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What’s the Deal With Two Stage Triggers?

The first firearm I ever shot was a service rifle AR-15 for High Power competition.

This discipline requires precision shooting at various distances from 200 to 600 yards and in positions of offhand, seated and prone.

The trigger I had in that rifle, and still have, was a Geissele two stage trigger. My Palma long range rifles and my precision rifle also have two stage triggers.

In fact, that is all I knew even existed for a while. I was literally thrown into rifle competition before I learned how to shoot a pistol or anything else. A rifle was handed to me, a competition was presented and off I went.

Now, eight years later, I am very familiar with the mechanics of firearm parts. But it was not until I started shooting 3 Gun that I used a single stage trigger on a rifle. I understand now why each type of trigger has its place. I am sure this is a topic of debate like the age old argument of gas vs piston, but this is about my personal experience with both.

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I picked up my first 3 Gun competition rifle from JP Enterprises a few years ago. I also have a SanTan Tactical and recently got a Devil Dog Arms AR in 308 and 223. All have either Geissele or CMC single stage competition triggers.

There is not much to say on this, except that a single stage trigger is most efficient for the speed game. You are blazing through a course of fire that requires double taps on most paper targets. I care about a crisp break and a short reset for my next shot.

In 3 Gun or plinking with an AR at the range, or for the rifle that sits under my bed, I do not need the technology of the two stage trigger for accuracy. Don’t get me wrong, I love my CMC single stage trigger. For the fast game it is great.

But when shooting my precision rifles, I am engaging in a completely different style of shooting.

That moment when you break a shot is crucial to get the perfect long range shot in to the center X ring, the steel plate or that 5-point buck in the distance.

I want to know that when I break the shot, the timing is perfect every time, and I know I can call my shot. When shooting high power, especially in the offhand position, a two stage is the only way to go.

There is a big “wobble zone” when shooting offhand. You have to know the timing to break the shot as the bulls-eye comes in to view. I need to trust the break when I “snap” the trigger. A two stage trigger allows me to do just that.

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As I place my finger on the trigger, the first stage will be about 1.5 pounds to the wall. At the wall, the break can be from 0.5 pound to 3.5 pounds.

My Palma rifles are set at 3.5 pounds for international rules. My precision rifle second stage is set at 2.5.

The important part is that the break at the second stage is always consistent. You want to be able to consistently anticipate the shot. This allows you to call and time your shots.

I have to say that the best two stage trigger I have come across is my Huber Concepts. Like any trigger, you need time with it to know how it feels and where it breaks, but the Huber has changed my game.

I can feel the sensation of that break moment, and I can be perfectly on target through my crosshairs. There’s nothing like the great feeling of hitting the steel plate from a moving platform, or when the plate itself is moving several hundred yards away.

Being ready at the “wall” and knowing the next movement my finger made would break the shot just as I had timed was a good example of having it all come together.

If you haven’t tried a two stage trigger, what are you waiting for? Leave your thoughts on the two stage vs. single debate below.

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What’s the Deal With Two Stage Triggers?