Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Trigger Manipulation Techniques

Accuracy is the goal of anyone involved in shooting a weapon.  Whether the weapon is a handgun, shotgun, or rifle to be used in self defense, sporting competition, or hunting, placing your shots exactly where you need them to go is likely a high priority and a skill you desire to attain and maintain. 

There exists a great selection of upgraded fire control groups (single stage triggers, two stage triggers, etc...see our previous blog post for basic info) for the AR-15 in the marketplace right now.  These are incredible tools to improve the feel of the fire control parts in your AR and can have a positive effect on accuracy for various applications; however, they are not a substitute for proper technique.  Learning proper trigger manipulation will provide you with a skill foundation that can transfer when you are shooting another weapon that does not have this beautiful, upgraded trigger.  Increased accuracy in shooting your handgun or bolt action rifle is a benefit you may enjoy if you have learned these basic principles in marksmanship with your "stock" AR-15 trigger.

Practice and experience are essential, but practice must be done correctly or it loses much of its value.  In this post, we will provide some general trigger manipulation techniques for an AR-15 with a mil-spec, standard fire control group that should help you begin shooting well or address any bad habits that have been acquired (and without practice or proper technique, we all are prone to this-marksmanship is a VERY perishable skill).

We will start with the interface:  for most shooting applications, the "pad" of your index finger (between the tip of your finger and the first joint) is the area that should be in contact with the trigger.  Moving too far to the tip or closer to the joint can cause the trigger to not be pulled straight to the rear and may even cant the entire weapon, moving it from point of aim or disrupting a good sight picture.  For those new to shooting, or those who have a mil spec trigger that is on the high side of trigger pull weight, this may feel uncomfortable or even difficult.  I think this is one reason why an upgraded fire control group is so popular even with those new to the AR platform.  As stated earlier, developing the strength in your trigger finger and hand and learning to shoot your AR-15 in this manner will only improve your accuracy with the weapon and other weapons you may fire.  Learn your stock trigger first, install that "high-speed" upgrade later.

Magpul MOE K2 Grip

Now, the grip that is on your AR-15 can also have an effect on how comfortable this technique may be and how easy it is to repeat from "muscle memory" if your application prevents you from being able to concentrate on it.  We have already addressed various aftermarket grips and their benefits in a  previous post, but will spend some time here on the subject because it is pertinent. Manufacturers of aftermarket grips offer them in various degrees of angle and size to provide a comfortable grip and proper placement (reach) of the trigger finger for anyone, regardless of hand size or preference.  Recent additions to product lines include grips with more of a vertical, (perpendicular to the rifle) angle.  The Magpul MOE K2 grip is a good example of this style and may work well for those with smaller hand size or finger length.  Its design is for a short AR-15 PDW type rifle, with a shorter length of pull than a typical carbine or rifle.  Standard AR-15 grips have a more "swept back" angle and grips like the TangoDown Battlegrip have a more aggressive angle yet.  The Magpul MIAD grip has a traditional grip angle and interchangeable front and backstraps to meet the needs of just about any shooter. 
Magpul MIAD Grip
When the grip is acquired with proper hand placement (high) and strength (firm, but not overly tight), the pad area of the finger should rest comfortably on the trigger.  The web of your hand should be centered directly at the rear of the grip and at the proper height.  Many of these aftermarket grips have an extended section on the top of the backstrap to cover this area of the lower receiver and allow a very proper and repeatable grip.  So muzzle is on target, safety is moved to fire, and now we squeeze...
With only the pad of your finger  touching the trigger, visually imagine it being drawn to the rear to intersect with the middle of the web of your hand at the back of the grip.  Slowly and smoothly (slow is smooth, smooth is fast) pull the trigger to the rear.  The speed and amount of pressure should stay the same while working on these fundamentals.  For focus, mentally say (or verbally, if you want) "smooth, smooth, smooth, smooth..." the entire time until the disconnector releases and the hammer falls.  Especially at first, this should come as a complete surprise.  After this occurs, keep the trigger pulled to the rear; slowly release the trigger while keeping the pad of your finger in contact with it until the fire control group resets from cycling.  Don't release the trigger quickly. By releasing it slow during practice, you can ascertain where your fire control group resets and avoid some of the "take up"  you felt during the initial trigger pull.  As soon as the group resets, you can slowly and smoothly (in the same manner as before) retract the trigger to fire again.

Before following this technique at the range with ammunition, why not practice it at home without? Its free!  Make safety a priority by ensuring that the weapon is unloaded (in fact, make sure ammunition is not even in the same area) and be constantly aware of what is beyond your muzzle. If you are inside at home, select a target from something on the wall across the room, and using your desired shooting position, practice this trigger manipulation technique.  Focus intently on going slowly and smoothly as you pull the pad of your finger directly to intersect with the middle of the rear of the grip.  Now continue to do this, making sure that the weapon is as still as possible throughout the exercise.  Finally, while mentally focusing on the pad of your finger retracting the trigger correctly, be sure to visually focus on your sight picture to make sure that while this technique is performed, proper sight picture/sight alignment is not disturbed.  Practice this way, a lot. Practice it even when you feel proficient in marksmanship.  Practice it before you practice with ammunition on the range.  Practice "dry-firing" after you perform these techniques perfectly while sending rounds down range.  Perfect practice of marksmanship fundamentals like trigger manipulation and sight alignment makes perfect accuracy.

Thanks for reading our blog.  If you have any questions about any of the parts mentioned in this post that we offer at or the AR-15 rifles we manufacture, please feel free to contact us.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

AR-15 Triggers And Trigger Upgrades

The critical link between the marksman and the rifle is the trigger.  Yes, the entire "fire control group" (trigger, hammer, disconnector/sear, associated pins and springs) can affect accuracy. The shooter's ability to learn and perform proper trigger manipulation/control has a definite impact on accuracy as well.  Without proper trigger squeeze and accurate shooting skills, most weapons are more accurate in and of themselves than the individual employing them.  However, once these skills are learned and consistently performed, a synergy between an accurate rifle and a trained marksman can result in an impressive degree of accuracy, even from most "stock" factory firearms.  The topic of trigger control and shooting mechanics/skills will be saved for a future blog post...this one will provide some information about simple trigger upgrades that can offer a benefit for some shooting applications.

When upgraded triggers became available, they were mostly designed for, marketed to, and used by those involved in shooting sports like target competitions or other applications where a higher degree of focus is placed on extreme accuracy.  Everyone wants an accurate weapon and the ability to shoot accurately-but these are shooters desiring to achieve truly miniscule shot groups because that is what their application required.  In recent years, the technology and techniques that offered benefits in the "precision shooting arena" has been recognized to offer benefits to other shooting applications, such as 3-gun competitions (where speed is a more important factor), personal defense/training/combat, and hunting. 

Upgraded triggers provide a crisp break without the typical weight, travel, and sometimes "gritty" feeling of a standard, mil-spec, stock trigger.  An upgraded trigger is NO substitute for proper shooting technique/trigger manipulation, but it has the ability to greatly benefit a shooter that has these learned skills, and it can even make it a bit more simple for an individual new to the sport to learn proper technique and enjoy success.

Upgraded triggers usually come in either a single stage or two stage model.  A standard, "mil spec" trigger is a single stage type.  The single stage upgrades simply offer a much smoother and lighter pull, often with a reduced length of travel and a dependable and consistent reset.  Two stage triggers have a longer initial "take-up" (the first stage), followed by a clean, crisp, and light break (the second stage).  Knowing when this break occurs becomes very intuitive to learn and expect-which can be a good thing, provided the shooter has no bad habits and understands proper shooting technique.

Two stage triggers once were primarily used by shooters who were involved in precision applications where this style of trigger offered the greatest benefit; the accepted idea among those in the shooting community was that they were excellent for this type of shooting, but not so much for those applications where speed may be necessary.  Recently, this idea has been challenged by successful performance in other shooting sports and situations and it has become more accepted that the two stage trigger can benefit almost any shooter and shooting style or application.  I would have to agree.
JP Single Stage Trigger

There are quite a few manufacturers who produce great trigger upgrades in both styles.  Del-Ton offers a few examples in a varied price range for any shooter's application and budget.  The Knight's Armament Two Stage Trigger is amazingly engineered and very adjustable for weight and travel, but is also one of the most expensive due to these features.  JP Enterprises makes some of the best feeling and application specific upgraded fire control groups available.  DTI offers a few different versions of their single stage trigger upgrades.  At roughly the same price point is the Rock River Arms Two Stage Trigger that has a loyal following among those who prefer this trigger design.  Del-Ton also offers a  DTI Two Stage Trigger.  It is most similar in operation and design to the Rock River Arms model, but retails for a bit less.  The blue highlighted text areas above will provide a link to each model on our website.  Click here to link to the Midway USA product page and read reviews on the DTI Two Stage Trigger. 

DTI Two Stage Trigger

Installation of any of these is fairly easy, especially with the multitude of online videos and tutorials that can be found with a search engine query.  Thanks for reading our blog.  If you have any questions about the upgrade triggers we offer at DTI, or how they may work in your AR-15 rifle platform and increase your shooting accuracy and enjoyment, please contact us.