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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The title says it all. I love a 1911 trigger with almost no pre-travel, very crisp break, and short reset. What stops other handguns, including striker fired, from having this kind of trigger. I hate a long pre-travel that requires staging before you actually began to squeeze, or a mussy feel, or almost having to move your finger out of the trigger guard to get a reset. I just don't understand why the mgf's can't produce a gun, out of the box, that has this good of a trigger. Pull weight is not as important to me as pre-travel, break, and re-set. And I don't think I'm alone in this feeling.
 

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It's a great question. Every shooter likes a good trigger.
 

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The amazing 1911 trigger is reserved for the 1911.
 

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There is nothing magical about the design of the 1911 trigger. It uses a hammer, sear and springs as the fire control system. 1911's can have a bad trigger too. It is all in the details to make any trigger great. Striker trigger can also be great as that is what most rifles have and some are great too.

Pre-travel is a linkage thing. My personal preference is a two stage trigger where the trigger is staged to the point where a small added force releases the hammer. It is actually implemented differently between a single stage with pre-travel and a two stage trigger but the effect can be the similar if done right.

Creep is the trigger sliding the sear off the shelf of the hammer. The more creep the safer the trigger. If the creep is nearly eliminated the gun can be unsafe. There must be some and the angles of the sear and hammer engagement must be such that the hammer is crammed back a small amount before the hammer is released to fall forward. Again for safety.

The pull level is a combination of the hammer/sear surface finishes, the amount of camming of the hammer by the trigger, the hammer spring force and the sear spring force. Get them wrong and the gun is unsafe especially in a semi-auto where pieces and parts are flying in all direction during firing and loading operation in the gun.

Over travel must be there to a small degree so the trigger will reset the trigger linkages back into the sear (commonly through the disconnector).

A well done trigger is beautiful and almost any gun can have that if the details of the design are done right. The best example of a truly great trigger that is readily available today is the S&W Model 41 or a vintage High Standard. Both those make a box stock 1911 trigger feel like crap. In years past many gunsmiths made a living redoing 1911 triggers to be better so they must have started out not so great. I used drop in parts to improve my Colt Delta Elite 1911 trigger with great result...much better than the stock 1911 configured trigger.

LDBennett
 

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Even a bad 1911 trigger is usually better than most triggers.
 
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I've seen some heavy 1911 triggers but none of them really bad.
I wouldn't want one on a match pistol but any 1911 trigger can
be great with a little work. When John Moses Browning, a great American, designed the 1911 for the Military, pistol matches using his design was unheard of.
The competitions at Camp Perry changed all that. The 1911 trigger can be worked down to 2 lbs or less and still be safe for competition if you know what you're doing.
I prefer a trigger with about .020 take up then break like a glass rod at around 2 lb - 2.5 lb. Magical ? I don't know but winning sure feels nice. :)
 

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I can tell you of a glock I shot that belonged to Josh (JLA). The trigger on that pistol was almost as good as a well tuned 1911. The problem for me is that the glock has no manual safety! That gun would have been scary for me to carry. So a good trigger can be a realization on most any gun, but may not be practicable due to safety requirements. How many stories have we all heard about the glock AD, and things getting into the trigger guard that cause it to go bang, when reholstering.
 

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Some of the extremely light triggers done for Bullseye in the day were so light that they could only be used with light target load ammo. Just firing the gun may make the sear lose grip on the hammer for the next round giving doubles or multiple firings. The stuff I have seen says that is about 2 lbs.

I do not understand the American desire to have single stage triggers. The Europeans like two stage triggers. The trigger are so fine that the first stage is actually the creep. That is the sear has lots of engagement with the hammer for the first stage. When the sear gets to the very edge of the hammer shelf an extra spring adds more force to the trigger. When you exceed that extra force the hammer drops. This is absolutely safe as the sear/hammer engagement is huge. The second stage can be crisp and only a small increase.

It is funny but I find with two stage triggers that even with a mild amount of force for the first stage, the second stage feels light as I trip the sear off the hammer. I don't notice the force to hold the trigger during the first stage but only the delta increase for the second stage. All my guns would have two stage triggers if I had my choice.

All that said I believe John Browning was a gun genius. I own a bunch of guns designed by him including various lever guns, 22 rifles, 1911's, a Hi Power, and other of his guns.

LDBennett
 

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Some of the extremely light triggers done for Bullseye in the day were so light that they could only be used with light target load ammo. Just firing the gun may make the sear lose grip on the hammer for the next round giving doubles or multiple firings. The stuff I have seen says that is about 2 lbs.

I do not understand the American desire to have single stage triggers. The Europeans like two stage triggers. The trigger are so fine that the first stage is actually the creep. That is the sear has lots of engagement with the hammer for the first stage. When the sear gets to the very edge of the hammer shelf an extra spring adds more force to the trigger. When you exceed that extra force the hammer drops. This is absolutely safe as the sear/hammer engagement is huge. The second stage can be crisp and only a small increase.

It is funny but I find with two stage triggers that even with a mild amount of force for the first stage, the second stage feels light as I trip the sear off the hammer. I don't notice the force to hold the trigger during the first stage but only the delta increase for the second stage. All my guns would have two stage triggers if I had my choice.

All that said I believe John Browning was a gun genius. I own a bunch of guns designed by him including various lever guns, 22 rifles, 1911's, a Hi Power, and other of his guns.

LDBennett
Preferences! It's sometimes a good thing to have choices. While I like some DA triggers, I prefer the SA triggers. I like mine at around 2.5 - 3 lbs. Nothing wrong with DA triggers at all if they are heavy enough to prevent AD's, due to no manual safeties. I think it's more of what you started with. I started with the SA revolver, then I inherited my dad's old Colt Woodsman .22, SA trigger that is so light I don't let many folks shoot it. I have a few DA/SA revolvers that I would carry for SD, and I can promise you that if I was carrying one of these pistols, it would be fired in DA only. I own only one SA/DA semi-auto pistol, and it is DA for the first shot, then SA for all other shots. It can be carried cocked, and locked, but only has one ambidextrous safety that keeps getting knocked off accidently.
 

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Some of the extremely light triggers done for Bullseye in the day were so light that they could only be used with light target load ammo. Just firing the gun may make the sear lose grip on the hammer for the next round giving doubles or multiple firings. The stuff I have seen says that is about 2 lbs.

I do not understand the American desire to have single stage triggers. The Europeans like two stage triggers. The trigger are so fine that the first stage is actually the creep. That is the sear has lots of engagement with the hammer for the first stage. When the sear gets to the very edge of the hammer shelf an extra spring adds more force to the trigger. When you exceed that extra force the hammer drops. This is absolutely safe as the sear/hammer engagement is huge. The second stage can be crisp and only a small increase.

It is funny but I find with two stage triggers that even with a mild amount of force for the first stage, the second stage feels light as I trip the sear off the hammer. I don't notice the force to hold the trigger during the first stage but only the delta increase for the second stage. All my guns would have two stage triggers if I had my choice.

All that said I believe John Browning was a gun genius. I own a bunch of guns designed by him including various lever guns, 22 rifles, 1911's, a Hi Power, and other of his guns.

LDBennett

LD, I have heard you and others explain the concept of a two stage trigger and a single stage trigger but after all these years I still don't understand it. Could you give some examples of factory handguns that have a two stage or single stage trigger. I have owned a boat load of handguns in my life and some had good triggers and some were very poor. I have a Series '70 Colt Gold Cup and the stock trigger on that beautiful semi auto is what I judge all others by. It has slack that I take up and then just apply pressure and it breaks. No creep at all. But if you look into the sear and disconnector you find a tiny coil spring that applies pressure to the sear to insure a positive engagement with the hammer on the next shot. Looking through a jeweler's loop you can see the stoning modifications that were factory done to the sear to assist in the marvelous trigger. That pistol was intended for match use and I would not feel comfortable carrying it for defensive work but it wasn't meant for that.

I have some Smith and Wesson revolvers that have a marvelous single action trigger but are they two stage or single stage? I just don't understand the concept of two stage after somewhere around 50 years of handgun shooting. I would appreciate it if you could go into some more discussion and hopefully I can understand what you mean. Thank you.

Todd
 

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Todd:

A single stage trigger works like this:
As you pull the trigger all the slack in the system is taken up. That means the trigger bar moves to touch the sear. The next thing as the trigger is pulled is the sear is moved on the shelf of hammer where the sear normally rests. The distance it moves on that shelf is felt as creep. There has to be some minimal creep or the sear would be easily jarred off the hammer's shelf. The angles also have to be such that as the sear is moving on its shelf on the hammer it has to cam back the hammer against the hammer spring. That too is for safety. When the sear reaches the edge of the Hammer shelf more trigger pull makes it fall off the shelf releasing the hammer. The feel is continulously increasing pull level.

A two stage trigger works similarly:
As you pull the trigger all the slack in the system is taken up. That means the trigger bar moves to touch the sear. The next thing as the trigger is pulled is that the sear is moved on the shelf of hammer where the sear normally rests. The distance it moves on that shelf is felt as creep but it is really the first stage of a two stage trigger. That travel of the trigger is usually pretty long because the hammer's shelf for the sear is made longer than you would have with a single stage trigger. The angles also have to be such that as the sear is moving on its shelf on the hammer it has to cam back the hammer against the hammer spring. That too is for safety. When the sear reaches the edge of the Hammer shelf then there is another spring in the system that causes the trigger pull to increase. You reach a point in the pull where you can feel the extra force. You can hold it there and when ready just overcome that extra force to make the sear move to fall off the hammer shelf. The feel is a long travel with continuously increasing pull level then a point where the pull level jumps up and the gun goes off when you pull through that extra force.

The difference is in the feel of the pull. Single stage triggers can have or not have takeup initially. Most good trigger jobs have no take up. The pull moves the sear with no idea where the real edge of the hammer shelf is and exactly when the gun will go off. Some are so light that just touching the trigger set the gun off. You can see there might be a safety issue if the pull is made too low.

The two stage feel is a light resistance then a point where the feel is heavier. At that point increasing the force instantly set the gun off. So pulling the trigger is more predictable.

With few exceptions most triggers are single stage pulls. But Olympic style target guns like the Anschutz rifles, the Hammerli target guns, the current Benelli target pistols, and almost any Olympic style guns have two stage triggers. Most are of European manufacture.

Your 1911 is a single stage trigger. Trigger takeup reduction is done by bending the back of the trigger loop to make instant contact with the sear. Bending the legs of the flat spring under the hammer spring assembly can reduce the disconnector and sear tension effecting the trigger pull. Replacing the hammer spring with a lighter spring also effects the pull level but go too far on any of these spring and the reliability of operation is impacted.

Here is a typical pull level scenario for an adjustable two stage trigger (this is only an example as most two stage triggers are adjustable for just about everything including the length of each stage). The first stage will end at about 2 lbs and it will take an additional pound to set the gun off. So you have the safety of a 3 lb pull but the feel is of a one lb pull. You tend to not notice the first stage and only realize the second even though it might take a total of 3 lbs. It is very easy to stage the trigger and know exactly when it will go off.

Hope this helps and sorry to be so windy in the explanation.

LDBennett
 

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No apology is needed in taking the effort to help me understand. Ok, it now means that I have never shot a handgun with a two stage trigger so that clears the air. I now have a better understanding than I ever have had. The two stage trigger has come up again and again and until now I didn't really understand. Thank you.

Todd
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
All these reply's confirm what I already thought I knew. Trigger design is not a black art - it is a well known, mature, mechanical design. Triggers can be made safe to fire at 1.5 oz with no pre-travel and almost no reset (I have one). So all manufacturers know how to make a smooth, clean feeling, crisp, no pre-travel, and short re-set trigger. The question is why don't they do it?
 

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All these reply's confirm what I already thought I knew. Trigger design is not a black art - it is a well known, mature, mechanical design. Triggers can be made safe to fire at 1.5 oz with no pre-travel and almost no reset (I have one). So all manufacturers know how to make a smooth, clean feeling, crisp, no pre-travel, and short re-set trigger. The question is why don't they do it?
Now that is truly a hair trigger :)
 

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I picked up a Ruger Vaquero a few weeks ago and the trigger on it is very light. This is a non issue as it is single action. It is much lighter than any of my Blackhawks.
 

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All these reply's confirm what I already thought I knew. Trigger design is not a black art - it is a well known, mature, mechanical design. Triggers can be made safe to fire at 1.5 oz with no pre-travel and almost no reset (I have one). So all manufacturers know how to make a smooth, clean feeling, crisp, no pre-travel, and short re-set trigger. The question is why don't they do it?
#1, it cost time and money for the manufacturer to pay an employee to do the hand fitting and polishing to get a light trigger.
#2, Lawyers. " Oh, I didn't mean to shoot him but the trigger pull was so light
the gun went off accidentally". Just a way to avoid a law suit for the companys.
 

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The lawyers limit how light the manufacturers can make gun triggers. Also the mechanism its self can limit it with loose tolerance, and mechanical advantages that are slightly wrong.

Two stage triggers have lots and lots of sear engagement for safety and can still be light on the second stage.

Single stage triggers can be light, creep free, and with little over travel. If made too much of any of those then the reliability of the gun might suffer and be unsafe. When all the take up and creep are nearly eliminated, the sear is sitting on the edge of the hammer shelf just waiting to get knocked off by rough handling or by an unintended brush of hands or clothes. A 1.5 ounce trigger can be useable on a bolt rifle used in bench shooting but is not acceptable on almost any handgun.

The rule of thumb I have seen used (probably from lawyers) is you should be able to support the weight of the gun from the trigger without setting the gun off. That means for most guns trigger pulls in the area of 3 lbs since most guns today weigh under 48 ounces. Also semi-autos have all kinds of motion going on with the operation of the slide and the cocking of the hammer so they are not candidates for super light triggers. 22LR match target guns can have very light triggers but most competition organizations insist on lower limits usually around 3 pounds or slightly lower on handguns. Since I don't compete, my triggers let off around 2 1/2 pounds with little creep and no over travel because I make them be that.

Anyone interested in how set triggers work? Most of the CZ centerfire rifles come with a set trigger.

LDBennett
 

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This topic seems to have moved from the original topic
of handgun triggers to rifle triggers. Apples and oranges.
 
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