Weight for me

in The Pew4 months ago (edited)

I've been shooting for a long time, almost thirty years now, and along the way many things have changed; I think that comes with experience and is probably common to most hobbies.

Over the years my skills have improved and the knowledge behind them also. I went from a simple firearms owner and basic shooter to a very accomplished rifleman and sharpshooter. Not immodesty, just the facts. Many things changed for me however the more I learned the more I realised how integral each element of shooting was to the other. It seemed that each small thing was inexorably linked to the next and only in combining them all would a person reach a high standard. Considering I have high standards when it comes to myself, learning and developing was the natural order of it.

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One of these elements is the trigger pull; Critical to every shot of course; With no trigger pull shooter can't send the bullet to the target.

You can see a trigger mechanism in this image below; This is a standard factory trigger I have removed and replaced with a much higher-quality aftermarket trigger. One by Timney Triggers, just about the best money can buy in my opinion. I've replaced it for it's smoother operation, more crisp and precise (predictable) break, which is the moment it actually fires the gun, and for it's ability to be fine-tuned.

I'll not go into the details of a correct trigger-pull as it there are so many variations; I could only do that over multiple posts. Today I wanted to introduce the trigger pull-weight though, something that I feel is one of the most critical aspects of accurate shooting at long range.

Trigger pull-weight

This is simply how much weight goes into pulling the trigger of a gun before it breaks, and fires the round. It is typically measured in pounds. The greater the weight the more difficult to pull the trigger, and vice versa.

But how heavy should it be?

Unfortunately there is no easy answer for this, no definitive answer at all really; It depends on so many different variables, and is very personal to the shooter also. If I'm asked this question I say, the weight you're happy or most comfortable using. Not a definitive response at all is it?

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Here's how I've worked it out for myself

I've always simply begun with a trigger pull-weight of half the weight of the rifle. So, an eight pound rifle would mean a four pound pull as a maximum weight.

With this in mind some consideration needs to be taken into what the rifle is being used for. If I was setting up a dedicated hunting rifle I'd set the trigger a little higher on the scale (but below that half-the-gun-weight figure as above.) So it might be 3 pounds for instance. If it was a competition rifle it would be much lower and would need to be tested prior to setting. Determining the fine-tuning of the weight can only be done in one way; By shooting it.

Having the trigger too light could result in an accidental discharge and that could prove fatal, so generally in the field triggers are a little heavier than they would be in a bench-rest situation at a range. This is problematic for me because I don't bench-rest shoot. I'm a practical shooter, even when shooting at long range, and am often shooting in pressured time-poor competition-situations rather than under no duress at all. So, considering that, and the fact I shoot in the field also, I should have heavier-set triggers, but don't. I have to find a balance.

G-dog's trigger pull-weight

For me, I find a balance at 2.2 pounds which has been tested in the field extensively, over many rifles and different types of triggers.

It is light enough for smooth and precise trigger-pulls on very long range targets and heavy enough that in the field, culling and hunting, or running around in a competition at the range, an inadvertent touch will not set it off. Of course, my trigger-discipline is at ninja-level so at no stage does my finger go near the trigger unless it's about to pull it.Safety is never compromised though naturally.

I have heard over and over that the shooter is supposed to be surprised when the trigger breaks and the gun fires, but I've never subscribed to it. The premise is that if the shooter anticipates the shot they may account for it in some way, brace for the recoil for instance, and pull the shot. I don't like to be surprised when my guns go off though - Indeed, I know exactly when the trigger is going to break, learned by thousands of trigger-pulls and a finely-tuned trigger action. When learning to shoot the first surprise condition may work, but an experienced shooter should know what's up.

I have fired guns where the lightest touch of the trigger will set it off and it unnerves me. Firstly because landing a bullet somewhere that I have not aimed at is dangerous and irresponsible and secondly because I'm a control freak and likely a little OCD also. One of my friends has his set at 10 ounces which is quite low, (16 ounces in a pound), although they can go much lower.

Factory triggers are not manufactured to hold a weight of much lower than three pounds as there may not be sufficient sear-engagement to hold the firing pin. This is why we go to after market ones and I have seen them as low as two ounces!

My magic number is 2.2 pounds, although I'll be honest, I have one set at 1.9 pounds just because it feels right on that rifle; That's the thing about it though, feel. It all comes down to what is right for the shooter, and safety of course. There's so many factors, even how fat and meaty a person's trigger finger pad is, and what part on their finger they actually pull the trigger, (some use the very tip, some the pad a little further back, some the first joint area and so on.)

Anyone can pull a trigger, but not just anyone can make accurate shots at long range, or short for that matter. So many people have the misconception it's a simply matter of aiming and pulling the trigger, and in some cases that may work; It'll certainly get a round away. However to do it with the accuracy required to shoot targets of any type at long range it goes a lot deeper. This is what I love about shooting; The challenge of learning then mastering the skills to do the job properly and with precision.

Thanks for looking at this post. (One designed not to be technical in nature on purpose.)


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This is so true. We have similar tastes here. On a couple of my target rifles/pistols, I may go just under that, but same general area. The timing is very funny, I went to the range last weekend to push distance as you saw in my Kestrel/Sig Kilo post. What I did not mention in that post was that I also shot a Ruger M77 bolt action .22-250. I had this zero'd at 100 yards, and found it accurate at that distance.

I haven't shot it in a while and I suppose I've become spoiled with my other custom triggers. I measured the holdover at 200 yards with the strelok app and went to shoot. I found the trigger so hard to pull compared to my others that at first I thought the safety was on and pulled the rifle off target to check it lol. After I verified that the safety was indeed off, I pulled a little harder and sure enough, it fired. What I found though was no matter how hard I tried, I could not keep it on target while pulling that hard trigger, it was constantly pulling off at least a half inch to inch. I did get it more consistent after several rounds, but wow, what a difference this can make when shooting longer distances. I haven't measured it yet, but just guessing, it must be over 6lbs of pull. I'm sure I'll be upgrading that one as well. It's one of my favorite calibers to shoot.

Great timing I think, your Ruger M77 shoot...Clearly that happened simply to prove my point here. 🤔

When writing I was scratching my head to recall some figures to substantiate my claim but couldn't really remember anything definitively enough to write - Now you've done it for me.

The trigger weight is so important and I recall back to the early days, shooting with people who didn't really know, and wonder how they could possibly not have known this! I don't recall them ever having custom triggers though, or talking about pull-weight. Hunters though, not long range shooters.

I had an M77 (MkII) in .243, my first rifle as it turns out. I cannot remember the trigger pull but would have been similar I suppose. Pretty hard to keep on target when you're pulling so hard. I practice my trigger pull, work on making sure it's a smooth precise pull, straight back, on the trigger. Too heavy a trigger and it can pull or push one way and as you know, those minute changes can affect the FOS down range greatly.

This is the cool thing with firearms and shooting I think, it's all encompassing. One can't just do one part well, it all has to be done well.

Thanks for your data and comment, as always.

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Well @galenkp, You may know me by now. I had to go and measure it. The ruger M77 trigger is currently 5 lbs. 6 oz. So, not quite the 6 pounds I thought, but the feel still seems even heavier than that for me.

I may be on my way to becoming a trigger snob, lol. I found it intolerable on that rifle, annoying at 100 yards, and just plain unusable at 200 yards (at least for me). I broke down today and ordered an adjustable Timney trigger for it. It looks like there may be some minor fitting and filing to do during install, but I just know that I will enjoy this rifle so much more with a good trigger.

Trigger snob 😂 Aren't we all? Well, those that know the difference between good and bad. So many do not and simply shoot what they have.

I only use Timney triggers if available although some factory ones are a little adjustable and I've brought them to a suitable pull-weight. (Acceptable, not suitable). Sometimes I'll make do if it means saving some money for more important things.

Let's see what you bring the Romney down to. Do a post.

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I get surprised a little bit being a novice gun owner when I’m at the range. I notice this happens with my first few clips but the more I use the more I expect what happens and the less I get surprised.

Also interesting, maybe because it was later in the time I was shooting that day with my dad, the AR-15 he has didn’t surprise me as much as my pistol did. Not sure if it’s because the butt was against my shoulder to brace the impact where the pistol is just in my hand but I found it interesting.

Then the .22 rifle he brought as well was like pop rocks compared to the pistols and AR lol

Anticipating that break can really affect the shot. Normally it just comes down to practicing consistently and it soon disappears. Having good triggers provide consistent results too, and together they generally eliminate that surprise-factor.

You need to shoot more. 😁

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Hahah yeah no kidding man. Going on almost 3 years I think since I last was at the range. I keep meaning to pull the smith and Wesson out of the case for a little picture time cleaning it but that work stuff gets in the way lol. After work I don’t need my son knowing I have a firearm in the house yet so I can’t do it with him. Hoping when he’s 7 or 8 I can explain it to him more.

Work ruins everything. Lol.

Nah, I understand, it's difficult sometimes. I'm just lucky to be in the situation I'm in, and even then I sometimes struggle to find the time. I'm off culling tomorrow though, late afternoon. Should be good.

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Uu Faith looks so cool in this! Ninja level is an understatement after so many years of doing this. Fat and meaty finger versus the weight. So at 2.2 pounds... How fat should the finger be? Lol, that was going through my mind after reading the finger sentence😂🙈 I keep on finding new stuff about this area, it is interesting. One day maybe I will try this as a hobby, at least to see how it is like

Yeah, she certainly looks better than me, that's for sure.

I've never taken someone shooting who didn't come away wanting to do it again, and many have gone on to become firearms owners themselves. It is an interesting sport, very complicated to be honest; Enough that one could shoot for 50 years and still be learning. No one knows it all.

I'm not sure about the fat fingers thing; Mine are perfectly proportioned in size. So shapely in fact that a meatyness-factor would not be appropriate to describe them.

I would be curious to try. I have slim fingers, so no meatyness😂

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Great information on the trigger setups I realise I know almost nothing about guns.

Thanks mate, it's a fairly complicated thing generally. It doesn't happen like on the movies.

Nothing much does happen like on the movie's ☹️

What? You mean cars don't explode when thay touch each other even just a little bit like in American movies? What the?

The first time i experienced shooting was in the army and I honestly hated it. The constant shouting and only three shots at a time when you had a full magazine. Once away from the basic training I really enjoyed it as it is challenging. We had one opportunity shooting floating plastic drums at a dam and we had everything including RPG's. This was really fantastic and the opposite of what happened during basics. Would love to take up shooting but not in this country as it is too dodgy with the licencing and stuff that goes on behind the scenes. List of applicants applying somehow gets leaked regularly and are victims of crime after that for the sake of trying to steal your fire arm.

Yeah, an instructor yelling in the background whilst trying to shoot isn't the best, but it seems like you found some enjoyment later. An RPG will do that every time.

It sounds pretty bad, the licensing thing. It's always an issue for me here but obviously not to the same extent as over there, but still a concern. Maybe when you move out. Croatia was possibly the destination right?

I have looked at a few places getting some ideas. English speaking is a must as languages and me don't come easy. This kinds of limits the selection so I am always constantly looking.

Australia bro, we speak English; A version of it anyway. Lol.

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I have looked and it is just too far away from everyone else. Honestly been looking around the Mediterranean and somewhere even like Malta.Need to travel around though as seeing it first hand is a must.No rush right now as I need my business back on track as I am screwed without it.

I saw a doco on Malta a while back (documentary) and it looks pretty nice. I agree though, you need to scope it out personally.

Australia is a long way from anywhere, totally awesome place, but yeah, a long way from everywhere else.

The tax relief they offer got me. As long as you own a property there they have so many pluses. There is no tax for any funds coming in externally and all crypto and stocks is tax free.

Find a place with a guest house and I'm there! Lol. Oh hang on, I'd have to own something. Two houses side by side it is! Start looking and I'll start packing. 😂

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Hello dear friend @galenkp Good afternoon

Knowledge is the key to everything, and without a doubt each element of a rible fulfills a very important function and they are related to other pieces that make a shot a success.

The whole topic of conversation that the trigger of a weapon offers is incredible, I would never have imagined it. Above all, it allows you to improve in quality by changing for one of better performance.

Never before have you heard someone mention "Shooting Weight Trigger" and how important it is in safety, and avoiding unintentional shooting.

You really are a true pro, you have measured how much trigger pressure (2.2 lbs) should be to achieve the shot you want.

I feel admiration when you talk about this topic, you provide us with many details that we would never have imagined existed. I appreciate all this information

I wish you an excellent night and a happy rest

Hi there, the thing with shooting is that one needs to bring so many elements together at the same time to do it well. If one element is left out or not done well then the shot could be ruined. When taking life, hunting and culling for instance, it needs to be done cleanly and humanely, and so I out this mu h effort into it.

Besides, I have a a desire to continually improve myself and what I do and so I need to be learning and developing to meet that need.

It is true and very reasonable what you say, you have in your hands the power to take an animal life, and the better and more accurate the shot, the suffering will not exist. Very understandable.
In addition, the demand and perfection in what you do is perceived. Excellent
Thank you very much for this explanation.

I wish you a happy rest

As with every aspect of guns, while there are general guidelines, it all boils down to what the shooter finds comfortable unless there's a safety rule violation involved. But I will say that a friend's Nagant revolver is an absolute horror. Single-action is worse than any DA revolver trigger I've felt, and double-action is nigh impossible to manage while maintaining any semblance of accuracy whatsoever.

Personal choice plays a large role in many sports and when combined with some more rigid guidelines, can make for a better results.

Ergh my brain. This stuff sounds like hard work. Please keep it up, you're easy to read and I would never know what to look for XD

Don't worry, it all does my head it too at times. Especially the more complex matters. Thanks for being interested.

I don't know much about trigger weighting - at least I've learned a bit more now - but I can relate to the tactility in cars. Good weighting and feedback is important, either that's the steering, gear-knob, braking, or acceleration. It's the only way to have a good connection between man and machine, and I could see this being incredibly crucial for weaponry as well. For cars at least, it seems like good feedback and tactility is rather trivial, as many cars these days feel rather blunt and rubbery.

It seems you have a lot of experience with performance cars, do tell.

It's just that a lot of high performance cars these days are focused entirely on gimmicks like top speeds and acceleration. But everything in the middle is just a blur, as if everything can be done so easily, and without much engagement from the human. The car's computers can handle everything, from braking to making sure you don't have a crash.

The human then, is just a lump of flesh going along for the ride. Hydraulic steering have been replaced with electric racks, one that lack most of the feedback and feel. Electric steering is faster and more precise, but the driver can't get as much information out of it, like being able to feel out every little bump on the road. Brakes are now fly-by-wire too, so it can be hard to discern what they're doing, or how the feel, like the whether they're fading, or need a bit more heat to bite on.

All those little niggles can be solved however, and just flip on the computer and it'll sort out everything for you. It's not as engaging, I find. Imagine if you mounted a rifle to a motorised tripod, and then connect a computer to the scope. It'll adjust everything from windage, compensating for gravity, range, and it'll track the target. All you have to do is press a button for it to shoot, and occasionally reloading it. I can't imagine that being more fun.

I'm rarely interested in gimmicks...Possibly a by-product of having a simple upbringing.

Same here, mate. Life's much better when you simplify things :-)