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What Makes A Hunting Rifle Trigger Great?

Jennifer Smith

For someone who is an avid hunter or a constant participant in target practice & competitive tournaments, a rifle is an indispensable part of their arsenal. Moreover, the different parts are carefully replaced with custom rifle accessories to serve a purpose or help gain an advantage. Out of the innumerous rifle parts, one of the most commonly replaced parts is the trigger kit. Since pressing the trigger initiates the series of reactions that eventually fire the bullet, the shooter needs to be comfortable with the trigger interface or the trigger feel. Whether you opt for a flat trigger or are comfortable with a curved one, it is important to understand the importance of a good hunting trigger.

Traits of a Good Hunting Trigger

A good rifle trigger is one that provides resistance that is loose enough for a shooter to easily fire a rifle without losing aim but stiff enough to prevent any misfires. The pull weight should be less than half of the weight of the rifle. Generally, a decked-out hunting rifle with scopes and other accessories would weigh around 6-7 pounds, so the rifle pull weight should be around 2 and a half to 3 pounds. Any more trigger pull weight and the rifle barrel will drift horizontally causing the bullet to miss its mark.

A breakdown of pull action by weight is:

1.5 to 5 pounds:
hunting rifles and shotguns fall into this category. It should stabilize scoped rifles on target with a creep-free trigger action. Long-range rifles will be at the lower end of this scale from 1.5 to 3 pounds pulls.

5 to 8 pounds:
Shotguns and some hunting rifles belong to this segment. Rifles dominated this category a few years ago. However, in recent times manufacturers have improved and lightened factory triggers. Medium weight triggers do not hinder accuracy if the hunter is shooting quickly.

8 pounds plus:
this weight class is solely for double-action revolvers and semi-autos. Defensive weapons need a heavy pull weight.

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Another factor to keep in mind is the overtravel of the trigger. By definition, overtravel is a rearward movement of the trigger after the point where it disengages. Most triggers have a slight over-travel but the aim is to have it as low as possible as it induces the rifle movement before firing. You can use a specialized screw called Stop to prevent overtravel. Ideally, a good hunting trigger should be smooth enough that the act of trigger needs to be smooth and simultaneous enough without any jerky movement.

Consistency is another factor that defines a really good hunting trigger. Irrespective of whether you are using a factory-fitted or a third-party trigger mechanism like the Marlin 336 gold trigger, a trigger should always provide the same pull weight to launch the hammer every time a shooter pulls it. Condition or temperature change should have zero effect on the rifle trigger’s performance. If you notice even a slight variation in between consecutive shots, it is a good time to visit your gunsmith to remove the unnecessary play in the movement.

It is a well-known fact among the shooters, and the most elementary advice those starting off in shooting receive is that the position of your finger affects the aim. People assume that the trigger should be pressed using the ridge of their index finger but that causes your wrist to hold the rifle too tightly and causes the gun to swivel when firing. Sometimes, the shape of the trigger also plays an important role. A curved trigger, such as the Marlin 30 30 gold trigger, follows the natural curve of your finger. So, the resting position of your finger is right in the middle and you don’t need to fiddle with the trigger to find the optimum position. The flat trigger, on the other hand, may seem jarring initially but once you get a grip (pun unintended) might become the preferred trigger-style due to improved rifle trigger control. It has comparatively lesser overtravel and the pressure applied is uniform across the entire trigger.

trigger holding

Image Source: MW Tactical

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So, in a nutshell, the secret to an ideal hunting rifle trigger is:

  • Light pull weight
  • Consistent performance
  • Less overtravel
  • Correct trigger shape


This is a great time to be part of the hunting industry, as every single aspect of a hunting rifle is analyzed and redone to the exact specifications of the shooter. Manufacturers are building triggers on the foundation of critical traits such as accuracy, performance, and durability. Their attention to detail and perseverance translates to a trigger that maintains a balanced trigger weight that is consistent.

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