AR-15 Trigger Types: How To Pick Your AR-15 Trigger?

An AR-15 trigger is the physical lever you pull to fire a round. Many different parts ensure a trigger functions normally, and swapping out these parts creates different types of triggers for different shooting scenarios and use cases.

In addition to trigger types, you also get single and two-stage triggers, which target the trigger pull aspect of the trigger system. You might feel that the trigger pull is insignificant, but it can mean the difference between life and death in some situations. Upgrading your trigger system also improves your accuracy, and in this article, we explain exactly how it can improve your accuracy as well.

Step Description
1 Determine your budget for the AR-15 trigger, keeping in mind that triggers come in various price ranges.
2 Identify the primary purpose of your AR-15 (e.g., target shooting, competition, home defense) to guide trigger selection.
3 Research the different types of AR-15 triggers, such as single-stage, two-stage, and adjustable triggers, to understand their characteristics.
4 Consider the pull weight of the trigger, choosing one that aligns with your preferences and shooting application.
5 Evaluate the reset characteristics of the trigger, as a short and crisp reset can enhance rapid-fire capabilities.
6 Read reviews and gather user feedback on different AR-15 triggers to understand real-world performance and reliability.
7 Check compatibility with your AR-15 platform, ensuring the trigger is suitable for your specific model.
8 Consider the ease of installation, especially if you plan to install the trigger yourself.
9 Review the warranty and customer support provided by the manufacturer, ensuring long-term satisfaction with your purchase.
10 Visit a local gun store or shooting range to try out different triggers hands-on, if possible, before making a final decision.
11 Make your purchase, install the chosen AR-15 trigger following the manufacturer’s instructions, and conduct function checks to ensure proper operation.

What Is An AR-15 Trigger?

An AR-15 trigger is the part you pull to release a round, essentially firing the weapon. Yet, it’s so much more than just a simple mechanism. Various parts form part of an AR-15 trigger, each influencing the AR-15’s performance, accuracy, and usability.

AR-15 Triggers

What Are The Different Parts Of An AR-15 Trigger?

When we look at the anatomy of an AR-15 trigger assembly, we notice six main parts:

  • Trigger: This is the actual lever you pull with your finger. It comes in different shapes, such as a curved trigger, flat trigger, etc.
  • Hammer: The hammer strikes the firing pin to initiate the burning process of the cartridge’s gunpowder.
  • Disconnector: This piece ensures semi-automatic firing.
  • Trigger Springs: Controls the trigger’s resistance. The best AR-15s normally have an adjustable pull weight, so a gunsmith can adjust it to have a lighter trigger pull weight or heavier.
  • Hammer Spring: This piece powers the hammer’s strike.
  • Trigger Pins: These pins hold the other components in place within your AR15s lower receiver.

This is the anatomy of a standard AR-15 trigger. However, some parts, such as the shape of the trigger, vary with the type of AR-15 trigger you have.

3 Main Types Of AR-15 Triggers

Here is a list of the three main AR15 trigger types you get.

  1. Mil-Spec Triggers For AR-15
  2. Cassette Triggers For AR-15
  3. Other Types Of AR-15 Triggers

Different AR-15 Triggers

1. Mil-Spec Triggers For AR-15

The standard mil-spec trigger is the most common trigger you get. They usually come with stock AR-15s. While they are reliable, I am not a huge fan of them. They tend to have grittier trigger pull weights, which is not advised for precision shooting.

2. Cassette Triggers For AR-15

Cassette triggers, or drop-in triggers, come pre-assembled and are commonly seen as an upgrade over Mil-Spec triggers. They definitely have a smoother pull and a cleaner trigger reset than their Mil-Spec counterparts. I mostly use a drop-in trigger on my hunting and varminting AR-15s.

3. Other Types Of AR-15 Triggers

Aside from the two types mentioned above, you also get various specialty triggers designed for specific applications. For instance, binary triggers fire a round when pulled and another when released – creating an almost machine gun type of experience.

Ultimately, the type of trigger you should use will depend on your use case. Also, most of these models will benefit from AR-15 Trigger Jobs as well!

Which Type Of AR-15 Trigger Should You Use?

As mentioned, the type of AR trigger you should use depends on your use case. A Mil-Spec is the cheapest and best for general use, such as self-defense and range shooting.

In comparison, Cassette triggers are ideal for precision shooting, such as hunting, varminting, and competition shooting. Finally, specialty triggers are for unique applications, like the binary trigger for rapid-fire.

AR15 Trigger Types

What Is The Best Binary Trigger For An AR-15?

The best binary trigger is the Franklin Armory BFSIII AR-C1. I tested a lot of binary triggers – some are great for general use, others are great for creating a machine gun experience, while the Franklin excels in all these areas. This binary trigger is durable and features a comfortable and elegant design. It’s priced fairly reasonably, and who better to buy a binary trigger from than from the inventors of the trigger type – Franklin Armory?

What Is The Difference Between A Single Stage vs Two Stage Trigger?

The main difference between these two triggers is the pull weight. A single-stage trigger has one consistent pull weight until the gun fires. In comparison, the two-stage system features an initial slack or “take-up,” followed by a separate heavier pull to fire.

Each trigger system has its own use case, and therefore, it is important you identify your use case before buying a new trigger system.

Who Should Use Single-Stage Triggers?

Single-stage triggers are ideal for those who need to take quick, straightforward action. Use cases include competitive shooting, close-quarters combat, and self-defense.

Who Should Use Two-Stage Triggers?

If you’re a hunter or do a lot of precision shooting, a two-stage trigger should be your go-to option. These triggers allow a grace period if you want to reconsider the shot – something that is crucial in both hunting and precision shooting.

What Other AR-15 Modifications Can Improve Performance?

The AR-15 has a plethora of modification options. If you think of a part that might be upgradeable, chances are there is one that exists! The most common AR-15 modifications I usually make to my AR-15s include barrel upgrades – I either extend the barrel length, get a muzzle device, or swap out the barrel for one with different rifling.

In addition to barrel upgrades, you can also add optics and sights to your AR-15. Red dot sights are great for close-range encounters, and magnified optics are ideal for hunting and precision shooting. There are also upgrades for stocks and grips, allowing you to improve the handling and maneuverability of your weapon.

But one of my favorite upgrades has to be swapping out the lower receiver group. Doing so allows you to take your accuracy from, for instance, 85% to 95% – upgrading your lower receiver gives you that nudge you need to take your accuracy to the next level.

How Does Upgrading AR-15 Lower Receiver Groups Improve Accuracy?

As you may or may not know, the trigger assembly is housed in the lower receiver. Therefore, when you upgrade your AR-15 lower receiver to include a better trigger system, you can improve your trigger pull, reset, and overall consistency. All these improvements contribute to enhancing your accuracy.

Remember, it’s not about taking your accuracy from 50% to 80% (some triggers can do this if your old trigger is really bad) – you have scopes and barrel improvements for that. Upgrading your lower receiver allows for that 5% jump in accuracy – it’s for taking your accuracy from great to excellent.

Is The Trigger A Part Of The Lower Receiver Group?

Yes, the trigger is one of the AR-15 parts that is housed in the lower receiver group. Therefore, if you want to replace your trigger system, you’ll need to have and provide a valid firearm license to the dealer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do AR-15 triggers play a significant role in firearm accuracy?

Yes, as I outlined in the article, if your trigger is not of good quality, replacing it with a better one can improve your control and consistency - two elements vital for firearm accuracy.

Is it possible to modify the trigger mechanism of an AR-15?

Yes, you can modify your trigger mechanism. There are a multitude of aftermarket triggers you can choose from to upgrade your AR-15.

Which type of AR-15 trigger offers the smoothest trigger pull?

Cassette-style triggers offer the smoothest pull. This is because you can customize them to exactly fit your needs and shooting style; this includes optimizing the pull weight and pull feel.

The Bottom Line

There are many types of AR-15 triggers out there. Choosing the right AR-15 trigger is crucial for both your shooting accuracy and overall experience. Remember, Mil-Spec triggers are great for casual shooting, but if you really want to improve your shooting performance, you should opt for a Cassette trigger – they offer a smoother trigger pull and a more comfortable feel to your trigger finger. As always, assess your needs carefully, and consult professionals and experienced users to make an informed decision.

About the author

Patrick Howard

I have been working as a gunsmith for 20 years. Rain, fog, moisture, high temperature, or even snow are all the things a product must withstand in order to be recommended by me.

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