When it comes to upgraded AR triggers, there are some excellent choices on the market from the likes of Geissele, Jard, Timney, TriggerTech and others. When you compare those triggers, they are similar in that they each have some takeup which acts as a two-stage trigger, and then they break clean. The feel gets better and the pull lighter on the higher quality triggers, and then they match that improved feel to reliable ignition. But in the end, they are all similar in functionality and operation. Well, Jard is rolling out a new trigger for the MSR/AR platform that is actually something new.
The folks at Jard Inc. are precision shooters, hunters and varmint hunters, and that is where their idea came from for this new trigger. It so happens that they are fans of set triggers on their varmint and precision rifles, and that is what they have designed and built and will be offering to the buying public soon. An actual set trigger for AR rifles.
For those of you that are not familiar with a set trigger, what it is is a precision trigger that has the functionality to push the trigger forward and “Set” it. When the trigger is set, the weight of pull is dramatically lower, usually less than a pound, which contributes to better accuracy as a shooter. If the trigger is not pushed forward into the set position, it operates as a normal single stage trigger with a more traditional weight of pull.
A “set trigger”, or “single set trigger”, only involves a single trigger that is pushed forward. A double set trigger actually has two triggers, hince the double in the name. A double set trigger is similar in operation, but the first, or rear trigger, is pulled and set, and then the forward trigger is very light and drops the firing pin. The movie Quigley Down Under has a very good scene that depicts how double set triggers work. Not many sniper rifles have double-set triggers but the Steyr SSG-69 was one that did.
As far as Jard can tell, this is the first implementation of a single set trigger for the AR and they have applied for a patent for the design. What we wanted to do was to test the trigger and see how it felt and performed on a SPR or DMR type of rifle. We have used a few set triggers on other rifles, such as those from CZ, but they are not particularly common for tactical work.
As you can see in the pictures, the trigger mechanism comes as a single unit, which is different than a typical AR trigger. This makes the installation straight forward, though you do have to remove the pistol grip and the safety selector switch in order to perform the install. There are also two set screws on the trigger that need to be tightened when the trigger has been installed. These set screws tighten down on the trigger pins to keep them from drifting, or walking, and falling out during use.
We mounted the trigger in a .224 Valkyrie Mk12 SPR rifle built from Aero Precision upper and lower and the installation was straightforward and easy. There is a simple set of instructions included with the trigger, just read and follow those and everything will go fine. The mechanism itself looks well made with nicely crafted parts.
The trigger shoe is shaped differently from a traditional trigger and includes some machined out curved areas at the rear to provide pressing surfaces when setting the trigger forward. This is good, because the help is needed! To set the trigger forward, it requires a stout amount of force. The amount is enough to make setting the trigger with just your trigger finger difficult. The thumb can more easily do it but that involves removing your hand from a typical firing position and possibly taking your eye off the target. It is possible with practice to set it while staying on target, but its just difficult.
When the trigger is set into the forward position, it works very well. We measured the standard trigger pull at an average of 4 lbs 11 ounces (4.69 lbs) and when it is set, it measured only 7 ounces ( 0.44 lbs). The movement time from when the set trigger releases until it is all the way back is quick, and smooth. Some other set triggers we have used did not have as good a feel to it when fired from the set position. The normal trigger when not in the set position has a slight bit of takeup and breaks clean. That 4.69 lbs is a bit heavy for a precision rifle, but not bad for an AR and itself is a good trigger pull.
Another nice feature we like with this trigger is the ability to take the trigger out of the set position safely if desired. To do that, if the trigger is in the set position, just rotate the selector switch to safe and then pull the trigger. It will pull back to the standard position without dropping the hammer. It is a little disconcerting pulling the trigger while it is on safe and having it go back, but it is safe to do so and of course, always maintain safe gun handling practices.
Reliable ignition does not seem to be a problem as the spring force seems strong, but we were shooting commercial .224 Valkyrie ammo which does not have hard primers like surplus 5.56 ammo can have. That has always been a balancing act for aftermarket AR triggers. Getting them to have enough striking force to ignite any primer yet not be too stiff to force a heavy trigger pull.
Overall, we like the concept of having the best of both worlds. A safe tactical trigger with a moderate 4.5 lb trigger pull that is nice, yet have the ability to set the trigger and have that sub 1 lb trigger pull. Everything functions well and appears well built, but the big problem is the force required to set the trigger. For a tactical rifle this should be something that is manageable with your firing hand in a firing position without having to take your eye off the target. That is difficult to do in its current form. This is an early pre-production unit, so hopefully they make some adjustments to that part, because it really is a nice trigger.
Does a set trigger make sense for a sniper rifle or SPR/DMR? The argument can be made that if done correctly, having the option gives you flexibility because the trigger acts normally if it is not set. But part of the reason sniper rifles do not utilize hair triggers is because in a tense situation, the 3 lbs or so of required trigger pull acts as a confirmation check that the sniper wants to take the shot. It needs to be deliberate, a final check before doing something that cannot be undone. Going through the motions of setting the trigger and then having to pull the light set trigger could do the same, but it adds another step and another trigger pull to try and master. Once set, the pull is so light, any inadvertent movement by the shooters trigger finger could set it off. It could be an option, though not one we feel would be used often. For varmint hunting and target or competition shooting, it certainly could be a good choice.