Best AR-15 Trigger – Top Five Trigger Kits Reviewed & VIDEOS

Here is my pick of the best AR-15 trigger from bare-bones mill-spec to two stage drop-in triggers.

Best AR-15 Trigger
What is the Best AR-15 Trigger?

AmmoLand Gun News

USA –-(Ammoland.com)- Shooters get touchy about their AR-15 triggers. And for good reason. The trigger is the key interface between the shooter and the gun.

The trigger “tells” the gun when to fire the shot. The more control and confidence a shooter has in a trigger, the more likely the shooter is to get hits. And as one old saying goes, “only hits count.”

Gunsmiths have probably been doing trigger jobs for about as long as guns have had triggers.  And for most types of firearms, it’s probably best to leave trigger jobs to the professionals for all sorts of reasons. But the modularity of the AR-15 means that just about anyone can easily install a brand new, specialized trigger. Changes are as simply pushing out a couple of pins, removing the original AR trigger group, dropping in the new trigger group, and pushing the pins back in.

The ease with which an AR-15 trigger can be changed is both wonderful and awful. Wonderful because it’s so easy to get whatever the trigger you want, and awful because there are so many triggers out there. So may bang-button choices make it hard to decide what is the best AR-15 trigger for your particular shooting task.

The type of shooting you intend to do the most with your Black Rifle matters a lot when it comes to choosing the best AR rifle trigger. If you’re shooting High Power or other mid- or long-range targets, a two-stage match trigger might work great. If you’re shooting 3Gun, you probably want a sport-specific trigger with a short reset and a light, but not too-light single-stage pull. This pull will help you burn through the close targets quickly, keep your stage time down, but still give you enough control to connect with shots farther out. And if your type of shooting is mostly of the tactical or military variety, with lives at stake, a robust, proven and non-adjustable combat-style trigger might be the best.

And that’s just three kinds of shooting. There are many, many more. And just about as many triggers to consider. For example, if you look at the Brownells website, you’ll around 72 different models, and growing, of Geiselle triggers alone.

So how do you make sense of it all? By reading and researching, and trying guns with different types of triggers. And finally getting some triggers, installing them, and shooting them a lot.

With all that to think about (whew!), I’ve made my own personal list of my five favorite AR-15 triggers. But remember, this is my best AR-15 trigger list and based on the type of shooting I prefer to do. Your best list might be totally different for all sorts of good reasons. And there are lots of great triggers out there that I just don’t have any trigger time on. There for I cannot say anything about them, like the very popular ATC AR Gold Modular Trigger. They get great reviews, and shooters seem to love them – I’ve just never had a chance to try one out in person.

So here are my personal top 5 best AR-15 trigger picks, as well as a written details on why I chose them for this participial listing.

Best AR 15 Trigger Comparison ChartCMMG Mil-Spec AR-15 Trigger KitALG Defense Enhanced AR-15 TriggersTimney - Ar-15 Drop-In Trigger ModuleGeiselle Super Dynamic Enhanced AR15 TriggerRock River Arms AR-15 National Match 2-Stage Trigger
Trigger BrandCMMGALG DefenseTimneyGeisseleRock River Arms
Trigger ModelMil-Spec AR-15 LOWER PARTS KITACT Enhanced Trigger SetAR15 Drop-In Trigger ModuleAR-15 Super Dynamic Trigger SDENational Match Two-Stage Trigger
Trigger Price$74.95$69.00$190.00$240.00$119.99
Trigger Pull Weight6.5lbs6.0lbs4.5lbs - 3.0lbscombined 3.5 lb4.5lbs-5lbs
Trigger Stage InfoSingle StageSingle StageSingle StageTwo StageTwo Stage
Trigger DetailsMore InfoMore InfoMore InfoMore InfoMore Info

5. Original Mil-Spec Factory Trigger

Even though lots of AR shooters can’t wait to drop in a new trigger, there’s a lot to be said for the plain-Jane, factory original. Yes, sometimes you get a creepy or gritty one, especially if you go with a manufacturer that’s not known for mil-spec parts. It works well enough, and there’s very little that can go wrong, as the design has been proven many times over. There’s not much chance it will be so light that you fire it before you intend to due to excitement or stress or adrenaline in a serious situation.

Plus, it’s non-adjustable. Many shooters fall prey to the siren call of the adjustable trigger and adjust themselves into unnecessary problems. There’s always the chance that a perfectly-adjusted trigger somehow slips out of adjustment, exactly when you need it most. Currently, I have three guns with factory original triggers and plans for some more of the same in the future.

These triggers are included with standard lower parts set, like the CMMG Kit so when you’re building a rifle, they really save you some cash. And for many kinds of shooting and shooters, they work well enough.

To put it another way if you just need a truck-gun, to keep a check on hogs or wood chucks, the basic mil-spec will not let you down and maybe be your best AR-15 trigger chose because of their rock solid reliability and low price.

Mil-Spec Factory Ar15 Triggers
Mil-Spec Factory Ar15 Trigger

4. ALG Defense ACT Enhanced Trigger Set

A few of my guns now wear ALG Defense Enhanced Triggers.  After I fired other folks guns with these triggers and really like them and made the switch. They are not “match grade” triggers, but are the perfected version of the standard, non-adjustable mil-spec original trigger. They have the same geometry, but are made to higher quality standards, and come with a specially hardened and smoothed-out sear contact surface to eliminate all grittiness. There’s also a nickel-boron coated version that adds a bit of built-in lubricity to further smooth everything out for a really nice predictable, repeatable trigger.

If you want the absolute best factory-original type trigger on your AR-15, this is a great choice. Of course, it’s great, because ALG Defense is a spin-off from Geiselle.

If you dig around on the Internet, you’ll find plenty of positive comments from happy ALG Defense Enhanced Trigger users. These triggers are a bit more pricey than standard factory original triggers but can be had for less than $70.

ALG Defense Enhanced AR-15 Triggers
ALG Defense Enhanced AR-15 Triggers

3. Timney AR15 Drop-In Trigger Module

I have one rifle with a Timney Drop-In Trigger Module, and I really like it. This trigger has two things going for it that the factory original and ALG Enhanced triggers don’t offer. First, it’s a single-stage trigger. There’s no movement or take-up at all. I press against the trigger, and when I reach the amount of pressure required to trip the trigger, it breaks cleanly and crisply. Second, this trigger is modular, meaning that the trigger, sear, hammer, and spring are all encased in a bright shiny yellow aluminum housing.

It’s stupid-easy to install. With a mil-spec type trigger, you have to fiddle a bit and get all the pieces-parts aligned just so, and then push in the pins. With the Timney, all the pieces-parts are in one self-contained unit that just drops right into place. And the Timney uses your gun’s original hammer and trigger pins, whereas some other modular AR triggers require special pins.

The Timney is non-adjustable and comes with a preset pull weight of 4 or 4.5 pounds. That is significantly lighter than the standard original trigger pull weight, usually around 6.5 to 7 pounds. While pulls as high as 8.5 pounds being considered “within spec.” It also has a very short, fast reset, meaning you can quickly fire a lot of rounds without much movement in your trigger finger.  Timney Modular triggers cost around $190, a bit more than ALG Enhanced triggers.

Timney - Ar-15 Drop-In Trigger Module
Timney – Ar-15 Drop-In Trigger Module

2. Geissele AR-15 Super Dynamic Trigger

Bill Geiselle is one of the true wizards of the AR-15 trigger. (FYI, it’s pronounced “guys-lee,” not “juh-zell.) His SSA or “Super Semi Auto” is one of the most popular aftermarket triggers for the AR-15. This one is a two-stage trigger, unlike the Timney. With a two-stage trigger, there are two separate stages. There’s the first stage, in which the trigger comes back a bit and then you feel a distinct stopping point. Apply more pressure at this stopping point, and the trigger breaks, which is the second stage.

While I enjoy good single-stage triggers, my favorite type of shooting is usually on my belly with either a sling or a bipod. And I find that good two-stage triggers give me the most control over the exact moment the shot breaks. I can take up the first stage, make final checks on my breathing, position, and wind. When everything is just right, I simply press a bit more and let that shot go at the precise moment of my choosing. If I’m in position too long, and conditions never get “just right,” I can let off that first stage, relax and breathe some more before repeating the process.

One of my scoped, bipod-equipped ARs has a Geiselle Super Dynamic Enhanced Trigger , which is pretty much a Geiselle SSA only with a funky-shaped flat-faced AR-15 trigger blade. It looks like a tiny chopping implement sticking down from the receiver. The flat surface is very easy to press against. Both stages are light and very distinct. I really enjoy shooting at little bitty targets, far away with my scoped, bipod-ed AR with this trigger in it.

Of course, two-stage triggers can slow you down a bit if you’re trying to shoot a lot of rounds very quickly, such as on a 3Gun stage. But I enjoy precision shooting the most.

Geiselles will run you from just over $200 to over $300, depending on the model.

Geiselle Super Dynamic Enhanced AR15 Trigger
Geiselle Super Dynamic Enhanced AR15 Trigger

1. Rock River Arms National Match Two-Stage

The very first trigger upgrade that I personally performed on any AR-style rifle was to drop a Rock River Arms National Match Two-Stage trigger into my DPMS LR-308. All these years later, I still love that trigger. Again, I went with a two-stage because of the type of shooting I prefer to do with the LR-308. My shooting style is on my belly, with a bipod or sandbags, at little targets a long way off. The Rock River feels a little heavier than the Geiselle SDE in both stages. The Geiselle has a standard-shaped AR-15 trigger blade. But for a match-style two-stage trigger, it works plenty good, and costs around half of what a Geiselle does.

The RRA Two-Stage AR15 trigger I installed was even less expensive. I bought it for under $100 from another shooter who tried it, didn’t like it that much, and opted for a more expensive trigger. If you’re a newbie when it comes to installing aftermarket triggers, and want a target-style trigger in your AR, this might be the way to go. It’s not the best match-style trigger out there, but it’s plenty good especially for the money. If you install it, and like it, you can keep shooting it. All the while you research and try out other types of triggers. And if you decide to sell it, you’ll always find somebody else happy to buy your second-hand Rock River two-stage trigger.

Rock River Arms - AR-15 National Match 2-Stage AR15 Trigger
Rock River Arms – AR-15 National Match 2-Stage Ar15 Trigger

Making Informed Choices on an AR-15 Trigger

When upgrading to your best AR-15 trigger, don’t just go out and drop a couple of hundred bucks on the trigger that everybody else seems to like. Carefully consider what kind of shooting you intend to do the most. Think about what type of trigger would best suit it. If possible, shoot your friends’ rifles that have different types of triggers, and get a feel for what works for you.

Then, go out and get that trigger, install it, and spend as much time as you can at the range and in field, enjoying every single shot.

Thomas Conroy is a firearms aficionado and writer who lives in the Midwest.


AmmoLand Editor Comments:  This article was updated to reflect changes in product improvements / availability on 10/20/2017.

  • 115 thoughts on “Best AR-15 Trigger – Top Five Trigger Kits Reviewed & VIDEOS

    1. Wisconsin trigger company with the mk2 has to be one of the best triggers. I can’t believe they didn’t put that trigger in the mix. It’s everything that the geissele has but about a $100 cheaper and it is fully adjustable. I have had cmc and rra and rra is a hell of a trigger for $100 but spend $60 more and get an elite trigger. Best trigger out there

    2. Well Gentlemen :…I have been using the CMC single stage 3 1/2 lb. curved. Very satisfied, one thing they have done is drill and tap the end of the mounting pins. A small screw head on each side makes it very secure. Had no failures put a couple in to 80% lowers still no problems. Have I missed something anyone have any problems, wondering why I don’t see them mentioned .

    3. Thanks for the article and all the comments! (Even the rude ones) Stopped competing in USPSA but I love the 2# trigger on my 1911. My instincts tell me the AR should be more like 3-4#. Still learning about my 6920… Budget concerns will likely drive the decision, but after watching his YouTube, that Geissele SD-C has me salivating…

    4. By including the rock river nm trigger as a favorite makes me question your qualifications and mil spec ? You are either getting paid to say what whoever wants you to say or your are ignorant in the trigger subject either way get out of the business of giving advise! People come to these palaces to get real advise to real problems. I am embarrassed for you!

    5. Rock River Arms National Match Two-Stage #1& Original Mil-Spec Factory Trigger is #5 what a joke! Just mentioning the Original Mil-Spec Factory Trigger tells you this guy has his head up his ass!

      1. Tape – I think that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and articles like this are a means of expression of personal opinion. To say what you said is to put your opinion above everyone else’s and that isn’t good behavior in a public forum. If we all had the same likes and dislikes we’d all be chasing some other man’s wife and there would not be anything but vanilla ice cream. I would have let one comment pass without a response, but when you do it multiple times with slight variation in the wording, that is when you are being obnoxious. Nowhere in your posts did you state what you think is the best trigger for an AR pattern rifle, so what is the purpose of your comments here? We have your opinion already, so making a one man dog-pile out of it is over the top. Perhaps you should consider counseling.

        After all, there are dozens of options for triggers on the market, and if everyone liked a different one we’d see as many opinions. We get it, you base your judgement on the man’s preference as being less important than yours and you feel entitled to pronounce it over and over. This makes me wonder why the entire comment you made didn’t make it without edit here, but I can guess that someone thought something you wrote was not in line with the terms of use for all commenters on the site.

        Fortunately for the rest of the human race you have not been appointed the final word arbiter of the internet.

        1. Eatshit&die [email protected], you come out with “I think that everyone is entitled to their own opinion” then you come out saying all that crap! Get a life and just someone does not agree with your boyfriend you come out defending him, he’s grown, he can speak for himself. Quit your brown-nosing! CLOWN

          1. You are the kind of person who talks big and does nothing when confronted, and you better check you ‘tude my friend, if you don’t you may find someone willing to educate you on the subject of acceptable public behaviors and manners. You need help and are way out of line here. Perhaps the site moderator will point this out to you.

          2. Seriously Tape. Where do you get off saying anyone’s opinion is wrong, bad or just plain sucks. Everyone’s opinion on any trigger is valid for that person. While I’m not a fan of stock mil spec, they can be slicked up pretty well and work for most people who don’t have major money to invest in a world class trigger. Because someone doesn’t agree with what you believe is the answer for great triggers doesn’t make them have their head up their rear end. Maybe it’s you with a closed mind that has your head up where the sun don’t shine.

          3. Tape, putting forth a negative opinion without an alternate perspective isn’t even a complaint. I don’t suppose you have an original thought that you can share? Maybe you’ll tell me to do something I can’t possibly do with my body or request that I digest something then meet my maker…or tell me to Google it. None of these responses would require original thought on your part. Maybe you just don’t have the time so need to take the easier path.

            Or maybe you have your own ranking based on your experience that you can contribute. Many of us would be happy to listen to that.

          4. Tape: STFU, AH….. using your own language and writing style, that is…. I’m trying to learn something here, about triggers.

      2. You listed no break weights on any.
        Plus I totally agree with the Pearson reply!!!! All day long.
        Good replies from experienced long range shooters. Piece of scrap review

      3. Tape,

        Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and just because you don’t agree with him doesn’t mean that he has his head up his TAPE, . . . (I didn’t want to use a bad word so I chose to use the appropriate synonym. I hope he knows what a synonym is)

    6. I currently have two AR’s, one is a stock Daniel Defense DDMV4 and the other is a home built unit. I built a so-called “Gucci” rifle with a Geiselle SSA that I picked up for a good deal from a gun show. I had tried a RRA NM, but it was worse than the DD stock rifle trigger. The Geiselle is better than the Daniel Defense, but honestly, it is only slightly better. I have to say that I am very impressed with the Daniel Defense stock trigger. I am building a new lower and will go with the ALG because it is high quality and inexpensive. If I am not happy with it, I can replace it without taking out a second mortgage and either pick up another Geiselle or maybe a stock DD setup.

    7. I enjoyed this artical on triggers. My question is, I’m a combat disabled vet & I shake so to hit the bullseye I have to have a trigger that is very light & no or very little creep. If there is too much creep, I start to shake & have to stop & reset myself with a deep breath. I target shoot for accuracy & deer hunt for only one shot per deer. If I can’t do it in one shot, I don’t pull the trigger. My T/C Pro Hunter has a great trigger that fires before I know it, which is why I’m so accurate with it. Maybe I’m not suppose to ask a question or talk too much, but that is me.
      thanks
      tom

        1. they didn’t post the whole reply, this guy even mentioning and ranking the Original Mil-Spec Factory Trigger tells you he doesn’t know what he’s talking about concerning triggers.

        2. TAPE,

          You’re obviously in need of counseling like someone previously suggested. But I would also like to point out that whenever you offer your ignorant opinions people can see how well you make an @$$ of yourself.

      1. Tom, if anyone has a right to talk and ask question, it’s you. Your sacrifice and service are more than many have to overcome every day, and you deserve to be held in the highest esteem for having to give so much for the freedoms that all Americans share. Thank you for your service, and keep on getting out there and enjoying the outdoors and the shooting sports. No one deserves to more than you do.

        If you have a modern sporting rifle or are contemplating getting one, there are a large number of parts manufacturers out there making very good triggers, and as you can see they all have people who call them the best on the market. There are few that don’t have an over $100.00 price tag, and I am not criticizing any of them, but the one I use most of the time is the one I wrote about. What ever your choice is, if you belong to a club with a range or have a store with range facilities you should get to know them and if you are in the market for an AR type rifle most shooters are happy to let you try theirs to see if you like what they have regarding the manufacturer or trigger they have. Most are proud to extoll the virtues of what they are using, and you may in this way find what works best for you.

        Depending on where you live, there are lots of options for you to get range access, and many of them have a lot of great members who live to share their sport.

        Thanks for your service and sacrifice.

      2. Tom, here is a link to a site that offers set triggers for modern sporting arms.

        The set trigger was used back in the 1800’s on buffalo hunter’s rifles to enhance log range accuracy by reducing pull weight and adjusting the engagement surface contact to a very minimum. You can find examples of these on original and reproduction arms from that period, and they are very easy to trip once you set them. Typically there are two triggers in the trigger guard, and you set the first one after the hammer is cocked, and use the second one to fire. This sounds just like what you are describing, and Williams Triggers may be exactly what you need.

        Take a look at them and see if that would help you.

        Regards,

    8. Just installed and shot for the first time the Franklin Armory BFS3 trigger. In Debi single shot mode, it’s a sweet trigger but in binary mode, it’s just plain fun!

    9. I have the Tac-Con MSA trigger. I bought 1, put it in my Rock River Elite 15, It was so sweet I bought 2 more, 1 in my
      S&W MP15 (my wife surprised me for Christmas last year), the other is to just have.

      Semper-Fi
      I’m on in-active duty right now(’64-’94)

    10. Addendum to my previous comment on the Tac-Con MSA trigger – I didn’t mean to leave out Timney, Elftmann, or anyone else out there making quality trigger systems for the AR today, sorry for the oversight in not mentioning them. All of these manufacture wonderful products, but I wanted to bring attention to a product I believe in that gets a similar level of results, and does it for a bargain price.

    11. The best cost effective trigger that was left out of this article is the Tac-Con MSA Mil-Spec Advanced Trigger Group AR-15, (LR-308 Small Pin .154″ Single Stage NP3 treated). I have this in my AR’s and I bought them one at a time, during which time I paid just over $100.00 down to $88.00 on sale at a large retail concern in Columbia, MO. I found it to be the best designed and manufactured mil-spec fire control group I have ever installed, and I started my gunsmithing career as a unit armorer in 1973, US Army. I have since then worked on and built hundreds of AR and M16 rifles, from the M16A1 and the Colt SP1series to modern 3-gun and other competition specific rifles. Likewise, I have done many trigger jobs on all types of firearms, and now I’ve found what I think is the best trigger job on the market – the Tac-Con MSA trigger. I can match the trigger pull and eliminate creep in my shop, but not for the cost of this system, and the best part is anyone with skill and tools can do this job, and in twenty to thirty minutes you can get what used to take hours of hand honing and fitting did before Tac-Con produced this product.

      This unit is EDM cut and flat ground polished from plate steel, and then the contact surfaces are precision honed to eliminate creep. The trigger, disconnector and hammer are all made in this manner – not one casting. The hammer and trigger have sleeves for the pins, and the trigger has polymer spacers to maintain alignment in the center of the lower receiver’s fire control group well The parts, including the bearing sleeves are heat treated and all are NP3 coated (Nickel/teflon). and they provide the pins which are made specifically for this trigger group, as well as the hammer, disconnector and trigger springs – which are made specific to this fire control group. Even the appearance of this product is far superior to the standard issue mil-spec trigger group. The results of this are a trigger that has very little if any takeup and a clean break with a reduced pull weight compared to the standard mil-spec trigger.

      This trigger group is a bargain and rivals the quality of the cassette type high priced ones on the market. This company also makes their versions of that type as well, in their 241 and 3MR models. They are of course priced in line with the popular cassette type triggers.

      I have the MSA in my AR rifles and it is the best money I’ve ever spent on function enhancement parts, and it is what I recommend for builds. I demonstrate the difference by letting the customer try a regular mil-spec trigger and then I hand them one of my rifles with the Tac-Con MSA – no one ever wants the GI trigger in their rifle afterward. When I can deliver this kind of result, at this price level, it makes both the customer and me happy. For me, it isn’t about making huge profits, but this trigger group allows me to make the customer happy and for a reasonable cost, and that is what makes me content. I don’t expect to change the minds of the devotees of CMC/Jard/Geissle/JP, but if you are looking for that level of performance on a budget, you can’t do better than the Tac-Con in my humble opinion and career experience.

    12. Stock trigger on my Bushmaster was terrible. I didn’t buy this as a hunting rifle or a target rifle, and certainly not a sniper rifle, so I went to ALG Defense and purchased their ACT trigger (Advanced Combat Trigger) — it is far less expensive than what most other after-market triggers cost. And it is a really nice trigger. It was simple to install; literally took only a few minutes. It has a short, smooth, clean break. I would call it just about perfect for this rifle and what I want it for, both now and “then”.

    13. Have a pair of Rugers, A SR556 & SR762. The SR556 had a decent trigger(4#-5oz.) but the SR762 Mil-Spec was just too much for my liking(7#-11oz.). I purchased a Geissele SSA-E, dropped it into the SR556 and then put the factory SR556’s trigger into the SR762. It certainly changed the characteristics of both guns. The SR762 became shoot-able and the SR556 became a trigger snob’s dream.

      Later came a pair of Sig Sauers, a MCX Patrol(5.56) and a 716 Patrol(.308WIN). Nice guns but for the life of me I cannot understand why such fine pieces would ship with the worst triggers I have ever felt. The MCX(9#-10oz.) was not only extreme, it felt just like gravel. The 716(8#-9oz.) was slightly better. I would not even shoot the guns without first replacing them both with SSA-Es. Now the MCX is my favorite with the 716 scoped-out becoming my long range AR. Sure the Geissele triggers are pricey but in the long run worth every penny, making these into heirloom pieces. You cannot go wrong with these Geissele triggers. The man is a genius.

      On a side note… To swap out the MCX trigger one must remove the pistol grip and rotate the safety 180 degrees from “Safe”. Be safe. Have fun. Support our 2nd Amendment. Join the NRA, and vote Pro-2nd!.

    14. i purchased Geissele SD-C with the flat trigger. breaks great at 4 1/2 pounds every time.
      its in my Colt M4 LE6920. i did not think i would ever spend that much on a trigger.

      until i got to shoot a friends AR15 with one. superb trigger. accuracy increased significantly.

      glad i did this.

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