August 02, 2011
Rifle Triggers: A Weight Problem
By David E. Petzal
by David E. Petzal
Upon reading that the Jarrett Signature’s trigger was set at 1 ½ pounds, Dickgun, a regular blogger, a hunter of vast experience and a bush pilot of otherworldly ability, asked if that was a good pull weight for hunting rifles in general. To which I reply, great gobs of goose grease, no! Kenny sets his triggers light because almost all the rifles he builds are for carefully set-up shots at long range, and are purchased by experienced shooters who take the time and ammo to get to know their rifles. Bush rifles they ain’t.
For general use, anything below 3 pounds is asking for it. If you’re excited, or your hands are cold, or you’re wearing gloves, or any combination thereof, a trigger pull of less than 3 pounds is going to get you into trouble eventually—the rifle will go off before you’re ready. The M24 sniper rifles used by the Army have triggers that are set between 3 and 5 pounds because even for the coldest-blooded practitioner, sniping is a high-stress occupation that is performed in all kinds of weather. Good dangerous-game rifles have their triggers set at 4 to 5 pounds, and I’ve pulled some heavier than that.
Standard triggers are not designed to hold at weights lower than 3 pounds. Take most of them down below that and there’s not enough sear engagement to hold the firing pin. If you must have a light pull, there are some excellent aftermarket triggers that will hold at a weight of as little as 2 ounces, but you better practice with them, because controlling a trigger that light takes some thought and effort. Fail to do so and you could be the subject of one of MSNBC’s idiot documentaries.