Definition Series - Part 13: "Trigger Break"
by Kirk Lawson
Trigger Break is that moment when the trigger transitions from "in the process of being pulled" to "has been pulled." It is that moment in which the movement of the trigger, straight to the rear, disengages the sear mechanism which releases the Hammer or Striker to drive the Firing Pin into the cartridge primer. It is the moment of pulling-pulling-pulling-BANG! With an unloaded gun, it is the moment of pulling-pulling-pulling-CLICK!
The movement, weight, and feel of this Trigger Break is often very important to shooters because it can affect how accurate the user can be with the gun or comfortable it is to shoot. Every trigger has a certain "weight" to the pull; how much strength, in pounds, is required to pull to Trigger Break. However some triggers can be fairly light at the beginning of the pull but the resistance increases dramatically near the end. This is often called "Stacking" or "Trigger Stack." Stacking triggers can make it more challenging to shoot accurately. Triggers with an inconsistent and varying weight to the pull also make it more difficult for experienced shooters to be accurate. Some trigger strokes are said to be "gritty" and it feels like there is a scratchy, herky-jerky, uneven resistance during the pull. This also can increase the difficulty of being accurate when shooting. Some triggers will "break" very near the end of the trigger pull stroke. Breaking very close to the rear of the stroke and near the Front Strap of the grip can also make it more challenging to shoot accurately.
Some triggers will have a perceptible period of pull while they are disengaging the sear, to release the Hammer or Striker. Again, this makes it harder to be accurate. Triggers which have a very short period of break are said to "break cleanly" or sometimes are describe as "breaking like a glass rod." You can see the comparison, there is a moment of resistance and then a "snap!" and the shot is fired.
A Trigger Break which is heavy, stacks, doesn't have a "clean" break, and is near the grip can be quite challenging to shoot with high accuracy.
While a "perfect" trigger is impossible and is not necessary for some kinds of shooting, a "better" trigger is usually more desirable.