Why Triggers Matter
“One of the eternal truths is this: The purpose of shooting is hitting… and the consensus of the masters is that a fine trigger is the single most important desideratum in any rifle” – Jeff Cooper
So, why do triggers matter?
Actually, triggers don’t matter – if you are shooting out of a machine rest, or are just into making expensive noise. But if your mission is to hit the target, then the trigger is the single most important component of your gun. Why? Because what stands between you and making the shot is the trigger. Imagine your own shooting process, to make the shot you are dividing your attention as needed between the target and your sight system, when the solution presents you want to fire at that instant.
However, the trigger stands between you and that hit. To whatever degree the trigger requires you to manage it – dealing with creep, grunge, staging or just a heavy long pull – your attention is pulled away from the target and your sight alignment – this costs you time – which you don’t have to waste.
This is true for all types of shooting, from the ultra-precision benchrest or varmint shooter to the hunter or sniper, and of course the assaulter or defensive shooter. It’s all about hitting with what ever precision is required, as quickly as possible.
“A great trigger is great because of what it’s not, distracting.”
What Makes A Trigger Bad?
Really, a bad trigger is one you notice when you are trying to make your shot. Think about forcing yourself to make a really tough shot with a trigger that feels like a Sears staple gun, you know the type. To shoot that crummy trigger well you’ll have to shift a large part of your attention – your mental focus – away from your sight and target and onto trigger control – while you slowly struggle through distractions caused by the crummy trigger action – taking care (and time) not to flinch at each bump on the road of a long gritty trigger, or have an Accidental Discharge while you are fishing for the second stage of a two stage trigger. It’s not that you can’t make an accurate shot with a bad trigger; it’s that it takes you longer and your target may not stick around – or worse.
What Makes A Trigger Great?
A great trigger is great because of what it’s not – distracting. A great trigger is almost invisible. It is noticed after the fact, after the shot – because during the shot there was nothing to notice. You knew you had your finger on the trigger and were at the engagement point (which is why you want a light 1911 like, take up). Once there your attention is focused on your sight placement as your finger adds weight to the trigger. A great trigger reports nothing of its internal doings to your trigger finger. You add weight, the trigger stays mute – you feel no trigger mechanicals – the guns fires with a surprise break. Only then, after the fact do you say to your self, “wow, that’s a really great trigger.”