Comparing AR-15 Trigger Options – The Shooter’s Log

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This will not be a definitive take on the topic of AR-15 trigger options and I doubt there ever will be. (This is for several reasons, not the least of which is the length of the article and the fact someone is always bringing a new idea or product to the market.)

Having said that, let’s look at some basics and how some of the variants may be better for your use than some of the others.

AR-15 Trigger Variants

Here are some of the most common AR trigger varients:

Mil-Spec Triggers

This is the trigger that comes in most factory guns that compete on price more than on performance level. This is targeted to be a 6-8# trigger and speed of manufacture is primary to all things other than pull weight.

This is a functional trigger, but its best use is cost savings. Now, there is an upstart in the “mil-spec” ranks known as the ALG ACT. It is what can best be described as a “Mil-Spec trigger done properly.”

The trigger pull range is the same, but, being nickel boron-coated and running the milling machine at a slower production rate takes away most of the gravel road effect.


The coating enhances the durability, aids in faster cleaning and less fouling of the trigger and makes for a much slicker feel. This makes the heavy pull weight seem much lighter. This is done for a very reasonable MSRP of $75.

AR-15 Trigger Option - ALG ACT
The ACT Advanced Combat Trigger by ALG Defense is a solid Mil-Spec option.

Drop-In Triggers

Drop-in triggers are made by companies like CMC Triggers and Timney. The hallmark of this type is a true drop-in trigger, which does not require assembly in the gun.

The trigger group is encased in a housing and comes complete with the sear, hammer and springs all pre-assembled. The options include bow or flat triggers, as well as single- and dual-stage options. Some offer allow for user adjustment of trigger pull via an adjusting screw.

As an example, the CMC Single Stage Flat Match option MSRP is around $275 and has a 3.5# nominal trigger pull.

CMC AR-15 Drop-In Single-Stage Flat Trigger
The CMC AR-15 Drop-In Single-Stage Flat Trigger requires no gunsmithing and can be installed in just a few short minutes

Precision Triggers

Geissele has made a mark with specifically producing triggers aimed at a specific task. Their Super 3-Gun (SG3) trigger is a single-stage trigger at 3-4.5# depending on springs installed.

This method of trigger weight adjustment is much less likely to go out of adjustment, but offers less customization. The SG3 is not designed to be the most precise when it comes to shooting, but it has a very quick solid reset and can be run very quickly.

Geissele Super 3 gun trigger ar-15
Geissele’s Super 3-Gun Trigger has a quick reset and runs quickly.

The High-Speed National Match is significantly different, as precision is its main goal. It is designed as a two-stage trigger for deliberate slow fire and high-precision results.

In its most precise configuration (Match Rifle configuration) it has a first stage pull of roughly 2# and a second stage pull of approximately 10 ounces. This trigger comes with three variations of spring set to adjust the pull weight to the desired resistance.

Geissele hi-speed national match trigger
The Hi-Speed National Match trigger features the M4 Curved Trigger Shoe profile.

An in-between option is the Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced (SSA-E). This trigger is also a two-stage with a combined pull weight of roughly 3#. It has a much faster reset than the National Match, but gives up some of the precision.

This is the trigger I default to with my more precision-oriented builds that may need to do other jobs on occasion. If you want a curved trigger bow or a flat one, Geissele has an option for you. The above triggers range from $240 to $280 MSRP.

Geissele ar-15 ssa-e trigger
The SSA-E is ideal for use in precision DMR-type rifles where accuracy and reliability are critical with a non-adjustable drop in trigger.

Boutique Triggers

There are also boutique trigger manufacturers like Art Neergaard at Shooting Sight. His RPS triggers are made of harder steel for longevity (hardened rolled tool steel).

They are nickel boron-coated for an even harder exterior, self-lubrication and smoothness of trigger pull that feels a lot less than the nominal 4.5# weight.

His two-stage triggers also have the fastest, most consistent lock time, which means a break to hammer fall comes in at less than 5 ms. As a boutique shop, MSRP and street price are the same at $195.


As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, I have barely scratched the surface of the AR-15 trigger options out there.

Whether you want a cheap Mil-Spec trigger, a way to upgrade your duty weapon or something specifically tuned for your 3-Gun or Prairie Dog hunting rig, it is out there.

The only real downside is that you will have to do research to sift through the hundreds of options.

What’s your go-to AR-15 trigger? Why? Let us know in the comments below.

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