AR-15: single stage vs. two stage trigger

by Erik  

If you look for an aftermarket AR-15 trigger, you'll notice more variations than wrist watches. There are many different makes and models all claiming they are better than the next. One decision to make is if you want a single stage or 2 stage trigger.

There is a fundamental difference between the them. Most stock AR-15 triggers are two stage triggers. Meaning, there are two different "stages" before the weapon actually fires. The term stage refers the to small amount of movement by the trigger itself.

The first stage occurs when your finger makes contact with the trigger and take takes up the "mush" or "slack." Experienced shooters are used to doing this with nearly every weapon as most have 2 stages triggers.

The second stage is much shorter. There is less distance for the trigger to travel before actually breaking the shot. This stage has no slack at all and is usually very light and crisp on high-end triggers.

In contrast, the single stage trigger has no first stage, just a second. This means you have a stiff pull usually harder than the 2nd stage of a 2 stage trigger.

So what is the advantage of a single stage trigger then? A single stage trigger will feel very similar to anyone used to shooting single action revolvers. It mimics a single action revolver trigger in the fact that is has a very short amount of travel and a it feels "harder" than a 2 stage.

So what is the difference between a high-end and cheap 2 stage trigger? Low-cost or OEM 2 stage triggers are usually associated with "sloppy take-up" and inconsistent pull weights. High-end triggers are designed and manufactured to reduce or elimnate these problems. While it may be hard to justify the $200+ price tag you will be surprised how much better a high-end trigger really is.

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