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At SHOT Show 2015, I ran across a couple of drop-in AR-15 triggers that I don’t believe I had seen before. One was RISE Armament’s RA-535, and the other was KE Arms’ Drop-In Trigger. Both are on the way for reviews, and will be great to compare against the Elftmann Tactical ELF Match Trigger, the Velocity Triggers Velocity AR-15 Trigger, and the CMC Triggers Standard Trigger in 3.5 lb flavor that I’ve already been playing with. I’ve put a lot of rounds through the ELF unit in particular now and will be writing up the review on it in a couple of weeks. A “teaser” video, plus photos of all of the triggers mentioned here, follow. . .

So without ruining the forthcoming review, I’ve been super happy with the ELF trigger. Details will come in the review, but at a high level some of the cool features are needle bearings in the trigger and hammer pivots, half-cock notch for increased drop safety, set screw for adjusting trigger pull weight from 2.5 to 4 lbs, full-power hammer spring, very easily and quickly swappable hammers and trigger shoes, set screws for tensioning it in your receiver, and more. Straight trigger, curved trigger, solid or skeletonized hammer…lots of options.


I haven’t pulled the trigger on the other players as much, but I shall, and reviews followed possibly by a direct comparo “shootout” will follow. Speaking of shootouts, we also picked up a RISE RA-701 Compensator for the next installment of the AR-15 muzzle brake shootout. For now, please enjoy the following stock pics of all of these drop-in trigger options:

KE Arms Trigger

141288691472288 CMC-Trigger-Group[1] RA APT - trigger 2-500x500RA APT - trigger 1-500x500

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      • Much appreciated! I’ve been wanting to get a lower registered with SBR paperwork and when I first saw these I figured it could give a lot of flexibility. On the other hand I worry about making the investment and having sub part long term duribility. Wear that thing ragged, Jeremy; I’m looking forward to the results!

      • I’ve used one of their extra long LCH5’s and have really liked it. Their old barrel nut system weighed a lot which almost negated the carbon fiber savings. That and the stupid red locktite installation. If they fixed those two things it would be perfection. Which maybe they have I know there’s a newer version.

    • Well I haven’t broken it yet. I suppose if a lot of people are concerned about it I could hook up a fish scale and try to pull it until it bends or breaks haha. But it’s machined from tool steel, and you only need 2.5 to 4 lbs of pressure to make it work anyway 😉 …I’ll ask Elftmann if they’ve actually measured how much weight it can handle before I go ahead and snap mine on purpose…

      • Sorry but it needs to be an independent verification of the trigger’s strength so your going to need to break yours. 😛

  1. Anything for an older large-pin Colt with a sear block, that doesn’t require removal of same?

    Preferably under $150, but I’m already asking for vaporware anyway, so why not go all the way?

    • Well, I don’t know what difference the pin size would make, I have a sear block Colt (standard pin size) and bought a 2-stage which is really nice for it more than 10 years ago, around $100 installed. You probably need to look around, but I somehow doubt you’ll find a drop-in which will work, that block looks like it would be right square in the way.

      • Sorry I wasn’t clear, LarryinTx, I was talking about are the hammer and trigger pins. Standard pins are around .154″; the older large-pin Colt hammer/trigger pins are about .171″. The vast majority of hammer/trigger parts and drop-in modular units are set up for .154″ pins only.

        • Well, mine is not a drop in, and I didn’t stick around for the installation, I guess what I was saying is just that there are fine triggers out there for a reasonable price. When I arranged the installation, I mentioned it was a sear block, and he blew that off like “who cares”, and like I say, that was around 14 years ago. There’s something out there for you!

  2. Ignorant question: what does it mean to be a “drop-in” trigger? How much work is involved in installing one of these? I put together my own lowers from parts kits and do not have fond memories of the process, even though it wasn’t really all that onerous. I would guess that removing a parts kit trigger and hammer is more-or-less the reverse of installing it, so that brings up a second question: is swapping drop-in triggers easier than removing a parts kit?

    • Remember how you had to put in each piece, first the trigger, and then the hammer, fighting against the springs, while you try to to install the pins? No such problem with a drop in–what you see in these pictures literally drops into the lower as a single assembly, and then you install the pins. Easy peasy.

      • Yeah. Super easy. Just drop it in, put the pins through, and you’re good. Of course, most of them require removing the safety bar for clearance, and removing the safety bar necessitates removing the pistol grip. But you have to do that with a mil-spec trigger anyway.

        The ones with set screws that push down against the bottom of the receiver are cool. That can create anti-rotation, anti-walk pins all on its own by pressing the trigger housing up against them and pinning them in place. It also allows you to remove any and all wiggle of the trigger stuff inside of the receiver. As an example, the CMC unit will wiggle just a tiny bit because the pins are a touch smaller in diameter than the pin holes in the trigger unit body. Same with the ELF, but with the ELF you use the set screws to raise it up until it’s pressing itself on the pins and it’s locked solidly in place. This is certainly not unique to ELF or anything, but it’s something I like. ELF does have a slick and simple anti-rotation, anti-walk pin kit and they’ll also send you a little steel shim to put underneath the trigger pack so when you do tighten down the aforementioned set screws they don’t scratch or dent your aluminum receiver but, instead, push on that thin piece of steel.

        There’s good drop-in options on the market now for sure! There’s a chance I’ll be adding a Patriot Ordnance Factory unit to this testing, and if another one ends up here in time then, sure, it’ll make it in also.

    • Thanks, Mark and Jeremy. The pictures all seemed to look like that, but it wasn’t obvious until you said so, and now I wonder how I was so dubious 🙂

  3. Looking forward to this comparo. Until now, I thought there were only three or four manufactures of drop-ins. I wanted to put one in the rifle I built, but money got too tight and I had to settle for an ALG QMS (which is a good trigger with literally no take-up and a crisp release, but is a bit heavy at around 7 lbs.) I had my eye on the CMC because it was a single stage trigger. But how can you do a comparo without the Giselle? Isn’t that like the gold standard?
    I must say that, being a fan of single stage triggers, the video of the Elftman is very impressive

    • Yeah I know what you mean. Geissele and Timney are obviously known quantities and I sorta wanted to do a “what else is out there” thing. Good is good, and I’ll try to measure the fundamentals of the triggers as closely as possible.

      • I understand the “what else is out there” comparo but you need to be ready for the deluge of “not a fair comparison” comments in the comments section if you leave the big boys out.

        It’s like saying that 1911s are the one gun to rule them all… Around here that’s just chum in the water.

  4. Very interesting and timely since I have about 4 stripped lowers I need to build up. Also, the comments below the article were very helpful, too.

    • It’s a G10 Extreme grip from Hogue (in “chain link” texture and “black/gray” color). I’ve had the same grips on my competition CZ SP-01 for a few years and absolutely love them. I had competing G10 grips before trying out the Hogue ones and found the Hogues to be better in basically every way. Anyway I liked them so much that I picked up the matching AR-15 pistol grip and the matching G10 AR-15 trigger guard and am working on writing up a review for those in the next couple of weeks as well. They also make nice knives and some of them have the same G10 in the same color pattern and I really want to get this one but it’s a little out of my knife budget price point.

  5. At the Firearms Festival, I shot a gun with an L-shaped trigger as one of the ones you show here, and was quite pleasantly surprised. The claim was that it was easier to place your finger in precisely the same spot each time, and with around 3 lb trigger it really doesn’t need to be form fitting, does it?

  6. Hurry up with the review, Jeremy. 😉 I’m putting together another hunting AR, and would be interested in trying a good single stage trigger. I run Geisseles in all my other ARs, but don’t really need to be able to rock n roll on a hunting gun.

  7. Bought a Velocity trigger today. Turns out it’s made by Tom, the guy who did Timneys for over a decade. Looking forward to ur review on it

  8. I want to know about those trigger pin retainers!! Who are they made by, are they for a proprietary trigger unit, or what is up with those?

  9. Rise Armament looks nice ,buuuut for $259.00 single stage 3.5 lbs trigger? and all you really see is that silver thing on the bottom after its installed lol, I`ll stick to my CMC straight trigger 3.5 lbs for $150. 😉

  10. I’m interested in theVelocity drop in trigger. Have you done a review on it yet? That gold trigger looked cool but I really dont want a 4.5 lb trigger. Their website said it has an adjustable reset? What does that mean? Anyway good review, if possible I’d like to read all your reviews in the future my email is: [email protected]
    I just put together a 10″ AR pistol with the gen 2 Sig pistol brace. The upper has the A2 sight post which I really want to keep. It came with the standard 2 piece glacier hand guards which I hate!!! Does anyone know or recommend a slimmer hand guard that I can replace these glacier hand guards with. My budget on a decent set is gonna be about $250. Ive looked all over an only came up with a Troy Delta an Charlie 12″ set 2 piece drop in freefloat, but with short barrel I’m not positive these will work on my 10″ barrel an short gas system? Any help on that would be greatly appreciated. My email is above.

  11. Jeremy,
    Would love to see a review of the Hlperfire hyper touch 24c. This is a single stage, short reset trigger kit with user adjustable weight from 2.5 to 4.5 lbs. Zero pre-travel. Not cheap at about $250, but fast becoming one of the most popular fire control units among the competition community.

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