I have never been “married” to any particular rifle platform. My preference for any type or build is generally task-specific. For playing on the range or field of competition, pretty much anything goes. Failure means fewer points, no trophy, or less fame—no great loss. Real life is different, having lives (yours included) on the line is a game-changer—making reliability under any conditions key.
My experience early on with the AR platform was less than positive. My position at the South Salt Lake Police Department allowed me to try other military systems like the HK53, Micro Galil, and Steyr AUG. As a result, I developed an affinity for bullpups and an appreciation for the AK gas system. However, most of the guns available to me that offered one or the other had drawbacks—fewer sight options, awkward fire controls, the absence of a bolt hold-open device, an inability to use AR magazines, and so on.
IWI US’ Tavor SAR seemed to be the answer to my requests. It offered a bullpup layout with a Kalashnikov-esque, long-stroke gas piston method of operation. It featured AR-type controls and fed from standard AR magazines that hold the bolt open after the last round. Its accuracy was acceptable, not stellar, but given the correct ammunition it wasn’t bad. Its biggest issue was its trigger.
Similar to a mil-spec M16 trigger, it was heavy, crunchy, and creepy. Mil-spec triggers work great for troops, but given that I neither leap from tanks or jump from aircraft, it was overkill for me. It needed something like my AR’s Geissele SSA (Super Semi-Automatic). Geissele took their time in getting around to the Tavor, but finally came through with the Super Sabra trigger pack. As a standalone drop-in solution, the Super Sabra is an excellent two-stage trigger assembly. Not satisfied to stop at the pack alone, Geissele has recently introduced their Super Sabra Lightning Trigger Bow to compliment the trigger pack proper. When used together, they set a new standard for aftermarket Tavor triggers.
All Tavor trigger “packs” are complete units that consist of the hammer, connector, disconnector and sear in a polymer or aluminum housing that sits behind the magazine well. The packs themselves do not replace the bang switch that you’re pulling with your finger. Geissele uses an aluminum housing and their proven S7 tool steel internals. A nitride coating provides excellent resistance to corrosion.
Swapping out the trigger pack on the Tavor is a no-tools operation that takes less than a minute. Make sure it is unloaded with no magazine in place. Rack the charging handle to reset the hammer and put it on “safe.” Push out the two trigger pack pins, open the bolt release, and the pack drops into your hand. Insert the new trigger pack, push in the pins, perform a function check, and you are done.
I tested the Super Sabra for “feel” and subsequently adjusted it to suit my tastes. Adjusting the trigger’s first stage is dead simple: turn the hex screw on the bottom clockwise for more first-stage tension, or counterclockwise for less. My preference is a stiffer first stage, so I tightened it up a bit. The first stage is adjustable between 3.5 and 5.5 pounds, while the second stage is set at 2 pounds. This allows for a total pull weight between 5.5 and 7.5 pounds.
I performed accuracy testing using a Bushnell 1-6.5x Elite Tactical scope fired from prone with a bag as a rest. After putting thousands of rounds through my Tavor, I’ve found it likes Silver State Armory’s 64-grain PPT the best. Using the factory and other aftermarket triggers, I’ve obtained 0.75-inch groups at 100 yards with a few 0.6-inch groups at the same distance. With the Geissele Super Sabra, I was able to produce similar shot groups. The 0.6-inch groups now appear to be the limits of this gun’s accuracy, in my experience.
The Super Sabra’s feel is very similar to that of their SSA—predictable with a distinct first and second stage, allowing for solid control. The only noticeable issue with the trigger pack alone was the inherent pre-travel that is a result of the Tavor’s bullpup trigger design. Moving to rapid-fire strings and some high round count courses of fire, it was 100 percent reliable with no change in trigger feel over time. Shooting side by side with rifles using the SSA, there was little difference. The only rifle that felt “faster” was my competition gun designed specifically for that task, which has a Geissele SD-C (Super Dynamic Combat) trigger. It fired everything it was fed, including some steel-cased ammo.
The only improvement would be removing that trigger pre-travel—which brings us to the Lightning Trigger Bow.
Lightning Trigger Bow
Introduced at SHOT this year, the Lightning Trigger Bow addresses the remaining issue with the Tavor trigger. Any aftermarket trigger pack is better than the factory pack, but they all suffer from the inherent pre-travel problem. You must take up some spring tension before the trigger pack actually kicks in. There is no way to adjust that with the factory trigger. Geissele’s new trigger bow not only allows adjustment, but simplifies and strengthens the mechanism.
Swapping out the trigger bow (what you’re actually pulling with your finger) requires quite a bit more effort than just the trigger pack. It’s not difficult by any means, but it requires some tools and tear down. If you have swapped barrels before, it only requires one more step than that procedures. You will need the barrel removal wrench if you don’t have a 9x19mm conversion kit. Outside that, a punch and hammer do the trick and you can get through it using the Tavor armorer’s manual available on the Internet.
Follow the procedures needed to remove the barrel completely. Once done, you will see the trigger plainly. Using a hammer and punch, remove the trigger pin, taking care to catch the factory spring. Carefully remove it from the transfer bar and set it aside. Geissele’s trigger has the tension spring built in, making installation pretty easy. Insert the trigger, engaging the transfer bar, and reinstall the trigger pin—just make sure to enter the tapered end first. Once installed, make sure it moves freely. There is a single adjustment screw to adjust pre-travel. Using a rod or screwdriver to reset the hammer, adjust the screw to remove most of the pre-travel. Leaving just a little insures proper operation when things get dirty. Put everything back together and perform a function check and you are ready to hit the range.
The best of all worlds
Mating the Super Sabra and the Lightning resulted in the best Tavor trigger I’ve pulled to date, especially if you are a two-stage fan. Removing the pre-travel made it feel almost exactly like an SSA. The flat trigger really lends itself to accuracy, along with a very predictable two-stage pull. While it didn’t necessarily make my groups tighter (as I said above, I believe that limit had been reached), it was easier to be consistently accurate with the Geissele pack and bow. Shooting out to 400 yards it became very noticeable. Adding stress (sprints) then engaging targets at 200 to 400 yards, my hit percentage was improved quite a bit over other triggers. It was just easier to get settled, pick up the first stage, and get a predictable break.
During rapid-fire strings the difference is not quite as noticeable for split times, but it did facilitate accuracy during a change of pace. Moving from fast multiples to a well-aimed precision shot was very fast, especially on the move.
At this point I am not sure how Tavor triggers can get any better than what Geissele’s turned out. It is as close as you get to a proven two-stage trigger you would see in a well-built AR.
Though it’s designed to work with the Super Sabra, the Lightning Trigger Bow also works with the other triggers on the market. It requires some attention to detail with the pre-travel as each trigger pack is different. Using the Super Sabra, it required removal of pre-travel for the best operation. Mated to the factory trigger, it was pretty well-set-up. With the Timney and the ShootingSight packs, the opposite was true—the set screw needed to be turned out a bit. Take your time and get it right, but once adjusted they functioned perfectly with the same improvement in overall feel. Those who like the Timney will probably enjoy the difference the most, turning it into a true single-stage trigger. All of the trigger packs performed without any light primer strikes, failures to reset, or any other issues. Adding the trigger bow was an upgrade across the board.
If you are looking for the best possible two-stage configuration for your Tavor, mating the Geissele Super Sabra with the Lightning is the ticket. They install easily and provide the same feel as the company’s SSA AR triggers. Given my time on their AR triggers, my Tavor will be staying in this configuration from now on. If you already have a Timney or ShootingSight trigger pack, the trigger bow should prove to be a definite improvement. It will even allow you to clean up the factory trigger a bit. If single-stage is your preference, the Timney trigger with the Geissele bow is about as good as it gets. Geissele’s Super Sabra trigger pack is available now for $350. The Lightning Trigger Bow is scheduled for an April/May 2015 release with a $99 retail price.
Images by Dave Bahde