Optimum trigger weight?


December 30, 2002, 04:31 PM
Hey all, just thought I'd throw this out to see what everyone thought... I just got a trigger pull scale for Christmas (:D) and after measuring most of my rifles, discovered the following:

My lightest pull was on a .308 Rem 700 @ 2-1/4 pounds
Next lightest was my "tuned" Rem 700 .308 @ 3-1/2 pounds
Rem 531(?) .22LR - the one I thought I needed trigger work on - was around 6 pounds
AR-10 was 7-1/2 to 8 pounds
Two AR-15's were right at 8 pounds

Question 1: is the 2-1/4 pound pull to light to be safe? I've never had a slam fire...FWIW.

Question 2: does anyone else try to get all of their rifles to have the same (or similar) trigger pull weight?

Question 3: could the heavier trigger weights be adversely effecting my groups? For example: I can't get my .22LR to group worth a darn even at 25 yards, but I can get 1-2 MOA groups (@ 100 yards) with both my AR-15s and ~ 1 MOA with my AR-10 even though they all have such heavy triggers. What gives here?

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December 30, 2002, 04:53 PM
I have a 40XR I use for 22 silhouette that has a 2oz trigger. Takes some getting used to though.

December 30, 2002, 05:30 PM
I'll have to agree with Mas Ayoob on this one and say that I don't feel a superlight pull is as important as a supersmooth pull. Half the trouble I've experienced can be attributed to a gritty, jerky, uneven pull. Give me a pull that feels like snot on glass, and my groups are tighter.

Also, the face of the trigger is critical. Checkering or serrating grab the fingerpad and allow you to pull the weapon to the side. This is bad for group size. As soon as I went to a smooth trigger face, group size shrank dramatically. It was unbelievable!

And if you shoot all of your rifles often, you might find that the dissimilarities are having a negative affect on your performance. Beware the man with just one gun....

Sleeping Dog
December 30, 2002, 06:56 PM
I use a caveman trigger scale. I use some coat hanger wire to hang a milk carton from the trigger, then fill it with water 'til the trigger fires. Then weigh the hanger and carton.

My lightest is a Mossberg M44 .22LR with an 8 oz trigger. My heaviest is another Mossberg M44 with a 9 lb trigger. My AR15 has a 4.7 lb trigger (2-stage). The M1 has a 5 lb trigger.

The best shooter is a Swedish Mauser with a 7 lb trigger. But the AR15 is a close second.

The "hair trigger" Mossberg is a very nice shooter too.

I'd guess the clean trigger break and long sight radius is worth more than just a light trigger pull.


December 30, 2002, 11:32 PM
My (HV) benchrest rifle has a Jewell trigger that I've set to break at 2 oz. I'd not want a hunting rifle with a single stage trigger that broke at less than 2¾ lbs, nor a two stage trigger that broke at less than 4½ lbs: about a 3 lb first stage followed by a 1½ lb second stage works well for me.

Pistol triggers can be too light for most applications. The old Hämmerli M105's had a 5 lever trigger that you had to be careful with. Really careful. The drill was to adjust the trigger so that the simple act of gently raising the pistol wouldn't cause it to discharge. The pull that resulted was about 0.15 oz. Today's Hämmerli free pistols can be set as light as 0.35 oz, many shooters adjust the trigger so that considerably more resistance is dialed in. For a target pistol for any other use I'm satisfied to live with 3½-4 lbs, for a pistol to be used for self defense I really prefer to live with a nice smooth 7-9 lb d.a. pull.


Standing Wolf
December 31, 2002, 11:09 AM
The sweetest rifle trigger I've ever pulled was a set trigger on a Brno .22 K Hornet. Once set, the trigger broke at four ounces. I'm sorry to report the rifle didn't belong to me, nor was I able to persuade the owner to sell it to me.

December 31, 2002, 02:33 PM
My Tikka Continental 595 breaks at 3oz, it's easily the most accurate rifle I own. Mine is the .308 version. The next guns on the list are my 10/22's, they're about 1.5#.

December 31, 2002, 03:16 PM
mpthole, the 2 1/4 pound trigger is safe as long as you know to keep your finger off it until you are ready to shoot, and it does not "jar off".

To check for jar off, make sure the rifle is unloaded, this is very important, because it may very well discharge if it is.

After having made doubly sure that the piece is unloaded, cock the weapon and slam the butt firmly onto the floor, keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

If the firing mechanism functions, something is wrong somewhere.

If it does not function, it is safe, if you are.

I myself prefer "telepathic " triggers.

Nero Steptoe
January 2, 2003, 01:41 PM
I wouldn't put too much stock in Ayoob's opinions regarding rifle trigger pull weight. Go to benchrest.com or varminthunters.com and ask the same questions of folks who know something about rifles. 2.5#-3# is fine for hunting, given the safety recommendations already posted. I prefer 3#-4# on my pistols, Ayoob's opinions notwithstanding.

You'll improve the groups with your AR's if you'll install better triggers.

January 2, 2003, 02:01 PM
Thanks for all the helpful suggestions - especially for the method to test the safety of it (11xray). VaughnT - excellent points as well. Never considered the checkered vs. smooth aspects before.

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