9 Feb 12

Bill Geissle’s triggers:

You can eat a ribeye, or a sirloin. Chemically, they’re identical. Taste is similar, and the hungrier you are, the more difficult it is to distinguish between the two. In fact, it is only when you’re not hungry, that the difference becomes clear, and, even then, only when you’re a discriminating gourmet/steak-o-phile. And, the distinction is only temporary. Once past your tongue, the rest of your GI-track will be unable to tell the difference, nor will it care. At the end, it will all look (and smell) the same!

The foregoing analogy may make some sense as we go along!

Rifle triggers have six components, to one degree or another.

Slack (take-up): Slack is free-travel of the trigger from the time you touch it and start to press it backward until you reach break-dawn. Triggers with no slack are called “one-stage.” Triggers with slack are called “two-stage.” Most factory M14 and FAL triggers have generous slack. Factory AR triggers typically have none.

Break-dawn: This is the beginning of the part of the trigger movement which actually moves the sear out of contact with whatever is retaining the hammer in its cocked position (usually hammer hooks). With many rifles, when you reach break-dawn, the amount of strength necessary to continue to move the trigger backward increases immediately and markedly. Thus, on most rifle triggers, break-dawn can be felt distinctly. On others, most Kalashnikovs for example, break-dawn is mushy and difficult to discern.

Creep: This is the distance the trigger moves between break-dawn and the break itself. The best rifle triggers have some creep but not a great deal, and creep should be smooth, not gritty.

Break: This is the point in the trigger movement at which the hammer is released and the rifle subsequently discharges. A “crisp” break is best. A mushy, elongated break is useable but less desirable.

Over-travel: This is the amount of space through which the trigger will continue to move rearward after the break.

Reset (link): It is important that autoloading rifle triggers be held all the way to the rear after break and through recoil and recovery. When sights are back on target, the trigger is then allowed to move back forward until it arrives back at break-dawn (the “link”). This trigger “reset” point is distinctive with most rifle triggers, and we call the process “catching the link.” It is important that the trigger not be completely released after the break and allowed to return back through slack and all the way forward. When that happens, the next shot will require the Operator to go all the way back through the slack again, significantly delaying his next shot.

Geissle’s SSA trigger for ARs is “two-stage,” which is preferred by most marksmen, over one-stage triggers. Gieselle’s trigger uses the trigger pin to hold the disconnector. This is a durability improvement over many others that have a separate, small, fragile disconnector pin which can break, or slide out when not peened-in correctly.

From all accounts, Geissle’s triggers are robust and reliable, probably as much so as factory AR trigger, and they are very nice to use. Bill’s triggers are exceptionally smooth and clean. I can surely use a standard AR trigger well enough, and have a lot, but Geissle’s are genuinely superior, no doubt.

NGA’s X7 comes from the factory with a Geissle trigger. My copy is wonderful, and I highly recommend NGA Rifles for that, and other, reasons. But, they’re expensive, and not everybody can have one.

Of course, a typical, trigger-jerking amateur would be hard-pressed to even notice, much less appreciate, the degree of sophistication built into Geissle’s wares. It takes an experienced, discriminating trigger-weenie, like you and me! However, for amateurs and trigger-weenies alike, stock triggers on ARs still run just fine, once one learns to control them.

This from a distinguished colleague, on this precise subject:

“We train Police on a National Guard Base, and get to play on the computer-controlled, pop-up rifle range. Targets are hard-plastic silhouettes, equipped with impact-sensors. When hit, they go down. Of course, they can’t distinguish between a direct impact and a ricochet, but it still represents a grand way to train, as students get instant indication of their success, or lack thereof.

Of twenty targets, between 20-200m, many officers achieve as few as five hits in the allotted time, at least on their first attempt.

So, I come over to the frustrated/embarrassed officer and say, ‘What’s the problem, Son?’ In response, I usually get a whiney mixture of how the trigger sucks, the sights suck, and I’m not sure about my zero (this, after we just spent half the day zeroing rifles!)

‘May I shoot your rifle, Son?’ I then, from a standing position, using same rifle, same ammunition, same sight settings, hit 20/20, crappy trigger an all!

And, this is the standard lecture I deliver immediately after handing his rifle back to him:

‘Son, your rifle doesn’t need adjustment. Your attitude does! You’re spending too much time looking for an excuse to lose, and not enough finding a way to win. Your sights, trigger, and zero are all fine, as you’ve just witnessed. You know how to use sights and how to run a trigger. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be here. Now, get your head out of your ass, stop whining, and start hitting something that you wanted to hit!’ Invariably, they shoot in the mid-teens on the next run, with a smile returning to their faces!

Like you, I sincerely appreciate ‘nice’ triggers, like Geislle’s. But, sight-alignment, trigger-control, self-control, and follow-through always carry the day, no matter what you’re shooting. We can never allow personal vanity and cowardice to cause us, nor our students, to forget that.”

In conclusion, I recommend Bill’s triggers, right readily. And, for one, I’ll spend the money to have one. If the truth be known, I’m only interested in the top ten-percent of anything!

However, as a trainer, I, like my colleague above, quickly grow weary of the familiar bleat, “I could win this fight if I only had a …..,” coming from my mouth, or a student’s.

Victory starts in the heart of the warrior. Victory is an attitude, and we trainers must set the example!

“We are diminished when we fail to see an ordinary man’s worth. Soldiers are ordinary men, and that is precisely where our uniqueness exists. We soldiers are intimately acquainted with hardship, suffering, and death, and we know well that prestige and status count for nothing when the enemy is upon you. We save you, because that’s our job!

In a world of pointy shoes and blow-dried hair, the foregoing is seldom thought about, much less discussed openly. And, among those who enjoy steak, but are uncomfortable and embarrassed when reminded where it came from, rough men guarding the ‘wall’ in the middle of the night are only an occasional, albeit anxious and disquieting, reverie.

But, in persistent dark thoughts, images they don’t discuss at cocktail parties, they know and understand that Huns are coming! And, only a ever-diminishing number of ‘ordinary’ soldiers stand in the way.

I sincerely hope, for their sake, we’re still up to the task!”