Two words you will find coming up frequently in most online gun forums are two-stage and single-stage trigger. The debate on which is the better trigger is a heated one and everyone seems to have an opinion on the matter.
But I am not here to try and shove my opinion down your throat. What I am here to do is look at the strengths and weaknesses of both options to help you make a decision. Ultimately though the decision will be yours to make. That being said, let us dive straight into it.
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Single stage triggers are the simpler of the two and the one you are probably more familiar with. With these triggers, there are no complications; you simply apply pressure using your finger, and it breaks. Or in simpler terms, you press the trigger and bang goes the gun, and it’s as simple as that.
Advantages of single-stage triggers
Generally speaking, the single-stage trigger is more straightforward and thus works best for quick follow up shots. Single-stage triggers typically have a lighter pull weight than two-stage triggers. Thus there is no slack or pull back when firing using a single-stage trigger.
Disdvantages of single-stage triggers
Since its as simple as press the trigger and bang, with single-stage triggers, there is no room for error or for making final adjustments. This makes them troublesome to use in high-stress situations as well as in long-range shooting where accuracy is needed.
With a two-stage trigger, you go through two distinct firing phases. The first is the first stage, which normally has a heavier pull. When you first press the trigger, it goes through the first stage but will not fire but rather will feel a “wall” or a breakpoint. Continue pressing on it, and the gun will fire.
Generally speaking, two-stage triggers have a heavier pull weight than single-stage triggers. However, there are some exceptions. The Geissele Automatics AR-15/M16 Two-Stage is one of these exceptions as it has a pull weight of 4.5 pounds.
This is below the standard 5.5 pounds maximum pull weight of single-stage triggers. Most single-stage triggers have pull weights of less than 5.5 pounds. But as with two-stage triggers, there are exceptions.
One prime example being the Timney AR-15 Drop-in Trigger Module, which is a single-stage trigger with a 6 pound pull weight.
Advantages of two-stage triggers
One of the biggest benefits of two-stage triggers is that you have time to make small adjustments before firing. When involved in competitive target shooting, I normally go through the first stage and only pull back to the second stage when I’m steady and ready.
The time between the two stages allows you to make fine adjustments and to better prepare to make your shot. This is why two-stage triggers are preferred for competitive shooting and long-range shooting.
Disadvantages of two-stage triggers
When it comes to dual-stage triggers, there is a longer pull and slower reset time. This can mean trouble in a situation where a fraction of a second means life and death. As such, some consider them to be a poor choice for battle rifles.
Single Stage VS Two Stage Trigger : The Difference
Technically speaking, there is no difference between the two. Both serve the same purpose and accomplish the same results. However, it’s in the process that they differ. A single-stage is static and requires a single pull to fire a weapon.
This is unlike the two stages that requires two pulls — the first, which is the first stage, which takes up the slack. Once you reach the second stage, it behaves like a typical single-stage trigger. This means you know when the rifle will fire.
With a single-stage, this is unpredictable as the trigger. When it comes to pull weight, there is no difference, and it will depend on how you set your trigger.
Which is Better ? Single Stage Or Two Stage Trigger?
As stated earlier, it is not possible to label one as better than the other. The two triggers are suited to different scenarios and applications. The single-stage trigger works best where you require a fast action pull ideally in close-quarter shooting.
The two-stage trigger, on the other hand, is suited to target shooting where accuracy is needed. This type of trigger is common in sniper rifles and rifles used for competitive target shooting.
With a two-stage trigger, you can release the trigger after the first stage if you do not wish to fire.
When you release a two-stage trigger without firing, the trigger spring will push forward back to the first stage. Thus if you want to fire again, you will have to go through the first stage again.
The single-stage trigger does not have this aspect as it is static, and all is needed is a single pull.
For hunting purposes, I find the single stage to be a better option. Where the two-stage excels over the single-stage is in target practice. The quick reset that a single-stage trigger offers is what makes it ideal for hunters.
With the two-stage trigger, you can make some adjustments before applying the final ounce of pressure to fire the rifle. This is why it is suited to target practice and competitive shooting where accuracy is needed.
But whether you prefer the single-stage or two-stage triggers, there are a lot of aftermarket products to choose from. The CMC AR-15 Tactical Trigger Group is a particular favorite of mine; it is one of the best single-stage trigger alternatives to the crappy AR-15 stock trigger.
It comes in several pull weight variations, including a 3.5, 4.5, 5.5, and 6.5 lb options. The 3.5-pound variant is what i use. It is a drop-in kind of trigger, meaning it is easy to install.
When it comes to two-stage triggers, you cannot go wrong with the Rock River Arms AR-15 National Match 2-Stage Trigger. It has an average pull weight of 4.5 pounds and is perfect for precision shooting. The first stage is 2.5 pounds, and the second is 2.0 seconds.
The AR Gold trigger
Choosing between the two will come down to preference and your needs. But you can have the best of both worlds in the form of the AR Gold Hybrid trigger. The latter is a single-stage trigger with an 8-ounce take-up.
This bit of take-up gives it a two-stage trigger-like design. With the take-up, you can confirm that your finger is on the trigger, and all is ready to go.
which one should you select?
So which one should you select? The one that suits you best. Some people are more comfortable with the two-stage trigger while others with the single-stage. Whichever option you choose to be keen on the pull weight.
With both, you have to select a pull weight that matches your shooting style and that you are comfortable with. More importantly, it will be necessary to practice with your new trigger. Spend some time adjusting to your new trigger. Ultimately there are very many aftermarket single-stage and two-stage trigger options available.
In conclusion, while these two types of triggers are different, they are mechanically similar. Thus you can easily switch from a single-stage to a two-stage and vice-versa.