When the Trigger Not Only Breaks, But is Completely Broken

A rocket in my (shoulder) pocket

Getting back on track, the old trigger, which was a Rock River 2 stage that I bought back in about ’08 or so just broke. Here’s a photo:

Broken RR

I was just going about my business shooting a drill for a scope test when it felt like I had some strange malfunction. There was no first stage to the trigger and it was sufficiently heavy that it felt ‘dead’, so I figured I must have had a double feed or something. I was interested in seeing what malfunction I might have encountered, because so far the gun has run nearly perfectly (I’ve had one failure to lock back which I think was caused by a particular mag and two instances in which I didn’t work the charging handle properly). That is a long-winded way of saying that instead of clearing the malfunction I stopped to investigate, this being an experimental test gun (space plane) and all. I found that the rifle would in fact fire, but that the hammer would not stay cocked for the next round. Opening the rifle up showed my that there seemed to be an ‘extra’ piece of metal in with the fire control.

I had expected this. In those times (pre-Geissele?), the Rock River trigger was the thing, and a specially tuned one was supposed to be even better. Mine was not specially tuned, but stock. In my research I found that it was not unheard of for them to break, and in time everyone was getting Geisseles if they wanted a nice AR trigger that wouldn’t break.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch Choices

I thought it would be easy to pick a new trigger, but Geissele makes about a thousand varieties. I had tried the SSA (Super Semi Auto) before and frankly, it didn’t feel like it broke as cleanly as the Rock River. The Geissele triggers I have tried all felt like they had a bit of a rolling break in dry fire, but it can be difficult to tell if that roll is before or after the hammer is released. Interestingly, the trigger pull on the SSA I tried was the same total weight as the Rock River, at about 4.5 pounds, but it felt lighter. I found that it’s because they put more of the total weight on the first stage, whereas the Rock River had a light first stage and a very distinct and crisp second stage.

This would be a good time to point out that it seems I’ve become some sort of trigger aficionado. I can now detect the undertones of fruit and chocolate with a peppery finish. The trigger finger is perhaps overly sensitive, which is to say it is spoiled.

trigger aficionado

There were a few factors that influenced my choice in a new trigger. The first is the FN’s re-worked trigger. It’s about 2.25 pounds. The Remington I shoot is just over 3 pounds. What I have found is that the lighter trigger really does help me shoot better, and all the other people who have said that before I found came to that conclusion were maybe not all just whiners and gear snobs (notice I didn’t say that definitively- I still have to leave room for that possibility).

When I got my FN back it just seemed like when I saw what I wanted to see in my scope, the rifle would ‘go’. There are times with the Remington where it seems like I see what I want to see, begin pressing, and I lose it before the trigger breaks. Or, have you ever felt like you’ve been holding at the bottom of your breath for just a little too long? I don’t like that. Coincidentally I have felt like that many times with the Rock River trigger.

I had my choice narrowed down to either the SSA-E, which is a lighter version of the standard semi auto Geissele, the flat version of that trigger (the name escapes me at the moment), or the 3 gun trigger, which I still find very interesting. People rave about the flat triggers, but I am fine with bowed triggers, and I really didn’t want to alter the distance from grip to trigger, which at the moment I find to be OPTIMUM with the BCM Gunfighter grip. Therefore I got the SSA-E from Joe Bob’s Outfitters (Joe Bob dun saved me $20). I have to say that they were the only ones that had them in stock, the price was great, and the shipping was fast. It got me back on track with my scope testing ASAP.

All the creep is on the left hand side…

What I noticed right away with the trigger was “HOLY CRAP THAT’S LIGHT!!!”. It was actually a little disconcerting. The weight is as advertised at about 3.5 pounds, but most of that is in the first stage. Even after several weeks with it I still have a tendency when I’m shooting quickly to blow right through the second stage. That has some implications. One is that I need to be on target and not just prepping the trigger on the way to the target. Two, I like it (which is not an implication, but rather an oversimplified expression of an opinion).

Once I learned how to stop at the second stage (by being very careful and deliberate) I found that there was some creep prior to the break. It was almost indiscernible, and, I’m not joking or making this up, but it seemed to be on the left hand side. Don’t ask me why I think that. It’s just the trigger connoisseur in me. Also, after about 260 live fire rounds and a few hundred dry fire reps the creep is gone.

Mash that thang!!!

Being able to blow right through the second stage of the trigger is an interesting experience. I have been aware for some time of Rob Leatham’s technique of intentionally “trigger slapping”. I read more about that recently in a magazine interview. What I find interesting about that is that he is pretty much at the top of the heap in what he does, it works for him, and it’s exactly opposite of the conventional wisdom (as was his stance and grip 30 years ago [remember the Weaver stance?]).

I would describe this technique and the feeling of it as “aggressive trigger work”. It goes something like this: “I know I’m not going to flinch. I know I’m not going to disturb the sight picture with my trigger press. The target is relatively close and/or big. The point of aim is currently well within the ‘hit zone’. The shot goes NOW!!!” Having the confidence to allow that decision to happen and be aware of it in relatively instantaneous real time was, as Kevin Costner might put it, neat.

This trigger did throw a slight wrench in the works in terms of the validity of my scope testing. I’ll explain later. Thanks for reading.




2 thoughts on “When the Trigger Not Only Breaks, But is Completely Broken

  1. You have progressed far young Skywalker, too far. You must learn to control the great Force of your light finger, lest you destroy all good firearms that you touch.

    • Ah. So that’s the story on the RR trigger. My curiosity is now satisfied.
      You do get to liking ‘good’ triggers once you experience them. It’s hard to go backward once you’ve gone forward.

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