The McCormick Super match trigger is an all-in-one modular insert.
Photos by Dave Spaulding
Well-built from the finest components, the McCormick trigger is easily inserted. Photos by Dave Spaulding
Well-built from the finest components, the McCormick trigger is easily inserted.Photos by Dave Spaulding
When placed side by side, the McCormick trigger looks just like the factory trigger system.Photos by Dave Spaulding
The McCormick trigger installed.Photos by Dave Spaulding
The C-clip holds the pins in place.Photos by Dave Spaulding
FEATURED IN TACTICS AND WEAPONS
Recently, I was contacted by an officer/instructor in the Midwest. His mid-sized agency purchased a number of AR-15 rifles to place in its marked cruisers. The guns were manufactured by a reputable company and had acceptable accuracy and reliability.
However, the officer was concerned about the poor trigger action showing as the norm for each gun. Every time you press the trigger, there s a noticeable glitch that causes the shooter to yank through it, he says. And, of course, we all know what results from this! He wanted to know if I would recommend having an action job performed on these guns to smooth the trigger and increase officer accuracy, or installing a modular trigger.
I immediately told the officer not to modify the factory triggers on these guns. While I hate to be liability-phobic, such modifications can be viewed with skepticism in a lawsuit. Modifications to any defensive firearm should be held to a minimum and only undertaken to improve its performance and/or reliability.
Example: A light trigger is not the same as a smooth trigger. A smooth trigger should have the same length of travel as prescribed by the factory. It doesn t have rough spots or snags as the trigger works its way through the action, making it easier to hold a gun on target. You can defend this in court. On the other hand, a short trigger will be viewed as a hair trigger that can go off unintentionally. I told the officer if he was going to have the guns worked on to return them to the factory.
A Modular Makeup
What about the modular triggers? he further asked. I have to admit, I didn t know much about them, but I researched. I contacted military and law enforcement armorers I trust and who work on AR-15s regularly. I also spoke with custom gunsmiths.
The response is mixed. Those who make a living customizing guns tell me no trigger action will ever be as smooth as one slicked by the hands of a trained gunsmith, and that a modular trigger will never compare.
Military and law enforcement armorers have a completely different view, however. Each tells me they ve installed a number of modular triggers and have been very impressed with the level of performance and reliability they ve seen. And none know of a case where this type of trigger has been defended in court.
A modular trigger is a self-contained system installed in a gun as a single unit not one part at a time. Anyone who has disassembled and reassembled an AR-15 trigger system (with its multiple components, springs and pins) knows the ability to just slide one unit in place is a real plus. While a number of such trigger systems are available, the two cited over and over again by armorers are the JP Modular Fire Control Unit made by JP Enterprises and the Super Match Trigger Group from the Chip McCormick Corporation.
A Tale of Two Triggers
The surprisingly candid folks at JP Enterprises told me they didn t feel their modular trigger should be used in a duty gun. They say the JP unit is made for competition guns and not recommended for any purpose beyond that.
Conversely, the McCormick trigger is designed with tactical applications in mind. During a very interesting conversation with Chip McCormick himself, he told me the McCormick trigger group was manufactured to exceed existing military specifications and was produced at the request of a commander from one of America s most elite special operations unit. Mr. McCormick told me, Many popular aftermarket triggers get an enhanced pull by reducing spring weight. McCormick triggers have springs that are the same weight as a military trigger as well as a sear engagement that are greater than commonly found on aftermarket triggers.
Each trigger is precision fit to exact tolerances to obtain proper engagement and crisp release without the drag and snag encountered in many mass-produced factory triggers. Each McCormick modular trigger assembly is fitted at the factory to maintain proper spacing, minimize take-up and reduce over-travel, which translates to an easy-to-operate trigger that is totally reliable. It also allows a shooter to effectively hold the muzzle on target while working through the trigger action.
All components in the McCormick trigger are made from high-grade, hard and long-wearing materials. The housing is composed from thin, 410 stainless steel for low maintenance and preventing unqualified hands from adjusting the trigger action. Additionally, all springs feature full-strength music wire to ensure the gun discharges when the trigger is pressed. Tolerances are kept to +/- .001 inch for all engagement surfaces to increase part-interaction consistency. Unlike an action job performed by a gunsmith, each modular trigger is assembled consistently, the same way every time.
Mr. McCormick states he has sold a large number of his modular triggers to both law enforcement and military personnel with no problems or complaints. This statement is supported by military and police armorers I spoke with who have used the McCormick modular trigger in currently deployed guns.
Triggers to the Test
Mr. McCormick offered to send me a trigger assembly for testing and evaluation, and I accepted. He sent me the standard one-stage trigger, which is a good choice for law enforcement operations. While I ve attended an AR-15 armorer course in the past, I m far from an expert on the nomenclature of the AR system, so I was interested in how easy it would be for me to install.
The last time I detail-stripped an AR was in the 2003 armorer s course, so I had my manual on hand in case I got into a bind. This proved unnecessary, however. I first removed the grip because it retains the safety lever detent and spring. Once this was done, I removed the hammer pin and sear pin, lifting these parts from the lower receiver. I then pulled the safety lever from the side. Usually, performing this is easy, but replacing these components is a bit more problematic not so when installing the McCormick trigger. I merely slid the unit into place, reinserted the safety lever, installed the two pins supplied with the unit and reseated the grip along with the safety detent and spring.
It took me 8.5 minutes to do this. Nothing could be simpler! As a matter of fact, the most difficult part of the entire process was installing the small C-clips on the McCormick hammer and sear pins. These pins have a large head on one end with small C-retention clips that keep them from backing out on the other. You need three hands to get these in place, but once attached, these pins are not moving.
Once I installed the modular trigger in my AR, I figured the only way to test the trigger s durability is to shoot it a lot! Thanks to Steve Johnson at Hornady and Jeff Hoffman at Black Hills, I have a variety of 5.56mm ammo on hand, so over a period of several weeks, I put 1,500 rounds through the gun both fast and slow fire. On several occasions, I got close to the backstop and aimed at nothing, just working the trigger as fast as my finger could press it. I didn t have a single trigger malfunction through the 1,500 rounds I fired.
Is the McCormick modular trigger reliable? I would have to say, without reservation, it is. The truth is, McCormick tested his modular trigger through a 50,000-round torture test with no problems, so 1,500 rounds was nothing more than breaking it in.
Is it court defensible? Legalities are always tough to predict, but I did show it to a local attorney who is both a shooter and familiar with police use-of-force case law. He feels the trigger would be court defensible. Because the trigger is manufactured consistently by a reputable firm and to meet military specifications, a solid argument could be made that installing this modular trigger was a performance enhancement and not a reckless modification.
For More Information
Chip McCormick Corp.
105 Sky King Dr.
Spicewood, TX 78669