Modern rifles with their out-of-the-box accuracy guarantees usually come with adjustable triggers, but if yours didn’t, help is on the way. Whether it’s an old military surplus rifle that you’re modifying or a modern hunter that needs a little bit of work, installing a new trigger is easy and worthwhile.
A stiff trigger pull can be the difference between a bullseye and the 9 ring, or the difference between a clean kill and a long walk through the bush chasing a wounded animal. If you want to see the difference a good trigger can make, one of the best examples you could have would be to try a 10/22 with a match trigger, and then shoot one with the standard trigger. After shooting with a lightened trigger for so long, I thought the safety was on when I tried to pull the standard trigger.
The tools you’ll need
There’s not much to this job really. Most stock triggers are removed by driving out the pin that holds the unit in place. This pin also acts as the fulcrum for the trigger set and reset. To drive this out, you’ll need a hammer and punch – or a filed down nail if you don’t have a punch to hand.
Depending on the trigger unit, you may need a small spanner or wrench to adjust lock nuts, and probably some allen keys or screwdrivers to adjust pull and sear engagement. Depending on your rifle, you’ll probably need a large flat head screwdriver to undo your action screws.
The trigger of choice
Of course all of this is moot if you don’t have a trigger to install. There are a few options out there, depending on your breed of rifle. Ruger 10/22s, AR15s and Rem 700s have a multitude of aftermarket bang switches, however if you’re improving an older rifle you may have to do some digging to find the trigger you need.
My most recent trigger install is a BOLD Trigger from Boyds for my Husqvarna M38. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like using a safety – an empty rifle is the best type of safety – so I went for the version without the side safety. However, if you do like to use your safety in addition to safe gun handling practices, the side safety is much more convenient than the toggle on the back of the bolt on the old Swedes.
The 94/96 trigger fits the M38 perfectly. Boyds also stocks triggers for the 98-family Mausers, as well as a Mosin Nagant trigger. Other hardware obtainable from the gun stock manufacturer include trigger guards and floor metal, as well as sling swivel studs and action screws.
Depending on your trigger, action and stock, there could be some extra in letting to do. Thankfully with the Boyds stock this rifle is destined for, there is ample space for the trigger. However, before I get round to bedding and finishing that stock, I’ll be taking out a bit of material from the current stock to allow the larger trigger unit to fit.
For this job you may want to use a mill. However, hand tools or a dremel will do just fine.
The easy part
The easy part is the install itself. For most triggers, all you’ll need to do is punch out the retaining pin, put the new trigger in the old one’s place, and insert the pin again. That’s almost all there is to it.
With the BOLD Trigger, there’s a grub screw forward of the pin which, when tightened, keeps the unit in place. The mechanism is quite different from the original trigger, so you won’t need the old spring or any of that. If there is any issue with fit (as there can be with the many variations of these beloved milsurp rifles), the instructions that come with your trigger should tell you where you need to add or remove material.
Adjusting the pull and sear engagement
This is where your new trigger comes into its own. It will have its usual factory setting – 3 pounds for the single-stage BOLD Triggers – and an adjustable range. The range on my new trigger is 2-4 pounds, and the sear engagement can be altered too.
On my model, this is done by loosening the locking nuts and adjusting the grub screws with an allen key. In the photo below, you can see I’ve started on this in the photo below, as the factory seal yellow paint has been broken.
I’ve adjusted my trigger to the lightest it will go. This rifle will be a range-only queen, so the heavier pull you’d want on a hunting rifle is not necessary. When adjusting sear engagement, work the bolt rapidly to make sure it won’t fire on closing – too little sear engagement and you could end up with an unsafe rifle.
Once the trigger pull is where you want it – I shouldn’t have to say this, but obviously you’re testing this on an empty chamber or dummy round – it’s time to tighten up the locking nuts. Your particular trigger may have different instructions or mechanisms, so make sure you follow the included install directions.
Of course, the number one concern when modifying a rifle is safety when operating, as well as during the install process. If you’re unsure of how to properly install or set your trigger, your local gunsmith should be able to help you out for a very reasonable fee, as the the work involved is not onerous.