Gun writer, Mike Searson, reviews the some of the most popular Geissele Triggers for your AR rifle, with bonus video demonstrations.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- We like to say that the heart of a rifle is its barrel, but the trigger is its soul. In the realm of “black rifle shooting” that can be a problem from the start.
Most factory triggers (including those found in 95% of lower parts kits have a military grade trigger that can feel like a kick start on a classic Harley. some guys try to bubba gunsmith their triggers for a homemade trigger job and run the risk of accidentally going full auto.
Not that there’s anything wrong with full-auto (when you expect it and you're within the realm of the law, of course), but the first recommendation we make to most people on improving their AR 15 or other black rifle is to change out their factory gun trigger by installing a quality aftermarket rifle trigger when they are building their dream gun.
One go-to brand for performance AR rifle triggers is the Geissele Automatic Triggers company. Some of the best rifle triggers we have come across are those made by the Geissele gunsmiths.
For clarity, we are not just talking about the simple lone trigger when it comes to Geissele. Rather this is the entire trigger fire control group. This includes the hammer, trigger, sear disconnector and the associated springs.
Installation of all the trigger included in this product review is fairly simple and can take as little as 5 minutes. Obviously it will take a little longer if you are retro fitting an existing rifle and need to remove the old gun parts.
Geissele Automatics Trigger History
The company was founded in 2004 and they began as a manufacturer of trigger mechanisms for the AR15 rifle. Their earliest triggers were personally designed by Founder, Bill Geissele, for CMP and NRA Hi-Power Rifle competition. In the meantime these designs were soon put to use by the U.S. Military in semi-automatic sniper rifle platforms with great success.
In 2005 Geissele Automatics received a request from the Department of Defense to build a select-fire trigger that was comparable to their semiautomatic triggers. In response, Geissele designed the Super Select-Fire trigger (SSF). After rigorous testing the SSF was adopted by entities in the U.S. Special Operations community and has become their trigger of choice for M4 carbine based weapons.
All Geissele triggers are precision machines in their own right and come with instructions on installation along with diagrams showing the end user where and how to oil and lubricate prior to installation. Each design is purpose built for not only a smooth pull that breaks like an icicle, but to remain rugged and safe despite whatever hard use might be thrown its way.
Geissele Triggers makes a variety of rifle triggers, but I narrowed the selection down to the five AR trigger models I think are the best from Geissele Automatics:
- Geissele Super Semi-Automatic (SSA) Trigger
- Geissele Rapid Fire (B-GRF) Trigger
- Geissele Super Dynamic Combat (SDC) Trigger
- Geissele 2-stage (G2S) Trigger
- Geissele High Speed National Match Trigger
(in no particular order)
Geissele Super Semi-Automatic (SSA) Trigger
Coming full-circle, a derivative of the SSF trigger was developed by Bill Geissele for law enforcement and civilian shooters who do not have select-fire capability on their rifles. This trigger is known as the Super Semi-Automatic (SSA) and they should rightfully consider it to be their flagship design.
The SSA is safety certified by Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center and is recommended for demanding applications such as Law Enforcement use, Close Quarters Battle (CQB) and mid-range carbine shooting.
We like to think of this as combining the best aspects of a target trigger with a combat trigger. It is a non-adjustable two-stage trigger pre-set to 4.5 lbs.
A two-stage trigger means that the trigger moves in two-stages. The first part takes up the slack and takes the shooter to the “break wall”, a slight amount of pressure beyond that takes the shooter into the second stage and is what releases the hammer. The advantage here is that the shooter knows precisely when the trigger is going to break.
Most shooters will be familiar with this. If the concept is new to you, you may be thinking, “I don’t need stages! I just want to pull the trigger and have it go bang!”
You can rest easy. Because when you squeeze all the way through in a CQB situation or if you just want to blast away at a berm for the weekend; you still have a very smooth and crisp 4.5 lb trigger on your rifle.
Using our RCBS Trigger Pull Scale we measured the first stage at 2.5 lbs. and the second at 2 lbs. The Geissele SSA is like two triggers in one, in this regard: Light enough for target applications, yet extremely capable in CQB situations.
Geissele makes the actual trigger and hammer from tool steel and the sear is cut by a wire EDM (Electrical Discharge Machine). This is crucial for accuracy as the non-directional surface finish left by an EDM makes for a smoother trigger pull without the grittiness associated with a part cut from a CNC machine that is not polished.
Each Geissele triggers is thoroughly hand inspected at the factory to ensure it meets Geissele’s high standards before it is packaged.
While not an enclosed “drop-in” pack like many aftermarket triggers, we find the Geissele gunparts way superior. There are no internal screws to tighten against the pins, nor the worry that they will back out while firing the rifle. There are no rivets or staking required and the springs are captive.
If you are retrofitting an existing rifle, you simply need to knock out the hammer and trigger pins with a tool like the Brownells Gunsmith's Alignment Pin Set and add the new parts without having to remove the safety, etc.
The Geissele SSA Trigger will work in 5.56 (and its brethren in 6.5 Grendel, 7.62 X39, etc.) as well as the larger 308 caliber rifles. If you have a large pin lower, a version is available for these as well.
The only problem, if one could call it that, is that the lower must be MILSPEC. If you have an off-brand lower, one that was completed from an 80% kit, a SIG MCX (an Geissele MCX Trigger is due this year (2017) and is available for pre order) or even an HK 416 (the firing pin safety gets in the way); you may be out of luck.
Geissele Rapid Fire (B-GRF) Trigger
You may be wondering what the B stands for on this model.
Originally the B-GRF was designed by Geissele as an exclusive for Brownell’s. The terms of that agreement may have expired as we see other retailers offering this trigger now.
Unlike most of Geissele’s offerings, this feels more like a Single Stage Trigger that is adjustable prior to installation because it comes with 2 trigger springs that give the shooter a choice of either a 3.5 pound or 4.5 pound pull weight.
Because it feels like a single stage, the end result is a very fast trigger that is incredibly smooth. That said, the reset is definitely more like the Geiselle two-stage that we have come to be familiar with.
Installation is a bit different than the SSA. There is a retaining clip for the hammer pin and while it sounds simple, it may take a few readings of the instructions and realigning of the parts to properly install it.
It comes with an extra hammer spring that will allow you to get down to 3.2 pounds of trigger weight if that is what you prefer.
The Geissele Rapid Fire (B-GRF) Trigger is not the best choice for bench rest shooting, precision shooting, hunting or three-gun because it is a little too fast for most shooters. This is most evident when the 3.5 pound spring is installed. It may sound like a slight difference than the 4.5 pound spring, but trust us, it is not.
It is advertised as a 2-stage but we found detection of that division to be imperceptible.
We see this as a good choice for folks who want to shoot fast or who might like to play with bump fire stocks. It is definitely one of the better triggers we have seen for those who want to lay down a high volume of fire without paying $15K for a “transferable” happy switch.
OK, maybe it’s not that fast, but it’s definitely not a creepy military trigger, nor is it a two-stage match trigger.
The B-GRE works in most AR’s and represents Geissele’s more moderately priced line in that models are spot checked via Magnetic Particle testing and lack the distinctive laser engraving common to other models.
Lastly, this would be a perfect candidate to use in conjunction with a Slide Fire setup if you roll that way. All that said, for some reason it is one of our favorite Geissele triggers. These often go on sale for closer to $150 than $200.
Geissele Super Dynamic Combat (SDC) Trigger
Of all the Geissele triggers, the Geissele SDC looks the most unique due to its flat face.
However this trigger is not about looks, its geometry brings a unique factor to the shooting experience.
At first you may hate this trigger as you may find yourself stretching a bit to reach it. If you have spent a long time shooting ARs you may not appreciate the slightly extended reach.
Then you will find it is completely worth it.
If you make contact with the lowest portion of the trigger, you will find it breaks cleaner and resets quicker than most. Like the SSA it is a two stage that goes to 2.3 for the first half of travel and the consistent 1.2 pounds for the break. Total pull weight is 3.5 pounds.
However the geometry of touching it off lower down than the familiar curved bow gives the shooter the feeling that all is right with the world.
In essence, you have more variety depending upon finger placement. If you want quicker breaking with a fast reset, hit the bottom close to the tip. If that’s too much for you, place your finger higher to slow things down or for better control due to physics and geometry.
Although not completely used to a flat trigger face on an AR-15, the usefulness of the Geissele Super Dynamic Combat (SD-C) Trigger began to grow on us.
We do recommend that you find your own sweet spot on this one as the key to accuracy in shooting is consistency and repeatability. That may be the one downside to this trigger for some shooters as the curve in the typical trigger bow gives a muscle memory followed by a familiar feel of fingertip placement. The uniform flat dace lacks this, but with enough practice your fingertip should naturally return to that sweet spot.
This might be a little light for some shooters. It can take a bit of getting used to, but when you find that spot and make it happen, it’s a very ideal trigger.
Originally designed as a lower cost alternative to the SSA, the G2S has a cult following of its own. This is the trigger popular with shooters who own numerous ARs and want a Geissele in each and every one.
Like the types they make exclusively for dealers, it works as well as the rest of their line, but less human hands have touched it or inspected it before it ships out the door.
We have seen this trigger on sale for as low as $109. At that price point it is a steal. When it goes for $150 and up, it is probably not so much.
As a side note, this is one of the easiest triggers to install and it will most likely work if your lower receiver is not exactly Milspec.
While “budget” and “trigger” seldom go together in the same sentence, they do in this case. We might save up the extra money for an SSA or BGRF, but Geissele took a Keep It Simple attitude with this unit and with the prices of factory ARs crashing in recent weeks (we were offered a complete rifle by a major manufacturer for $270) it may be hard to justify the cost of some of the pricier triggers when you have a $450 rifle on your hands,
My personal opinion is to spend the extra $35 to $50 for the SSA (mentioned above), but if these hover around that $100 mark, buy as many as you think you may need.
Geissele High Speed National Match Trigger
Lastly, we saved the real rifleman’s trigger for the end. If you like Geissele, but want to completely adjust everything to your own exacting specifications as a shooter, then this is the one for you.
- Set your own over travel? No problem.
- Do you want to run that first stage pull weight at to 4 pounds and the second stage less than 1? No problem.
You can set it as light or as heavy as you like and even regulate your own break point for the sear and this can be performed on the rifle in the field or at a range with the two included Allen wrenches.
We recommend writing any changes down in case you want to adjust as you go. Keep in mind that just the trigger without the hammer will create slight offset, so when the whole system is installed, you may want to go back and make corrections.
The hammer has unique lightening cuts which probably aid in reducing the weight on that second stage beyond spring tensioning performed elsewhere.
The Geissele High Speed National Match Trigger is the most expensive of all the triggers that we looked at with an MSRP of $350. It may seem steep, but if you want to edge out the other competitive shooters at your next match, this may be the ticket.
Novice shooters may not appreciate it for what it is and that’s fine. We hear this trigger has been receiving high marks from Designated Marksmen in some units when they need a precise shot at long range. So much so, that Geissele Triggers offers a DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle) version of this same trigger.
We did not get a chance to try that one out, but if it is based on this design, it has got to be a great one.
Geissele Triggers makes some of the best triggers on the market and the five we looked at represent a fraction of triggers they produce. They are currently working on triggers for the Steyr AUG and SIG MCX and have a very capable FN SCAR Trigger in production.
They did not just sit on their laurels when they built their first trigger and did not necessarily seek to “improve on perfection”, rather they saw that the “one size fits all” model when it comes to triggers does not fit with the AR family of rifles and they set out to build a model for every shooter’s needs.
Whether you are a hunter, competitive shooter, service member, police officer, or simply just want the best trigger for whatever reason you chose an AR rifle; Geissele has a model for you.
Tools Used in This Project:
- RCBS Trigger Pull Scale
- Brownells AR-15 Hammer Trigger Jig With Dry Fire Block
- Brownells Gunsmith's Alignment Pins
- Bondhus Ball-Hex “L” Wrenches
About Mike Searson
Mike Searson's career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.
Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.
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