Why are AR trigger assemblies so expensive?


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epijunkie67
January 11, 2011, 03:49 AM
So I'm shopping around for parts to finish a stripped AR lower I have and I'm looking at trigger assemblies and wondering "What are they making these things out of? Gold?"

Sure, I get that it's an important part of the weapon. But it's also basically a couple of pieces of hardened steel with a few springs. Depending on the design you're looking at 4 or 5 small pieces of steel. How much money does it really cost a company to mass produce that?

$200? 250? 300? For a trigger assembly? Really?

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Davek1977
January 11, 2011, 03:54 AM
How much money does it really cost a company to mass produce that?

The price of production is only a small factor in determining something price point. Consider DVD's.....pennies to make, yet retail for 20 bucks.......if a company CAN sell their triggers for $250, and people buy them, does it really make sense from their view to offer the same thing at half the cost? If sales are brisk, why alter the price point? People are willing to pay top dollar for top of the line componenets, just like some people want to drive a dodge viper when a dodge neon would get them the samle place at a more cost effective point.....but again, a neon ain't a Viper, and a Timney or whatever isn't your basic trigger

R.W.Dale
January 11, 2011, 03:55 AM
You do realize that a "parts kit trigger" is about $80 with everything else

Good triggers cost $$$ as they must be held to incredibly close tolerances in order to be a "good trigger" as well as a safe trigger.

Besides bolt action aftermarket triggers aren't exactly cheap either.

Rubber_Duck
January 11, 2011, 04:24 AM
Good triggers cost $$$ as they must be held to incredibly close tolerances in order to be a "good trigger" as well as a safe trigger.

This. I paid $180 for my Geisselle SSA and it is the best thing I ever bought for my AR other then my ACOG, and together they made a dramatic difference in my shooting ability. Good triggers really are worth the money. And unlike some accessories, you will get a return on your investment each and every time you fire your rifle. So it pays to buy a decent trigger.

oerllikon
January 11, 2011, 05:38 AM
I think Dave K hit the nail on the head. I know nice mauser triggers are around 90 dollars, but im guessing the demand for ARs is much higher

dogmush
January 11, 2011, 06:54 AM
My Jard AR trigger was only about $150. and worth every penny. If you're shopping for $300 triggers you're looking in the wrong place.

Higgy
January 11, 2011, 07:09 AM
Why are AR trigger assemblies so expensive?

Because people buy them.

Why are Harley Davidson motorcycles so expensive?

Because people buy them. They are cool to own, and a status symbol, just like ARs.

Why is gas so expensive? Because we buy it. Stop buying so much and the price will go down.

JohnBT
January 11, 2011, 08:38 AM
A magazine interviewer once asked Arnold Jewell what he said to people who wanted to know why his triggers cost so much.

"They cost what they cost."

Of course, his triggers are built like fine Swiss watches, too.

kwelz
January 11, 2011, 10:02 AM
I am always amazed at questions like this. Whether it be triggers or full guns it seems like the question comes up all the time.

A trigger isn't just a couple pieces of hardened steel. It is a carefully developed machine. Here are some of the steps that went into building that trigger that costs a couple hundred dollars.

1: Research and development. is there one already made like this? it is patented? Nope. Good, how can I improve the stock design? How many failed prototypes did they do through. How many hundreds of man hours were spent getting those two pieces of steel to where they are now?

2: Materials. These are not made out of pot metal. Quality parts use quality materials.

3: Equipment costs. These are precision made machines. It requires expensive equipment to make. Even if you Sub it out you still have a lot of money tied up here.

4: Payroll. Good machinist and QC people cost money.

5: Other Overhead. Keeping the lights on, water running, etc, etc.

6: Marketing. You want people to know about your product. That means advertising and marketing.

7: You want to make a profit. So there has to be some markup built in there.


Now the more you produce the less it cost per unit. But a lot of these companies are not producing items by the 10s of thousands.

kymarkh
January 11, 2011, 10:05 AM
2 words: Liability insurance

CraigC
January 11, 2011, 11:08 AM
Good triggers cost $$$ as they must be held to incredibly close tolerances in order to be a "good trigger" as well as a safe trigger.

What he said. And if you think these guys are getting rich off this stuff, because "people buy them", think again.

Tirod
January 11, 2011, 11:25 AM
One major unrecognized component is the adjustable set screw to limit travel. All high end trigger kits include it.

I'd like to see a review of all the kits when the travel is out all the way. Then you get an idea of exactly how good that precision machining really is. Adjusted to the minimum safe travel, it's 80% less, so you get 80% less grit, too.

Add salt to that wound, a .40 cent screw does most of the work in a $150 trigger. If it's a duty or hunting rifle, don't go low spring pressure, just install the screw. I can assure you it will improve almost ANY trigger. My AGP lower came with one, unadjusted, the Stage LPK was gritty and long at best. Adjusted, it has one small bump and lets off crisply, because it simply doesn't go over all the machine marks left in the engagement.

If it's a range only competitive rifle, pony up, otherwise, don't bother. It can only help a shooter achieve the inherent precision of the barrel, and milspec is 2MOA. If your's is guaranteed better than that, fine, because the trigger maker can't - it's all about the barrel.

jmorris
January 11, 2011, 11:47 AM
Harbor freight doest sell any of them. As above the Jard is a good trigger for the money. With a little work, a few springs and a set screw you can get a decent trigger <$10.

MrCleanOK
January 11, 2011, 01:23 PM
People will buy them at that price as fast as the manufacturers can make them. Wow, economics 101.

greyling22
January 11, 2011, 02:37 PM
Tirod and jmorris are right, with a little work and a cheap screw you can improve your AR trigger a lot. I now have a crisp, mostly creepless 3.5 lb trigger without touching sear surfaces and their surface hardening.

but to answer your original question, R&D, legal CYA, production and distribution costs, warranty, profit, etc all play into it.

MrOldLude
January 11, 2011, 03:29 PM
If you just need a trigger, a DPMS lpk will include everything needed to assemble a lower for ~$60. The trigger works, but it's not great.

If you're looking for a better trigger, an RRA 2-stage trigger can be had for ~$100 if you look around. On gunbroker for example I've recently seen a couple for $98 or so shipped.

atblis
January 11, 2011, 03:45 PM
I think you'll see prices start creeping down. Too many good triggers out there.

Flintknapper
January 11, 2011, 03:45 PM
I suppose the cost can be attributed to many (or all) of the reasons already posted.

I put a Geisselle SSA in mine, and consider it to be money well spent.

wnycollector
January 11, 2011, 06:52 PM
If you're looking for a better trigger, an RRA 2-stage trigger can be had for ~$100 if you look around.

+1 on that. I have two RRA 2 stage triggers and paid ~$115 for an entire LPK with the 2 stage trigger via a seller on gunbroker.

biggameballs
January 11, 2011, 06:55 PM
Just a couple pieces of hardened steel? Try a couple pieces of hardened steel, millions of dollars of machining equiptment, leasing a building, monthly bills like electricity, paper, phones, paying employees, packaging, marketing.

Red0ak
February 8, 2011, 12:23 PM
How good is the trigger on a Bravo Company lower? Thinking about getting one.

Z-Michigan
February 8, 2011, 01:12 PM
How good is the trigger on a Bravo Company lower? Thinking about getting one.

It's probably a Stag/CMT trigger and therefore is probably like most USGI type triggers. Don't expect anything great. If you want something great, consider the Geissele SSA (or any other Geissele), which I expect BCM would be happy to install for you before they ship the lower. For less money, the $60 Spike's "battle trigger" is somewhat better than stock USGI trigger.

Dionysusigma
February 8, 2011, 07:47 PM
I have the Geissele SSA and the Spike's Battle. They are two different animals, and I like them both equally. The SSA is on my 20" with ACOG, and the Spike's is on my 16" with irons.

1858
February 8, 2011, 08:51 PM
What he said. And if you think these guys are getting rich off this stuff, because "people buy them", think again.

I have a couple of Geissele SSA triggers but ordered a Geissele DMR trigger at the SHOT show for my POF P308 (shipped today). That trigger typically sells for $279 at places like Midway. The price at the SHOT show was $215 which included shipping via UPS. I doubt that Geissele is making a loss on this special pricing. If that assumption is correct, then someone is making some money off these triggers!!

DoubleTapDrew
February 8, 2011, 11:31 PM
If you just need a trigger, a DPMS lpk will include everything needed to assemble a lower for ~$60. The trigger works, but it's not great.


The only negative thing I've heard consistently about DPMS is that their triggers are absolute garbage.
I have a RRA 2-stage on my 308 and like it. It's not an amazing match trigger but it is very good compared to the other ARs I've tried. I haven't tried any of the great aftermarket triggers but it's just hard to spend more than a complete lower costs on a trigger.

Z-Michigan
February 8, 2011, 11:35 PM
The only negative thing I've heard consistently about DPMS is that their triggers are absolute garbage.

The biggest negative I hear about DPMS LPK is that the rollpins aren't the right size, and my personal experience is consistent with that claim.

I have three DPMS triggers (possibly four, as I have an assembled lower with a mystery LPK) and I actually find their stock trigger pull at or slightly better than average, by civilian semiauto USGI trigger standards. That's not to say that I would actually recommend them, there are much better options for the same money (cough Spike's battle trigger cough) not to mention for a little more money.

Tirod
February 9, 2011, 01:05 AM
Don't forget, if it's an adjustable, which most are, the travel is limited, and if it's not creeping over 80% of all that wonderful glasslike machining, it's already better. The adjustment screw is more than half of a good trigger.

As for millions of dollars of machinery, no, obviously the financials of American manufacturing aren't well grasped somewhere. Most parts are either cast, MIM, laser, water jet, or CNC turret press punched, whatever the lowest bidder uses for the quantity to be made. That job is just one of hundreds the machine will do that month. Like Smith and Wesson, you could be turning out .38 Special cylinders next to HD transmission mainshafts. Nobody lets a million dollar machine sit idle all year to make a few thousand fancy triggers for some AR range buffs. Not happening.

Triggers are expensive because of the labor and markup, not the parts. Parts are cheap.

DBR
February 9, 2011, 02:59 AM
The best standard trigger I have is the LWRC. It is NiB coated and xray inspected. I think I paid $95 for it. It has a single stage pull of about 6#.

http://www.lwrci.com/p-39-enhanced-fire-control-group-assembly.aspx

Second best would be the Spikes Tactical "Battle Trigger" It is also NiB coated and IIRC cost $60.

http://www.spikestactical.com/new/z/lowers-lower-accessories-c-104_97.html?page=2&sort=20a&zenid=5cfeaac0974744ab8f8fe34c49f6af81

The best and most versatile trigger IMO (if you are willing to set it up) is the JP Rifles Trigger and Speed Hammer. I think it lists for around $165 (I bought mine several years ago). It can be setup as single stage or two stage with pull weights from 3 1/2# to about 5# (tactical spring set).

IMO these are all fairly priced for what you get.

Geisselle SSA is hard to beat for about $180 if you want a drop in and a two stage trigger.

madcratebuilder
February 9, 2011, 07:52 AM
Triggers are expensive because of the labor and markup, not the parts. Parts are cheap. .

+1

Labor and overhead may account for a quarter of the price. After than everyone in the distribution chain gets there fingers in the pie.

Hangingrock
February 9, 2011, 08:23 AM
If one has a CAD 3D Solid Modeling program the design development cost is rather inexpensive. That is assuming you have mechanical knowledge/ability/innovational concepts and understand the functionality of the design. CAD files are simply sent to an off shore producer for prototyping and manufacturing. Marketing use the internet extremely cost effective. Stock your item and deliver using Priority Mail Service. The selling price is what the market place allows.

alemonkey
February 9, 2011, 08:43 AM
The best stock trigger that's included in a lower parts kit is probably the Stag. It still has a little creep, but not much. Way better than a DPMS.

Tirod
February 9, 2011, 10:08 AM
Labor and overhead may account for a quarter of the price. After than everyone in the distribution chain gets there fingers in the pie.

Absolutely. Each step in the distribution chain is typically 50% markup.

From factory to distributor to retailer minimum, thats at least three times it was hit. Do the math. LPK's have more parts and retail for $50, what's even less parts made right the first time cost? After a minutes worth of slipping in springs and pins, plus a twist of the screw to preset? Snap it and call it good, in the bag and move on. I seriously doubt anyone is spending 15 minutes carefully stoning each sear, it was made right the first time. Simple high precision work using a jig and powered polishing stones.

Almost all target triggers are adjustable, the set screw costs 40c at retail and does 80% of the improvement. Just can't say that enough.

Hardening, shmardening, if you use a 2000 grit stone and knock off the high spots, adjust it appropriately with a limiting screw, and leave the springs alone, it's good to go. REAL combat weapons get less, and serve multiple tours with their assigned shooter in REAL combat.

What's the NSN for the issue high quality milspec choice of elite forces trigger? Same Joe Snuffy gets.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
February 9, 2011, 10:30 AM
Just thought I would mention this since we are talking about AR triggers. I had originally purchased two Timney 3# Skeletonized Drop-In Triggers for my AR-15 and a family member's AR.

They both went in just fine. Everything was tight about them and the way they were installed. On mine, though, I would get intermittent extremely light hammer strikes to the point of no ignition. One such time, I had the crosshairs on a coyote in some personal woods. I had my ProEar electronic ear muffs on and I suddenly heard, to my left, panting! I looked over and there was a coyote, a good size one, standing there panting - no more than 18 feet away from me! He wasn't looking at me but must have smelled my scent and just stopped in his tracks). Anyway, I slowly raised the AR with Leupold Scope and aimed so the Barnes 62g Triple Shock bullet would enter between his eyes and run full-length through him. I carefully pulled the trigger and all I got was a very faint-sounding "click".

I was dumbfounded. I was fit to be tied. I am suddenly trying to rechamber another round (trying not to move and trying to still stay quiet). Needless to say, he saw me, turned and pranced through the woods as quiet as could be. I felt like taking the gun and wrapping it around the nearest tree (unloaded, of course)!

I got to doing research and later found out that many people have had problems with the AR-15 Timney Drop-in Trigger doing the exact same thing!

I got on the phone with Timney and, even though the triggers (mine and my relative's) were going on two years old (but hardly ever shot), they looked brand new. Timney offered to take them both back in exchange for two AR-10 Triggers which have a heavier hammer. The originals were 3# and these new ones are 4# and non-skeletonized. I could care less, so long as they work for us!

I guess that coyote was meant to live many more long, healthy days!

I got over it with Timney and still think very highly of them. I do recall that the rear pin holes (.154" comes to mind) did not quite line up perfectly, thus putting just a bit of an angled pressure on the pin where it went through the trigger housing. That would be the shaft that the trigger hammer pivots on and any binding of that particular shaft would reduce the energy of the hammer falling, slowing the hammer-drop just a bit, but enough to cause intermittent misfire!

The pins I used to replace the OEM pins have a small flat screw head on each end and I ground the length of the pins to fit perfectly with the two screws on each tightened. Then, when I was certain all was satisfactory, I put just a bit of Blue Loctite on the four screws for the two pins.

Everything is fine now and I still have high regard for Timney!

Dbaggerly
February 9, 2011, 11:10 AM
Does anyone have any experience with the spikes tactical battle trigger. Would the trigger being coated in Nickel Boron make it smoother? This trigger unit is only 60 dollars compared to 150 dollars for other units.

Daniel Baggerly

atblis
February 9, 2011, 08:17 PM
I wouldn't waste my money. It is just a regular milspec trigger with a fancy coating. The geometry is the same.

Better money spent would be a Bill Springfield worked trigger.
http://triggerwork.net/ar15s.html

DBR
February 10, 2011, 02:43 AM
While I don't have one myself, Bill Springfield's trigger work has been criticized by some lately for not holding up well. Don't believe me. Do a search on the M4carbine or Ar15 forums.

The Spike's Battle Trigger is a bargain at $60. It is a better than average quality military style trigger with about a 5.5-6# single stage pull. After a few dozen break-in cycles it is very smooth. I have two of them.

madcratebuilder
February 10, 2011, 09:41 AM
While I don't have one myself, Bill Springfield's trigger work has been criticized by some lately for not holding up well. Don't believe me. Do a search on the M4carbine or Ar15 forums.

The Spike's Battle Trigger is a bargain at $60. It is a better than average quality military style trigger with about a 5.5-6# single stage pull. After a few dozen break-in cycles it is very smooth. I have two of them.
The wear problems with Springfield's triggers is not the trigger job but the FCG parts he is sent. There are still some makers that do a poor heat treatment and removing just a few thousandth of metal gets past the surface hardening. The better FCG's well have a surface hardening of .020-.030 or more. You can polish a turd but it's still a turd.

When I do a AR FCG I well treat all parts in Kasenit when finished.

There is no mil-spec AR15 FCG. There are several variations in design, some better than others. Tirod's advise on light honing and a set screw is the best advise for the vast majority of AR shooters.

kwelz
February 10, 2011, 11:34 AM
The wear problems with Springfield's triggers is not the trigger job but the FCG parts he is sent.

Given the number of complaints I have head about him recently I am not sure this is accurate. From what I hear he is screwing up everything from ARs to HKs.

atblis
February 10, 2011, 01:26 PM
Given the number of complaints I have head about him recently I am not sure this is accurate. From what I hear he is screwing up everything from ARs to HKs.
I've seen the recent reviews. Not sure what's going on. Some people are reporting issues, while others give rave reviews.

I bought a Geissele match trigger. I don't regret it, but $279 is hard to stomach for multiple ARs. Even though I really like the trigger, I'll be exploring other options for my other guns.

Quick Karl
February 10, 2011, 01:35 PM
For the same reason EVERYTHING in America is over-priced -- Donald Trump syndrome.

A guy makes a part and thinks he's entitles to travel by limousine and you pay for it based on fraud marketing strategies designed to mislead you into believing you have something that took voodoo and the voice of God to create...

Andrew Wyatt
February 10, 2011, 01:45 PM
Add salt to that wound, a .40 cent screw does most of the work in a $150 trigger. If it's a duty or hunting rifle, don't go low spring pressure, just install the screw.

That is a fantastic way to lose a game animal or get yourself killed.

Overtravel screws will work their way out and will tie up the gun. there is no may about it.

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