How heavy should the pull weight be on your rifle’s trigger? This is a great question for campfire debate, but there is no definitive answer. The best answer is: The pull weight with which you’re most comfortable.
Though we cannot nail down the ideal trigger pull weight for everyone, we can establish some guidelines. A good place to start with trigger pull weight is one no more than half the weight of your rifle. If your field ready rifle weighs 8 pounds, then use 4 pounds as a maximum for your trigger pull weight.
Keep in mind that bench rest rifles and hunting rifles aren’t the same thing. I know, you might hunt from one of them fancy shoot houses where every shot you take is from a solid rest. Still, there are other considerations. For those of you who have the luxury of hunting/shooting from a sand bag, consider that you might be hunting in extreme cold and wearing gloves. A 6-ounce trigger that will work for bench rest shooting might lead to an inadvertent shot before your sights are on a game animal.
For the more rifleman-like among us – those who routinely shoot from field positions or their own hind legs – a trigger with too light of a pull weight can get you into trouble, too. Gloves may again come into play, but so does the inherit unsteadiness of shooting offhand. Similarly, you might manage a 5- or 6-pound trigger okay from the bench, but struggle with it when shooting offhand. Regardless, a good trigger action is unquestionably one of the mot important aspects of shooter/rifle interface.
This is one of the reasons rifles with adjustable triggers have become so popular; shooters like to tune the trigger to suit their shooting style. It’s also the reason a company such as Timney Triggers has grown so much. Shooters like their rifles to go off exactly when they tell them to.
I know, there’s the old wife’s tale that you should be surprised when your rifle fires. This is pure hogwash; you should never be surprised when a firearm you are handling fires. You should know exactly when it will fire, and the only way to do this is with a good trigger you are intimately familiar with pressing. (Note: The idea of being surprised at the shot is a mechanism used to teach shooters how to manage and learn their trigger. Once that skill has been mastered, you should be surprised no more.)
I suggest starting with a trigger pull weight equal to half your rifle’s weight and then reducing it from there. They way you establish the best trigger pull weight for you is the old-fashioned way – you gotta go out and shoot. Experiment with different trigger pull weights until you find one that works safely and best with your style of shooting. I’m guessing it will be somewhere between 2 and 3 pounds, but in truth, it really doesn’t matter what your trigger pull weight is, as long as it enables you to hit your target.
Images by Richard Mann