Triggers And Peking Duck

Hey Bruce,

I have recently started thinking about triggers in shotguns,mostly semi auto shotguns..know what I think? they suck! But you already knew that. Anyway,I got to thinkin about how it may affect shooting. I am thinkin that lousy heavy duty pull can actually make you miss quite a few targets, all that creep throwing off your timing. I dont shoot over unders at all, but last week I was shooting skeet and a guy on the field let me shoot his 28 gauge Browning XS O/U,by the way,you were right about that gun, its a real sweetheart.

My first shot with the Browning, I shot way too soon, not because I cant shoot,but because the trigger pull was so much better than my semi auto. i really didnt expect the gun to go off,but it did,I was amazed and got to thinkin…So what do you think,,does it account for many birds lost ?


Dear Rich,

I don’t think that triggers are absolutes as much as they are something that you get used to. If the only thing that you have even known is a creepy trigger, then you will build in the timing necessary to shoot it to your potential. Ditto a crisp trigger. The problems occur when you are used to one and then go to the other as you did.

Trigger pulls really have two measurements that affect feel. By far the most important is “creep”. How much does the trigger move from it’s very beginning until the sear is released? A really good trigger won’t move at all. The analogy used is snapping a thin glass rod. There is virtually no flex, movement, creep or give. There is just initial pressure building up until the trigger “snaps”. No warning.

As a concomitant to creep, there is overtravel. This is far less important than creep. It’s the amount the trigger blade continues to move after the sear has been released. Often this is a part of the trigger design, not just a tuning aspect. Ideally, there should be no movement at all before the trigger breaks and no movement afterwards. In the real world there is usually a tiny bit of creep and a bit more than that of overtravel.

Pull weight, or trigger weight is the less important measurement. The traditional British game gun is set with 3-1/2# front trigger and 4-1/2# rear trigger. The difference in pull weight is due to the difference in mechanical leverage of the angle of the trigger finger. At least that’s my guess. I do know that when I shot a SxS with both triggers at the same pull weight, the rear trigger felt as though it were lighter. It measured the same, but it felt lighter.

I think that O/Us should have both sears of their single trigger set to the same pull weight. Most O/Us have barrel selectors, so you are just as likely to shoot the top barrel first.

As to how much pull weight is best, I really couldn’t say. Personally, when I use a gun with triggers much under 3#, I fuss about getting a nasty surprise. I sometimes tend to “milk” my trigger a bit on some clay target presentations. Trigger pulls that are on the light side are not a good situation for someone with my bad habits. On the other side, I really don’t mind a fairly heavy pull IF (big “if”) the trigger is crisp. While I prefer something in the 4~5# area, I’d certainly be able to live with a six pounder that was crispy crisp. Actually, the heavier the trigger pull, the crisper the trigger feels. I don’t mind somewhat heavier pulls than standard because I never want my gun to go off by surprise. I want it to fire when I tell it to.

All auto triggers aren’t junk and all O/U triggers aren’t great. While generally autos do have a bit more creep, partially due to design and partially due to production scrimping, often the O/Us are far heavier. I’ve had excellent trigger pulls from a reworked Remington 1100 trigger done by the head armorer at the US Army Marksmanship Unit. I’ve also had marvelous Beretta auto trigger jobs from Allen Timney <>. Check the website to see what he wants to cut your trigger and plug the safety if you want that. I recommend him highly. I have a Timney trigger in one of my 303s that has an honest 65,000 through it and it is still surprisingly crisp. Timney knows Beretta auto triggers. I wish everyone else did. I’ve seen some of the “custom” houses that do triggers turn out some real jokes. One of the biggest auto mutilators sold a pal of mine a Beretta 390 package that included a tuned trigger. The trigger pull was down to about 2-1/2#, but it began creeping on Monday and didn’t fire until Friday. A proper trigger job is like good Peking duck- crispy, crispy, crispy.

Going away the best triggers I have used in O/Us have been in the newer K-80s. I like them better than the Perazzis or high end Berettas. Brownings, Japanese and Belgian, have adequate triggers once you get them properly cut. Ditto Beretta. None of them are very good from the factory, unless you get lucky with a 682. I had a new 682 E that was pretty good. The Beretta O/Us seem to hold a good trigger job a bit longer than the Brownings. I’ve got Mark V triggers on my FN B25 Superposed guns and they are better than the norm. The Mark V is a mechanical design that you don’t see on the American market Belgian Brownings until the recent custom shop guns. At least for Browning triggers they are pretty good.

The best trigger I’ve ever used? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s on my Feinwerkbau Model 80 match air pistol. Nothing else comes close for the crispness of a glass rod. Of course the pull weight is unsuitable for a shotgun, but that pistol is the paradigm of crispy critters as far as I’m concerned.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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1 Response to Triggers And Peking Duck

  1. Steve Jacobs says:

    Great web sight keep up the good work Bruce and thanks


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