The feel and quality of the typical AR-15 fire control group can vary greatly. In my time shooting AR-15s I have experienced triggers that were light and crisp, mushy with tons of pre-travel, crunchy with multiple stages, and everything in between. This issue is often compounded by the lack of truly high quality lower parts kits on the market. While the standard trigger, foibles and all, is probably sufficient for most shooters, the inconsistent nature of the standard trigger often drives people to the aftermarket in search of a better trigger pull.
The aftermarket brings its own issues. After market “match” triggers are often not up to the task of handling a steady diet of live and dry fire training thanks to the more delicate geometry that must be used to achieve the lighter trigger pull. These triggers often use lighter springs which does lighten the trigger pull but can also reduce reliability by creating light strikes. This all started to change when Geissele Automatics hit the scene with their 2-stage trigger groups that were extremely durable, reliable, and still managed to offer a light, consistent trigger pull.
Geissele triggers are great but not everyone or every rifle needs a light 2-stage trigger. This is where ALG Defense comes in. They are a spin-off of Geissele that is offering different product line that consists of standard mil-spec trigger groups of the highest quality that have been tuned by the skilled and knowledgeable people at Geissele. These are not match triggers or the type of trigger that you would choose for a precision AR-15. These are designed to be no frills, reliable triggers that offer consistent performance.
ALG Defense was kind enough to send me 2 samples of each of their 2 trigger options, the QMS and ACT, for review.
QMS Trigger Overview
QMS stands for Quality Mil-Spec and that tells you nearly everything you need to know about the QMS. It is a quality, mil-spec trigger. There is nothing fancy here – just pure function.
The QMS Trigger consists of parts that are sourced from a one of the best manufacturers of these parts. The trigger, hammer, and disconnector are honed to be consistent and come with all of the springs and pins that are necessary for installation (along with a nifty slave pin for the disconnector and trigger). Both of my samples measured right around 5.9 pounds and had remarkably similar feel with a hint of pre-travel and a clean break.
ACT Trigger Overview
ACT stands for Advanced Combat Trigger. I am not qualified to determine whether or not the name fits but it does seem to be an excellent trigger.
The ACT also consists of parts sourced from the same quality manufacturer and are also honed. However the ACT receives an additional feature to enhance function. All parts are HardLubed which is a nickel-boron or nickle-teflon (depending on the part). This coating increases corrosion resistance and has self-lubricating properties that are desirable for a trigger. Both of my samples measured around 5.8 pounds with very similar feel with the same hint of pre-travel and a clean break of the QMS.
What’s the Point?
If all these triggers do is offer a improved version of the standard mil-spec trigger without drastic lightening, then what is the point? To me, it comes down to two factors: consistency and reliability.
Consistency is a very good thing when it comes to triggers. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the trigger group that comes in the lower parts kit on the internet will be consistent from one kit to another. Some will feel like they have multiple stages. Some will have grit that may never work out completely. Some may be very heavy while others are lighter. Out of the box, the ALG Defense triggers feel like a very good example of the mil-spec trigger group that has already been broken in. All 4 of my samples felt like this and were at the low end of mil-spec in terms of pull weight (spec is 5.5-9.5 pounds). ALG Defense triggers make sure that you win the trigger lottery every time.
The standard mil-spec trigger may not be a match trigger in terms of pull weight but it is just about as reliable as a trigger can be… well, it is reliable as long as you have a well-made example. Unfortunately, quality can vary wildly across various brands of lower parts which reliability can vary wildly. I have seen trigger groups with a variety of problems out of the box including broken j-springs and parts that were so poorly cast, they had large voids of missing material. Much of what makes the AR-15 reliable as a whole happens in the upper but when there are reliability/durability problems in the lower, it is often an issue with the trigger group (breakage, weak springs, walking pins, etc).
An additional consideration that is not applicable to me but may be a consideration for you is that these are mil-spec parts and thus may be more likely to be approved for department or unit use than other aftermarket triggers.
I have 4 samples (2 QMS and 2 ACT) and all of them feel remarkably similar. They all have a small amount of take-up (pre-travel). After the take-up, you feel the “wall” and then a very clean break. There is little to no movement between when you hit the wall and the break. There is no grittiness in any of my 4 samples. The best words that I can use to describe them are clean, smooth, and crisp.
All 4 triggers seem to have noticeably stronger resets than the triggers that they replaced. I am not sure if this is due to spring quality or the fact that the springs that were replaced had already been used for a number of years. Regardless, the ALG Defense springs make it very easy to feel the trigger reset and offer proof that you don’t need lighter springs to achieve an improved trigger pull.
Quantifying the benefits of the ACT’s HardLubing is difficult to do in this short of a time. The coating’s properties are fairly well known and should reduce wear and corrosion long term. In the short term, the ACT does seem to have a slightly smoother, lighter, and crisper trigger feel than the QMS before lubrication is applied.
ALG Defense includes a slave pin with every trigger that makes it very easy to install the trigger and disconnector. This is a nice touch. The slave pin serves to lock the trigger and disconnector together before you drop them into the lower. This way you don’t have to line them up while fighting spring tension inside the receiver. That little pin saves a big headache.
You can’t help but note the quality while you are installing the ALG Defense trigger groups. It is especially noticeable when you have the old trigger group out of the lower and along side the ALG Defense trigger group. Many trigger groups have a sort of matte, gritty appearance on all surfaces except the bearing surfaces. The ALG Defense parts have a sort of smooth luster that reminds me of Colt lower parts and the old LMT lower parts kits that used to be available. They also come well coated with oil and packed with a small square of rust inhibiting paper.
I like these trigger groups a lot. All 4 samples have a very consistent feel which was very important to me since these went into 4 different ARs. All 4 samples were honed to be as good as a mil-spec trigger can be in terms of feel. The quality seems excellent and the price is very reasonable for what you get. If you have lost the AR trigger lottery, you just want higher quality parts than what you currently have, or you have multiple ARs that you wish had more similar trigger feel, these triggers could be the answer.