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AR15 Trigger Upgrades – Is it Worth Doing a Trigger Job on My AR?

Your AR15 trigger needs to be 100% reliable and consistent if you want to shoot accurately.

In fact, if you're trying to improve the accuracy of your rifle, a trigger upgrade is the best place to start.

The best triggers will "break" without any warning - this increases accuracy because you cannot flinch to anticipate the recoil of the shot. Also, if you are not thinking about the trigger break, it means you have greater focus on the task at hand and makes you a better operator.

A good trigger doesn't have to be pulled back a long way before it "breaks" and fires a shot. This very short travel prevents application of excessive force which can lead to inaccurate shots fired. The short travel also means that resetting for a next shot is quicker so you can put more accurate rounds downrange.

Single Stage vs. Dual Stage Triggers
  • Dual-stage triggers have 2 different stages when pulling the trigger - usually the first stage has a stronger trigger pull, followed by an intermediate area of travel with slight resistance (stage 2), followed by trigger break. Basically the trigger has a section of gentle resistance before it "breaks".
  • Single stage triggers have no intermediate area - you just pull until the trigger "breaks"
  • This choice really comes down to personal preference, but many people believe that dual stage is better for long range accuracy, and single stage is better for close-quarters or fast firing, because it resets more quickly
Trigger Pull Weight

The desired trigger pull weight truly depends on the application. For competitive shooting, you may want to go with a "match grade" trigger that has very light trigger pull, but for uses like close-quarters combat it's better to go with an all-around trigger with a little more pull weight. Why is this? Because a lighter trigger is easier to accidentally fire, especially in stressful situations or while moving. 

  • Trigger Pull measures how many pounds of force have to be applied to pull the trigger. The higher the number, the harder it is to pull the trigger
  • Lighter trigger pull can result in more accuracy (you don't have to try as hard to pull the trigger), but it can also result in accidental discharges if you aren't careful. Light triggers are often referred to as "match triggers" because they are typically used for competitive shooting matches, or long distance shooting.
  • Typical trigger pull is between 3 to 6 pounds. Around 4 pounds is the best choice for a multi-purpose rifle setup, or you can go lighter for a match-grade trigger
Curved vs flat triggers

Most triggers have a curved area that fits your finger, but on some triggers it's flat. This is personal preference - some people swear by flat triggers, some like curved. It's up to you.

Ease of install

While changing to a new trigger is beneficial, not all triggers are made the same and the kits they come in can be simple or complicated. When you get a trigger upgrade, try to find a "drop-in" kit - they can be installed in minutes. You don't want a kit with loose parts working with the tiny trigger springs will drive you nuts.

Lower Receiver Type - Small pin vs Large pin Lowers

The type of receiver will dictate the trigger type. The VAST majority AR-15 receivers are "small pin" receivers (this is mil-spec), but some older Colt AR's are "large pin" receivers. This refers to the size of the FRONT takedown pin hole. If you have any question, just measure the front takedown pin hole. If it's .25", then you have a small pin receiver. .315" is the large pin. (Note: AT3 Tactical only carries small-pin triggers because the large-pin receivers are so rare these days)

AT3 Tactical Recommendations: The Best Triggers for Your AR15

Below are our trigger recommendations based on trigger type. You can't go wrong with any of these products, it just depends what you're looking for!
Best Combat Trigger for All-Around Use: The Geissele SSA (Super Semi Automatic)

We recommend Geissele SSA for all-around use on an AR, as well as combat applications. It is a 2-stage trigger with a 4.5# pull weight, which means that it is light enough to shoot accurately, but heavy enough to prevent accidental discharge.

This trigger is the semi-automatic civilian version of the legendary Geissele SSF trigger that is used extensively in the U.S. Special Operations community. 

Geissele makes some of the best triggers on the market - their manufacturing and quality control is second to none.


Best Overall Value in a Trigger: The Geissle G2S Trigger

The Geissele G2S is the best bargain you will find (about 25% lower cost than the SSA). The great thing is - it's basically the same trigger! The main differences are a different pin set, and no laser engraving. Sure - there are some cheaper triggers out there, but they tend to be more like the "stock" triggers that you want to replace. Considering how great the G2S trigger is, we consider it the best value for an AR trigger upgrade.




Best Single Stage Match Trigger - CMC Triggers Single Stage Match Trigger

CMC Triggers Single Stage Match Trigger is a great trigger for quick, accurate shooting, especially for competitive shooting competitions like 3-gun. Why is this? For one - it's a single stage trigger with a quick reset, making followup shots a breeze. Also, it has a light 3.5-4# pull. Last, CMC makes some of the most durable triggers on the market, which is great if you're firing a lot of rounds.

Added bonus - this CMC Trigger Group is a 100% drop-in fire control upgrade so it couldn't be easier to install.


Best Dual Stage Match Trigger - The Geissele SSA-E Trigger

Another Geissele makes the list! (we told you these were great triggers!). The Geissele SSA-E is essentially a modified version of the SSA trigger, with reduced trigger pull. This makes it an excellent match trigger - easy pull and quick reset. This trigger is also commonly used in sniper applications where accuracy and reliability are an absolute must.




One Last Tip

If there's anyone that knows the AR-15 platform, it's the US military. As a special offer for our readers, you can get the Official US Army Manual for AR-15/M4/M16 right now – for free. Click here to snag a copy.
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July 14, 2014

I purchased a Geissele G2S trigger. I’m a novice shooter and was told by my rangemaster that upgrading my trigger would tighten my groups. He was right, I noticed a difference the first time I used it. Instead of antisapating my trigger break while aiming, my trigger breaks so smooth and crisp that I can’t tell when it’s going to break which allows me to concentrate on keeping my scope on target. I also purchased an ALG trigger for another build that cost less than $50 and is probably all I needed to begin with for what I do. Live and learn…

Don Gross

October 25, 2014

The flat CMG trigger is hands down the most efficient and controllable trigger for the money. The flat face provides more leverage than the curved face, which actually makes the pull weight feel a bit lighter than the curved face trigger which uses the same internal parts.I have a couple of each and this is the only trigger that I will use on my builds now. Clean, crisp break, with no pre travel. I use the three and a half pound pull weight and have yet to get a premature or accidental discharge out of a CMG trigger, over a year and a half after purchasing my first. Superb product at an excellent value. CMG functionality dominates triggers doubling it’s price.


July 03, 2015

Has anyone considered the hiperfire 24c. Installed on my m400, she feels like a different rifle. Best trigger I’ve tried.


January 17, 2016

A JP Enterprises spring set for about $10.00 and about 1 hours work polishing and greasing the parts, can provide you with a single stage, 4.5-5 # pull, that is incredibly smooth. Smooth with no gritty, Sandy feel is the main object.
Customize it yourself!

joe brine

September 20, 2016

wilson combat 3 gun makes one of finest triggers on market today….fast,smooth. and.on target…everytime…