Trigger Pulls: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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I recently posted an article evaluating the Beretta ARX-100 rifle, and the feature that I feel was most detrimental to the shooting experience was the trigger, which actually maxed out a trigger pull gauge. My friend CJ is serious about distance shooting, reloading, and is quite handy when it comes to trigger work and as such he has a gauge.

On measuring the pull of the ARX-100, most attempts resulted in a max:

IMG-3710

However we did manage to get it to read once after several times at 11 pounds, 8 ounces:

IMG-3711

After this experience, I thought it might be reasonable and prudent to put many other rifles (including two Beretta products) to the test that I feel are comparable in at least one category to the ARX-100.

For testing, I dug pretty deep into the safe. I will also note that none of these have had any trigger work on them. All have completely stock triggers:

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A set of testing parameters were established:

  1. The same gauge used in the review would be used on all rifles
  2. Three attempts would be made on all rifles
  3. The median of the three tests would be collected as data

The rifles were placed with their stocks on a flat surface and all tested by my business partner Patrick while I photographed the rifles (he has no vested interest in any rifle performing better than any other).

Anyways, on with some results.

I felt starting with the previous Italian service rifle was appropriate; the tried and true Beretta AR70:

IMG_7457

Which did much better than the ARX-100’s 11 pounds, 8 ounces:

IMG_7463

Next up was a Daewoo K1A1, Korea’s AR15.

IMG_7464 IMG_7465

Then the Israeli Tavor:

IMG_7468 IMG_7471

A new, unfired Colt M4:

IMG_7472 IMG_7477

A select fire M16A1:

IMG_7480 IMG_7485

A Rock River Arms AR15 with their 2-stage trigger:

IMG_7487 IMG_7489

An HK MR556A1:

IMG_7491 IMG_7493

A select-fire HK33:

IMG_7494

IMG_7499

8 pounds, 2 ounces

An FN FNC:

IMG_7501 IMG_7504

A Ruger Mini 14:

IMG_7505 IMG_7511

New AUG A3:

IMG_7512 IMG_7514

FS2000:

IMG_7517 IMG_7519

Sig 556:

IMG_7522 IMG_7525

Masterpiece Arms MPAR:

IMG_7528 IMG_7533

Bushmaster ACR:

IMG_7536 IMG_7540

FN SCAR 16s:

IMG_7544 IMG_7549

Arsenal AK74 (SGL-31):

IMG_7551 IMG_7555

Valmet M76:

IMG_7559 IMG_7561

Israeli Galil 392:

IMG_7562 IMG_7565

H&K G36 (SL8 trigger group):

IMG_7567 IMG_7571

Beretta CX4 Storm:

IMG_7573 IMG_7577

Armalite AR180:

IMG_7579 IMG_7581

Bushmaster M17s:

IMG_7583 IMG_7585

Robinson M96:

IMG_7586 IMG_7589

Benelli MR1:

IMG_7591 IMG_7592

 

So with that we have a final pool of all data, arranged from the gun with the lightest trigger pull to the heaviest:

Gun Pounds, Ounces Ounces Pounds
Valmet M76 3, 2.5 50.5 3.15625
Sig 556 3, 14.1 62.1 3.88125
Rock River 3, 14.9 62.9 3.93125
HK MR556 4, 14.4 78.4 4.9
Mini 14 5, 2 82 5.125
Benelli MR1 5, 12 92 5.75
G36/SL8 5, 14.5 94.5 5.90625
MPAR 6, 0 96 6
Galil 392 6, 1.5 97.5 6.09375
Robinson M96 6, 4 100 6.25
Daewoo 6, 8.5 104.5 6.53125
M4 Carbine 6, 8.5 104.5 6.53125
AK74 6, 8.5 104.5 6.53125
Bushmaster M17s 6, 12 108 6.75
M16A1 6, 14 110 6.875
AR180 6, 15 111 6.9375
SCAR 7, 0.5 112.5 7.03125
AR70 7, 2 114 7.125
ACR 7, 7 119 7.4375
CX4 Storm 7, 11 123 7.6875
FNC 7, 12.5 124.5 7.78125
HK33 8, 2 130 8.125
FS2000 9, 0 144 9
AUG 9, 3 147 9.1875
Tavor 9, 7 151 9.4375

 

And this fancy graph should help as well:

graph

This experiment was eye opening to me, and I hope that this data is pertinent to you choosing your next rifle!



Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • Bob

    I have an NYPD issue Glock 19 that can beat that ARX100…we have a 12lb trigger pull =(

    • Patrick R

      Gross.

    • Seburo

      How did that happen? Pistols should have a lower trigger pull. Unless they wanted to market to cyborgs.

      • Buddy_Bizarre

        Apparently, after a spate of negligent discharges (booger hook on bang switch) NY decided that their new pistols should have trigger pulls as heavy as their old double action revolvers. Cheaper than training I suppose.

  • Tierlieb

    “Next up was a Daewoo K1A1, Korea’s AR15.” – not every direct impingement gun is an AR15 πŸ˜‰

    • When you open one up you can see similarities everywhere.

      • Ge

        Can you start doing reviews of those rifles? Seriously… not everyone has a Daewoo or a Valmet. You’ve got serious gems there sir!

  • To Tin Fung

    your collection makes me soooo jealous.

  • superior

    Valmet masterrace

    • That gun really surprised us when we tested it. Well done Finland, well done.

      • iksnilol

        Is it possible to get a Valmet trigger for other AKs? Or are there any aftermarket triggers that are that light for the AK?

        • Zachary marrs

          There is the tapco g2. Im not that trigger sensitive, so I couldn’t tell you if it’s lighter or not

          • iksnilol

            I don’t really care too much about weight, consistency is the name of the game IMO (though a light trigger is nice).

          • Zachary marrs

            Timeny triggers is apparently trying to make a ak trigger

        • Devil_Doc

          The G2 is far, far better than stock. Best $30 you’ll ever spend on an AK….

          • Ge

            Yeah, but it’s a bit light for my liking. The pull is just so consistent and smooth, it surprised me the first few times i fired it. Not to say it isn’t good, but just wish it were a bit heavier

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            Agreed. I have the TAPCO G2 triggers with Krebs Custom trigger pin retaining plates in a MOLOT VEPR-12 shotgun, MOLOT VEPR 7.62mm x 54R Tactical Sniper Rifle and a Waffen Werks AK-74. The feel and pull weight are perfectly balanced for my needs, and there is no hint of creep or over-travel. TAPCO made this trigger group light and crisp enough to satisfy the need for precise trigger feedback without sacrificing sufficient dampening for hard field use. The G2 trigger group may be TAPCO’s single greatest achievement to date in the aftermarket accessory field, in addition to their heavy-duty polymer AK magazines.

          • dp

            They seem to miss your favoured vz.58. From my experience it is on light side – maybe at around 4 lbs. And it has quite short travel too.

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            Hi, DP :

            Nice to hear from you. You’re pretty much in the ball park about the vz.58’s trigger. Mine tests at a little over 5 pounds after break-in. If I remember correctly, you used the vz.58 extensively when you were in the service and know the weapon intimately.

          • I couldn’t agree more.

          • Guido FL

            All my AK’s except for the Vepr have the Tapco G2’s which after minor polishing and ramp rework are just plain awesome. Sadly my AR trigger plainly sucks but am in the process of reworking it or total replacement.

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            Hi, Guido FL :

            Could you keep us posted on your progress with your AR’s trigger ( especially if you choose to go the DIY / polishing route )? This could be pretty useful for other readers here on TFB if you choose to share it.

            Thanks in advance and best of luck!

          • Guido FL

            Thanks. One of the troubles with the AR trigger is the spring. Getting a spring that is strong enough to fire every time is a challenge. The rework continues but I see a complete FCG replacement in the future.

        • Scorpy

          A friend of mine has a Valmet civilian trigger group in his Arsenal. Prior to that, he had a Sako military trigger group inside. So, yeah, they should be interchangeable.

      • Kivaari

        I do regret selling all my Valmet and Galil rifles. They were all really good rifles.

    • n0truscotsman

      I second that. All hail House Valmet.

  • Mystick

    I think the chart would have sufficed… without a mile of pics.

    • For this article I needed the photographic proof.

      • SGT Fish

        i think you did an outstanding job, especially for doing it with just what you had on hand

      • Mystick

        Fair enough.

    • Patrick R

      Just say thank you for the great article instead of whining about how many photos were taken.

    • FourString

      Do you have just as terrible internet as I do? Lol

  • Tim U

    Great collection, and lots of good data here. Just more confirmation that the ARX is doomed to failure with that horrifying trigger. I tried a tavor trigger recently and found it way too heavy for my tastes. There is no way I would consider something even heavier yet.

    • Patrick R

      If they made some changes to the ARX it would be a fine rifle, but until then it wouldn’t be my first choice.

  • Harrison Jones

    I know it’s subjective but It’d be interesting to see trigger characteristics besides weight of the pull. Granted it’s a sample of one but my buddy’s SCAR has a horrible pull. LOTS of creep. Weight seems similar to mil spec AR triggers but not as crisp. I wonder how the other rifle fair.

    • Patrick R

      The amount of time that we would have had to spend describing every trigger would have taken us into sun up. Just getting the weight testing took us much longer than expected.

  • Y-man

    Great collection! Good tests.

  • eric

    If jewel started making bench grade triggers for semiautos I’d cream myself

  • ValleyForge77

    Gotta love Rock River. For a mid-range, stock trigger – RRA sure does kick butt.

    Oh and man, that collection is off the hook! Good data. That was very informative. Thanks!

  • Phil Hsueh

    Great job and very informative. What I found really interesting was how all of the bullpups with the exception of the Bushmaster M17 had relatively heavy, at 9lbs, trigger pulls as compared to the 6 – 7 lbs of most of the other rifles.

  • claymore

    Real nice job on this. I really like articles like this one and the results chart was perfect and easy to compare results between firearms. Boy that Robinson M96 sure looked like a stoner.

    • joe

      Gee, I wonder why.
      πŸ˜‰

  • Zachary marrs

    Dont lie, you just want to show off your collection.

    • This represents a small fraction of my collection. If I wanted to show it off I would.

      • Mack

        I don’t think we would mind you showing off a little gun porn. SO i will request a picture of your entire collection, that way it isn’t showing off when its on request.

        • This is not me being pompous or trying to brag, but it would 5 or 6 hours to stage that photo.

          • Y-man

            True dat!

          • Neeko

            better get started then. πŸ™‚

          • Patrick R

            I ain’t helping.

          • Mack

            Well thats no fun, i find it interesting which each person has in their collection, you might have something that i didn’t know i wanted until i saw it then i found out i needed it! πŸ™‚

          • To Tin Fung

            Please! Photo of the week, show us your entire collection in one shot! πŸ˜€

      • Y-man

        I can testify to that! Proud to have touched [And shot] some of them!

        • How many of these guns(the ones in the article) are select/full auto fire? If you don’t mind me asking.

          • Many.
            But I have 23 fully automatic firearms in total.

      • USMC03Vet

        Please do.

        POTD.

      • Yellow Devil

        I can imagine, since at least one of those rifles was listed as “unfired”.

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Very informative and interesting comparison — many, thanks, Alex and CJ.

    I know that the rifles you tested were only representative of the much broader spectrum of such available weapons, but it would have been nice to include the vz.58 7.62mm rifle. The stock triggers on both my D-Technik / CSA vz.58’s are the nicest triggers I have ever come across on a military-type rifle, breaking very cleanly and evenly at 5.5 and 5.6 pounds respectively with no hint of over-travel or creep — light enough to provide good sensitivity and feedback, but also heavy enough to prevent twitchiness under severe field conditions.

    • Ge

      lol, is that a hint to buy more guns??? πŸ˜‰

      • Patrick R

        We have several VZ 58 rifles to choose from if needed.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        You hit the nail on the head — it’s really hard to resist adding more guns to the inventory! πŸ™‚

    • Patrick R

      There was a VZ 58 a few feet from where Alex and myself were testing the pulls. I don’t know why we didn’t think to include it.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        That’s okay :). I know that you both had a great deal of work on your hands just to get the testing and documentation done on the representative rifles that were picked for this article. I really appreciate the time and effort you have put into this, and thanks very much once again.

  • hami

    I am surprised the G36 didn’t do better. Did you replace any FCG parts with US made components? If i remember correctly i replaced both the trigger and the sear on mine, for 922r compliance, and noticed a decrease in trigger pull quality as compared to a stock SL8.

  • Most interesting to me, is how the AK-74 and the M4 have the exact same trigger pull weight. Literally the exact same.

    • Ge

      The devil is in the details. The AK trigger and AR trigger feel very, very different. Hard to explain AKs feel ‘glidy’ like while stock ARs are a bit mushy

      • Ah, that makes sense. Numbers ultimately don’t explain everything indeed. Thanks for the clarification.

    • It is an arsenal AK with a g2 trigger (factory from them). Real military select fire AK triggers are much different.

      • Are the select-fire ones heavier? I’m actually pretty curious about this.

        • Maybe an ounce or two heavier.

  • DW

    Mini 14 ranked 5th while being the cheapest of the bunch. Well done Ruger.

    • Cymond

      Now that I think about it, it would be interesting to see measurements taken from Mini-14 rifles from different eras. I wonder if they’re gotten heavier. A lot of older gun owners claim that firearms used to have much lighter triggers, but that modern triggers are “designed by lawyers”.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        Cymond, that’s a really interesting point that might provide much material for further discussion. You just reminded me of a similar concern that was brought up by a friend who is a police officer and a neighbor concerning the same exact subject — overly-heavy trigger pull in more recent model S & W pistols and revolvers vis-a-vis the older but otherwise identical versions of the same that they were used to.

  • Seburo

    So it’s not unusual for European guns to have a trigger pull between 7 & 9 pounds.

    Also the HK33 gauge picture has more lens flare then a JJ Abrams film.

  • Graham1

    “I had to dig pretty deep in the safe.”

    *Looks at picture*

    Wut

  • Lance

    In other words again…. Bullpups SUCK!!!!!!! Best guns again M-16/M-4 K1A1 and Mini-14.

    • My Tavor with the Timney trigger is great. 4 pounds crisp. You couldn’t ask for better. My AR/M4 is also great with a Geissele SSA-E works like no other AR trigger I’ve tried. In other words it doesn’t have to be one gun there are many good ones.

  • Digby

    There seems to be an assumption among many readers here that the lighter trigger is better on a battle rife. One could make a good argument that in cold weather, or with gloved hands, a trigger in the 5-7 pound range would be better than one in the 3-4 pound range. Also, has anyone researched change in trigger weight with round count (break in)? It would also be interesting to test the differences in triggers between rifles of the same type (production variability). We should not assume this list accurately represents the average for the type.

    • Patrick R

      The majority (read that as almost all) of the readers aren’t going to be going into battle with these rifles. Well, unless you consider the war on paper to be a battle.

  • USMC03Vet

    Do you need help shooting all of those rifles?

    I’ll work for peanuts!

  • Ckh88

    How in the world did you get those imported lol. Never seen an RK stateside.

    • There are tons of them here. They were the first AK variant imported into the US for sale to civilians.

  • O Valmet! My Valmet!

  • Alex Nicolin

    There’s absolutely no excuse for a non-bullpup gun having a trigger heavier than 4 lbs.

    • iksnilol

      Yes there is, a light trigger isn’t necessarily good.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        Well said. A well-balanced trigger is far more functional and user-friendly than one that merely has a light pull, or which is exceedingly sensitive. Creep, over-travel, smoothness, reset range, crispness at the break point and consistency are all part of the equation. If the weapon in question is intended for hard, all-weather field use or military service, a sensitive trigger is not desirable and a little more dampening ( heavier pull weight ) for the trigger is actually preferable.

  • Man pippy

    I will add that the Aug trigger is very large and takes up more surface area on the finger, than a traditional hook trigger. This makes the trigger seem lighter than it’s measurement would indicate.

  • St. Bernardnot

    I love my mini-14. No idea what the trigger pull is. It’s very smooth & just feels right.

  • dp

    Centre being at about 6.5 lbs makes sense. This corresponds to average rifle weight.

  • Hank Seiter

    Hmmm, my ARX100 has a 7 lb. trigger … and it’s clean and consistent. Produces nice double-taps. Maybe I got lucky.
    I have a pretty decent collection of “black rifles”, but nothing like yours!

  • janklow

    so jealous of that safe, though at least i can take pride in having an M76 in mine.

    • As you should. Fantastic guns!

  • muttdad

    Noticed the bullpups had high trigger pulls. But thats because of the design, along linkage between trigger and fire control group.

  • FourString

    Valmet, Daewoo K1A1, G36, and Galil! Nice collection!!!!

  • Jeff

    I fired a NZDF AUG many years and still remember the hideous trigger. Just awful.

  • Dchil

    The Styers (AUG) always had a bitch of a trigger on them.

    • Scott

      As do most bullpups I believe.

  • hANNABONE

    …and that’s why I have 2 RRA’s chambered in 5.56…

  • AnthonyS

    So when is the pistol test? And do I need to bring over some of mine?