Dual-stage triggers revolutionized trigger technology and the way weapons are fired. With a lot of buzz going around about these trigger types, we decided to create this article on what these dual-stage triggers are and why are they so desirable. We’ll also discuss the best dual-stage triggers for an AR-15 available in the market.
So let’s begin!
Quick Comparison Chart of the Best Dual-Stage Triggers for the AR-15
Geissele Automatic AR-15 Super Dynamic Triggers
Wilson Combat AR-15/M-16 Tactical Trigger Unit
Geissele Hi-Speed National Match Trigger
Rock River Arms AR-15 National Match 2-Stage Trigger
Triggertech AR-15 Adjustable Trigger
What is a Two-stage Trigger?
A two-stage trigger, as the name suggests, operates in two parts. The first stage is meant to overcome the initial pull weight of the trigger. This is called “take-up”, and after this there is no spring pressure. This intermediate step is termed “slack”.
The second stage then requires a light pull to fire the bullet. “Creep” or “travel” is the distance the trigger moves between the end of take-up and when the trigger breaks to fire the bullet. “Overtravel” refers to the movement of the trigger after a shot has been fired.
This doesn’t mean you are making separate pulls or motions to fire. But there is a definite difference in how squeezing the trigger feels as it passes from the first to the second stage.
Two-stage triggers are preferred by many shooters because of the “prepping-time” they provide. While a shooter is aiming at a target, he can overcome the pull weight of the trigger and then adjust the final sight picture before applying a featherlight weight to the trigger to achieve a precise shot.
This dual-stage mechanism is helpful in taking precise shots at long distances. These triggers ensure that the pull weight does not distort the sight picture or flicker your scope, which would make you adjust it again.
What Are the Best Uses of a Two-stage Trigger?
Why use a two-stage trigger?
Let’s condense the long answer to a single word - “precision”. The most basic and desired use of a two-stage trigger is precision and the ability to shoot accurately over long distances.
Of course, your stance while shooting matters a lot. If you’re shooting at long distances your stance is sure to bother you while you try to form a sight picture.
Dual-stage triggers eliminate this problem by letting you overcome the initial stage’s pull weight before prepping yourself and adjust the final sight picture before taking the final shot.
It should be noted that we’re not talking about 3-gun competitions here. Shooting competitions here refer to those competitions where you have to shoot offhand, prone or in any other resting stance. A dual-stage trigger lets you prep the trigger by taking up the slack and tuning your sight picture for final adjustments. From there, a light pull will let your round go off.
Dual-stage triggers can be used for mid-range shooting and hunting. “Mid-range” refers to an approximate distance of 500-700 yards. Like shooting competitions, medium range hunting requires precise adjustments to the sight picture while you stalk your target.
You might encounter situations where you have to deal with armed intruders or defend yourself from a wild animal on your hunting trips. Dual-stage triggers eliminate nervous twitching especially if you are quite anxious in such situations. These triggers ensure that you don’t shoot anything accidentally.
Some people, especially amateurs, get anxious under stressful situations. But dual-stage triggers are a good safety measure for such circumstances to prevent any accidents. That doesn’t mean you should carelessly start squeezing the trigger, obviously. But a dual-stage trigger gives just a little extra reminder of what you’re about to do.
Review of the Best Dual-Stage Triggers for the AR-15
Triggers are available as drop-in assemblies or standard triggers which need to be assembled. There are a couple of basic differences between them. First, the drop-in triggers are a bit easier to install. You just have to slide it down the receiver and you’re ready to go. They are already tuned and packed inside a housing, so they perform exactly the same in different receivers. On the other hand, standard triggers need to be tuned and can rather perform differently in different receivers.
Both types are available for either single or dual-stage triggers. We’ve found some of the best AR-15 dual-stage triggers in the market for you to choose from. So let’s take a look.
Our Top Pick:
Geissele Automatic AR-15 Super Dynamic Triggers
Geissele is a renowned player when it comes to manufacturing AR-15 triggers. These triggers are available in two different models, the SD-C and SD-E. The SD-C has a 2.5 lb. first stage and a 2 lb. second stage pull weight. The SD-E version has a 2.3 lb. first stage and 1.2 lb. second stage pull weight.
The trigger features a flat shoe which reduces the perceived pull weight and improves control. The standard trigger features a sturdy, quality construction and is reliable and crisp.
This WIlson Combat trigger module will fit any mil-spec small pin AR-15 platform to deliver a reliable and smooth firing mechanism. It has a crisp and light 4 lb. initial pull weight, making it is perfect for self-defense and hunting.
The short positive reset allows you to get back on target quickly. The unique hammer geometry provides ultra-fast lock time by keeping the weight minimal. This trigger unit is a perfect match for your AR-15 rifle. The price may concern you a bit, but your investment will be worth the money.
Geissele’s Hi-Speed National Match Trigger is another amazing dual-stage trigger from their inventory. This entry includes three different spring sets, allowing you to decide what to use for different types of shooting. The springs have been designed to match CMP competition standards and make the trigger perfect for NRA high-power service rifle competitions.
You can easily switch between different springs to attain different pull weight for respective situations. This means you’ll be able to easily adjust the first and second stage pulll weights as well as the total pull weight and overtravel metrics. It’s perfect for competitions, hunting and tactical sniper use.
The AR-15 Match-grade trigger from Rock River Arms is lightweight and smooth. It has a very crisp brake without any creep or crunching. It also boasts a positive and short reset click. This is a two-stage simple drop-in trigger which might require some fitting.
The pull weight of the trigger is a bit heavier than its counterparts at approximately 6 lbs. The sear engagement point is located behind the hammer to reduce pull weight. The light mass of the hammer reduces lock time, letting you shoot quicker consecutive shots. The trigger works perfectly with different receivers and features a curved bow for a better grip.
This technically-advanced trigger from Triggertech uses patented frictionless release technology and rolling friction to offer seamless accuracy and an amazing user experience. The pull weight is adjustable from 2.5 to 5 lbs for distinct situations and uses.
The stainless-steel construction of the trigger assembly is corrosion-resistant and durable. The trigger features a drop-in design for lower receivers with .154” pins. It’s available with either curved and straight trigger bows to offer more versatile choices to users.
How to Install an AR-15 Trigger
Once you’ve got a target in your view and you’ve decided to take the shot, the trigger is all that stands between you and success. Replacing your trigger can improve this all-important split-second moment, so let’s take a look at how to do so. Reference our guide, as well as the video for visual feedback.
- As always, make sure your gun is unloaded.
- Separate the lower and upper receivers. Remove the grip from your lower receiver. Use a screwdriver or wrench to unscrew the bolt, which is visible from the grip’s bottom. Don’t lose the safety detent and grip.
- Use a straight pin and push out the two remaining pins which hold the trigger’s parts in place.
- Remove all the parts and safety lever, or fire control selector. A receiver vise block will help with this step.
- Use a degreasing spray to clear out any dirt.
- Put the new trigger in the receiver, placing the rear pin into the holes. Insert your safety and front pin. Replace your grip, ensuring the spring and detent are in the hole in the receiver. Turning the receiver upside down can help here.
- Each trigger has a different setup, so follow the included instructions. Basically, you’ll use screws to hold the assembly in place and maybe a secondary locking screw. Some blue Loctite can be added to the screw threads.
- Cock your gun and pull the trigger a few times to be sure the trigger is working properly. Make sure the disconnect is functioning properly, too. Pull and hold the trigger. Cock the hammer, then release the trigger slowly. The disconnect should release. There will be a click. If all is well, check the safety by cocking the hammer, putting the safety to on, and pull your trigger a few times.
- Put the rifle back together. It should be unloaded, with the hammer cocked and the safety off. Hit the buttstock to the ground a few times. Your hammer should stay cocked.
- And that’s it! You’ve got a new trigger on your AR-15!
Dual Stage Triggers are no doubt an amazing invention. The initial break preps the shooter for taking a shot, and the light second stage lets him shoot precisely without applying much movement-causing pressure.
Dual-stage triggers are pretty useful for competitive shooting and long-range targeting. Depending on how you like to use your gun, dual-stage triggers can be nice replacement for single stage ones, but the choice still depends upon the individual shooter.