The American Trigger Corporation AR Gold trigger is hands down the best AR-15 trigger available today. It is short, crisp, light, and fast. It is extremely safe and it is easy to install, even for beginners. I have now tested enough rounds through my rifle with the AR Gold installed to feel confident in claiming it to be the best trigger I’ve ever felt in an AR-15 style rifle.
The AR Gold trigger comes installed in its own housing. The advantage to this is that there are no AR lower tolerances to deal with and every trigger is perfectly in spec even if the lower isn’t. Many other triggers have tolerance problems because no two lowers are exactly the same and the lower receiver tolerances change pre-travel, overtravel, sear, safety, and other trigger engagements. This is not the fault of trigger manufactures but it is an issue nonetheless. The AR Gold trigger housing solves that problem by not using the lower receiver to align trigger parts; the lower receiver pins only hold the trigger in the lower and cannot effect the trigger engagements.
Additionally, all the engagement parts of the AR Gold trigger are hardened steel and are held to strict tolerances. Because the trigger comes pre-assembled and pre-adjusted in its own housing, it makes installation simple. If you can push two pins through two holes you can install this trigger. It’s really almost that easy.
The trigger comes from the factory adjusted to a crisp 3 lbs. Because of the trigger geometry, it feels even lighter. When I first compared it to other name brand match triggers also set at 3 lbs I would have bet money that it was lighter; it wasn’t.
While American Trigger Corporation, the company who manufactures the AR-Gold trigger, doesn’t recommend adjusting the trigger lighter, I was able to safely adjust my trigger to 2 lbs without issues. I was proud of my trigger until I felt Daniel Horner’s AR Gold Trigger at the 2012 MGM Ironman. His trigger was set at what he called a “light” pound and was pretty incredible. He has been running his at the “light” pound setting for a little over 3 years and it has worked to help him win multiple world 3 gun championships as well as matches all over the country. Daniel only uses his gun for 3 Gun competition and I would discourage anyone else from trying to run their AR trigger that low; the liability is too high. I share that information simply to illustrate that this trigger is capable of amazing things. If you do feel inclined to make adjustments to the trigger be sure that you re-loctite the settings when you are done so that the trigger doesn’t work itself into an unsafe condition.
Safety and Design
The AR Gold trigger is especially distinctive because of its unique design. It was designed from a clean slate and shares almost nothing with traditional AR-15 trigger designs. In addition to having the shortest reset of any trigger on the market it is also one of the safest triggers on the market. If for an unforeseen reason, the gun were dropped without the safety on, or if the gun is otherwise bumped, the hammer will not fall but will catch in a secondary, or intercepting, sear. If this happens the gun can still be fired, but the trigger pull, off of the intercepting sear, is much heavier. The intercepting sear only works if the gun were to be dropped or bumped and the hammer slip from the primary sear. The intercepting sear will not prevent a discharge if you accidentally pull the trigger or something else like clothing or a tree branch pulls the trigger. I have done drop tests with the trigger installed in a heavy AR and never got the hammer to come off the primary sear. I know the intercepting sear works because I have tested physically releasing the primary sear to show the secondary sear catch the hammer. (See Video) Additionally, if the trigger is installed properly, the activated safety captures the hammer and locks the entire trigger in place. It is a very well designed and safe trigger system.
How does it Feel?
The trigger itself feels very much like a very expensive 1911 trigger. It feels that way for good reason; it shares some design similarities with the 1911 trigger. From the American Trigger Website:
Our primary sear is actuated by a disconnector, conceptually not unlike the trigger of a 1911. The sear captures the hammer at the very back rather then close to the pivot point. The results is both a lighter pull and much less stress on the sear and hammer bent because we are operating farther out on the lever (hammer). After the gun fires, the bolt drives the hammer back pressing the disconnector down, which disconnects the sear from the trigger (the same way the slide on a 1911 presses the disconnector down) and releasing the sear to capture the hammer. The trigger has a short reset to re-engage the disconnector for the next shot.
To describe the trigger in my own words I would say that when you first touch the trigger there is about 0.035 amount of movement or take-up that requires almost no effort and then an abrupt stop(trigger pull gauge says its 7.4 ounces). It’s barely more than the act of touching the trigger. The take-up feels almost exactly the same as a 1911 trigger take-up. From that point there is no more creep or movement. As you increase weight there is almost no perception of movement and then a very clean break followed immediately by a stop. By my measurements, this distance is approximately the same distance as the reset and is about .0175 inches. It’s not very much. After firing, if you keep the trigger pinned back and then allow the trigger to move forward approximately .0175 of an inch, the trigger resets and is ready to fire again. The AR Gold has such an extremely short reset that it almost needs to be felt, to be comprehended.
In addition to Carl Carbon & Patrick Kelley’s Euphrata 3 gun match, a few local matches, and practice, I have now run the AR Gold Trigger through the MGM Ironman, the toughest 3 gun match in the world. We had some of the worst weather I’ve ever seen at a match. From 30 miles per hour winds that blew a fine sandy grit into every crevice, to rain, we saw just about every kind of weather you don’t want to see when shooting a high round count match. The trigger has functioned safely without any cleaning or any problems.
The trigger works excellent for long-range precise targets and excels for short fast double taps. The best part about the trigger is that it feels so similar to the trigger on my 2011 that it makes transitions from my rifle to handgun or vice versa very smooth. It was without a doubt my rifle shooting that helped me place 14th out of about 150 in the scoped tactical division at this year’s MGM Ironman. I attribute some of my improved rifle shooting to the phenomenally good trigger in my AR.
I’m currently loading my match ammo out of new, pulled down Lake City or Federal military brass with the primer still intact. I have had no issues with light primer strikes or misfires on the military primers that are known for being hard.
I can fully recommend the American Trigger Corporation AR Gold Trigger for AR-15’s. Because the AR Gold is a premium trigger, it commands a heftier price. While it is not in the same price range as many of the less expensive, “decently good” triggers available, it is very competitively priced with other high-end triggers and in my opinion is the best deal of any trigger priced over $200. If you are a serious shooter or competitor, getting “the best” is still a good value for your money. I plan to invest in the American Trigger Corporation’s AR Gold AR-10 version as the “decently good” trigger installed in my AR-10 isn’t cutting it anymore.
American Trigger Corp has a link to buy the AR Gold Trigger from their website or it can be purchased directly from Brownells.com.
Price: Currently $279