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.


  1. These things always tempt me. Drooling after the geisseles but that mbt is a good deal. Only upgrade I ever did was replace the stock springs with JP springs. Surprisingly noticable difference just doing that.

  2. I have no problems with stock triggers from Anderson. Although I did splurge twice for the stainless set hammer/trigger set. I build my own lower receivers from 80% Cerro Forge 7075-T6 lowers. I see no reason to spend hundreds of dollars for a lighter pull when changing the springs will do the same.

  3. I have not used or tested all these triggers. For me, most of my business interactions with AR triggers comes down to recommending triggers to customers/people. Most of the time, I recommend the Geissele SSA. I use the SSA and SSA-E on my AR’s.

    A note about trigger pulls in general:

    I have had many (many, many) customers come to me with complaints about the trigger on some firearm. Let’s put aside the striker-fired firearms, because those triggers are difficult to improve, and focus instead on hammer/sear type trigger lockwork.

    First, I want to make clear that there are different trigger weights I consider safe for particular applications. I tend to not give any customer a trigger of less than 3.5 lbs for field usage (whether that’s hunting or something else), and prefer 4 to 5 lbs for hunting triggers. For target use, 2 lbs is my limit for a single-stage trigger. For a true two-stage trigger, I would be fine with a 6 oz trigger (on something like a benchrest rifle). Some benchrest shooters have triggers down in the 2 ounce range.

    Many shooters believe that only the actual total pull weight is an indication of how ‘good’ a trigger is. This is where I have to perform customer education.

    Most instances where a customer “hates” the trigger in a gun actually come down to how the trigger feels under their finger rather than the actual trigger pull weight. As an example: I had one customer who came to me with a Ruger .44 Deerslayer carbine and he hated the trigger. He wanted the trigger reduced to 3 lbs, and I thought this a somewhat unsafe weight for a hunting rifle, per my above limits. I told him I’d give him a 4 pound trigger. My customer was adamant that he wanted a lighter trigger. I said “OK, I’ll work on the trigger, and then we’ll talk again.”

    First, I tested the trigger with my scale(s) – 9 lbs. OK, that’s a bit heavy, but that’s the weight of an as-issued military trigger weight (go ahead, check a 1903 or Garand or early M-16). But when Itook the scale off the trigger and used my finger to pull the trigger, it felt absolutely horrible – creep, crunch, catches, etc. I could see why he hated the trigger.

    So, with a little application of stoning and polishing, I cleaned up the “feel” of the trigger pull – but I did not change the weight or engagement overlap of the trigger/sear/hammer parts. The net result was a trigger pull of about 8 lbs, but it felt so much better. I asked the customer “What do you think?” and he was ecstatic about how “light” I had made the trigger – he thought it was actually lighter than 3 lbs. I showed him that the trigger was actually 8 lbs, and asked if he wanted it really turned down to 3 lbs. He said “Noooo, that would be ‘too light’!” This provided a great bit of education about trigger perception – there’s weight, and then there’s what that weight feels like to the shooter. Shooters hate creep, crunch, lack of repeatability, etc. Produce a rifle with a clean 9 lb trigger, and most of the military/field/hunting shooters would actually be content.

    Another example of feel vs. actual weight is my Annie 1807: That’s a true two-stage trigger. I have it turned down to about 6 ounces. It is a terrifically polished/crisp trigger. When people tell me that they want a 2 lb. trigger pull, I get my Annie out of the safe, put a dummy cartridge into the chamber and give the rifle to the customer to try. No one, and I mean not a single person who has come to me for a trigger job, can manage that trigger properly – they all are surprised that the rifle went ‘click’ long before they intended it to do so, often telling me “I didn’t even have my finger on the trigger!” and I have to point out “The rifle would seem to disagree…” Then I tell them the trigger weight, and tell them that a 2 pound pull will likely give them the same sort of result – they don’t know how to manage a 2 pound trigger yet, and it would be more difficult to manage in a single-stage trigger. Most shooters will then listen to me on the subject and allow me to direct them to a better trigger feel, as opposed to a dangerously light pull weight.

    The reason why I have stuck by Geissele triggers is that they produce repeatable trigger pulls at their advertised weights. If I slip a trigger into a customer’s gun and tell them that it should be about 4.5 lbs, I’d really like it to be within 0.5 lbs of the advertised weight. They feel wonderful for a drop-in trigger. Yes, they cost money – but they save me time by not needing me to amend them, which means a lower price overall for the result to the customer.


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