What Makes A Hunting Rifle Trigger Great?

What Makes A Hunting Rifle Trigger Great? This article examines an area of the hunter’s setup that has gone unnoticed. You will learn:

  • Terms
  • What is most important when analyzing your current setup
  • Pull Weights
  • Top Pull Gauges
  • New Tech and Venable Trigger Companies

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Advancement In Trigger Technology

Referenced Shot Show 2020

Before technology took a firm hold of the hunting and firearm’s industry, manufactures and experts concentrated on stocks, barrels, scope tubes, and powder.

In the modern era reticles, trajectories, and bullet drop are part of the conversation. Every bolt and part has undergone a technological transformation.

Many consider the Winchester Model 70 to be one of the best trigger mechanisms ever made. It featured only three moving parts and gunsmiths had little to no trouble making adjustments.

There is an over-travel adjustment screw and a pull weight adjustment screw, and that is all. Set the mechanism once, and the hunter can use the Winchester trigger for life without further change.


Basic Action Of A Bolt Gun Trigger

Referenced Triggertech

The following article will highlight the emergence of hunting triggers and their impact on accuracy. If you are buying a rifle to replace the trigger, make sure the rifle allows the change, many do not!

The second decision is the trigger pull. Some hunters like the trigger to break at 2 ½ pounds, some will use nothing less than a 3- pound break.

Army and Marine Corp rifles are set at a minimum of 3 pounds and a maximum of a 5-pound break.

“firearms are generally discharged in one of two ways: either via a hammer or via a spring-loaded striker. A hammer is a chunk of metal with three basic components: a pivot point, a sear, and a striking face. When the hammer is cocked, it is held in place by a sear that engages a terminal point on the trigger. The hammer—and often the trigger—is held in place by spring tension. To fire the firearm, the trigger is usually pulled by the index finger of the shooting hand; it overcomes the spring tension holding it in place, disengages the sear, thus freeing the hammer to pivot under its own spring tension and strike a firing pin that strikes the primer and fires the gun.”

American Rifleman

Trigger Terms You Need To Know

Pull weight

The amount of weight that must be used to make the trigger fire

Blade

the portion of the trigger exposed from the rifle stock. Historically, the blade is curved to mimic the contour of the trigger finger. This fundamental feature has changed to a flat surface blade. The thinking here is a flat blade reduces the feel of the trigger and thus takes less pressure to fire.

Traditional Curved > Pro Curved > Flat Straight

Takeup

This term describes the distance a trigger must move before the maximum force is needed to fire the rifle. Takeup is usually considered a safety feature.

Creep

Trigger movement under the maximum pressure is called creep, and this movement is not an agreeable thing to have. Creep causes inconsistent firing and bad shots.

Hair Trigger

This action is described as a light pull weight

Trigger break

The point at which the trigger disengages with the sear mechanism.

Over-travel

A detectable movement of the trigger after it disengages. Every trigger action has some over-travel. The movement affects accuracy because over-travel induces movement of the rifle before firing.

Stop is a mechanical feature, usually a screw, which prevents over-travel. Stops are more prevalent in a pistol rather than a rifle.

Trigger Shoe

It is an accessory added to a blade that gives the impression of a lighter trigger.

Set Trigger

for those hunters who want extreme precision should consider a set trigger. These triggers come in two types, single and double.

The single set trigger, the shooter presses the blade forward until he hears a click. The trigger is ready to fire and usually requires about 2 oz of pressure.

The double set has two trigger blades, and the back blade sets the action for the front blade.


What Characteristics Make A Great Hunting Trigger?

Referenced Paul Nelson Farm

Hunting triggers are coming into their own. There are several areas of a rifle the hunter interfaces with on any typical hunt. Manufacturers have, at long last, discovered; no part is more critical to success than the hunter’s last decision, Trigger Pull.

A great trigger should have a sweet spot. There should be no grinding or binding throughout the entire trigger pull process. Another feature of a great hunting trigger, it should have a minimum of over-travel.

Rearward movement of the trigger at the point when the sear mechanism was released is termed over-travel. If there is a lot of over-travel to your trigger, including a heavy pull weight is a recipe for lousy accuracy.


Trigger Control

If your hunting trigger is not pulled correctly, it will throw the entire process out of balance. There are times when a shot is pulled to the left or right, yet the rifle has been accurately zeroed.

The culprit is Trigger Control. It is usually the action of the hunter not pulling the trigger correctly or has poor follow-through.

Aftermarket triggers attempt to improve on this issue by adding resistance to the trigger pull process. Hunters must realize the importance of trigger control to produce an accurate shot.

The shooter must exert smooth even pressure through the pull without producing a jerking motion.

The NRA considers the proper action of trigger control for all experience levels. Move the trigger straight to the rear and fire the rifle without disturbing aim.

Whether it is an original mechanism or a third party, a trigger should provide the exact amount of pull weight to release the sear every single time.

Consistency is what makes a great hunting trigger. The fact that you never know it is there should be the standard in your setup. A great trigger is never distracting even if more weight is added.

If conditions change or the temperature goes to extremes, this should mean nothing to a quality trigger. A trigger is great if you never notice the action.


Pull Weight Is Critical To Success

Referenced NRL

Elite shooters must trust the action of the trigger. When it is time to take the shot, the trigger should go through its firing process without causing additional vibrations.

The trigger should have the exact same pull weight as the shot before it. Experienced hunters know how to properly pull a trigger when their game is in the crosshairs.

An excellent trigger lets the hunter adjust to a comfortable pull weight. Triggers from the factory come pre-set for 2 to 5 pounds of pull weight. As a rule of thumb, trigger pull should be half the weight of the rifle without a scope.

Should the pull weight be lighter or on the heavy side? Again, the answer to this question depends on the skill of the shooter, setup, and intended game.

The less work a trigger must go through, the lighter the action. Bolt action rifles, shotguns, and single-action pistols have light trigger pulls because the trigger has only one job, strike the firing pin.

Referenced TriggerTech

Double action revolvers and semi-autos will have heavier pulls because the trigger must cock the hammer, then strike the firing pin.

Heavier trigger weights require more effort from the shooter. The effort may be miniscule; however, It is there none the less. A heavy trigger requires the hunter to exert more energy from the fingers, hand, and forearm.

A lot of experienced hunters consider anything less than a 3-pound pull weight just asking for trouble. Hands are cold, excitement, or you are wearing gloves, and the rifle goes off before you are ready.

Some good hunters and their big-game rifles have weights set to 5 pounds and heavier.

Great triggers allow the hunter to set the weight at a moments notice. Standard and poorly designed triggers can not hold for weights below 3. Great aftermarket triggers will let the hunter hold weights down to less than 2 ounces.


Breakdown of pull action by weight:

  • 1.5 to 5 pounds: hunting rifles and shotguns fall into this category. It should stabilize scoped rifles on target with a creep free trigger action. Long-range rifles will be at the lower end of this scale from 1.5 to 3 pounds pulls
  • 5 to 8 pounds: Shotguns and some hunting rifles belong to this segment. Rifles dominated this category a few years ago. However, in recent times manufacturers have improved and lightened factory triggers. Medium weight triggers do not hinder accuracy if the hunter is shooting quickly.
  • 8 pounds plus: this weight class is solely for double-action revolvers and semi-autos. Defensive weapons need a heavy pull weight.

Precision hunters have always considered low pull weights to be best suited for long-range hunting applications. Low trigger pressure allows the forearm to relax and maintain a straight line of sight on target.

Follow-up shots become more relaxed with less pull weight.

The fundamental argument for heavier pressure is safety, with accidental fires eliminated. A majority of police departments require their officers to maintain at least a 10 to 12- pound trigger pull on their carry weapons.

If you are interested in replacing the trigger mechanism or you are curious about the process, a trigger pull gauge is a must-have tool.


Best Trigger Upgrades & Accessories

Referenced goHunt

These tools make you an accurate shooter. The tool should be exact, comfortable, and durable. The pull gauge should have the strength to pull any trigger.

Here are 3 of the best pull gauges on the market:

Trigger pull gauges are relatively simple devices taking only one measurement. The shooter cocks the weapon and fastens the hook end to the trigger.

The shooter then pulls the gauge backward until the trigger fires. The gauge reads how much force is needed to release the trigger.

A method developed in 1937 and still used today is a simple technique and can be used on the hunt. Add weight to the trigger until it fires.

Throughout this article, we have mentioned third party vendors that supply triggers for hunting applications.

Two of the best companies are Triggertech and TimneyTriggers.

Referenced PRB

Timney Trigger

TimneyTriggers has been in business since 1946, so when they suggest a trigger or give advice, it is wise to listen to anything this company has to say.

  • TimneyTriggers is a legend in the industry, not just for triggers, but hunting as well. Their lifetime warranties and Made in the USA are what the company was built upon. After 70 years, the company has built a stellar line up of products. Every type of trigger is represented from target and pistol to hunting, and competition triggers are produced.
  • The Remington 7 Calvin Elite Right Hand, Adjustable Shoe trigger is a true drop-in trigger for precise control and accuracy. The Remington can be adjusted for an 8 ounce to a 2.5-pound pull weight for the elite hunter feel. Factory calibrated or fully adjustable for over-travel. Adjustable shoe for any pull weight, cast or height.

Trigger Tech

Referenced TriggerTech
  • TriggerTech is all about technology and pushing the limits. Their friction release technology creates the smoothest action of any commercially available trigger. FRT allows the company to build a perfect release point in every one of their triggers.
  • Just released is the Weatherby Mark V Trigger with pull weights from 1 to 5 pounds available. The triggers will feature a curved or flat lever. The company is using its patented Dynamic Over-travel technology to get away from trigger over-travel. The trigger also features zero creep technology to get away from zero friction triggers.

Conclusion

This is a great time to be part of the hunting industry, after years of watching manufacturers build the foundation critical technologies of accuracy, performance, and durability laid in wait.

Hunting triggers is an excellent example of technology having a firm grip on hunters and hunting. TimneyTriggers has been building a quality product quietly for over 70 years, and the company is finally getting the recognition it solely deserves.

There is no doubt dozens of similar companies and technologies in the same circumstance dotted across the country.

Every single area of the hunting process is being analyzed and redone to exacting specifications. No longer is 500 yards considered long distance. Soon, 1000 yards and longer will be commonplace, if it isn’t already.

If you like to shoot AR style rifles, we’ve reviewed multiple triggers best for AR15 on our site that you can check out.

Greg Brown

Bachelor of Business Admin from The University of Georgia Worked as a firearm professional with COLT under the custom gun shop department for 11 years Rich experience with firearm trade, hunting, and accessories