June 02, 2020
By Tom Beckstrand
What started out as a couple of young Canadian hunters bummed out about a poorly crafted crossbow trigger has spawned a company that in just seven short years has become a force not only in bowhunting but also in the firearms’ trigger market. So much so that when you talk precision triggers, you better include TriggerTech.
The company was started by Greg Daniac and Mats Lipowski who, not unlike entrepreneurs before them, wanted something better.
Pulling inspiration from their experience in the automotive industry, specifically door latches and releases, the two realized there was a better way than sliding friction to handle trigger/sear engagement in a trigger. They opted for rolling friction, a revolutionary idea that can now be seen in firearms ranging from M700s to the AR-15s.
All About Friction
What was true seven years ago, and is still today, just about every trigger on the market relies on sliding friction to function. This arrangement mandates a portion of the trigger overlap a portion of the sear. Pulling on the trigger slides the trigger off the sear, releasing the hammer to strike the firing pin.
The simple fact that the trigger and sear overlap and slide across each other means there will be creep. Minimizing creep is a game of experimenting with how little engagement there can be while still remaining safe.
Another trick with AR-15 triggers is to place a reduced-power hammer spring in the trigger assembly. This decreases the tension between the trigger and sear and allows the two parts to slide across each other more easily. However, a reduced-power hammer spring in an AR-15 causes an increase in vertical stringing because it doesn’t hit the primer hard enough to get the most positive ignition. TriggerTech has figured out solutions to each of these problems with their rolling-trigger design.
Bryden Richardson, TriggerTech’s chief operations officer, describes the trigger as an uncaptured, free-floating roller that sits between the trigger and sear. It sounds so simple, but it means so much in terms of performance.
Rolling friction is the key to consistent, light and creep-less trigger letoff. Instead of two surfaces sliding across each other, a roller sits motionless until it releases. Once released, there is a fraction of the resistance when a round object rolls versus two flat surfaces sliding.
Another technology that exists in each AR trigger is the company’s TKR, an intermediary part that resets the sear without requiring excess trigger movement. Once the trigger and sear separate, they eventually have to come back together. Historically, this means the trigger moves before the two reconnect, but the TKR moves the sear with just a tiny amount of trigger movement. This unique component gives each TriggerTech trigger a short reset. If a shooter wants to burn a magazine quickly, the TKR helps make that happen.
Next up in the cool trigger innovation category is the CLKR that comes in each TriggerTech product. The CLKR is a screw and detent that clicks as the user adjusts pull weight. This makes it easy to keep track of how much the owner adjusts the trigger. One can simply count clicks to keep track of the pull weight. This is an efficient way to adjust a trigger instead of the usual “turn the screw a bit and check” method.
TriggerTech also makes the click adjustments variable. Each click at the low end of the pull weight makes a small change letoff, and each click at the heavy end of the pull weight makes a more pronounced change.
Take their Diamond trigger, for example. The low end is at 4 ounces, and the first eight clicks move the weight up to 5 ounces. At that rate, pull weight would max out at about 10 ounces. Instead, each click adds weight progressively so that the last eight clicks take the pull weight from 1 to 2 pounds.
Hammers & Springs
AR triggers are a tough animal to tame. Part of the problem is the mechanics of the rifle itself. The AR’s hammer, once released, makes a huge sweeping arc until it collides with the firing pin/bolt carrier. This is the moment where precision matters most, and it’s the same moment the rifle sends two large pieces of metal crashing into each other. Dry-fire an AR with a scope and watch how much that collision makes the scope’s reticle hop.
One of the best ways to minimize how much the reticle hops around in dry-fire (which means groups will get smaller when shooting for real) is to pay attention to the hammer shape of any trigger you select. Hammers that place most of the mass far away from the hammer pin (the ones that look like an actual claw hammer) have the most problems.
Placing most of the mass far away from the hammer pin gives these triggers lots of inertia, and that’s bad for reticle disturbance because objects in motion want to stay in motion. The best triggers for an accurate AR either pull some of the mass back to the hammer’s midpoint or make the entire hammer flat. This keeps the same amount of force applied to the firing pin but diminishes reticle disturbance.
TriggerTech’s AR triggers all use a flat hammer shape, and that alone makes them a better choice than most triggers if accuracy is a consideration. The flat hammer does a much better job of disturbing the reticle less when dry-fired, and that makes a noticeable impact on group sizes.
Another feature TriggerTech uses on their AR triggers is a stouter hammer spring that delivers a stronger blow to the primer than a standard hammer spring. Since TriggerTech’s product uses rolling friction instead of sliding friction, the extra-power hammer spring doesn’t impact trigger pull weight in an AR.
The necessity of a full-power hammer spring cannot be understated, and it’s not just to make sure the cartridge in the chamber fires when struck. The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) has known for a couple decades that an AR needs a full-power hammer spring to get the best groups possible out of the rifle. Positive ignition yields smaller vertical dispersion at 300 yards and beyond. Mark Gordon of Short Action Customs has done copious amounts of testing to document this principle.
TriggerTech has managed to combine the ideal hammer shape with a more-than-full-power hammer spring and still keep trigger pull weights down to 1.5 pounds in an AR. That makes two engineering feats to improve accuracy of the AR-15 while simultaneously offering the lightest trigger pull of which I’m aware.
Putting all this accuracy-enhancing performance into a trigger that has such a crisp and low pull weight may sound like a bad idea from a durability perspective, but nothing could be further from the truth.
TriggerTech designed their trigger for durability from the beginning and has done extensive and abusive testing to make sure their product holds up. One of the best features is the noncaptured roller that sits between the trigger and sear. Since it is only subject to rolling friction, it experiences much less wear than any sliding-friction components.
Sliding-friction triggers and components wear over time. How quickly they wear is a function of materials chosen for the trigger and how those materials were handled during the heat-treat process. A good quality sliding-friction trigger should last for 30,000 rounds.
TriggerTech’s rolling-friction design wears at a much slower rate. They’ve done extensive testing in-house and even took one trigger to 500,000 cycles with no detectable change in trigger pull characteristics. Not only does the roller design ensure the trigger has zero creep, it also lasts much longer than its competitors.
TriggerTech’s hammer spring also experienced increased durability through better design. They use a flat-wire spring that allows them to get more coils into the spring, which gives it increased striking power. Spreading the load across so many coils also means the spring doesn’t have to work as hard to do it.
Most AR hammer springs weaken over time and can use replacement every 15,000 rounds. Those same standard springs, if never replaced, will develop problems at about the 30,000-round mark.
TriggerTech cycled one of their flat-wire springs over 700,000 times before it broke. Even if replaced at the spring’s half-life, that’s still more rounds than almost all of us will shoot in a lifetime.
Case for Cassettes
All of TriggerTech’s triggers are of cassette-type (or single-unit) design and drop into any AR lower. The trigger pin and hammer pin then hold the unit in place. They use the cassette trigger because of the irregularities in AR lower receivers. Since there is some variation in trigger- and hammer-pin hole location on almost every AR lower receiver, constructing a one-piece, drop-in trigger unit fixes that.
All of their AR triggers are also two-stage triggers. Since they use a roller to release the trigger, there is no way to “slide” through the first stage like traditional sliding-friction triggers. Thus, the first stage in these triggers moves an internal safety out of the way that allows the trigger to release during the second stage.
TriggerTech also uses all stainless steel construction on their trigger internals. This gives each trigger maximum corrosion resistance
There are four AR trigger models that boast zero creep. Two models, the Combat AR and Competitive AR have fixed pull weights at 5.5 and 3.5 pounds, respectively. The Adaptable AR Primary trigger has an adjustable pull weight between 2.5 and 5 pounds. The AR Diamond has an adjustable pull weight of 1.5 to 4 pounds.
If you really want to change how your AR handles, drop in one of TriggerTech’s AR safety selectors. Instead of a spring-loaded detent dragging along the safety’s cylinder, TriggerTech put a tiny silicone nitride ball on the nose so that it could roll instead of drag. Next, they coated the safety cylinder in Diamond Like Carbon coating (DLC), letting the ball tip roll across it like wet ice on ice. I don’t know of anyone who has gone to this extreme to make a safety rotate so precisely.
Any AR enthusiast will be well-served by a TriggerTech trigger. They bring a lot of new technology to an otherwise traditional segment of the AR market and have gained a reputation as top performers.
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