The Essential Guide to AR-15 Triggers: Types, and Selection 

Top AR-15 Triggers

At, we know that one of the most impactful upgrades we can make to an AR-15 is swapping out our AR-15 triggers. As the critical link between shooter and firearm, a quality trigger can significantly enhance accuracy, control, and overall shooting experience. Whether you’re a competitive shooter, range enthusiast, or tactical operator, investing in a precision-engineered aftermarket trigger can unlock the full potential of your AR-15, delivering improved performance and reliability.

In today’s ever-expanding firearms market, navigating the plethora of available AR-15 triggers can be a daunting task. Each trigger boasts unique features and characteristics, making the selection process a challenge for many shooters. While the ideal scenario would involve personally testing each trigger option, practical constraints often necessitate a more informed approach to decision-making. To assist in this endeavor, we’ll delve into the various types of AR-15 triggers, their distinct attributes, and essential considerations to guide you towards finding the perfect match for your needs.

Top AR-15 Triggers – Why Trust Us?

At, our expertise in AR-15 triggers comes from our deep involvement in the market. As a leading retailer, we don’t just sell a wide variety of triggers; we also collect extensive feedback from a broad community of shooters. This feedback, combined with insights from manufacturers, keeps us well-informed about the latest trigger technologies and their real-world performance. Our position on the retail front lines gives us a clear view of what triggers perform best across different shooting activities. Our knowledge is built on real customer experiences and technical expertise, making us a trusted source for anyone looking to upgrade their AR-15 trigger.

Understanding AR-15 Trigger Types

AR-15 triggers can be broadly categorized into several primary types: Mil-Spec, Cassette, Single Stage, and Two-Stage. Each type offers distinct advantages and considerations, catering to different shooting preferences and applications.

Mil-Spec Triggers

Mil-Spec triggers serve as the cornerstone of reliability and consistency, particularly suited for duty and defensive use. Characterized by their separate hammer and trigger components and a pull weight typically ranging from 5.5 to 8.5 pounds, Mil-Spec triggers strike a balance between safety and performance. While their standardized design ensures ease of maintenance and servicing, there’s room for customization in terms of control, breakpoint, and trigger shape, allowing for a personalized shooting experience. It’s crucial to note that in defensive or duty scenarios, a trigger pull weight exceeding 5.5 pounds is recommended to mitigate safety concerns.

Moreover, Mil-Spec triggers are designed for resilience and practicality, enabling field servicing with minimal tools. This feature proves invaluable in scenarios where immediate maintenance is required to restore firearm functionality. Additionally, the availability of customization options, such as different trigger shapes and breakpoints, allows shooters to tailor their triggers to suit their preferences and shooting style.

Not all Mil-Spec triggers are equal. We like the Dirty Bird Single Stage Nickel Teflon Trigger Group.

AR-15 Cassette Triggers: The Competitive Choice

Cassette triggers, popular among competitive shooters, offer a lighter pull weight and minimal pre-travel, facilitating rapid and smooth trigger pulls ideal for competitive settings. Featuring adjustable take-up and short resets, cassette triggers enhance performance in fast-paced shooting competitions. However, their lighter pull weight and reliance on anti-walk pins introduce considerations for defensive use, where unintentional discharges must be minimized.

Furthermore, maintenance and adjustments of cassette triggers often require specialized tools and expertise, potentially complicating their application outside of competitive contexts. While cassette triggers excel in competitive shooting scenarios, shooters must weigh the trade-offs and consider their suitability for other applications, such as duty or defensive use.

Single Stage Triggers? Two-Stage Triggers? – The Basics

A single-stage trigger has a consistent and relatively short pull, with no distinct stages or stops. This means that when you pull the trigger, it will move smoothly until the break point, where the firearm will discharge. Single-stage triggers are often preferred for their simplicity and consistency, making them popular for various shooting activities, including hunting and target shooting.

In contrast, a 2-stage trigger has two distinct stages in the trigger pull. The first stage is a longer and lighter pull, which ends at a distinct “wall” or “stop.” The second stage is a shorter and heavier pull that breaks the shot. This design allows the shooter to take up the slack in the first stage and then make a more precise shot in the second stage.

Both types of triggers have their advantages and disadvantages. A single-stage trigger is generally more straightforward and easier to use, making it a good choice for beginners or those who prefer simplicity. On the other hand, a 2-stage trigger can provide more control and precision, making it a popular choice for experienced shooters and those who engage in precision shooting, such as long-range shooting or competitive shooting.

Ultimately, the choice between a single-stage and a 2-stage trigger comes down to personal preference and the intended use of the firearm.

Cassette-style triggers – Dirty Bird AR-15 Single Stage Quick Reset Drop-In Triggers

Single-Stage AR-15 Triggers

Single-stage triggers, ubiquitous in various firearms worldwide, provide a consistent and clean break with virtually no over-travel. Typically featuring lighter pull weights ranging from 3 to 4 pounds, single-stage triggers excel in accuracy-driven pursuits such as competition shooting, offering precise control and responsiveness.

Moreover, single-stage triggers are renowned for their simplicity and reliability, making them popular choices among shooters seeking consistent performance across various shooting activities. Whether engaging in precision shooting or recreational plinking, single-stage triggers offer a seamless shooting experience characterized by crisp and predictable trigger breaks.

Cons of the Single Stage Trigger

While it has its advantages, there are also some cons to consider:

  • The single-stage trigger has a consistent and short pull, which can lead to accidental firing if the user is not careful. This can be a safety concern, especially for inexperienced shooters.
  • Due to its short and consistent pull, some shooters may find it difficult to control the trigger and may experience decreased accuracy when firing.
  • Single-stage triggers usually have limited customization options compared to two-stage triggers. This can be a disadvantage for shooters who prefer a more personalized trigger experience.
  • The quick firing nature of the single-stage trigger may not be ideal for certain situations, such as long-range shooting or precision shooting, where a more deliberate and controlled trigger pull is required.
Curved and flat single stage triggers from Rise Armament.

Two-Stage AR-15 Triggers

A person looking to modify their AR-15 might choose a 2-stage trigger for several reasons. Firstly, a 2-stage trigger offers a more predictable and consistent trigger pull, which can lead to improved accuracy in shooting. Secondly, the two distinct stages of the trigger allow for greater control and minimize the chances of jerking the trigger, which can affect aim. Lastly, many shooters prefer 2-stage triggers for precision shooting due to the added control and predictability in the trigger pull.

Two-stage triggers have gained popularity in recent years, particularly favored for precision shooting applications such as hunting and long-distance shooting. Requiring shooters to navigate an initial, lighter stage before encountering a defined stop point, two-stage triggers offer heightened control and predictability, enhancing accuracy in precision shooting scenarios.

Models like the Knight’s Armament SR-15’s match trigger and the Geissele SSA exemplify the best of what two-stage AR-15 triggers offer. They’re not only excellent for experienced shooters but also serve as effective tools for teaching new enthusiasts about trigger discipline and control.

Cons of the Two-Stage Trigger

A two-stage trigger is a type of trigger mechanism commonly found in firearms, particularly in rifles and pistols. While it has its advantages, there are also some cons to consider:

  • Two-stage triggers can be more complex to use than single-stage triggers, as they require two distinct stages of pull before firing. This can be confusing for inexperienced shooters or those who are not familiar with this type of trigger.
  • Due to the two-stage process, it can take longer to fire a round with a two-stage trigger compared to a single-stage trigger. This can be a disadvantage in situations where quick firing is required, such as in self-defense or competition shooting.
  • Two-stage triggers are often more expensive than single-stage triggers due to their more complex design and construction. This can be a barrier for some shooters who are on a budget or looking for a more affordable option.
  • The two-stage process may not be ideal for all shooting situations, such as long-range shooting or precision shooting, where a more deliberate and controlled trigger pull is required.

Choosing Your Ideal AR-15 Trigger

Selecting the right AR-15 trigger is a personalized journey influenced by your shooting style, intended use, and individual preferences. Whether you prioritize the reliability of Mil-Spec triggers, the precision control of two-stage triggers, or the competitive edge offered by cassette triggers, there’s a perfect match awaiting you. When evaluating trigger options, consider factors such as trigger type, pull weight, reset distance, durability, ease of installation, and price to ensure you find the optimal trigger for your needs.

Selection Criteria for AR-15 Triggers

When selecting an AR-15 trigger, several factors warrant consideration to ensure compatibility with your shooting preferences and requirements:

  • Determine whether a single-stage or two-stage trigger aligns with your shooting style and intended use.
  • Choose a pull weight that balances accuracy and safety, considering factors such as trigger sensitivity and application.
  • Evaluate the reset distance to optimize your rate of fire while minimizing the risk of accidental discharge.
  • Prioritize triggers crafted from high-quality materials with a corrosion-resistant finish to ensure longevity and reliability.
  • Select triggers that are easy to install or enlist the assistance of a professional gunsmith if needed.
  • Consider your budget constraints while ensuring the chosen trigger meets your performance expectations and preferences.

By assessing these criteria and exploring the diverse array of AR-15 triggers available, you can confidently make an informed decision that elevates your AR-15 shooting experience.

Best Two-Stage Duty AR-15 Trigger

Geissele SSA-E
The SSA-E was designed to be used in marksman situations where accuracy is of the upmost importance. The SSA-E has enhanced trigger control while still maintaining its robustness. The SSAE features a reduced pull weight for the first stage and a crisp and very light second stage.

Geissele Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced (SSA-E) Trigger

Dirty Bird 2-Stage Trigger Group
In terms of build quality, this trigger is every bit as reliable as entry level 2-stage trigger offerings like the LaRue MBT and the Geissele G2S.  The trigger has positive reset and a clean, crisp pull. As far as grit and feel, it’s remarkably smooth. It’s an American-made trigger that was put together using  top-notch materials. The trigger also comes with a Dirty Bird Extra Power 2-Stage Trigger Spring to add weight to those who might want a heavier first stage feel which more closely matches a first stage pull found in popular 2-stage trigger offerings from Geissele and LaRue.

Top AR-15 Triggers
Dirty Bird 2-Stage Trigger Group 

Top Competition AR-15 Trigger

Hiperfire HIPERTOUCH Competition

Hiperfire is a pioneering company in the field of firearm accessories, renowned for its innovative approach to trigger design and manufacturing. Established with a commitment to pushing the boundaries of performance and reliability, Hiperfire has quickly risen to prominence within the shooting community.

With a focus on precision engineering and advanced materials, Hiperfire’s products consistently deliver exceptional results, earning the trust of shooters across various disciplines, from competitive shooters to tactical operators and enthusiasts alike.

One of the standout offerings from Hiperfire is the HIPERTOUCH line of triggers, designed to meet the demands of discerning shooters seeking unparalleled control, responsiveness, and consistency. These triggers have become synonymous with precision and performance, setting new benchmarks for what shooters can expect from their equipment.

The Hiperfire HIPERTOUCH Competition AR Trigger stands as a pinnacle of precision and performance, meticulously crafted to exceed the rigorous standards of 3-gunners, the most demanding audience in competitive shooting. Engineered with a focus on responsiveness and control, this trigger offers a crisp break and minimal overtravel, essential for achieving rapid and accurate shots in the fast-paced environment of 3-gun competitions. I

Backed by a team of dedicated engineers and experts with a deep understanding of firearms and shooting dynamics, Hiperfire continues to innovate and refine its products to ensure they meet the evolving needs of shooters in a rapidly changing landscape.

Dirty Bird AR-15 Single Stage Quick Reset Drop-In Trigger
The Dirty Bird AR-15 Single Stage Quick Reset Drop-In Trigger is your top pick for any AR-15 build, offering unmatched performance and reliability. Crafted from aerospace-grade steel and aluminum, it features a 3.5-pound trigger pull with minimal take-up and lightning-fast reset. Its easy installation and compatibility with various lower receivers make it a breeze to upgrade your rifle. With a sleek design and exceptional features like a comfortable flat/curved trigger blade and black nitride finished interior parts, the Dirty Bird Trigger elevates your shooting experience to new heights.

Dirty Bird AR-15 Single Stage Quick Reset Drop-In Triggers

Most Affordable Drop In Trigger

Rise Armament AR-15 Rave 140 Trigger
The Rise Armament RAVE 140 Super Sporting Trigger, also known as the “Black Fallout,” earns its reputation as AR15Discounts’ top pick for the most affordable drop-in trigger. Meticulously crafted from aerospace-grade steel and aluminum, every RA-140 trigger undergoes rigorous quality inspections to guarantee reliability. Boasting a 3.5-pound trigger pull, minimal take-up, crisp break, and short reset, it has earned favoritism among competitors, target shooters, and hunters alike. Housed within a 6061 aluminum enclosure for effortless installation and complete with anti-walk pins, the RAVE 140 provides unmatched performance at a compelling price.

Rise Armament RAVE 140 Drop-in Trigger

Dirty Bird AR-15 Single Stage Quick Reset Drop-In Trigger
The Dirty Bird AR-15 Single Stage Quick Reset Drop-In Trigger is not only a top performer but also incredibly affordable, making it the ideal choice for any AR-15 build. Crafted from aerospace-grade steel and aluminum, it offers a 3.5-pound trigger pull with minimal take-up and lightning-fast reset, rivaling higher-priced options on the market. Its budget-friendly price point doesn’t compromise on quality, featuring a sleek design and exceptional features like a comfortable flat/curved trigger blade and black nitride finished interior parts for enhanced durability. Easy installation and compatibility with various lower receivers ensure a hassle-free upgrade for your rifle without breaking the bank. With the Dirty Bird Trigger, affordability meets unmatched performance, offering shooters exceptional value for their investment.

Top Budget Trigger

Larue MBT-2S
The LaRue Tactical MBT-2S AR-15 Trigger stands out as our top pick for the best value, offering exceptional performance at an unbeatable price point. Some argue that this trigger stands as the best on the market, bar none. Crafted meticulously from S7 Tool Steel utilizing precision machining, it assures unmatched consistency and durability, suitable for both competitive shooting and battlefield applications. Delivering a crisp break at 4.5 pounds (with a 2.5-pound first stage and 2-pound second stage) alongside a smooth, positive reset, the MBT-2S ensures reliable operation with each shot. Furthermore, each trigger package includes an additional “heavy” trigger spring, enabling users to adjust the pull weight to 6 pounds for increased versatility. Proudly manufactured in-house in Texas, USA, the LaRue Tactical MBT-2S AR-15 Trigger offers a straightforward yet highly effective means to enhance your AR-15 platform’s performance. Note: Compatible exclusively with Small Pin Lower Receivers.

LaRue Tactical MBT-2S AR-15 Trigger

Dirty Bird 2-Stage Trigger Group
The Dirty Bird 2-Stage Trigger Group emerges as our runner-up for best value, offering exceptional reliability and performance at an unbeatable price. Comparable in build quality to entry-level 2-stage trigger options like the LaRue MBT and the Geissele G2S, this trigger guarantees a positive reset and a clean, crisp pull. Its remarkably smooth operation speaks to its American-made craftsmanship and top-notch materials. Moreover, the Dirty Bird Extra Power 2-Stage Trigger Spring included allows for customization, providing a heavier first stage feel akin to popular offerings from Geissele and LaRue. Ideal for hard-use guns where reliability is paramount, the 2-stage design offers distinct advantages, including enhanced control and predictability, making it a trigger you can truly bet your life on.

Looking for the top AR-15 trigger? Don’t make a purchase until you’ve read the overview of the Dirty Bird 2-Stage Trigger.

Top Mil-Spec Trigger

Dirty Bird Nickel Teflon Trigger
The Dirty Bird Single Stage Nickel Teflon Trigger Group stands out as the premier choice for those seeking the best mil-spec trigger experience. Although mil-spec triggers are generally recognized for their reliability and affordability, not all are made with the same attention to detail. Many suffer from heavy trigger pulls and rough take-ups, which can hinder precision shooting. Introducing the Dirty Bird Single Stage Trigger Group, meticulously engineered with finely honed and polished engagement surfaces, and coated with a slick, durable Nickel Teflon finish.

Featuring precisely calibrated spring rates for both the trigger and hammer, shooters can expect a smooth pull with minimal take-up, culminating in a crisp, clean break at 5 – 5.5 pounds. Proudly manufactured in the USA and supported by the Dirty Bird Limited Lifetime Warranty, this trigger group promises unparalleled reliability and performance, enhancing your shooting prowess. Plus, it now comes with the Dirty Bird Industries AR-15 Trigger Reduced Power Spring Set, offering additional customization and versatility to suit your needs.

Dirty Bird Single Stage Nickel Teflon Trigger Group

ALG ACT AR-15 Combat Trigger
The ALG Defense Advanced Combat Trigger (ACT) offers a familiar mil-spec feel with enhanced performance. While upholding traditional reliability standards, this trigger system eradicates any grittiness and enhances the smoothness of the pull. Meeting the specifications set for M4/M16 rifles with a pull weight of 5.5lbs ensures full compliance. It comes complete with both reduced-power and full-power hammer springs, allowing for personalized adjustments. Engineered with meticulous precision using military-grade materials, the ACT delivers a noticeably smoother and crisper trigger pull, outperforming standard stock triggers.

Top AR-15 Triggers – Conclusion

It’s crucial to acknowledge that although we aim to offer top recommendations, triggers aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Our picks are carefully selected based on our comprehensive experience and expertise in the field. Should you have any inquiries or require additional guidance in selecting the ideal trigger for your requirements, feel free to contact us at AR15Discounts. Our dedicated team is readily available to provide tailored assistance and help you discover the perfect match for your firearm.