Are AR Triggers Worth Upgrading?
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It seems every week a new AR trigger is announced and prices can vary wildly from around $50 to over $200. Are they worth it?
If Mil Spec has last so long why are there other trigger options? Your AR like came with a "mil spec" trigger. Military Specifications aren't all that great, they're simple a standard to ensure cross compatibility and predictable results. With triggers that generally means a heavier pull to ensure that "Joe" (a nickname we use in the Army for a generic Soldier) doesn't torch off a round at first thought of firing. These triggers are fine and can be learned/trained to run impressively quickly. If the triggers were so bad there wouldn't be so many veterans like Teya and I returning from combat. The triggers aren't great, but they're not ideal for all situations.
So what makes a "good" trigger? That depends on the application. Some folks prefer a two-stage trigger with a light take-up to a wall followed by a crisp break. This works well for situations when you want to prep for a well-times shot. Others prefer a single-stage trigger which is ready to fire as soon as the prerequisite force has been applied. It's application and personal-preference based. Don't let someone tell you that you have the wrong trigger if they don't know what you like and how you intend to use it. Not long ago we did a short
video on the Rise Armament RA-535 trigger.
This trigger is FAST! When you want to hammer out rounds as quickly as you can click your mouse in video games the RA-535 is perfect. Does that mean it would make for a good bench-rest trigger? That's up to you.
There are several factors that go into what a person likes or doesn't like about a trigger, but I've found the pull weight to generally be irrelevant unless it's absurdly light or heavy or the shooter has some sort of physical disability. If you're looking to shoot quickly then a short rest can help more than a lighter pull weight for follow-up shots.
To answer the tittle question: Yes, it can be. If you're looking to go faster with less learning curve a fancy trigger can get you there, but that's not the most practically-correct answer. Where a trigger upgrade can make a notable difference is surprisingly in accuracy.
The best marksmen in the world can shoot well with any trigger, but a trigger with a more predictable and cleaner break not only makes timing the shot easier, but also disturbs the firearm less at the moment it is pulled. This is where the low pull weight dogma began. The less you have to pull, the less likely you are going to disrupt the position of the firearm when it fires and more likely the shot is to hit where you were aiming when you decided to fire. This is more evident in rifles printing groups from a bench than it is with handguns floating while two arms try to stabilize it (or one arm according to the ATF). If you're looking for a way to potentially improve accuracy from the bench a better trigger can make a difference and is a heck of a lot easier to replace than a barrel. It won't compensate for a bad barrel, but it can help reduce the human factor when shooting.
To take a look at some good options check out major vendors like Bronwell's, they carry most anything. We've had good results with options from CMC Triggers, Rise Armament, and Hiperfire. If you're curious about a particular trigger we've used, or which trigger was in which gun just ask!