For the first time ever, I’ve collected data on what triggers the best precision rifle shooters in the country are running! There are some innovative designs out there I wasn’t even aware of until this data came out. Very interesting stuff!
I recently surveyed the top 100 shooters in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS), and this year I included a question to capture what trigger these elite shooters were using in 2015. The PRS tracks how top competitors place in major rifle matches across the country. These are the major leagues of sniper-style competitions, with targets typically from 300 to 1200 yards. These world-class shooters represent the best of the best in terms of long-range shooting in field conditions. For more info on the Precision Rifle Series and who these guys are, or to view what other gear they’re running scroll to the bottom of this article.
Best Rifle Trigger
For the first time ever, I gathered information on what triggers the top shooters were using. The results were very interesting! I expected to see a large number of Jewell and Timney triggers, and I wasn’t disappointed. But there were several other triggers represented, and a few of those seem to have new innovative designs. But first, let’s start by looking at which triggers were represented and which were the most popular:
The Jewell Hunter Varmint Rifle (HVR) Trigger was the most popular trigger … by far! Almost 50% of the top 100 shooters were running a Jewell trigger. This was no surprise to those of us who’ve been around precision rifles for any length of time. For those unfamiliar, many view the Jewell trigger as the gold standard for bolt action precision rifles. So if you’re reading this wondering what trigger to buy and money is no object … many (if not most) of the pros would say a Jewell is the finest made. The Jewell HVR trigger typically retails for $240-250.
The Jewell HVR trigger is a single-stage trigger, and like most bolt-action trigger upgrades it is in a completely self-contained module. The HVR model includes a safety, unlike the Jewell BR trigger designed for the Benchrest crowd. The safety is similar to a factory Remington safety and the trigger also features a factory-style bolt release. The pull weight is adjustable from 3.5 pounds all the way down to just 1.5 ounces. There are models available for Remington 700/40x and Winchester Model 70 actions, as well as custom actions based on those patterns.
The Jewell design spares no expense, with complete high grade stainless steel construction. All internal components are CNC machined from 440 stainless steel, then heat-treated to Rockwell 58 for extended service life. The side plates are 330 stainless steel.
One attractive feature of the Jewell trigger for many shooters is the ability to easily adjust the trigger externally, without the need to remove the barreled action from the stock or chassis. Adjustment screws are fitted with a nylon insert to maintain your trigger settings without using thread locking compounds.
Timney Triggers were the 2nd most popular brand, with 19 shooters choosing one to run one of their triggers. Unlike Jewell, Timney doesn’t just have a one-size-fits-all approach. They have several models to choose from. I thought there may be shooters using different models, so if they were running a Timney I had a follow-up question to see which specific model they were running. Here is the breakdown:
Most of the guys running Timney Triggers were using the Timney Calvin Elite Trigger, which is a newer design with a lot of modern features. First, it includes a Carbo Nitride Coating, which is an advanced thermochemical process that results in coating that is “substantially harder than hardened tool steel and increases the long-term wear, provides exceptional corrosion resistance, far surpassing the military salt water corrosion standards and increases lubricity to your trigger.” (according to Timney)
The Timney Calvin Elite is adjustable from 2.5 lbs. all the way down to 8 ounces. The internals of the Calvin Elite Trigger are made from A2 tool steel, heat-treated to Rockwell 58, and features Teflon-nickel coatings. Sears are wire EDM cut, and triggers are CNC machined. The lightweight 6061-T6 aluminum housings are CNC machined and anodized. The trigger carries the name of Timney’s long-time trigger designer, Calvin Motley, and represents the pinnacle of Timney trigger designs. The Timney Calvin Elite Trigger typically costs $220.
The Timeny 510 trigger is a time-proven trigger that many consider a very high-value trigger, at $120-140. It features a 3/8” wide shoe, which is wider than the narrow blade design on some triggers and may improve feel and control. Pull weight can be adjusted from 4 lbs. down to 1.5 lbs. Some shooters prefer to run triggers lighter than 1.5 lbs., but that wouldn’t be an option with the Timney 510.
The Timney 517 trigger is identical to the 510, with the exception of a straight shoe. That may seem a little strange, but it is one of those things that some guys love and some guys hate. I’d just say don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Some benchrest shooters prefer this type of trigger, and claim that it gives more precise finger contact.
Jewell and Timney combined to represent the lion’s share of triggers used by the top 100 shooters. 66% of those guys were running either a Jewell or a Timney. But, there are still a lot of other triggers represented in the remaining 1/3 that are very diverse and interesting designs. I’ll quickly summarize those:
Accuracy International Trigger
The 3rd most popular brand of triggers was Accuracy International, with 10 shooters out of the top 100 using it. The Accuracy International trigger is a 2 stage trigger that comes standard on AI-built rifles. If you were to buy this OEM trigger by itself, it looks to be priced at $489. At almost twice the price of a Jewell … it must be a pretty amazing trigger!
Huber Concepts Trigger
7 shooters in the top 100 were using a Huber Concepts Trigger. Huber Concepts makes both single stage and two stage triggers. 3 shooters specifically said they were using one of the two stage triggers, but the others didn’t specify which they used. The 2 stage pull weight can be set from 5 pounds down to 1.5 pounds, and the single stage can be set from 5 pounds down to 1 pound. One big difference is the Huber Concept trigger is NOT an adjustable trigger. You essentially have the option to choose a pull weight in 0.5 pound increments when you order the trigger, and it’ll be set to that from the factory … but cannot be adjusted by the user. Huber Concepts uses a patented anti-friction ball design, and you can learn more about that and other details about their trigger in this video review. These triggers are priced at $395-420, depending on the finish.
4 shooters were using a Shilen Trigger, including one shooter in the top 10. Honestly, this was the first I’d heard of Shilen triggers. Shilen’s standard trigger’s pull weight is adjustable from 1.5 to 3 pounds. Unlike most of the other triggers in this list, it doesn’t come with a safety (but you can use one from an existing Remington trigger). This trigger retails for $100-150, depending on finish.
Tubb 700 Trigger (T7T)
3 shooters were using the Tubb T7T Two-Stage Trigger. I read a good article on the T7T trigger in Long Range Magazine, and like most things David Tubb creates … it’s well thought-out. Overall pull weight is adjustable from 3.5 pounds to less than 1 pound, all with generous sear engagement for safety. The 1st and 2nd stages are independently adjustable for weight and feel. David has published a video showing the highlights of the T7T trigger. The Tubb T7T trigger retails for $385.
Tuned Remington Trigger
2 shooters were using a tuned version of the factory Remington trigger, including 1 shooter who finished in the top 10. People typically prefer the “old-style” Remington 700 triggers for this. Like the Remington 700 action, it’s a very well-known component that many gunsmiths are very familiar with, and comfortable adjusting and cleaning up.
Desert Tech Trigger
2 shooters were using a Desert Tech trigger. This is the “high quality match trigger” that is included in their full Desert Tech rifle builds. It is a single-stage trigger set to 3 pounds at the factory, but Desert Tech does say that it is “fully adjustable.” I don’t believe you can purchase this trigger as a stand-alone component.
Bix’n Andy Trigger
1 shooter in the top 100 was using a Bix’n Andy trigger, but it wasn’t just any shooter … it was Joe Walls who finished #2 overall. This was trigger I wasn’t familiar with, but it looks very interesting. It features a unique ball bearing mechanism that allows for trigger pull weight adjustments from 1.5 pounds down to just 1 ounce. The consistency of the trigger break is within 0.03 ounce! The upward force on the top sear is the lowest in the industry. BulletCentral.com says that the let-off on this trigger is so crisp and consistent that it never fails to amaze shooters who have become accustomed to the world’s next leading brands like the Jewell. Not only was the Bix’n Andy represented by the #2 PRS Shooter, Bix’n Andy triggers were in the winner’s circle at the latest NBRSA Nationals and the 2013 Benchrest World Championships in Australia. It seems like a really clever design that some shooters at the highest levels are running. This trigger runs around $375.
X-Treme Shooting Trigger
1 shooter was running the CG X-Treme Trigger from X-Treme Shooting. This is a two-stage trigger. The travel and weight of the 1st stage is adjustable, and the pull weight of the 2nd stage can be adjusted from 3.5 pounds down to approximately 10 ounces. There are versions available with a safety (as shown below). This trigger runs $330-$350.
Other “What The Pros Use” Articles
This post was one of a series of posts that look at the equipment the top PRS shooters use. Check out these other posts:
- Calibers & Cartridges
- Scopes & Reticles
- Rifle Actions
- Rifle Chassis & Stocks
- Rifle Suppressors & Muzzle Brakes
- Shooting Bags
- Bullets, Brass, Primers & Powders
- Special Bonus Post!
Meet The Pros
You know NASCAR? Yes, I’m talking about the racing-cars-in-a-circle NASCAR. Before NASCAR, there were just a bunch of unaffiliated, regional car races. NASCAR brought structure by unifying those races, and created the idea of a season … and an overall champion. NASCAR identified the top races across the country (that were similar in nature), then combined results and ranked competitors. The Precision Rifle Series (PRS) is like NASCAR, but for rifle matches.
The PRS is a championship style point series race based on the best precision rifle matches nationwide. PRS matches are recognized as the major league of sniper-style rifle matches. These matches aren’t shot from a bench or even on a square range. They feature practical, real-world field conditions, and even some improvised barricades and obstacles to increase the difficulty from hard to you-have-to-be-kidding-me. You won’t be able to take all shots from a prone position, and time stressors keep you from getting to comfortable. Typical target ranges are from 300 to 1200 yards, but each PRS match has a unique personality with creative stages that challenge different aspects of precision shooting. You might start off the day with a single cold bore shot on a small target at 400 yards, then at the next stage make a 1400 yard shot through 3 distinct winds across a canyon, then try to hit a golf ball on a string at 164 yards with no backstop to help you spot misses (can’t make that up), then see how many times you can ring an small 6” target at 1000 yards in 30 seconds, next shoot off a roof top at 10”, 8”, and 6” targets at 600 yards, followed by a speed drill on 1” targets at 200 yards and repeated at 7 yards … plus 10 other stages, and then come back tomorrow and do some more! Many stages involve some type of gaming strategy, and physical fitness can also come into play. For a shooter to place well in multiple matches, they must be an extremely well-rounded shooter who is capable of getting rounds on target in virtually any circumstance.
There are about 15 national-level PRS matches each year. At the end of the year the match scores are evaluated and the top ranked shooters are invited to compete head-to-head in the PRS Championship Match. We surveyed the shooters who qualified for the championship, asking all kinds of questions about the equipment they ran that season. This is a great set of data, because 100 shooters is a significant sample size, and this particular group are experts among experts. It includes guys like George Gardner (President/Senior Rifle Builder of GA Precision), Wade Stuteville of Stuteville Precision, Jim See of Center Shot Rifles, Matt Parry of Parry Custom Gun, Aaron Roberts of Roberts Precision Rifles, shooters from the US Army Marksmanship Unit, and many other world-class shooters.
Think of the best shooter you know … it’s actually very unlikely that person is good enough to break into the top 100. I know I’m not! I competed against a few of these guys for the first time earlier this year, and I was humbled. It’s incredible what these guys can do with a rifle. For example, the match in Oklahoma I was in had a station that required you to engage 4 steel targets scattered at random distances from 300 to 800 yards, and you only had 15 seconds! I think I hit 2, and rushed my 3rd shot. I didn’t even get the 4th shot off! But, one of these guys cleaned that stage with 4 seconds to spare! Yep, he got 4 rounds on target at distance in 11 seconds. That’s the caliber of shooter we’re talking about. It’s very different from benchrest or F-class competitions, but make no mistake … these guys are serious marksmen.
Thanks to Rich Emmons for allowing me to share this info. To find out more about the PRS, check out What Is The Precision Rifle Series? or watch this video to see it in action.
I just noticed that you posted another great article.
Always read them with pleasure my friend !
Thanks, Mark! Good to know you found it interesting.
As you know I am starting with F-Class shooting next week as ‘the December rookie’ at 29 Palms 😉
Its tons of interesting info you provide in the ‘What the Pro’s use’ !
Can’t wait to read you next post !
Take care my friend
Go get ’em, Marc! Best of luck to you. Glad I was able to help in a small way.
As important as a good trigger is it seems strange no one has thought to explore usage on the PRS circuit till now…good on you.
The Bix’N Andy I am familiar with via Thomas Haugland’s Longrange blog and I thought was for rifles like our Blasers…mine are R93s.
Can you tell us what rifle system the #2 shooter has his Bix’N Andy in ?
What release weight does he set it at ?
Great questions, CR. He was using a custom rifle built by Gradous Rifles on a Surgeon action, McMillan Baker Special Stock, 27″ Hawk Hill Heavy Palma Barrel chambered in 6mm Dasher. The Surgeon action is a Remington 700 clone (roughly), and accepts Remington 700 triggers. The Brix’n Andy trigger I linked to is a Remington 700 style trigger. (I know you know that stuff, CR, but just for other new shooters reading to follow-along.)
I have no idea what pull weight he had it set to. I didn’t ask that question, but it might be something I consider asking in the future. Just based on my own experience and knowing a couple guys, I’d bet most of these guys have their trigger set somewhere between 10-30 ounces, just depending on personal preference.
another very informative post- appreciate your efforts.
Just one comment on the Huber concept single stage trigger, my understanding is that they are NOT adjustable and you have to specifically by the weight pull you prefer at purchase.
Info from their web site “These triggers are NON adjustable and are set to your specification at the factory. You void all warranty adjusting the trigger”
Hey, great point, Mike. I didn’t realize that, but I do see the fine print you’re referring to at the bottom of their website order page. I’ll add that note back into the post. That is a big deal, so I really appreciate you pointing it out.
Read a report on Accurate shooter about this trigger might be the best of all triggers ever made
Flavio Fare’ Trigger
*Rem. 700/40X Trigger Pattern
*Adjustable to less than 2oz pull weight
*Price Includes U.S. Priority Mail Shipping
The Flavio Fare’ trigger is not like any other trigger I have seen, but luckily, it installs and adjusts just like most other high quality triggers. You never need to lubricate it, but you will need to clean it from time to time. Lighter fluid will do the job. Do not blow out the trigger with an air hose. Just flush, and let it dry.
The Flavio Fare’ trigger is installed just like other triggers that are designed for the 40X Remington pattern. It is installed into a hangar with two pins. The two pins are included with the trigger. They fit the holes in the trigger perfectly. If you choose to use other pins, make sure they fit the holes in the trigger. See below for adjustment locations. Always Loctite the adjustment screws when you set them. Use low strength Loctite (222). TKH
Interesting. Hadn’t heard of it, but thanks for the heads up.
Cal, I love that you do all this work to put this information together. I assume that collectively the pro shooters have put thousands if not tens of thousands of hours into choosing and testing their equipment. Your survey and excellent summary lets those of us that are only able to get to the range once or twice a month take advantage of all that time to choose the best equipment possible! Thanks for putting this data together and summarizing it so clearly! Job well done.
You bet, Joel. I’m one of the guys who benefits from this info too, so I know what you mean! 😉 It is a really helpful set of data. It’s hard to keep up with all the new products that come out, but with this collective group of guys … the best products bubble to the top. It’s a great way to know what the best of the best trust, and stay aware of some cool new products with potential.
Well done again Cal! I was waiting for that review because I was curious to see who would win the palm between Timney and Jewell. I would have thought that Timney would win but I guess that Jewell has that little something that TImney has not. I’m surprised that the new trigger from Triggertech is not even on the list, I keep hearing only good things about it, plus it is super cheap compared to most brands on the market. Keep up the good work!! Thanks!!
Thanks, Jonathan. Yeah, there are lots of fans of the Jewell triggers. Most gunsmiths I know that specialize in precision rifles recommend Jewell triggers. That doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t a better product out there somewhere, it just means the Jewell is proven to create happy customers. I’m intrigued by the Bix’n Andy trigger.
I’ve heard great things about TriggerTech too. It might just be too new to have made many in-roads here. And I’m wondering if the good reviews meant it was “good for the money” or if it meant it is better than these other triggers. Hard to know! Sometimes price isn’t a good indicator of whether something is better or worse.
I actually didn’t expect there to be this many triggers represented. It surprised me a little. It makes me want to do some type of trigger field test!
More great work Cal! I’d just like to point out that while the Shilen trigger may not come stock with a safety, the safety parts can be easily added. Shilen sells the parts or you can rob them off an appropriate Remington trigger.
Great point, Christopher. I should have made that more clear in the content. I’ve been really busy lately, and honestly just rushed to get this one out. I was tired of sitting on the data, and have been a little frustrated with how slow I’ve been at rolling this data out. Sorry I didn’t say that in the original post, but I went back and added a note about that. Thanks for the comments!
Thanks for the great article, Cal. I am going to build a 6XC this winter and now i have a good idea about the triggers that are available. I have a Timeny on my 308 Rem. Works very well. But i am looking at an X-TREME Shooting action and now i will look at their trigger.
Hey, Elmo. Glad to hear this was helpful for you. I have a Timney in one of my precision rifles, and I hadn’t shot it in a while until this past month. I forgot how much I liked that trigger. I have the Timney 510, which has wide trigger shoe and I’ve figured out that I personally prefer that over the shoe on the Jewell. I think I’d like a straight wide shoe, but I’ve never had one. I just bought one for my AR, so I guess we’ll see if I like that as much as I think I would.
Best of luck to you!
My 6.5 CM Ruger Precision Rifle has an excellent 2.3 lb. trigger pull and I see no reason to change it. In the bumping around a rifle could get in a PSR competition that’s about the weight of pull I want for safety.
However I am getting a Timney trigger for my Ruger American Predator, along with a Boyd’s laminated stock. The rifle is very accurate and deserves to be “upgraded”. Cutting coils off the factory trigger spring is not my ideas of how to get a good trigger.
Hey, Eric. Good to know you like that trigger. I’ve tried it, and it’s not bad. 2.3 pounds is heavier than what most of these guys are probably running, but it’s not way off and is great for a factory trigger. It’s refreshing to have a factory rifle that you don’t feel like you have to upgrade to be competitive!
I really think the Timney is a great value for the money. The TriggerTech trigger might also be up there for best trigger for the money. There are a lot of good options out there.
Cal-As usual, great article! After shooting a TRG and now an AI AX, I don’t wanna shoot anything other than a 2-stage trigger! I’m building a custom hunting rifle for this very reason. Are the AI triggers compatible with any other actions besides the AI’s? Also, do you know of any other 2-stage triggers for bolt actions other than the 3 listed above? Thanks and take care!
Hey, Bryan. Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you’re enjoying the content. Hey, some guys love 2 stage and others love single stage. There are world-class shooters on both sides of that fence, so it really just comes down to personal preference. Personally, I’m a single stage guy. But I know a lot of great shooters that are way smarter than me using 2 stage triggers.
I’m not sure what actions the AI triggers are compatible with. But I sent that question over to a guy I know at AI that I’m hoping could answer it. I’ll reply to this thread of comments when I hear back from him.
Man, I’m sure there are A LOT of other 2 stage triggers for bolt action rifles. This represents a very small subset of Rem 700 triggers. I’m not sure where you’d find a complete list of those, or if that even exists. Here is a link to Brownell’s for Remington 700 triggers, and that might be a good place to start. I’d bet if you called those guys you might could talk to someone who would know and even have some recommendations. They staff is usually fairly knowledgeable and helpful, in my experience.
Cadex is the only other current maker of which I know:
I’m not so sure the “BEST” of anything is the one used most by successful shooters. If that were true, there would be little chance for anything new and revolutionary to reach its deserved place on any such list.
In the body of the article, it is mentioned that one new model shows great promise.
A true “best” would be determined by testing against uniformly applied categories. and measured objectively. Sort of like the muzzle brake testing was done.
I do love the Jewell and understand the wide acceptance of the Timney. (Could that be from it’s previous low cost, high performance reputation in the past?)
Hey, Jim. Thanks for the comment. I totally get what you’re saying. If you read my About page, you’ll see my goal here is to just help fellow shooters by providing info that backed by data and not just one person’s strong opinion. When I started to get into long-range shooting, it was really hard for me to find good, objective information on the web … so I just started up a free blog and posted stuff as I learned, just hoping that maybe it would make it easier on the next guy that came along. That apparently filled a niche, because this website has grown dramatically since then … but that is still the heart of why I do this.
But I can’t help people if they don’t even find my website. I could spend 100 hours crafting an amazing post that would be really informative for some new shooter out there, but it isn’t helping him/her if they never see it. With that in mind, I try to think “What would someone be typing in a search engine that would benefit from the content in this post?” I actually use Google tools to research various phrases, and then see which has higher monthly search volume. For this post, “Best Rifle Trigger” rose to the top. Put yourself in the shoes of a brand new shooter, and you’re about to build your first custom rifle or you’re upgrading a Remington 700 you’ve had for years. You don’t have a clue what trigger you should get, or even what the guys in the know are using. Wouldn’t this post be helpful for that person? Guess what they’re most likely to type into a search engine. “Best Rifle Trigger”. So guess what the name of this post was? “Best Rifle Trigger.”
If I were writing this in a book, I’d probably have phrased that differently. But, on the internet it’s a different world. 70% of my readers come from an organic search result, and a large part of that is because I think about stuff like this.
Ultimately, I put a TON of time into every post, and I want as many people to benefit from that time investment as possible. So I have to think about making it easy for people to find me. I certainly wasn’t trying to mislead anyone with the title. So I get what you’re saying, but I hope you understand this other view.
I purchased a Kimber SVT, 84m action. Would like a lighter trigger pull, or if available, a after market trigger assembly, the factory 3-3.5 lb pull is not good.
Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks for the help
Eugene. I’m not familiar with Kimber actions, so I couldn’t tell you what triggers were compatible with it. Maybe someone else will chime in and enlighten us.
If memory serves, the kimber actions are pre-64 winchester type actions.
I believe you’re right. They at least remind me of those actions, but I’m not sure about any subtle differences between the two.
For now I’m very satisfied with the factory trigger on my Ruger Precision Rifle. In fact I don’t know of any aftermarket triggers for the RPR just yet. I expect to se some soon. It’s a popular rifle.
But for my re-stocked (Boyds laminated) Ruger American Predator I’m going with the Timney #510 trigger. At $125. it’s a bargain, just like the rifle itself.
I think you’re right, Eric. It’s a decent trigger, especially compared to other factory triggers. I don’t think there are any after-market triggers available for it yet, but I’m certain there has to be someone working on it right now. There is a huge after-market community popping up around that rifle. Honestly, it’s a little surprising how quickly that is happening. It’s a modern day gold rush!
The Timney 510 is an awesome trigger. I own a rifle with it on it, and I have 2 others with Jewell triggers … and honestly, I think I slightly prefer the Timney. I know there may be 100 people wanting to “set me straight” after that statement, but here’s my view: They both break very, very clean. If I was blindfolded, I’m not sure I could tell the difference in break (if the shoe felt the same). The Jewell allows you to adjust it without removing it from the stock, but I just don’t find myself needing to do that a lot (or ever). If I do, I’m not too lazy to remove it from the stock or chassis. In fact, the Timney has less open ports on the bottom of the trigger, because it DOESN’T allow you to do that … and that may make it more durable. The only real difference, is I personally prefer the feel of the wider blade on the Timney 510. I like their Calvin Elite trigger, but it has a more narrow blade … so I still think I like the 510 a little better. I noticed at SHOT they have a straight shoe version of the Calvin Elite, and that peaked my interest. I may buy one of those to try out. I at least like the idea of a straight blade trigger, although I may hate it in practice. But ultimately, that 510 may be my favorite … regardless of price. Now when you consider the 510 is much less than the others … Winner!
Okay … after my “I like my Timney 510 better than my Jewell” comment … you guys feel free to blast away! 😉 But, the rule is you must have personally owned both of them to weigh in.
I am looking for a trigger fabricator. Someone who can go off of a blueprint design.
Edwin, I wouldn’t have a clue where you’d find someone like that. I’d think just a really high-end machine/fabrication shop, or possibly someone like Warner Tool Company? I think that might be a complex and expensive proposition. But best of luck to you! Maybe someone else can chime in and give you some direction.
Edwin, Shilen can do it or will point you in the right direction.