Timney Triggers is now shipping its trigger pack replacement for the IWI Tavor. I was so freakin’ happy with Timney’s trigger for my Mosin that there was no question about getting my mitts on this thing as soon as it was ready. I had one concern though: how much of a difference could it actually make, considering the entire trigger bar and linkage in the Israeli bullpup remains untouched? . . .
If there’s an easier firearm on which to do a trigger swap (or call it the hammer/sear, trigger pack, or fire control group, as the actual trigger itself stays in place), I haven’t found it. It can literally be done in well under 30 seconds on the Tavor. Push out two captive pins — you can do it with only a couple fingers, but it’s easier with a pointy object like a pen or a rifle cartridge — and the trigger pack drops right out the bottom. Slide the new one in, push the pins back into place, and you’re good to go.
The only thing to remember is that the hammer needs to be cocked for the pack to drop out easily and to go back in properly aligned with the trigger bar.
If you aren’t already familiar, the Tavor is a bullpup rifle and the trigger (the actual thing you put your finger on) sits almost a foot forward of the trigger pack, where the hammer, sear, hammer spring, etc reside. Pulling the trigger on most bullpups pushes on one end of a long linkage that pushes against the sear on the other end. This typically introduces flex and slop in the linkage and is responsible for most of what makes your average bullpup trigger pretty lousy.
On the Tavor, pulling the trigger pulls on a steel rod, which pulls on the sear. There’s no flex in this arrangement and that leads to a very good trigger in the bullpup world, which translates to a marginal trigger in the rest of the rifle world. It’s also quite heavy for a rifle trigger — mine measured 11.5 lbs. from the factory (!), and 8 lbs. after removing the “extra” trigger return spring.
Still, the linkage has a compromise that made me wonder how good the Timney replacement could be. To allow for easy removal of the trigger pack, the back of that rod isn’t solidly fixed to it. The rod connects to the trigger pack by loosely sitting in a U notch (it pulls forwards on this notch to trip the sear). To ensure alignment when inserting the trigger pack, the U notch is oversized — it’s of a larger diameter than the rod. This effectively guarantees slack in the trigger system, and I didn’t imagine a simple fix for that at the trigger pack level.
Truly Technically Testing The Timney Triggers Tavor Trigger (T8) (Please read EDIT at bottom of review)
My fears of retaining the factory trigger bar-to-trigger pack connection were partially founded. There is still slack (aka pre-travel or take-up) in the trigger, but just a touch less. Turns out the Timney U notch is marginally smaller and in a slightly different physical location front-to-back vs. the factory notch.
In an ideal world you could tune out the slack by tensioning the U notch bar (not sure if it’s referred to as a sear bar or a connector or what) after the trigger pack is installed in the firearm, but this would add additional complication and cost to an already fairly complex and expensive assembly. Timney simply refers to this trigger as having a “two-stage trigger feel,” and the first stage is the bit of slack that remains.
Don’t let this discourage you, though. The rest of the trigger feel — the more important facets — were massively improved.
Timney’s Tavor trigger is factory-set for a pull weight between 3.5 and 4 lbs. and isn’t user-adjustable. My trigger pull gauge very consistently pegged it at 3.5 lbs. Needless to say, this is a gigantic difference from the factory pull weight and it makes the rifle nicer to shoot on the range and easier to shoot accurately. I can also shoot it significantly faster — not that this is usually much of a concern, especially with ammo prices what they are.
One T-word I didn’t work in above is “tactical,” despite its popularity these days for everything from sandals to bacon. Now, the mass of the wire EDM cut, Teflon nickel coated hammer (larger and heavier than factory) and the smoothness and quality of the action and of the machining and materials leads me to believe that this trigger absolutely can and will hold up in a “tactical” use case. However, it is my personal opinion that a 3.5 lb trigger pull weight is at the extreme light end of acceptability for home defense and actual battle use. It’s ideal for hunting, target shooting, etc. Just an opinion, but I’m in the 4.5 lb+ camp for high stress scenario triggers.
A change as equally noticeable as the lighter pull weight is the shorter travel. Yes, there is less overtravel, but the bulk of the improvement comes from a near-complete elimination of trigger creep. Only the tiniest amount of perceptible creep remains in the Timney trigger, and then only if you’re pulling it as slowly as possible and really looking for it. If that Mosin Nagant trigger was perfect (and it is), this is a close runner-up. Again, a truly massive difference from stock.
The break is clean and precise and consistent. Also about as good as it gets.
Reset is slightly shorter and slightly lighter. That’s not to say it’s “light,” though. It’s audible (you can hear it from 10 feet away in the video) and tactile and I found it easy to ride. In fact, the ability to easily and intuitively ride the trigger reset — not let off the trigger any more than needed for it to reset — is a huge factor here, because it negates that pretravel slack. If you ride the reset, there is zero slack as you begin to pull on the trigger for the next shot.
Conclusion (See EDIT At Bottom)
Awesome! Huge difference. Nothing short of amazing considering it’s a 30-second drop-in installation. It almost feels like cheating to make the trigger this freakin’ much better without having to work for it. Well…it’s $350 so you do have to work for it, but you know what I mean.
Also, if you want to see what the slack, pull, travel, reset, etc look and sound like, check out the video. I have benefited from other folks’ videos showing close-ups of really slow trigger pulls and I’ve been trying to build that into my videos when relevant (any firearm reviews, trigger reviews, etc). In this one, I do a few slow-mo pulls of both the factory trigger and the Timney, and I believe you can easily see the difference that is sometimes less meaningful in written form.
Specifications: (from Timney’s product page)
- Self-contained drop in trigger. Unbelievably easy to install.
- Because of the unique, bullpup design of the Tavor the Timney replacement is a two-stage trigger feel.
- Lightweight 6061-T6 CNC Machined aluminum housing.
- Wire EDM cut, heat treated, Teflon nickel coated hammer to guarantee a lifetime of reliable service.
- Factory tested and preset at 4lbs. (Not adjustable)
- MSRP: $352.95
Ratings (out of five stars):
Build Quality (see edit)
Really nice. Made in U.S.A. No shortcuts, only the best.
Slack (pretravel/takeup) * *
Slight improvement over factory. Again, not a lot in the way of options here without adding an adjustable trigger or adding post-install adjustment to the U notch arm (whatever that’s actually called).
Creep * * * * 1/2
Or lack thereof. Near perfect. Any other trigger I’d probably be giving it a 5, but because it’s a Timney and because of the price, I’m taking off that half point since it isn’t actually, completely perfect.
Break * * * * *
Great. No real room for improvement.
Reset * * * * *
Overall (See EDIT Below)
If it were either less expensive or got rid of nearly all of the slack, I’d give it five stars. If it were less expensive and got rid of all of the slack, it would be the highest five star rating in the history of the world ever. As for the price, it’s expensive but I don’t think it’s unfair or unreasonable considering the absolutely top-notch construction and quality, and the fact that it’s a made in the USA product with a lifetime warranty. Of course, $352.95 is the MSRP, so prices may be closer to $299 from retailers online.
[EDIT] 05/05/2014: It appears that Timney changed the design of this trigger within the first couple weeks of product shipment. Due to issues with light primer strikes and failures to fire on ammo with hard primers (basically any NATO-spec ammo), they added a stiffer hammer spring. Timney also beveled the holes for the pins that hold the trigger pack into the frame in order to facilitate easier installation. As you can see in my photos, the trigger I received was one of the first ones with these changes. You can tell because the holes for the pins were beveled after the body was anodized gold. As part of my testing for this review, I did shoot some Federal-loaded XM855 with no issues whatsoever. It fired every round and primer strikes looked pretty standard.
BUT… I took the Tavor back to the woods yesterday to test this further since I was suddenly concerned about it. I brought some Israel Military Industries M193 and M855 — actual, legit NATO stuff — and some more of the Federal 5.56, which is supposed to be NATO-spec. I suffered multiple failures to fire with the IMI ammo (like 30%) and had one failure to fire with the Federal. Insufficient primer strikes caused all of these failures. When put through the gun a second time, they all fired except for one of the IMI rounds, which also didn’t fire upon a third strike. Unfortunately I did not bring the factory trigger pack with which to test that stubborn round.
Timney needs to make some edits to this product before it is ready for prime time! The current units should be considered beta testers. Or, they should only be trusted/used on ammo with ‘commercial’ (soft) primers, with which I have still had 100% reliability (and I’m updating as of 06/13/2014 with a few hundred rounds of various sorts through the Timney).
So far Timney has tried to fix the light strikes by using a stiffer hammer spring. If you already own this trigger pack, know that it uses an AR-15 hammer spring. You can punch out the hammer pin from the logo side of the pack towards the other side, but you will really need a press or a bench vice to press the pin back in. Timney will do it under warranty for you as well, but it appears they are not going stiff enough on the springs still. Mine is the stiffer spring, and it isn’t working right. Note: an even stiffer hammer spring would barely affect trigger pull weight at all.
I will update with the results of my hammer weight reduction tinkering (Update: ever so slightly better with a lightened hammer but still tons of failures with ‘mil-spec’ primers and some failures to fire with Russian steel-cased ammo, which also has hard primers). At this time I think it’s safe to say that the Timney Tavor trigger is only reliable on commercial .223. 5.56 only if it has commercial primers. And not on Russian, steel-cased ammo that also tends to have stiff primers. I have removed the ratings on ‘build quality’ and ‘overall’ for the time being but I won’t be amending the body of the review at this time (and please accept my sincere apologies for not originally testing it with a broad enough ammo selection! Primer strikes looked completely, totally normal and I had no suspicions about it). TTAG will post an update if (when) Timney makes changes to the product.
Timney updated me with the latest status and it still sounds like they’re working on it. Quote of their response:
It has come to our attention that the Timney Tavor sear pack has been experiencing light primer strikes in some rifles. Crazy good products are extremely important to us, therefore we have focused our engineering efforts to consider all feedback and make any required adjustments. We do have a number of beta tests occurring at this time and have had excellent results in our studies.
Having said that the design of the Tavor rifle and the multitude of ammo choices available, lends itself to be problematic for some shooters. Although a minority, we are listening to each and every story told and adjusting to their feedback from the field.
Timney has been in business for nearly seventy years by improving our products and listening to our customers. Our replacement trigger for the Tavor rifle will continue to evolve, as have most all of our triggers, as we strive to deliver the utmost product available on the market today.