Don't Put Up With a Sloppy Trigger

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I have seen many guys that own rifles just blindly accept the trigger pull that their factory rifle came with; even if it happened to be absolutely horrendous with about a mile of creep and a pull hard enough to give Brock Lesner a finger hernia. Yeah, I know. There is not such a thing as a finger hernia. But there is such a thing as a trigger with too heavy a pull. But there is a way to fix it and on many rifles, you can fix the problem yourself. A heavy trigger pull can make it nearly impossible to get the most accuracy out of your rifles potential. So grab your tools and let's get to work!
Firstly, when adjusting the trigger pull on your rifle, you need to understand that in most cases you are going to be voiding your rifles warranty. But most rifles these days are of high quality and this is not a big deal. It is a good thing to know though before you put your screw driver to work. Also, some companies have gone to great lengths to keep you from adjusting the rifles trigger pull. They have put lock-tight on screws and in some cases, made it nearly impossible to make adjustments without the help of a gunsmith. The bogus law suits that these companies have to deal with can be blamed for this. Lucky for us though, many companies have started to steer away from these practices.
Currently most factory rifles can be adjusted with the turn of a screw or two. There are many good sites on the Internet that walk you through how to adjust specific models so search them out for your particular model. Here is the basic process for most rifles. Do not forget that all rifles should be unloaded while cleaning them or doing any work on them.
1) Remove the barrel and action from the stock.
2) Place the barrel and action upside down with the trigger assembly pointing upwards.
3) After locating the specific screw for your model, turn it counter clock wise (for all the models that I have worked with) to lower the pull weight. Turn the screw clock wise to raise the pull weight. I like a trigger pull in the three to four pound range. I have heard of guys hunting with pulls as low as 2 pounds but this scares me. It just seems like the chances of an accident are too high.
4) After adjusting the trigger pull to an acceptable weight you need to make sure that the rifle will not slam fire. A slam fire is where the rifle fires upon an abrupt closing of the bolt on a loaded chamber. This is dangerous and needs to be addressed. Make sure the rifle is unloaded and close the bolt hard a few times. You are making sure that the bolt stays cocked and doesn't allow the firing pin to travel forward. Also, flip the safety on and off and make sure that this doesn't trigger the firing pin as well.
5) After checking for slam fires, you are good to put some lock tight on the screw and take that sucker to the range and try it out.

You will be amazed at how much difference a good trigger pull weight will have on your shooting. You want the rifle to surprise you when it goes off and the best way to do that is to get that pull weight down to acceptable levels. So do not settle for the heavy pull weight that many factory rifles come with. Take that rifle out of the cabinet and give her a good tune up. You will be shooting clover leaf shaped groups in no time!


jim boyd's picture

Well stated!

Well stated for sure!

Now, this work is not for everyone - BUT - you can take the rifle to a gunsmith and usually this work is completed without spending a lot of money.

However, if you have basic mechanical skills, this work is easily accomplished, as Hawkeye states.

One comment I would add is to be careful and precise when putting the action back into the stock and follow the manufacturers recommendations on inch pounds of torque for the action screws.

Also, on rifles that are supposed to be free floated, use a dollar bill to check for stock to barrel interference.

One great thing, improved triggers have really found their way into the market place in new rifles these days.

Leading this surge - and really forcing other manufacturers to follow suit - was Savage with the Accutrigger.

This trigger is simply a delight, no other way to say it... it breaks cleanly and crisply, as low as three pounds in the hunting rifles (and down to about one pound, I think, in the target rifles).

Many other manufacturers rushed to follow suit and as a result, triggers overall have improved!!

Great tip, Hawkeye, thanks for sharing!


CVC's picture

I was at the book store and

I was at the book store and read an article in a magazine about the direction gun manufacturers are going in guaranteeing MOA accuracy.  The article said that one MOA can be achieved with match bullets but it doesn't take into account that most hunters are not shooters.  It went on to say that the best thing they have done to improve accuracy is to improve triggers.  The author faulted the fear of frivolous lawsuits in the 80s for gun manufacturers overreacting and putting in too heavy triggers with no means to self-adjust.

He said that trend is over and we're seeing much better triggers and that means more accurate rifles.

CVC's picture

A clean crisp trigger pull is

A clean crisp trigger pull is necessary for accurate shooting.  I didn't realize how heavy my trigger pull was until someone let me shoot their rifle with a good trigger.  That was a bad day because I knew I had to do something about my trigger.  I took it to a local gunsmith and he lightened it up for me at a very reasonable cost.  I'd rather let the gunsmith do it for me because he is used to doing it and it is not something you need to do often.

I guess, and this isn't criticizing your tip which is good, but I question why people invest in rifles with sloppy triggers when there are many inexpensive rifles like the Savages with the accutrigger on the market?  I think people overlook the importance of the trigger on a rifle and get caught up on other features.

Critter done's picture

Great Tip

I will agree 100% that making the best out of your trigger will help you get better shots.

outdoorsman121's picture

Great tip

Great Tip. I have done this with all of my riffles. It’s a great way to increase a hunters accuracy and therefore helping a hunter make that humane shot. I also usually shoot a 3-4 pound shot it’s not to heavy of a pull and it’s not too light. When first getting my riffles i shoot to see how heavy it is and where it shoots, and usually they shoot all over the place. But after doing this to my riffle I’m more accurate and more consistent with shooting. Every time I go out into the wood I know where my riffle is going to shoot. And that’s the only way to hunt. Doing this to your riffle can give a hunter more confidence with his or her riffle.