How My Rifle’s Trigger Likes to be Worked

I wrote a long article early on in the blog about trigger control.  The rifle I was using then had a superb feeling trigger.  It was one of those glass rod type things, I would say just under 3 lbs.  The trigger on my current rifle, the FN PBR-XP is about 3.5 lbs with a bit of pre travel.  Some might call it creep.  It demands that I have good trigger discipline and will not accept anything less than what it wants.

Here’s what seems to work the best, the best being I see no reticle movement as the trigger breaks during dry fire.

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The second joint is as close to 90° as I can get it.  The first joint is relaxed.  This seems to result in a pretty good technique for the Glock as well.

Here is a photo without the rifle in the way:

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The camera angle makes it look like I’m right on the fingertip, but I tend to stay in roughly the center of the pad.

This is what I’ve been trying for on all my rifles for a while now.  Since trigger control is one of those major components of marksmanship, I will compromise other things to make it just right.  In a perfect world in which the government supplied everyone with a special rifle fitted exactly to their body, we wouldn’t have to make any compromises.  As it sits now, only the privileged 1% can afford to have such a special rifle.  Perhaps if the poor could reduce the size of their flatscreens from 60” to 50” and sacrifice just one marinated steak per month, we could get our rifles fitted.

In lieu of a fitted rifle, here is what I do instead:

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I use my fingers to stand my grip off the pistol grip sufficiently to make the trigger technique work like it should.  I’m sure it creates its own issues, but the problem it solves is more significant in my opinion.

I’m still working on my trigger work.  I believe it’s one of those things you can never be complacent with.

Thank you for reading.  Now go and shoot.

See you in 2013!

17 thoughts on “How My Rifle’s Trigger Likes to be Worked

  1. You are onto something here, Rifleslinger.
    I think this is how trigger management needs to be taught.
    Start out with finger placement on the trigger, then how that individual has to place his hand on the stock to maintain that finger placement.
    I have big paws, none of my rifles allow me to utilize the pistol grip by just wrapping my hand around it.

  2. Yah! Really like the sound of this! So different to my rather haphazard approach of placing my trigger finger ‘best I can’ after wrapping the grip with my palm, thumb and other fingers.

    In dry-fire (with an SMLE) good advantage was apparent right off the bat – it seems that this ‘right-angle’ finger technique is much more conducive to the ‘surprise break’, something that still does not come easily to this shooter. Exciting stuff then.

    A question which comes directly to mind, not having had much of a go at it yet, is, do you foresee any ‘repetitive strain’ issues – it seems like an ‘un-natural’ position for the trigger finger to be held in while also being called upon to execute a very controlled press (though, it may quickly come to feel perfectly natural given a little practice).

    Just thoughts at this stage as really I must put a bit of time in myself – but as always interested to hear your reasoning.

    cheers and thanks!

  3. RS,

    I set my finger up the same way on my bolt guns…which means that none of my guns are held quite the same way. I’m pretty frustrated with bolt gun stocks, and vastly prefer AR ergonomics for this and other reasons.

    • I agree that the AR with a MOE grip pretty much puts the finger there with no effort. The frustrating thing is that it wouldn’t be hard to design a stock that would be good on a sporting rifle and put the finger in the right spot. Something like a McMillan Baker Special, which is a rounded pistol grip that begins in line with the length of the stock and curves down to vertical.

      The grip on the TRG is more vertical than even an AR grip, but it’s just a little too far back, maybe an eighth to a quarter inch, but it still works pretty well.

      I think that the Manners T or T3 could be pretty close, but I’ve never done more than ogle them on the computer screen, so I can’t say for sure.

    • I have the MCS-T on a 700. Not great. I find the Micky HTG to be reasonable, and look forward to trying the Micky scout in a couple of weeks. I may just switch to a 6.8spc AR as my all around gun…

  4. I have spent many hours on match rifle stock fit and a lot of that time was on the grip angle and shape to allow the trigger pull to be straight back without having to do anything special as far as grip. That is a much harder thing to get right on a rifle that will be fired from more than one position. I got a chance to play with a new 10-22 target rifle today and my first thought while shooting off hand was how I was going to modify the grip so I could get a repeatable trigger pull. For me it seems just removing some material to keep the second and third joints of the trigger finger from “dragging” on the grip will do the trick. I always thought the McGee style ATC stock was perfect. Maybe this link will work,
    Still haven’t tried the new sling yet, I may change the sling swivels on the new 10-22 to posts and test it on that. The weather won’t cooperate for hunting anyway.
    Happy new year!

  5. 1. I also do something very similar on non-pistol-grip stocks like you are doing in the picture. I find it critical to have the index finger and wrist at a 90 degree angle to the trigger, so this sometimes means gripping the stock at weird angles. It kind of depends on the shooting positions as well, my prone grip is a little different from standing, etc. But over time, as with anything, that grip comes to feel natural. I work with those hand-grippers exercisers to develop good strength and endurance in my hands…so even I’m sort of hanging on with finger tips I’ve got a good hold.

    2. I find that with a heavier trigger, be it a rifle or revolver, there is nothing wrong with pulling the trigger with the first joint or even below the first joint of the trigger finger. I have read many top shooters do this, and some even criticize using the pad for various reasons. With a really light trigger I use the pad. But the bottom line is, as you point out, everyone’s hand is different so trial and error is key to figure out what works for you with that particular gun. In scandanavia a lot of shooters work their bolt with the index finger and are actually pulling the trigger with the middle finger.

    3. By far a pistol grip stock or similar design makes life so much easier. A more economical approach to a Tubb Gun (T2K) is Gary Eliseo’s stocks which take a variety of actions, most commonly though the R700. Not quite as adjustable as the T2K but close. They take standard AR style grips, but you can get a wood one and add bondo or other putty until you get it perfect for your hand if you can’t find an after-market grip that gets it done. I have an Eliseo stock with a used wood grip made by Doan Trevor, really happy with it. I basically just had a gunsmith throw my existing barreled R700 into it, he just has to swap out the recoil lug with a sort of disk that comes with the stock.

  6. What RS describes is the best general way to position the hand/finger in relationship to the trigger. Probably most of us on here aren’t able to afford a specially fitted stock, so we necessarily have to adapt to what we have. I’ll bet most of us have more than one rifle. My bolt rifle requires a bit different approach than my lever actions. The AR style pistol grip requires a different adaptation than the M1 or M1A. I keep the manner of addressing the trigger with the finger (on the pad) as consistent as possible and rotate my hand on the grip (according to grip type) so that I can maintain it. I have small hands and stubby fingers, so none of this works perfectly with differing types, but it does keep trigger control similar enough to have workable consistency.
    In my dry practice sessions I utilize a number of drills, but I always finish up with about 10 pulls just to be sure I am positively reinforcing proper trigger manipulation and follow through.

    Happy New Year

  7. One more thing…rubbery tennis racket grip tape from walmart (actually pink!) has proven an excellent way to help with my grip on the K98, gives my finger tips a little extra to bite into since to accommodate my ideal trigger pull the stock is not deep in my palm. Also absorbs moisture/sweat on a hot day, and just overall feels better. Yeah it’s pink, but it works!

    If I had not already put a piece of moleskin on the comb, I would try wrapping the entire comb in the rubbery grip tape too for a more comfortable cheek weld and a little bit of recoil dampening.

  8. I would like to pick your brain to evaluate from your perspective the technique I have employed for my big hands so that I don’t get too much finger stuffed inside the trigger guard and put lateral pressures on the trigger. I BUILD A PALM SWELL. I have made them of auto putty on my synthetic stocks and I have glued and screwed and shaped wood onto my wood stocks.
    In addition to pulling my finger back out of the way ; I feel I have lessened the total perceived recoil impulse by taking some of it in the heel of my hand.
    Critique that please. You can’t hurt my “feelings”; I’m an old pilot and we critique each flight…you get thick skinned.

    • I have a friend named Mark Davis- great guy, great shooter. He’s also a big guy with big hands. I know that he has gone a little crazy with bondo a few times. If Mark is doing it, it might be slightly crazy but it just might be crazy enough to work.

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