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5 AR Triggers

Note: I thought I published this some time back, now I found it today in the drafts folder, so here it is.

I have this opportunity to compare 5 different AR triggers, so I would be a fool not to write about it.

The Triggers:

  • Standard AR15 Trigger
  • Geissele SSA
  • Larue Tactical MBT
  • LMT 2 Stage
  • KAC 2 Stage

Before I try them all side by side, I’d guess that the standard trigger will be the heaviest, the MBT the lightest, and the SSA my favorite of them.  Of the two stage triggers I have the most time behind the SSA.  In the past I used to highly recommend the SSA, but Geissele has raised the price on them at least twice and the MBT can be had for under $100.

First up is a notched standard Colt fire control group.  The notched hammers will not work with some of the .22 conversions and most all of the pistol caliber uppers.  You can find non-notched hammers in various brands of lower parts kits.

These standard triggers can vary drastically.  Some have a smooth trigger pull and others are terrible and inconsistent.  Most of them will become significantly better as you use it.  But few people these days seem to want to spend the time to dry fire their firearm a few thousand times.

Using my trigger pull tester, I had the following results.
7.5 lbs, 6.75 lbs, 7 lbs.

On this trigger there is a noticeable amount of creep.  The trigger can be pulled very slightly and will move before the shot breaks.  But this distance is short, only noticeable if you are pulling the trigger very slowly.

The trigger reset is crisp, and the trigger will do what we really need. But there are nicer options.

Geissele triggers have a G marking visible on them.

The trigger pull tested measured in at 4.5 lbs, 4.25 lbs, and 4.5 lbs.

This two stage trigger requires about 2.75 pounds of weight to pull the first stage.

I never noticed before, but when I was just releasing the trigger until it resets, it feels like most of the weight is in the second stage.

The LMT 2 stage trigger has a straighter trigger bar than the others.

Trigger pull weights measured 4.75 lbs, 5.5 lbs, and 5.5lbs.  The first stage was measuring about 4.5 pounds.

To me the transition from the first stage to the trigger breaking was crisper on this trigger than the SSA.

I didn’t test it, but this felt like a heavier hammer spring than the others.

The Larue MBT trigger can be identified by the recesses on each side of the trigger bar.  This felt very light compared to the previous triggers.

All three trigger pulls clocked in at 3 pounds.  If it were any lighter I wouldn’t want it on a fighting rifle.  The whole weight of the trigger pull seemed like it was in the first stage. The MBT comes with a heavier spring to use as an option. I prefer to use this heavier spring as it makes the trigger feel more like a Geissele SSA. Also, on one of these triggers I found the reset was sluggish with the lighter spring. I have heard of other people having this issue, and using the heavier spring was the suggested solution. I have not tested the weight with the heavier spring.

Trigger pulls measured 4 lbs, 4 lbs, 5 lbs.  Getting 5 on that third pull surprised me so I measured several more after that and for 4.5 lbs on each of those.

I’m not sure how to describe it, but it is a little clicker than the others. If you are riding the trigger(or rolling the link, what ever you wanna call it), the reset is very noticeable and firm.

Compared to the SSA, I would say this feel heavier, even though it isn’t.

I like this trigger, but running at about $320 dollars, I could have three MBTs with cash left over. I wouldn’t buy this trigger simply due to that high price. The trigger and hammer are coated with something, probably chrome.


For dollar value, the Larue MBT can not be beat. I am partial to the Geissele SSA, but that is because I have been using them longest and own several. I certainly wouldn’t replace any of the above if I was using them.

As of January 2020, the LMT 2 stage is $140, which is a good price. Larue MBT trigger line is $80. If I was going to upgrade the trigger in an AR15, I just don’t see how to justify the price of anything other than the MBT.

Larue LT204 CAN mount

I picked up the new Larue LT204 scope mount. The LT204 is a newer version of the classic cantilever LT104 mount. You can get it in 1 inch, 30mm, and 34 mm rings. Best of all, it is about $70 cheaper than the old LT104.

Instead of explaining the story behind it, let me quote Mark Larue:

Because we suspect some of our near and dear competitors have been telling Uncle Sam for years that the LaRue 3/8” adjustment wrench is the chink in our armor. We suspect this because after nearly 1 million legacy LaRue mounts in Uncle Sam’s .mil system, a system that has to be awash in 3/8” LaRue wrenches, they came out with an optic solicitation that specifically specified “tool-less adjustment”. Fine, we’ll play. 

Introducing LaRue “Click Adjust Nut” aka C.A.N. ™ mount. 

It’s essentially our legacy LaRue Combat Proven QD mounts, with the slight change of no wrench needed to adjust the lever to the Picatinny rail. You adjust it by “clicking” the proprietary thumb nuts, much like clicking your scope turrets. It’s very-fine click adjustment is real close to an infinite adjustment.

Something interesting is you can “count the clicks” when switching optics between different uppers, allowing you to predictably maintain the torque on each rifle (and yes, you have to keep up with the scopes clicks, but you have to do that anyhow).

Mark Larue

The tool-less adjustment is nice, but the $70 cheaper is nicer. Lets take a look at the LT204 next to a LT104.

Here you can see the finger adjustable knobs vs the nuts on the legacy mount in back. These knobs have a little resistance, and are low profile. I don’t think they would accidentally move, but they are easy to adjust.
The new mount (below) has a reinforcement on the cantilever section. I have seen a couple of pictures where people have bent this on the LT104 when they dropped their rifle onto the scope.
The LT204 omits the 2 smaller recoil lugs for 1 large recoil lug at the end. Looks like instead of milling pockets, they just had their endmill plunge cut for weight relief cuts.

I’m sure there will be people out there who prefer the legacy LT104, and there is nothing wrong with that, but the LT204 is a nice alternative choice.

Thoughts on Offset Red Dots

Long ago I tried an offset Mini Red Dot on and really didn’t like it. I was using the short lived TNVC el-cheapo red dot. The red dot sucked and I didn’t like how I couldn’t use the setup left handed. I really thought the MRDS type optics were junk for a while due to my experience with the TNVC red dot.

I’ve found that there have been many times I’ve tried something, disliked it, and never wanted to do it again. I find my self plenty quick to keep bad mounting something. Well I don’t want to be someone who is so set in their ways that they ignore advancements.

A military unit running ACOG 4x Scopes with offset Micro Aimpoints

An offset sight is most popular in competitions like 3 gun where speed is the key to winning. The offset red dot is run with a magnified optic to allow the user to instantly switch between them by rotating the rifle 30-45 degrees. This is much faster than trying to dial the adjustment on a 1-4 or 1-6 power scope.

I saw in increase of popularity of using an offset Micro Aimpoint. So I figured I’d give it a try. I picked up a Larue LT724 Offset Mount during a sale, and pulled a Aimpoint T-1 off a rifle to give it a try. I put it on my 5.45 upper so that I could get some good trigger time with it. I fired a couple hundred rounds with this combination.

One of the first things I noticed when I set up the combination was that thin strip of aluminum holding the optic. I have no doubt it is strong enough during normal use, but I’d be worried about it bending if the rifle were dropped on the optic.

Adding an offset optic instantly makes a firearm a little bulkier, a fair bit wider, leaves more stuff sticking out that can catch of stuff.

Shooting with the offset Aimpoint was so much better than that old cheap MRDS from back then.

There is no argument that an offset red dot is fast.

At close range, with an AR, it isn’t hard to tilt the rifle and rapidly fire shots into a torso. Something like the offset red dot really shines when you have larger more awkward guns with higher magnification scopes.

There is a story of a Police Sniper who was carrying his bolt action sniper rifle running up some stairs to get into an overwatch position when he ended up running into the bad guy in the stairwell. As he was holding the bad guy at gun point with his sniper rifle, he realized the high magnification scope was not ideal for that.

The M110 Carbines and M110K1 had offset iron sights to give the user the ability to rapidly engage close targets.

Firearms like the long range precision rifles that might get used in close distance fight are ideal for an offset or piggyback reflex sight.

For lighter or smaller carbines, with low power optics or variable optics, the utility of the offset sights becomes questionable.

Back to the shooting.

I found turning the gun to use the offset red dot reduced the recoil control a little. Not terribly so, but enough to be noticeable.

The T-1 is high enough and out enough that I was able to use it left handed with my left eye. Had to cant the gun counter clockwise and it was awkward, but it worked. I didn’t expect to be able to do that.

The offset sight was tucked in closer to the handguard. I’ve gotten use to higher mounted optics so I found when I rotated the rifle that I had to lower my head a bit for a better sight picture with the T-1. I don’t think other people would have that issue.

An odd setup by one of the High Speed Low Drag guys. Note the offset T-1 with the Nightforce 1-8X

The offset Aimpoint Micro is a rather nice setup. Downsides are the price and width it adds to the firearm. But I think it is only worth while if you are running a higher power optic in addition to needing to make precise close range shots quickly.

Aimpoint H1 Micro, after 5 Years of use

I have always been a strong proponent of Aimpoint sights. Really, we all have been at looserounds. You cannot go wrong choosing any of the Aimpoint models that are currently available or have been previously available. When I worked for my hometown police department, I was the only officer with an Aimpoint, I carried an ML2 (purchased 2003). I never had an issue with my ML2, it just kept going strong year after year. I wrote an article for looserounds several years ago about that Aimpoint ML2 after running it on rifles for ten (10) years. (http://looserounds.com/2013/04/23/my-aimpoint-ml2-a-decade-in-use/). Since then I have used several other Aimpoints Red Dot Sight (RDS) optics.

There are a lot of micro RDS optics on the market and numerous are less expensive than Aimpoint. So, I want to put this article in perspective for you.  Just like my previous article on the Aimpoint ML2, I am talking about a serious personal defense, military or law enforcement / duty use, micro RDS optic. Something you can trust your life or others lives on. While other RDS optics might serve you just as well, Aimpoint is known for its quality. Aimpoint has the quality and quantity that has served in military and law enforcement units in extreme environments for decades.

PSA 10.5 Pistol w/Aimpoint H1. ADM Mount

In October 2013 and January 2014, I purchased two Aimpoint H1 RDS optics. These Ampoint H1’s have a 4MOA dot and are currently out of production. Aimpoint still makes the H1 micro but it is only offered in a 2MOA dot. When you are testing a RDS sight over several years, it may go out of production, but there are a lot of that sight still out there. Also it gives you an idea of how current models will perform.

I put brand new batteries in the H1’s when I purchased them and set them on setting eight (8). Aimpoint states that on setting eight (8) the micro’s should run for 50,000 hours or five (5) years on the same battery. I would say this is very accurate as I have had both my Aimpoints on over the five (5) years.   

Aimpoint H1/Larue Mount/Colt 6720
Aimpoint H1/Scalarworks Mount

Now you may be thinking, I didn’t continually leave the H1’s on and I never used them in any hard use. The H1 micro’s have seen more rounds on rifles than I even know. They have been through countless training classes, schools and testing at looserounds. I have also tested the H1’s on several different mounts over the years. I have used American Defense Manufacturing (ADM) mounts, Daniel Defense mounts, LaRue Tactical Mounts and Scalarworks Mounts.  You will see these mounts throughout the pictures in the article.  Since the batteries have been on for 5-1/2 years they probably have over 55,000 hours run time on them.

H1’s on 6920 & 6720 / Larue & Scalarworks

For the past five (5) years my pair of Aimpoint H1 mico’s have been my home defense optics, on various rifles, Colt (LE6920s, AR6720s and currently LE6960). I have also run them on a few S&W M&P15-22s and currently on a Palmetto State Armory (PSA) 10.5″ AR15 Pistol.  While I have kept both H1’s on setting eight (8) the entire time I have had them, I have bumped the setting up and down during use, depending on lighting conditions.  During bright days on the range I have had to bump the setting up to eleven (11), or one louder it you know what I mean. I have also run the H1’s on lower settings to sight the optics in on other rifles.  I find that dialing down the sight while sighting in RDS optics, gives you a more accurate Point of Impact (POI) on the sight. After shooting or sighting in, I default the sights back to setting eight (8). I find that setting eight (8) is the best all around setting for most lighting situations.

S&W M&P15-22 / Aimpoint H1 ADM Mount

 

Conclusions:

According to Aimpoint, the Aimpoint H1’s have a 50,000 hour battery life, (roughly Five years). Over the last 5-1/2 years the Aimpoint H1’s have stood up to every day work/use, countless range days, carbine course schools (on several different rifles), and looserounds firearms testing for articles, on the original batteries. Now that I have run them this long on the original batteries, I will change them out. I would suggest that you change out the battery every year just to be safe. I have said this before and it is always confirmed, Aimpoint is the only red dot optic I will ever use for professional or serious personal defense use. If you purchase one of the newer Aimpoint models, (i.e. PRO, M4, M4S, H1 – H2 or T1 – T2), with battery lives of 30,000 to 80,000 hours, these will last you a lifetime. There is no other optic that you can bet your life on and gives you that comfort that it will work every time you need it.       

Duncan.      

Cutaway Larue Tactical Silencer

Mark Larue posted up a cutaway pic of their TranQuilo silencer on Instagram.

Here is the link:
https://www.instagram.com/laruetactical/p/BwzTXm3nAyz/

List price on the Larue can is $699, but if you buy it along with an Ultimate Upper, it is $399 which is an excellent deal.

The main downside to this can is that it uses long mounts that are only muzzle brakes. No flash hider option.