Upgrading to an aftermarket trigger is the most common modification made to a precision rifle. They are used to enhance the rifle’s performance by reducing trigger pull weight, reduce pre-travel, etc. However, these enhancements are not necessarily appropriate for all applications.
Proper trigger control is pressing the trigger straight to rear without disturbing your sight alignment and sight picture. Any slapping, jerking, pulling or pushing to one side will result in inconsistent shot placement or a miss. If that is the case, you are asking why would you not want an aftermarket trigger?
Let’s discuss the basics.
There are two types of triggers, a single stage and two stage. Single stage triggers do not have pre-travel or what others refer to as “slack”. Simply apply the appropriate rearward pressure and the rifle fires. Two stage triggers do. This means that it will travel a few degrees before it gets to the “wall”. Continually apply pressure pass the “wall” and the rifle fires.
The required amount of pressure to fire the rifle is called “the pull weight”. Typical pull weights range from around 2 pounds to around 4 pounds but can be as low as around 1 pound. These adjustments can be made directly from the factory or user adjusted via adjustment screw.
Manufacturers produce curved and flat faced trigger shoes. The trigger shoe is the portion your trigger finger applies pressure to. The shape generally has nothing to do with its function but geared more towards how the trigger feels to the shooter.
Breaking it down “Barney Style”
Understand that the intended application for your rifle has a direct correlation with whether an aftermarket trigger is right for you and if so, in what configuration.
If we look at single stage versus two stage, based on the description we covered, you can see that two stage triggers have a slightly longer pull than a single stage. This slightly longer pull could lead into a greater chance of error in your trigger press during certain circumstances. On the other hand, this pre-travel can provide you with a buffer specially during shoot or no shoot scenarios.
Light trigger pull weights are appropriate for target shooting like bench rest and some competitive shooting. Heavier trigger pull weights are good for circumstances where you may have reduced tactile feel on your fingers. For example, when it is cold or when you are wearing gloves.
Understand that the lighter the trigger pull weight is, the more unsafe the rifle becomes. Very light trigger pull weights increases the chance of an accidental or negligent discharge. There are documented instances that hard manipulation of the bolt has caused rifles to fire due to extremely low trigger pull weights.
In regards to a curved versus straight trigger shoe, this is mostly personal preference. Some may find that a curved trigger shoe allows for a more consistent trigger finger placement. However, some shooters find that a straight trigger shoe is more consistent specially when they are employing a trigger press technique in which their thumbs are on the same side as their trigger finger instead of wrapping it around the stock.
As you can see, it is not as clear cut as it seems. There are a lot of factors to consider. Factors that we did not cover are cost, durability and reliability. My advice is to do research and carefully analyze what is your rifle’s intended purpose. Are you a competitive shooter, hobbyist, hunter or do you use a precision rifle for work? An uber high end light weight trigger is not suited for back country hunting. In the same token, a heavy gritty stock trigger is not ideal for a high level competitive shooter.
Good luck and feel free to ask questions on the comment section.
Be consistent, be deliberate, be precise,