Once upon a time, I had two AR-15s with what I would call pretty mediocre triggers that were either too heavy or just didn’t feel good. Inflation is driving prices for everyday things into the stratosphere it looks like and things being what they were I needed budget-friendly options. Luckily, I found a couple of triggers and a couple of spring kits that worked very well for my two rifles and could work for you too.
My Go To Carbine
The first rifle that got some improvement was a general-purpose carbine that I assembled to use with iron sights and a red dot, just simple and reliable. However, the “mil-spec” trigger that came in the parts kit was pretty ho-hum, like most are, it was gritty and heavy with a judicious amount of creep. After a little internet sleuthing I settled on a nickel teflon single-stage trigger from Schmid Tool, which checked all of the boxes for what I was looking for.
If you’ve never heard of Schmid Tool, that’s ok, they’ve kind of flown under the radar while being an OEM supplier of triggers to some pretty big names in the industry. If you look at similar trigger options out there, many will bear an “S” on the hammer and trigger, this stands for Schmid Tool. That’s not to say that this trigger and those are all exactly the same, manufacturers can specify the trigger in different ways to make it their own. Suffice it to say that Schmid has a good handle on making a quality trigger.
The installation of the trigger was nothing extraordinary, it’s the same as any other AR-15 fire control group. The trigger pull weight on the Lyman digital gauge came to an average of 6 lbs 9 oz for 10 pulls. Nickel Teflon triggers don’t really do anything to lighten a trigger pull but it will provide a smoother trigger pull. Getting on this trigger can best be described as a no-muss, no fuss affair. There wasn’t any creep or stacking as I applied pressure to the trigger and I’d describe the break as carrot-like, with a very firm and positive reset. At the range, I was stacking rounds on top of one another at 50 yards using the red dot and easily pushed it out to 300 yards on chest-sized plates.
For about $40 from Brownells, it’s a near perfect match for any general-purpose carbine.
I’ve been setting up my Springfield Armory Saint Victor paired with a Vortex 1-6 to shoot more 2-gun matches in the Tactical Scope division. The OEM trigger that came with the Victor was fine for a general-purpose carbine but a little on the heavy side for competition use in my opinion. I ended up circling back around to Schmid Tool and their 2-stage nickel boron trigger sold under the Aero Precision brand. I picked this trigger up and a spring kit from JP Enterprise that I’ll get into in just a bit.
Installation was a no factor and after a quick function check I did a trigger pull test, which gave me an average pull weight of 4lbs 11 oz for 10 pulls. That’s a little higher than the advertised 4.5# pull but it is world’s better than the OEM set up.
The first stage is smooth before hitting definitive resistance at the 2nd stage wall leading to a nice, smooth break, maybe not glass-like but close. The reset is a short, positive click, then it’s right back into the wall again for a follow-up shot. I can run a 2 stage trigger pretty quick like this for decent split times on close-in stages while also being able to take advantage of the 2nd stage for longer shots. For the budget conscious looking for a trigger they can use for long-range shooting or competition, I’d say it is an excellent option.
Check them out at the Aero Precision website.
JP Enterprise Springs
As I mentioned earlier, while perusing the aisles at the local gun store I noticed some spring kits from JP Enterprises for the AR-15/AR-10. These are really designed to be used with JP’s own triggers but they can also be used with other triggers, although the results may vary. For only $11, I bought a JP Service Rifle spring kit to see how it would work out.
Starting with my general purpose carbine I replaced the trigger, hammer, and disconnector springs with those from the Service Rifle spring kit and it wasn’t good. The overall feel of the trigger seemed worse with the introduction of some creep during initial take up that gave the impression the trigger pull weight was heavier. In actuality, the average trigger pull weight was reduced slightly to just over 6 lbs but that alone wasn’t enough to get me past the dry fire stage before I put the OEM springs back in.
Dropping the Service Rifle spring kit in with the 2-stage trigger yielded the most surprising results, mainly the reduction in trigger pull to 3 lbs 10 oz. Additionally, the overall feel of the trigger was pretty much unchanged with a smooth first stage, a definitive wall at the 2nd, and a good break followed by a distinctive reset. This was right in the wheelhouse of what I was looking to get in a trigger for this rifle so I left the springs in and hit the range.
The results from my range trips using the Schmid Tool 2-stage with the JP springs were pretty much night and day compared to the OEM Springfield trigger. My 5-shot groups at 50 yards to get zeroed were dramatically improved as was the performance at longer distances. I was no longer fighting the trigger wondering when it would break, which was destroying my accuracy and consistency. This was reaffirmed with I dropped the Schmid 2-stage and JP trigger spring combo into another Springfield Armory rifle, their base model ATC. Using that trigger I managed to get some of the best groups I’d ever shot with an AR, with a majority hovering at or around 1/2 MOA, albeit 3-round groups vs. 5. That being said, the aggregate average for 18 rounds was .63″.
Is the combination as good as my $240 Geissele SSA-E? No, I wouldn’t be so bold as to proclaim that it is but it certainly isn’t bad for the $81 I have invested in it. Best of all, the Schmid Tool and JP Enterprise combination has been completely reliable with the PMC, Winchester, Federal, and Fiocchi ammunition I’ve used so far.
Every AR-15 deserves a good trigger that is smooth, consistent, and most importantly reliable. A good trigger also doesn’t need to break the bank and I believe the options above will provide excellent performance for those that are on a budget.