If you shoot bolt action rifles then you have no doubt heard of Timney triggers. Allen Timney began making aftermarket triggers in 1946. Although Allen is sadly no longer around the company remains family owned and adheres to his original ethos – to make superb triggers which will enhance the accuracy of the rifle.
Why upgrade your trigger?
Most factory produced firearms come with a perfectly useable trigger. If you are plinking or running and gunning on steels then a factory trigger will do just fine.
The trigger is the only part of the rifle that you move when taking a shot. If you are into long range shooting, benchrest or competition then pulling the trigger becomes zen like. Every cell in your body is focused on it.. You feel every bit of creep, every miniscule grind of metal on metal. Sometimes it feels like an eternity as you slowly increase the tension and wait for the bang.. Ideally a trigger should not have creep and the contacting surfaces should be smoothly mated. When the trigger actuates it should feel like snapping a thin glass rod.
Mass produced guns lack such finesse. The companies just do not have the time to produce items to such fine tolerances or if they do the price of their guns would escalate accordingly. On top of that you have the legal aspect. Remington have made the news several times for alledged defects to their X mark triggers. They are therefore likely to produce a safe trigger by giving it a substantial pull weight just in case they get sued.. Heavy triggers are not the best for hair splitting accuracy..
Timney triggers are sold as being fairly easy to install. At Gunsandzen we thought it might be sensible to ask our favourite firearms dealer and Gunsmith, Graham from ACPshooting.co.uk to run through the install so we could photograph the procedure and provide a bit of insight for those who wish to do it themselves.
Graham and his Dad at ACPshooting.co.uk.
The rifle is a Remington 700 SPS left hander in .308. The trigger going in is a Timney 511 which is the left handed version of Timneys popular 510 Remington 700 trigger. The trigger came direct from Timney in a neat pack with instructions and a free blueberry lollypop!
The price for the 511 on Timneys site is $140. Considering many other triggers can be $200-$300 I thought Timneys price was very reasonable.
Removing Remingtons factory trigger.
The first thing to do was remove the action from the stock. Two Torx screws hold the stock and action together. They are the large torx screws at the front and rear of the trigger guard. Once you loosen those and carefully remove them the action and stock easily come apart.
Place your stock and screws to one side. You now have the barreled action and trigger. The trigger is held in place with pins which need to be tapped out. The ideal tools for the job are a set of pin punches and a small hammer with both plastic and brass heads. Do not be tempted to go at it with your claw hammer at home, you are very likely to break something..
To punch the pins out you can either lay the action across a specialised block with holes specifically designed for the task or use a couple of blocks of wood to support it allowing a gap for the pins to be driven into.
Graham carefully tapping the pins out.
Once the pins are out the Remington factory trigger will just drop away. Be very careful as a small spring and a piece of metal will also drop out – the bolt release. It is possible to leave one of the pins in just far enough to hold the bolt release in place while removing the trigger. Graham took them all out so we could have a full understanding of putting it all back together.. That was to prove slightly awkward being as my rifle is a left hander..
The Remington X mark trigger out and the Timney 511 ready to go in. Note the matching holes in the top of the trigger which are where the retaining pins are driven.
The Timney 511.
The working parts on the Timney are mostly hidden from view by the side plates which feature the Timney logo. The tolerances demanded at Timney ensure that the inner parts are mated as smoothly as possible. Machining to such tight tolerance is by no means easy. It requires a blend of very precise and expensive tools and machines combined with great expertise. I spent 3 years as an apprentice in a steel shop. We made industrial sized fabrications. The tolerances we worked to were huge compared to Triggers yet we still struggled with expensive machinery to reach it. That is the “Zen” of a really good trigger. To get that perfect feel every little part must be in equillibrium with the others. I know that sounds a bit odd to some but if your in competition or trying to make a really long shot then you will apppreciate the time that was put in.
The weight on the 511 can be adjusted from 1.5-4lbs. I spent many years shooting an Anshutz .22 match rifle (Barry Daggers old olympic rifle, a left hander, medium weight custom barrel.. I still kick myself for selling it..) which had a trigger weight in grams. For general use or moving with a rifle (run and gun, service rifle, practical, hunting) such a trigger weight is a liability. However if you are lying very still in a fixed position with rifle pointed at the target at ALL times then light triggers are the standard. Their is no doubt a light crisp trigger gives an accuracy advantage. Many competitions and ranges may have fixed rules regarding trigger weight. Allways check the regulations before purchasing a lighter trigger. 1.5lb is considered relatively light in the world of fullbore while 4lb is considered a pretty acceptable weight in all but the most practical disciplines (I think service rifle requires 4.5lb – may differ between countries though). In short it supplies an ideal range for almost everyone.
A slight issue with left handed stuff..
Now this has happened to me a few times. If you are using something which is built for left handers the pictures and video “how to” or manuals are usually directed at right handed gear. Now it seems simple.. You just reverse the whole picture in your head.. Could either Graham or I seem to do that? No.. We both had brain freeze for about 10 minutes trying to position the bolt release and spring correctly. After that it was the fairly simple job of holding it all together and tapping the pins back in..
The left handed bolt catch correctly in place and retained by one of the pins partially driven in. Ideally this is how you would leave the pin when removing the standard trigger.
Once you have the pins in flush, which is a bit of a fiddle and tap sort of affair you should check the bolt release. The catch is above the trigger blade as on the stock trigger. Be sure the bolt release works smoothly and the spring works correctly. You may find as Graham did that the spring requires a little manipulation with some long nosed pliers to drop into place. Just keep tweaking and testing until you find the sweet spot.
Giving the bolt release spring a little tweak.
Graham in deep concentration checking everything is moving smoothly.
Replace the stock.
Once Graham was happy that it all looked good he fitted the action and stock back together. I have a Manners T5 which accepted the Timney without a problem. I have heard of some stocks needing a little bit of inletting done with a Dremmel. Again that maybe something to check with Timney and your stock manufacturer before you buy a trigger.
Once the stock and action are tighted down it is time to check trigger function. Ensuring the gun is not loaded and has no magazine inserted, action the bolt and pull the trigger. Check function with the safety on and off. The safety on Timneys actually physically blocks the trigger which is in my opinion a safer option than the standard Remington (much critiqued and subject to an international replacement scheme by Remington.)
Adjusting pull weight.
The Timney 511/510 allow adjustment for creep and weight. When I tested the trigger there was no creep present. However the factory default weight (around 3lb) was a little heavier than I wanted. Check your manual and Timneys handy youtube video (available through their site linked below) for which screws adjust weight/creep. We found some older models seemed to have different adjustment set ups so it is worth checking.
Graham managed to adjust down to 1.5lbs which felt ideal to me. Great care should be taken although it does appear that if you did adjust too low the trigger will not function. I would strongly advise testing with a digital trigger gauge.
You do need to remove the stock again to adjust the Timney properly.
Once you have your desired weight set and tested it is time to torque the stock screws back down. Mant people have opinions on torque settings. I have a bottom metal/mini chassis and find 50 inch/pounds works fine. Graham goes for the simpler “hand tight and an extra quarter turn”. Again you should check with your stock and action manufacturers recommendation. Personally I probably will not notice a difference between Grahams method or my own as regards accuracy.
Allways bear in mind a new component to a firearm adds an extra level of caution and care when you finally test it. Maintain the rifle pointed toward target at all times during testing. If you have a misfire be aware of the correct procedure at your club or range. You should have recieved relevant training in these areas before handling any firearms.
In part 2 of this article I will be testing the triggers performance in Wales at Orion firearms trainings wonderful range. It looks like it may be a pretty wet and windy day so it may get a gloved evaluation as well..
Many thanks to Graham at ACP Shooting – http://www.acpshooting.co.uk/
Graham will be appearing in some of our future articles and he can also source Timney triggers and many other wonderful components for sporting rifles/shotguns and related kit.
If you are in the States you can go to Timney direct. Check out their website below which also features guides, info and links to videos.