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CMC’s AK Elite single stage drop-in trigger for the Kalashnikov family of arms has been on the market for a little while now. But I’m sure you know that because fellow Armed Intelligencia cohort Jon Wayne Taylor put out his review of the trigger with flat shoe last month. We were both unaware the other was testing the trigger and as a result, you get two reviews!

I have purposefully not read Jon’s review yet, but now that this article is out, you can bet I’m comparing notes. I hope you are as well.

The trigger comes in a simple clamshell package that includes set screws and a standard retaining spring wire.

Out of the packaging and broken-down, you can see there are very few pieces to work with when swapping shoes.

Left to Right: AK Trigger, Curved Trigger, CMC Flat Trigger

CMC’s trigger shoes impress me for several reasons. First, the fact that they have three solid options, let alone any option, is outstanding. Second, the shoes are very high quality, assembled with extremely tight tolerances, and finished very well. Most AKs almost don’t deserve something this nice. Third, the shoes are relatively easy to swap by way of a slick spring-loaded retaining pin.

The housing for the unit is a solid mass of precision-machined 7075-T6 aluminum. Set screw threading is crisp and true; the holes for the shoe and trigger pins are also spot-on. The type 2 anodize finish is smooth, shiny, consistent and, unfortunately, will be hidden once you install the trigger.

The AK Elite’s hammer and trigger are made from 8620 tool steel. The disconnector is made from S7 tool steel.

Unfortunately, I found the housing to be a bit too thick and chunky at the ends. I had issues just getting it into the receiver on any variant that utilized a folding stock or receiver block (AK pistol). Even when flexing the receiver the housing didn’t stand a chance of avoiding abrasions.

Once in the receiver, installation of the trigger and shoe was quick and simple. A set of roll punch pins or dental picks will help when installing the trigger shoe. With set screws tightened down and safety checked, I began to reinstall the bolt and ran into a problem.

Even with the standard AK rail slop, the bolt would not pass the hammer face. I knew what steps I wanted to take to remedy the situation but to be sure I spoke with CMC who confirmed that material should be removed from the hammer’s face. After about two dozen very light passes with a flat diamond file (adjusted hammer face shown above) the bolt slid smoothly along the rails without any hang-ups.

During my conversation with CMC I learned a few additional items of interest about the Gen1 product:

• CMC initially tested the trigger on 6-7 Kalashnikov variants, and is continually testing additional variants

• CMC will be making some lower-profile hammers that will be available through customer service

• CMC has found that extremely sloppy rails may allow the bolt to skip over the hammer, resulting in the trigger not resetting

With the CMC trigger now sitting pretty in a run-of-the-mill PAP M92PV, I got out the trigger gauge and found the break point to be very light – a mere 2.25 pounds. Well below the advertised 3.5 pounds. Fine by me for this single stage slug slinger!

At the range I started slow and at just fifteen rounds into testing I had a major regret: Should have brought more ammo! Sure, I had enough for testing, but I could have cooked a thousand rounds with this trigger – it felt great.

In use, the most prominent feature of the trigger is, of course, the fact that it is a single stage. Kalashnikov pattern firearms and single stage triggers are like apple juice over Apple Jacks cereal instead of milk – in theory, they don’t feel right together but when you try it, it turns out to be damn good. This trigger has maybe one-eighth of an inch of take-up at most, putting it on-par with many high-end AR drop-ins.

Just as notable is the nearly non-existent, glass-on-glass, grit-less sliver of creep before the crisp, clean break. With barely any over-travel and a super-short reset, the AK Elite trigger is impressive no matter what your standards are. And in action, the trigger is remarkably fast, vastly improving follow-up shots.

If you’re contemplating a drop-in for your Kalashnikov variant but can’t quite bring yourself to open your wallet, consider the following…

Back in 2014 when Timney Triggers was developing a drop-in AK trigger (which never made it to market), Nick penned an article where he described the technical challenges in developing a true “drop-in” that worked out-of-the-box in any AK pattern receiver. Not many companies have invested in the idea, and for good reason. Those that went for it should be applauded.

Mechanics aside, it also remains to be seen if there is even a strong enough market for AK drop-in triggers to support competition. Last year Elftmann’s AK drop-in trigger (reviewed in December of 2015), which listed for $295 MSRP, was discontinued due to lack of interest. So if you are in the market for a blazing-fast single stage drop-in AK trigger, the CMC AK Elite ($225 MSRP) is most certainly the best option currently available on the market.

Specifications: CMC AK Elite Drop-in Trigger

Price as reviewed (one trigger shoe only): $225.00 MSRP

Ratings (out of five stars):

Ease of Installation: * * * *
The term “drop-in” needs to be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to Kalashnikov pattern firearms – some slight modification/adjustment is just part of the program. However, the amount of adjustment needed in my case was very minimal. The oversized housing made installation almost impossible on some underfolder and pistol variants.

Design: * * * *
The AK Elite trigger is simple and well-designed. The spring-loaded trigger shoe pin, and the shoes themselves, are excellent features that make swapping shoes fairly easy. Again, the housing needs to be reduced to better work in certain variants. A retaining clip instead of a wire would be on-par with the trigger its self.

Performance: * * * * *
This trigger performs flawlessly. It is fast, crisp, and consistent, no matter which trigger shoe you use. It will make your AK feel like a totally different gun – in a good way.

Trigger Shoes: * * * * *
The trigger shoes are very well made and finished, ensuring tight tolerances uncharacteristic of the Kalashnikov platform. Having three options is really great and each feels true to form.

Overall: * * * * 1/2
The CMC AK Elite trigger is a super crisp, very quick trigger that eliminates nearly all take-up and dishes out an incredibly short reset. The housing is bulky and slight modification to some areas of the housing and/or hammer may be needed – but should also be expected. This trigger provides outstanding performance at a fair price.

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  1. Not really seeing anything that makes me want to spend the cash over an ALG. I means seriously, you’re talking 4-5 times the cash for an improvement on an almost perfect AK trigger.

    • I have both triggers and will echo this statement. The CMC is better, but not 3-4x better. It’s not that the CMC is bad, it’s that the ALG is very good. People also need to understand that you will never get an AK trigger to feel like an great AR trigger. A “single stage” AK trigger (CMC included) feels like a smooth, rolling break AR trigger.

      I have the CMC in a AK I use for competition so the advantage is worth it to me (barely), but if the gun was being used for any other purpose I would go the ALG route.

    • I think Primary had these on sale a few times over the last year for around $130’ish. Still more than ALG, but a lot cheaper than MSRP.

    • Believe me when you go to the range you’ll be questioned if it’s an automatic weapon! It’s a good shooting weapon no trigger slap very nice! I wouldn’t drop in in a cheap ass AK but I have no regrets because I didn’t care for AK’s until I purchased this one!

  2. I’ve used a Red Star Arms/Power Customs adjustable trigger. They are about $80 at Brownells. They are nice and dropped in my milled Arsenal SLR just fine no mods. I have a Norinco 56s and a converted NMH-90 I thought about putting one in. They are both pretty accurate for an AK, but the milled Arsenal edges them both.

  3. Wasn’t it CMC and Mossberg who sued everyone for drop in triggers last year? Sorry I’ll pass on their products.

  4. The base ALG for $50 bucks is leaps ahead for an AK. At 3.5 lbs, short, crisp with nice reset. I did have to do a little filing on the disconnector. 2 minutes. An M70 with a trigger as nice as some ARs. I’ll bet the enhanced for a few bucks more is even better.

  5. …And they chose a bad hammer profile, which will cause damage to the carrier tail. No thanks.

  6. Have you seen the new DX-7?
    I can’t wait till it’s in full production very innovative design that seems to improve on the ak.

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