9-10lbs. All in all, I can barely imagine spending roughly 10 (or more) times as much for some pretty trivial improvement (mostly only in weight) unless I was trying to build something for 1000+ yards. Even then I’d have a lot of practicing to do before I felt it was worth it.

      • I spent most of my dough on the barrel and used elcan spectre. Everything else was on sale/clearance, or chinese like my freefloat handguard, buffer and buffer tube.

        I will say an *adjustable* trigger of any sort is the beginning of an amazing trigger!

  10. I would like to see You test the ALG (ACT) Trigger(And any of the Coated combat sets) and also the Fostech ECHO.

    • I may do a follow-up and select some standard format triggers to test. At least as a first step I wanted to do only drop-ins since I could do all of them in one test. Going with standard triggers opens up a can of worms where I could test 20 of them and still only scratch the surface and piss everyone off because their favorite wasn’t in there.

      The ECHO isn’t available, but is just like the Franklin Armory trigger I mentioned in this article. It’s a totally non-standard trigger that people aren’t buying for trigger pull quality, but for the novelty of having a trigger that fires when the trigger is pulled and when it’s released, effectively doubling your rate of fire. I also can’t test this in Washington State as it’s considered a machine gun here. I think both of these triggers deserve reviews, but I don’t think they belong in a trigger pull quality sort of a roundup. That’ll be part of their reviews, though, sure. Nick may actually have one of the Franklin ones in his possession now.

      • Jeremy, I’d love to see a bunch of non-package FCGs tested. Stuff from several OEs like Geissele, RRAs NM, ALGs ACT and QMS, maybe one or more of those NP3 mil-specs from RTB, PSA or Tom’s, etc.

        Get on that 😀

  11. I’m a bit disappointed that there is no data on the 3MR or 241 triggers in their “single stage” modes. I have that exact Timney trigger in my DMR and am running a 3MR and a 241 on my SBR and SPR respectively. I’d love to see some hard data to confirm or deny what I’m feeling with my uncalibrated booger picker.

    Overall, this seems like a fantastic tool to pick your first drop-in module and I would LOVE to see data like this packaged in all further trigger reviews.

    • I’ve included TriggerScan data in nearly all of my gun reviews for the past 6+ months and will continue that practice. When the wife & kiddos & I eventually move to Austin (planning January/February 2017), then most of the TTAG crew will have access to it as well and we can work on building a database. Plus, with Nick at the new Range @ Austin we could spend a day running every firearm in the retail counters through the TriggerScan haha.

      I was supposed to get a 241 to borrow for a while and was actually told a few times that it had shipped and was on the way, etc, but it never materialized. Had to move on. But it’s also non-standard so it may not be an ideal fit here anyway. More likely it’ll receive a separate review eventually.

      • Do you still want a 241? I have one NIB sitting on my desk that can stand to be loaned out for a couple of months…

        • Yeah sure thing. I’ll shoot you an e-mail to the one you typed in when commenting. The only glitch is that I’m traveling and won’t be back home until May 1st. At that point I’d probably want to keep it through the month of May to make sure there’s enough time to shoot a couple hundred rounds to get a feel for it and to “break it in” prior to sending it through the TriggerScan. If that isn’t too much to ask, I’m definitely happy to borrow it.

        • No problem. The gun this trigger is intended for is waiting on a tax stamp anyway. Just shoot me an email.

  12. So is there any advantage to the standard style aftermarket triggers, compared to the drop-in triggers? What advantages does a $260 Geissele offer over any of the tiggers mentioned in this article?

    Also, is reliability affected with these drop-ins? Are these more for competition and shouldn’t be subjected to abuse?

    • They can be reliable for duty type use. Frank Proctor has used his CMC for over 200k rounds he states in one of his Youtube videos. The owners have also stated that they have several out that have over 250k on them.

  13. love my velocity trigger. I put it on one rifle for hunting, and after the first couple of trips to the range I had to put it on all my ARs, but my beatup old A2 that I use with newbies.

  14. Thank you, Jeremy S., for your magnum opus. I can’t even imagine how much time and effort went into it. It should become a “must read” for anyone contemplating a trigger upgrade.

  15. Serious question: are any of these duty/combat grade, or all they all just for funsies?

    I might get the rise for my 308, but as good as the alg act trigger has been for me it’s hard to justify 2 to 4 times the price.

    • The majority of them use the same geometry/mechanics as a Mil-Spec trigger, they’re just held inside of their own cassette. Some of them have fully Mil-Spec-strength hammer springs or possibly even stronger. Many of them claim to be upgraded in various ways that are supposed to make them more reliable, durable, etc, than normal.

      I’ve seen some of these running great even when stuffed freakin’ full of carbon and goopy carbon and dirt and other crap, and a couple of them claim to have military contracts with some special forces groups and such (U.S. groups, no less), but can’t say that I’ve come anywhere even remotely close to being able to answer your question based on personal experience with these triggers haha

      Edit: here’s a photo Nick put on the TTAG Instagram account of a super dirty Timney: https://www.instagram.com/p/BDmTSPIPzhU/?taken-by=guntruth

    • For what it’s worth, I have the Black Rain Ordnance trigger in my SBR lower that I run exclusively suppressed for the past year now. Even with the extra crud from the can, I only clean out the rifle every-other range trip and I’ve only cleaned out the trigger pack once. (I do lube it up,bcg and trigger friction points, before every trip though). With that lower, I’ve shot maybe 600 rounds of various 5.56mm and 300 rounds of various 300 Black. Never had a malfunction or failure to fire. It’s an okay trigger that has a very good reset. I’ve I were to buy another, it’s probably be another Giessele if I wanted a great trigger or BCM enhanced trigger if I just wanted an okay trigger.

      • Years ago I got to play with some competition airguns with electric triggers, I could not detect any pull at all, like just moving your finger, no resistance. Even for an airgun, I found that scary.

  16. I like the trigger profile software you guys are using. Just before you started using it, I had a dream during the night that I constructed a TTAG trigger profiler using a cheap arduino, a magnet, a spring, and a couple hall effect transistors attached to a small OLED display with uplink to a pc to generate a CSV file which could be graphed in excel. It was customized for TTAG and had the TTAG boot logo on startup and was provided to TTAG from me free of charge with several small calibration weights to check calibration. Then in my dream, you guys were very excited about it, you showcased it in a TTAG article, then commenced profiling every single trigger of every gun you guys had access to – then uploaded them on the TTAG website so everyone could quickly find their gun on TTAG and see some profiles of that gun’s trigger in an alphabetic lookup table of some kind, etc. It was epic.

    But too bad… you guys already have the TriggerScan thing now.

  17. This was a very interesting article. Forwarded it to all my range buddies who have been looking at FCG upgrades.

    Subjectively, my CMC single stage triggers have always felt to have the least creep of the pile of other SS FCGs I have laying about my workshop (POF, BRO, KE, Velo, others). My finger-meter must be defective 😀 (Maybe it needs calibration, heh)

  18. Great article!

    I’ve been building some polymer frame ARs lately, and am thinking a drop-in to avoid any potential problems of wallowing out the pin holes.

  19. Awesome Article! Been waiting for it for a while. A couple comments on the AR Gold trigger- I agree the takeup is too long but since it is so light usually just putting your finger on the trigger may be enough pressure to move through that without thinking and then you are onto the incredibly short 2nd stage. The safety you touched on a little bit but didn’t mention that if for some reason the hammer drops without the trigger being pulled it is caught by the secondary sear. Now unlike with a half cock notch or something where you would need to recock the gun, the trigger now becomes a heavier single stage trigger so it is still usable. Also this trigger is supposed to mimick a high end 1911 trigger with its takeup and then short break and short reset which it does very well accept for a bit too much takeup. The reset is also very short.

    Once again thanks for this! When deciding on what trigger to buy I wasn’t sure but this test assured I can’t really go wrong with any of the high end drop-in triggers and it is probably better that I avoided Geisselle.

    • Yes, they’re ALL great (including Geissele, of couse) and different people will prefer different ones for different reasons. I personally find the take-up on the AR-GOLD to be so darn light that I have a problem even thinking of it as “take-up” and feel compelled to call it “slack.” It feels like a loose, dangly trigger shoe to me. Well…maybe that’s slight hyperbole but it’s so light compared to the “2nd stage” break weight that my brain doesn’t want to consider it a “1st stage.” I’d actually like it more if it were in the 1- to 2-lb range and I could get behind calling this a two-stage trigger without OCD issues haha 😉

      I made a GIF for the upcoming Dan Wesson Discretion review, and posted it to TTAG’s Instagram account a little while ago. This shows the trigger’s full travel from on the sear to fired to reset to fired again, repeat repeat repeat. https://www.instagram.com/p/BCtl6ezPzqj/?taken-by=guntruth …yes, the trigger has a little bit of slack in it like the AR-GOLD and like your 1911 example (it is a 1911, after all), and like those examples it’s super light and I would want to call it slack or pre-travel instead of “take-up”… although these are interchangeable terms I just want to associate “take-up” with having some feel and weight to it (not entirely sure why). The Discretion’s trigger slack is way shorter though than the GOLD’s. But I’d still prefer it wasn’t there at all and would tune it out given the option.

      • Yeah I understand. You can adjust the trigger lighter. I actually wasn’t as big a fan of it until I did adjust mine lighter. Don’t have tools to measure it but it is probably in the 2 lb range (not sure) and it does feel even better than before. I would like to try that ELF trigger though the only downside I see to it is I would like it to maybe go a little lighter like the AR-gold can but besides that it sounds like an awesome trigger with zero take up and loud and short reset. I think though since I am used to an Anschutz two stage I am a little more used to that take-up which is why it doesn’t bother me too much.

        • Yeah, that seems more appropriate for an Anshutz-style gun since it’s likely for bullseye shooting, but that’s a pretty rare “use case” for an AR-15. Just seems a little out of place to me. Definitely not the case for all people or all types of shooting, though. And, yeah, if the break weight were closer to the “first stage” weight then it would feel better… but the break weight would have to get down to like 0.5 lbs for me to be super into this setup and that’s way too light for my everyday sort of AR shooting. Instead of the break weight coming down, I’d rather the first stage came up closer to my generally-preferred “everyday use” break weight of around 3 lbs.

      • “and like your 1911 example”

        Just fyi the 1911 comparison is actually made on the americantrigger.com product page, this was one of the reasons I chose it.

    • LOL. Well it isn’t missing from here because they’re fat, it’s missing because it’s a white-labeled version of a trigger that’s already in this test. In the case of white-labeled ones where the only things changed were aesthetics (I listed some other examples in the opening part of the article), I included only the unit from the actual manufacturer. The Fat Boy Tactical one should be 100% completely identical as far as this article is concerned to the manufacturer’s version, except for color and logo.

      • Got it. It looks like an exact copy of the Rise armament RA-140 above. Which makes sense. Rise armament is just a few miles from FATBOY Tactical.

  20. Request: could you please add the same analysis of a few of the aftermarket 3-piece trigger kits, such as the RRA 2-stage trigger, and the BCM PNT trigger?

  21. Outfreakingstanding, sir!!! I literally was debating between Wilson Combat, Timney, and Rise Armament triggers for my AR-10 builds. I’m sure I’m not the only one who owns multiple builds, so saving money with the Rise is gonna be the hot ticket.

    My Bushmaster MagPul MOE AR-10 .308 currently has the worst trigger pull of any rifle I own and that is about to be remedied. I had looked at online reviews and none of them were scientific.

    I’m going to archive this data for future reference.

    Thanks, again. I’d love to see articles like this and more gun reviews on TTAG.

    • FATBOY tactical as noted above. That’s the ticket. Don’t worry – no one will see the words “FAT BOY” unless you take your AR apart and show them.

  22. Fantastic work Jeremy. Thanks for all the work!
    Looks like a Nord Arms is going to be my next trigger. Not only is it one of the lesser expensive models, I like the light trigger pull. I’m a bit kooky about that, but I like a very light pull weight.

    • I’d definitely hunt and target shoot with the Nord-Arms one for sure. That rolling, surprise break would keep me from pulling shots. Not that I ever pull shots, of course 😉

      • Yup. Even the weight on my .375 is about 2.5 lbs. currently working on the .416 to get it down. It’s sitting at 8 right now. I hate it!

  23. FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC! This is the kind of comparison that you guys are so good at. I would love to see more information like this. Keep up the great work.

  24. Love it. Every since I saw your Elftmann review, I have been saving up to trick out my RRA with one – along with an awesome comp or brake (of which notably your ‘AR muzzle device shootout’ posts have also been very helpful). As for my actual go-to AR, that will always wear a FH and Geissele SSA. That one would always be for fighting and this one for fun. Because if you aint having fun then WTF. Anyway, it’s good to see the how the Elf stacks up against the competition. I frickin love data and that was a whole shit ton of it that I would have never been able to get myself. Thanks man.

  25. Hi, Jeremy,

    Great article!

    For what it’s worth, my understanding is that the AR-GOLD was designed to give you a feel similar to a competition 1911. The old school “glass rod break” has fallen out of favor to a trigger pull that has some lightweight takeup. This ends up with what could be called a two-stage trigger with a very light 1st stage… or one that has some takeup. You can “play” with that pre-travel, especially under high speed shooting, and use it as a tool to give you better feel for the movement of the trigger before pulling though the break. Also – you can ride that pre-travel so that you don’t have to come all the way off of it before the trigger resets and you can fire again (again, a speed thing). It’s easier to demonstrate in person what I’m talking about.

    To me, creep describes a trigger pull where I can feel the sear sliding across the hammer. This is different than takeup (which usually feels like a constant weight – heavy or light – and hopefully doesn’t stack up). In a really lightweight competition trigger on a handgun (1-1.25# range), a tiny bit of creep actually helps the feel, but otherwise is undesirable for most folks.

  26. Thanks for the write up! Guess I got unlucky with Elfmann, the trigger I got from them had some really bad creep, I was very disappointed. I’ll have to consider the wilson, I’ve got BRO, pof, cmc (I do notice a little wobble), and some geisseles now and have been happy with all of them. BTW, bro just released a new trigger with a flatter trigger bow, I just picked one up. Haven’t had a chance to take it out shooting yet, but it feels great. From what I can tell, no noticeable difference in the pull/break/reset etc, just in the feel of the trigger face. Thanks again!

  27. Er, does this mean there may be some drop-in triggers showing up as TTAG contest SWAG?

    🙂 Please? 🙂

  28. Interesting. Now do it again with 2-stage triggers. (I detest single stage triggers on just about everything other than a shotgun)

    That AR-Gold trigger curve looks interesting. As long as the take-up isn’t too long, it probably feels a lot like a 1911 trigger. A bit of per-travel, wall, and break.

  29. Awesome write up Jeremy… almost perfect! Although not really a drop in, I admit I was exceptionally disappointed in not seeing any offering (especially the 24-3G) from Hiperfire listed. It is enough of a departure from the traditional design that I believe it doesn’t compare well with them. Where drop-ins and traditional are apples & oranges, adding the Hiperfire would be like apples & oranges & peaches. However, to my thinking, the debate the owner goes through is whether to eat an apple and go with a tuned & tweaked traditional milspec/LPK trigger or grab a totally different piece of fruit. While I understand the desire to maintain the drop-in line up, I don’t really see it being beneficial to the reader who wants to eat but all they know is they don’t want any more apples, which is the exact dilemma I found myself in a few years back. I went back & forth for a long time before giving up and playing “eeny, meeny, miny, mo” with options I had before me and buying a Hiperfire. I always wondered if I missed a better option… and I still do. I am wanting to replace the apple trigger in one of my other ARs. If I want an orange, I know which orange I want to try (and I thank you for that), but I don’t know if I want that orange or if I want a peach instead… if that makes sense.The other reason it was disappointing was other triggers, including a Giessle and Ruger PR trigger, were deemed worthy enough to be graphed for comparisons sake.

    • The other triggers were included as comparisons because I happened to have them on hand or had access to a gun with that trigger installed. I don’t have a Hiperfire. Some of the triggers in this test were purchased by me, some were borrowed, some were loaned or donated by the manufacturers. The budget simply isn’t such that I could go out and purchase the top 20 triggers on the market.

      If y’all want to see specific triggers tested in a second roundup of this sort, there are two main ways to assist me with getting my hands on them:

      1) loan it to me
      2) write/call the manufacturers in question and ask them to participate. They can connect with me via an e-mail to TheTruthAboutGuns@gmail.com. I do my own outreach of this sort, but if they hear from not only me but a bunch of potential customers as well, they’ll be more likely to loan/donate a sample.

      • Jeremy, as soon as I’m done typing this, I’ll try and contact Hiperfire. I’d actually be happy to loan you my 24E as long as it’s the right time of year (I’ll be done with it for routine use for the year in about a month or two… varmints need killin’). I’ll be requesting they get a 24-3G to you but TTAG did a review of it back in 2014 by Nick Leghorn. Not sure if they got that one back, but I’ll contact them regardless. I prefer side by side comparisons rather than independent reviews as done by Nick. That’s why I loved your article. Now if we could just get scope reviews to do side by side comparisons on USAF 1951 Resolutions Chart, all would be right with the world.

  30. Really good article, Thanks for the research. My question is if these will work in an AR with steel cased ammo which is notorious for hard primers. I have one in x39 that I had to run extra power hammer spring and enhanced firing pin but my .223 runs steel case just fine.

    • Some of them do have more powerful hammer springs than others. I ran most of them with NATO-spec 5.56 and a couple types of Russian steel-cased .223 and haven’t had issues, but can’t say I fully made it part of the testing protocol and, for instance, measured the depth of primer dents and made sure to test a couple mags of hard-primer ammo for every single trigger, etc.

      One way to be even safer would be to order the .308 version of the trigger where available (e.g. ELF, Timney, Velocity, and a few others). Those will have a stiffer spring, heavier hammer, or both in order to ensure reliable ignition of 7.62×51 NATO-spec ammo, which needs a harder hit.

  31. Are there any measurements done on the hammer to firing pin impact pressure or strength? I ask because I’ve found that the aftermarket triggers I’ve tried so far (Timney, Velocity and Hyperfire) are not hitting the milspec surplus primers hard enough to get consistent firing? Sometimes I have to rechamber a round 4 times to get them to fire. Where as the standard milspec trigger doesn’t have this problem. Is this something that we can get published? Thanks.

    • I’m sure I could come up with some sort of meaningful test for that, yeah. I shot a lot of rounds through my Velocity and didn’t have any issues with NATO ammo from IMI or Federal, or Russian steel stuff from Wolf and Brown Bear, but I’ve seen a handful of people say theirs weren’t fully reliable with hard primers. Note that both Velocity and Timney sell “.308” versions of their triggers, which have stronger hammer springs and/or heavier hammers to more solidly strike hard primers. I’d bet both companies would be willing to send you a stiffer spring, though, and they’re quite easy to swap in nearly all of these drop-in units.

      Initially I was planning on testing lock time for all of these triggers as well. The TriggerScan is supposed to be capable of recording that, but I didn’t find it repeatably accurate or precise enough in my testing to feel like it was valid for inclusion here.

  32. Thanks for the write up Jeremy. Outstanding work!

    One thing I would like to point out is that Rise Armament provides a set of KNS Anti-Roll pins with each Rise Armament RA-535-APT adding to the great value. MSRP for those is around $30.

  33. I own 2 geissele ssa triggers. I’m looking for a drop in but a 2 stage version.
    Any particular brand you prefer for a 2 stage?
    Something that will work on both dpms and ar15 rifles with no issues.
    As for the tensioning screw. What is that about?
    This is something different from regular type triggers.

    • The tension screw just pushes down on the lower receiver to then put pressure/tension on the pins holding the cassette in place. There’s none on a mil-spec trigger because on those the spring on the trigger pushes it up, as you will notice when installing it you have to push it down, and the hammer spring has tension on it from being on the trigger pin and then lowered and pushed forward.

      So it has tension on the parts as well, it’s just done differently.

      I’ll let Jeremy give his opinion on the 2 stage trigger. He has more experience than I do with them I’m sure.

      • Actually I can’t recall if I’ve shot the 2-stage versions of any of these triggers. But the CMC, Timney, and Wilson are all available in 2-stage flavors. The TriggerTech and AR-GOLD are both designed to feel like a 1911 trigger with a bit of take-up, which could scratch that 2-stage itch for some.

        As for the set screw thing, Ty covered it but I’d just add that the ID of the bushings that go through the cassette is intentionally larger than the OD of standard trigger pins. This allows these drop-in units to fit in basically any more-or-less in-spec lower. But the cassette will wobble on the pins without a method of snugging it down.

    • I can say from experience that I have used the 2 stage CMC and have it in a couple of guns. I use the 2/2 trigger which is a 2lb first stage and 2lb second stage. Judging by this absolutely awesome write-up and review, I would love to try the Wilson. I just wish it came with a flat trigger. My next 2 stage will likely be a Timney with a flat trigger just to try it in comparison to my CMC.

      Thanks Jeremy for the awesome review! It helps guys like me who would have no way to even come close to trying all these triggers without buying them all outright. Even then, my beatup hands are not going to come close to feeling every little tick like that machine does. Thanks again!

  34. I was hoping to see a Hyperfire in the roundup as well, and how the double hammer springs affect measure and feel. I would also love to see the JP Armageddon trigger compared, as I’ll likely never get to try one unless I buy it, and it’s so different. These two, along with the Elf, are my 3 most interested-in triggers, although the Nord sounds so interesting to me I may have to buy one of those as well just to try it out. Fantastic article, btw!

      • It is for every AR I have or have built. Maybe I’m missing something as I have 7. Jeremy what am I missing?? Is there something I don’t know?? Just asking to know if should be on look the out. I heard about a trigger pin size. Is that it. So far all my lowers haven’t had an issue.

        • Yeah, usually “drop-in” means doesn’t require custom fitting work, but in this case it refers to a self-contained unit that is already assembled and simply drops into the lower. This is all discussed in the first part of the article, my man. See a couple paragraphs in under heading “Drop-In Triggers?” or any of the photos showing how these triggers are all inside of their own housings instead of separate, loose pieces like mil-spec (and Geissele).

  35. That said the best triggers I have ever used were Ruger triggers by Tony Kidd and Volquartsen custom. Give me an AR trigger like that and I’ll fall over. My custom Ruger has a Volt and Kidd combo. 2 LB trip, .005 take up and .020 return. Just Stupid. Yes its a dedicated bench gun. The other day Me and the wife went to the range and I decided to use some SK standard for the first time. (Yes we’ve tried all the high end stuff up to Lapua Midas) She sees better than me so I told her to go for it. She put 8 rounds through the same hole at 50. The total hole size was .235 with two fliers at about .720. Mikey Likey. I was like wow.

  36. Yeah, usually “drop-in” means doesn’t require custom fitting work, but in this case it refers to a self-contained unit that is already assembled and simply drops into the lower. This is all discussed in the first part of the article, my man. See a couple paragraphs in under heading “Drop-In Triggers?” or any of the photos showing how these triggers are all inside of their own housings instead of separate, loose pieces like mil-spec (and Geissele).

  37. Great info! I have two rifles with the Rise Armament trigger in them and so far I am impressed. Suggested retail may be $129 but I got mine for $99 and that included shipping.

    • How can you do this to us man??? You drop a bomb like that and then don’t tell us where you got it?? Share the info man.

  38. Another awesome test with great info and stats.
    Although it was a drop-in test I wish you had included a couple more 3 piece units for a better comparison. Maybe throwing in the SD-E and a 24C would have given everything a little more oomph.

  39. Superbly thorough and objective article! I have the Wilson Combat 2 stage and am extremely pleased with it.

    Looks like you used some sort of trigger pins that I have not seen before, with some kind of broad head? Can you please tell us all what those pins are?

    I’d love to see a companion article on AK triggers; I know that the past options were “crappy vs crappier vs crappiest” [in my opinion] but some options like the Red Star/ Power Custom, that I put in a virgin M72 RPK build are transformative to the ability to shoot the AK platform in a way that’s more likely to attain accuracy. I know there are some newer options, less expensive than the Red Star (such as Geiselle’s “ALG” offerings) that also sound promising, and it would be great to have head-to-head comparisons to know which are and aren’t worth the extra coin. Many thanks

    • Those pins with the big heads come with Strike Industries’ trigger jig, which is like a skeletonized lower receiver section that allows you to easily drop triggers in and tune them and such. They aren’t meant for actual installation in a firearm for shooting with, just for temporary use for testing. The big heads are there so you can easily install and remove the pins by hand. Other than those heads, they are dimensionally standard pins though.

  40. I have a velocity 3lb. Have a G2S and a Geiselle NMHS trigger. Haven’t shot any (moved to the city, shame on me), but I’m really curious about the Velocity vs Bill’s SD3G.

  41. Question for those who have the MCX will the ELF fit the Sig ? or any of these drop in triggers known to have difficulty with the Sig MCX platform?

  42. “The CMC unit offers absolutely no provision for snugging it up inside of the receiver.”

    You take a pair of pliers and you dog ear the rear/top corners of the housing outward, that removes any side to side play.

  43. Outstanding analytical approach. I didn’t realize so much data could be collected on triggers and trigger pull. Well done!

    As I learn about triggers and work with some there is one other critical data point that would be helpful. And that would be to measure horsepower at the wheels, or more succinctly, how much energy is transferred to the primer. I have experienced light primer strikes with some of the lighter spring kits available. It would be helpful to assess how much energy is delivered and perhaps how much is needed to fire various types of ammo.

    Well done and a great read!

  44. I have the ELF match and I must say it is the best trigger I have ever come across. Has no creep, glass like break and fully adjustable while in the rifle. I went with the strait shoe. After using it awhile I got used to it and it actually felt like it was always the same pull. It made the trigger even more consistent. I have used more than half in the line up as I have over a half dozen ARs. In my opinion the ELF is the best trigger I have ever used and if your looking for the best this is it!!!!

  45. !!! Great article Top Notch !!! One of the best reviews I seen in a long time. What people need to appreciate is the science behind this review showing real facts with a touch of human perspective. Thanks

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