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The Problem with Making an AK-47 Replacement Trigger


If there’s one trigger worse than the stock mil-spec AR-15 trigger, it’s the AK-47 trigger. There are almost no redeeming qualities about the feel of the trigger besides its awesome reliability. Now Timney Triggers has embarked on a quest to save the AK-47 from its trigger by designing a drop-in replacement kit that will one day be available to the public. It’s not quite ready for prime time yet, though. I had an opportunity to talk to the designer who runs the CAD software — a man by the name of Calvin — about the challenges involved in designing a trigger for the most mass produced firearm in the history of the world ever, and apparently there are quite a few . . .

The root of the problem seems to stem from either a lack of quality control or simply minor variations between manufacturers.

While every Remington 700 rifle, for instance, was made by the same company and every AR-15 is made from the same specs, the AK-47 was designed and produced in an environment where precision machining wasn’t at the top of the list of things to invest in. Add to that the fact that the rifles have been produced at a number of different plants all over the world over the years and you can see where variations in pin size and location can lead to headaches down the road. The original AK trigger pack was designed to work with those variations, but when you’re making something that’s intended to be a precision item, that variation can present problems.

The best example of this is the safety selector switch. The location and size of that lever can vary pretty wildly from one rifle to the next, so getting it just right for every gun is a challenge. So much of one, in fact, that the folks at Timney are designing their own safety lever to install in AKs along with their trigger. A known safety makes all the difference, and allows the trigger to properly function.

There are still some hurdles for the Timney Triggers team to overcome before the part makes it to market, but given their track record I’m pretty confident that they will work out the bugs. In the meantime, back to my Tapco trigger.


  1. avatar DougieR says:

    Frickin’ finally…my arsenal deserves a better trigger.

    1. avatar ValleyForge77 says:

      Man, I guess I got lucky. The single stage trigger SAM7SF is cherry. Smooth, relatively light, no grit, great reset…

    2. avatar notalima says:

      Agree wholeheartedly!

      I’d love to drop a trigger with at least less creep into my Arsenal.

      If I could get a cleanly-breaking trigger for my VEPR 308 I’d be in heaven as well. The grit and creep on that trigger is really holding back what could be a decently accurate (at range) gun.

      The trigger on my little Zastava M85, on the other hand, is really light (3.5# on a trigger scale). Not sure how they managed that, but the creep is still an issue (about 1.5 miles of creep…okay, probably only a few MM, but it feels like miles).

  2. avatar ready,fire,aim says:

    waste of money for a AK i think

    1. avatar Jeff says:

      Not for some of the higher quality AKs chambered in domestic calibers. One big part of the AK’s inaccuracy legend is shooting garbage ammo. AKs chambered in 5.56, .308 can be quite accurate when fed quality ammo.

      For example the Zastava M77 .308 is nearly a 1MOA rifle out of the box, but the factory trigger is definitely less than ideal.

      1. avatar notalima says:

        Agreed, Jeff.

        The creeping, gritty trigger on my VEPR .308 is, I believe, keeping it from being a decently accurate gun. It will certainly ring 10″ plates at 400Y, but I feel it could be much better if I didn’t feel like I was fighting the trigger.

      2. avatar Lobber says:

        Horrible triggers don’t help the accuracy of any firearm, no matter what the quality of the ammunition. I’m not saying all AK triggers are completely horrible either, but most of the AK’s I’ve owned or shot had triggers I felt were somewhere between “meh” and absolutely horrible.

        I personally have never bought the idea that 7.62×39 is inherently inaccurate, or that AK’s as a whole are (many are certainly less than impressive) but that’s a whole other discussion.

        I digress though, and my actual point is that I agree, a better trigger is going to help more with higher end (or more properly re-assembled) AK’s, and especially those shooting more consistent ammo of higher quality. I also feel it’s safe to say that a decent manufacturer with any experience and skill (and Timney has both) would be hard pressed to make anything much worse than a standard AK trigger group that still actually functions safely.

        I’m actually of the opinion that a good, or at least decent trigger will make a difference for a majority of shooters, and can even make a bigger difference for novice or casual shooters than it might for more highly skilled shooters. This idea only works up to a certain level of precision of course, but we are talking AK’s here and not precision bolt rifles or anything. The highly skilled shooters are going to have the experience and control to work with a bad trigger, whereas novices are more than likely going to be fighting it.

        I don’t know your background so I can’t speak for you, but I’ve seen a lot of new shooters whose largest hindrance to achieving reasonable accuracy and precision is the fact that they are jerking the hell out of a trigger, once again, much of this comes down to skill and experience, but a smooth trigger that breaks clean and light can likely only help that issue.

        1. avatar int19h says:

          Anyone who thinks that 7.62×39 is inaccurate should try shooting a CZ 527 chambered in that caliber. It’s very accurate even with “crap” steel cased ammo, and once you get the good stuff like Lapua, it’s as good as any other match ammo.

  3. avatar ST says:

    I wish them the best of luck. Two AKs produced from different source countries may as well be different models of guns entirely.

  4. avatar bontai Joe says:

    A precision trigger for a rifle made up of mostly stamped sheet metal….. interesting project. I wish them well

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      You mean a stamped sheet metal gun like the PSG-1?

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Eh, just because a gun has a receiver made from stamped sheet metal doesn’t relegate it to the crap pile.

      Some Sig’s had slides made of stamped sheet metal.

      The stamping (or forming over a die) of sheet steel is an entirely valid manufacturing process for certain parts on a gun, especially if you have heat treatment done to the steel afterwards. Much of the reason why consumer goods made out of stamped sheet steel are crap is because the sheet steel used in the stamping is crap to begin with.

      It always ultimately goes back to the metal with which you’re starting. If you start with crap steel, you’re going to have a difficult time making a silk purse of a sow’s ear. You can see this in Chinese goods which might be machined – they start with crap steel, put it into a CNC machine and out comes… crap.

  5. avatar Richard says:

    They suck on AKs…with the exception of the FEG SA85. Its not awesome, but it doesn’t suck.

    But on another note: Doesn’t Red Star Arms make a decent trigger for AKs?

  6. avatar DrVino says:

    A Tapco G2 costs under $35 last I checked and breaks around 3.5 to 4 lbs.
    What else do you want?

    1. avatar Gene says:


      And it could solve a 922(r) part count.

      1. avatar Xanderbach says:

        I have a tapco G2 on my Maadi, and it’s a sweet, crisp trigger. Far better than the ones that come stock on ARs, in fact… And You’re right, it was about $30. I see no reason for an expensive alternative that doesn’t work any better and is harder to install. Not like AK triggers are that hard to install as it is.

    2. avatar DamDoc says:

      I agree.. my tapco G2 is an awesome trigger.. no need for timney for me on this.. i do have a timney on an ar.. geiselle on the others…

    3. avatar Chadwick P says:

      Tapco triggers work very well in aks. The surplus Bulgarian triggers that I have from 74 parts kits have been as good as tapcos and the yugos I’ve had have been almost as good. There is a lot you can do to the trigger by profiling and polishing it so I’m not sure why I’d need anything besides a surplus or a tapco trigger and a half an hour to fiddle. Clean break, minimal take up, and in the realm of 3-5lb pull. Every ak I’ve shot has had a better trigger bar far than my s&w 15-22.

    4. avatar Sixpack70 says:

      I have Dinzag modified G2s in two of my Saigas and they are actually really nice.

      1. avatar Gene says:

        Agreed. Though I had to dispense with the BHO on mine. I just couldn’t get it to fit in.

        1. avatar Sixpack70 says:

          It takes some work and patience. I used dental Floss to hold the spring in place and then pushed the pins in. It takes me about an hour along with a lot of profanity to get it right.

  7. avatar DrVino says:

    The safety selector is pretty much always in the same spot. What you may be seeing is some producers put in a full auto selector and others just a semi.

  8. avatar duroSIG556R says:

    Again, glad I dumped the ak in favor of the SIG 556R.

    1. avatar DamDoc says:

      should a kept both!

  9. avatar g says:

    Tapco G2 trigger is a pretty good value and very functional. It’ll be interesting to see what Timney, comes up with, though.

  10. avatar Roll says:

    The trigger in my MAK90 is wonderful, my WW ak74 is meh, and the one in my yugo m92 is bleh…

    1. avatar 277Volt says:

      Agreed. My MAK’s trigger is pretty damn nice too.

    2. avatar Marc1980 says:

      Same here! Norinco made a fine double hook trigger in the Mak90. I was lucky enough to find one in Nov 2008 whose threads had not yet been welded.

  11. avatar Yossarian says:

    I prefer Texas AK Triggers or what came on all my Norincos. That’s a good AK trigger. Tapco G2 is ho-hum in comparison.

    However, what came on my Arsenal SLR-104UR was cow manure! After all these years, I finally got to fell the pain of trigger slap, and with Arsenal to thank for it.

  12. avatar C says:

    My m70 has no discernible break.

  13. avatar Ralph says:

    Lipstick on a pig.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      No cracks about your ex, Ralph…


      1. avatar Ralph says:

        I’ve had lots of exes.

    2. avatar neiowa says:

      I was thinking perhaps next would be a redesign of the hog so it’s excrement didn’t stink.

    3. avatar jwm says:

      Damn right.

    4. avatar int19h says:

      Please. It’s a boar.

  14. avatar Sian says:

    Put in a modified tapco on my bullpup saiga12 after polishing the mating surfaces and the difference from stock was just amazing. Being used to trap shotguns it still feels long, crepy, and with an amazingly slow lock time, but compared to stock? No comparison.

  15. avatar cknarf says:


  16. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Actually, MAC endurance tested the AK, and the sloppy trigger group would function even when full of debris.

  17. avatar ArtM says:

    You guys are kidding, right? All these posts and no one mentions Texas AK Triggers?

    Ordered mine at AK-Builder for a good price and fast delivery.

    Don’t forget to get the pin retaining plate. Makes install/removal much easier.

    I really like the Texas Trigger. Double hook and a Huge improvement over a Tapco.

    Don’t think I’ll be spending a couple hundred bucks for a Timney for an AK – even if it was for an Arsenal.

    1. avatar Marcus says:

      An original full auto sear spring also works incredibly well, considering that’s what holds the pins in place in the evil 3rd hole real deal. Even without the 3rd axis pin, it stays in place, and does its job. I’m not sure how much they cost, but with all the AK builders discarding that stuff, they shouldn’t be expensive.

      I honestly don’t even know why I had one in my parts box, considering I’ve never owned a f/a AK, a select fire FCG, or even the auto sear it is supposed to function with, but the ridiculous retaining pin that came with my M92 makes the “shepherds crook” seem like the good old days. The long tail on the sear spring goes right in where it’s supposed to, stays put, and does not alter ANY function of the gun, other than making a detail strip reassembly much easier.

      Since I’m rambling on the subject…
      Pro tip- a Mauser stripper clip set across the top of the receiver is a good place to stick the trigger spring ends of the hammer and spring assembly to keep them well out of the way when taking the FCG out, and especially when putting it back in.

  18. avatar Vhyrus says:

    The trigger on my m92 is Danny good already. Slightly gritty but short and light with a good break and reset.

  19. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    The factory trigger in my Zastava M92 is factory original and good to go (relatively little creep, light, and reasonably crisp). These are imported as pistols and so bypass the 922R part count silliness. You folks running Tapco G2 triggers should be aware there have been reported issues with them per a note from Reid Hendrics who is one of the instructors at Tactical Response. The issues he reports are doubling or tripling on their range. This is happening with triggers with as little as 50 rounds or as many as 3 to 4k so it isn’t a wear issue or an issue with a newly installed example. They are recommending the Arsenal trigger.

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      For a fighting ak that might be a feature rather than a bug.

  20. avatar lolinski says:

    Timney trigger for AK?

    [Insert happy expletives, a lot of them]

    I hope their safety lever has the notch (to hold the bolt back) and the piece that sticks out on the side so that you can use it more easily.

  21. avatar Tominator says:

    My Norinco 84s-1 trigger is fine than you…in fact it is great! You WISH your mil-spec AR trigger was this good.

    These triggers are VERY simple to make better no matter how bad yours is from the factory. All kinds of DIY links on easy improvements abound.

    And we need to discuss the different attitudes regarding so-called ‘safety’ as the quite different military doctrine regarding how firearm is handled on the battlefield. From handguns to rifles the use of a safety is thought to hinder the deployment of the weapon by the Soviets/Russians and others that use AK variants.

    The AK ‘safety’ is as much a ‘dust cover’ as something to prevent unintentional discharge.

    1. avatar Lolinski says:

      Agreed, I only use the safety when carrying the gun (marching, hunting, that kinda carrying) and storing it. Otherwise I just keep the finger of the trigger.

  22. avatar Imran says:

    The stock trigger on my M92 AK feels 1000x more predictable than the stock trigger on my Daniel Defense DDM4v5.

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