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The first thing that ever had a viable trigger was not a gun at all, but a crossbow. The mechanism was known as a “tickler.” The touch hole type hand cannons of the day were not that advanced and did not get a stock similar to that of a crossbow until the French came up with the idea.
Military small arms have both single stage and two stage triggers that have certain advantages. The Stoner Type Weapons, M-16, M-4, AR-15, etc, have single stage triggers meaning, you apply steady pressure to the trigger and the sear breaks, there is a short lock time and the gun is fired.
A two stage trigger, found on weapons such as the M-1 Garrand, and the M-14 or M1-A, has a preliminary light pull that emerges into a slightly heavier pull at the end before the breaking of the sear. These military type triggers commonly require about 5 pounds of finger pressure.
Stock hunting rifles come with several kinds of triggers and pull weights depending on the manufacturer.
A great controversy arose over safety factors of trigger vs. mechanical safety based on the fact that on some firearms if you lighten the trigger too much the safety won't work. Not to mention unsightly extra safeties were added to fine firearms like the Marlin 336 and Winchester 94 in an attempt to “idiot proof” them. However, I have found that unloading weapons such as these is made safer if the safety is engaged at the time of unloading. Never the less it pleases the legal system.
One thing for sure, you can not fully idiot proof a firearm, as God will in fact make a better idiot. Therefore you have to work on the education of the human being to properly know how to work a safety and a trigger. Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger until you are ready to shoot, very simple. Never test a safety by engaging the safety and then test the trigger with a loaded round. Every deer season I get in my stand before day light and soon I will hear at least one shot before shooting light. Many would think it's someone spotlighting, but more likely it is some fool testing his safety or just plain unfamiliar with his firearm, a shot in the dark.
A good hunting trigger is from 1 to 3 pounds according to me and may differ among other shooters. Some brands of rifles come with adjustable triggers and some do not. It is not likely you will get exactly what you are looking for in a trigger in some rifles without the aid of an after market trigger job done by a competent gun smith. Going by the old saying taught to me by the late Lou Ellison, “A hard trigger will make you a better marksman,” therefore I never worried too much about it.
One of the reasons I like CZ-USA firearms is the fact that both CZ and Brno rifles have single set triggers. My Styer Manlicher Model M in 270 has a double set trigger. This is not just confined to the European continent as Sharps Rifles like “Quigley's” was equipped with a double set trigger.
The single set trigger if not “set” appears and acts like a normal single stage trigger. To set a single set trigger you push it forward until you hear a click, now the trigger becomes a “hair trigger” which requires very little pressure to fire the gun. This requires some familiarization at the range before entering the hunting area. They are adjustable so these sorts of triggers should not be set at there lightest pulls as it may affect the mechanical safety on the fire arm.
The double set trigger has two visible triggers. On my Styer you pull the back trigger and the front or firing trigger automaticly sets for a “hair trigger” operation. If you do not set the trigger, the firing trigger will act alike a normal single stage trigger with about a 3 pound pull.
Now here is a special note that was taught to me by a Yager in Germany. If you own rifles with both single and double set triggers like I do, never push forward on a double set, firing trigger, it will shoot the gun.
There are many after market triggers for many fine rifles that will decrease the amount of trigger pull. The Timney Trigger is one of the best and is a drop in type easy to install but requires a competent gunsmith to do so. Many Target style trigger systems are available for the Ruger 10/22 while the CZ-452 comes with an adjustable trigger.
Most tubular magazine Cowboy Rifles do not have triggers that are readily adjustable, including semi-autos, lever and pump action rifles. Marlin and Savage have initiated special triggers that eliminate some of the pull by using a two stage one trigger inside another like the Accu Trigger from Savage Arms. There are also trigger shoe attachments that make a trigger much wider, that creates more surface contact on the trigger making it easier to pull.
Browning, CZ-USA and Weatherby have the best stock rifle triggers I have seen personally, while others leave a bit to be desired, and will most likely require an after market trigger job to satisfy a discerning rifleman. This is nothing bad it just means each company has its own design and trigger requirements.
If it has so much to do with light trigger pulls, how come Uncle John and others can split playing cards edgewise, off hand with a non adjustable Cowboy rifle? Well a lot of it has to do with shooting experience. A master shooter develops what Elmer Keith called the “Inner Mind Click,” Or knowing exactly when the gun will go off. Other shooters known as Hard Holders, squeeze the trigger until it surprise fires which works for many sharpshooters. Personally I have competed with both types and they all work, as when superior shooters get together it is impossible to determine the winner until the gun smoke clears. Lou Ellison was a Hard Holder and I am an Inner Mind Click Shooter. He said I was the best and I say he was the best, a good trigger helps.
Pass it on.