View Full Version : Trigger / Action Job?

August 12, 2005, 01:59 PM
I did a search and didn't really find the answer on here.

What exactly is involved in this? Is it simply polishing everything, or is there more stuff involved like fitting oversize parts for a perfect match? Changing springs?

Are a trigger job and action job different names for the same thing?

August 12, 2005, 06:39 PM
Sorta kinda the same thing.

A trigger job on a rifle IS a trigger job. The actual trigger and sear are worked over to give a better trigger pull.

On a revolver, it's more of an action job, since the actual trigger and hammer aren't touched, and the major work is to the other parts of the action.

August 14, 2005, 02:08 PM

Regarding "trigger jobs," Defariswheel is correct. The goals, typically, are to lighten the pull (the amount of force--measured in pounds--that must be exerted upon the trigger in order to trip the action) and/or make it more "crisp" so that on each shot the action is tripped at precisely the same place in the travel of the trigger's path. In my estimation, both are exclusively the province of experts. To paraphrase an old pun, it's no accident that many gun manufacturers set their pull-weights high. Accidental discharge of a firearm resulting from a botched do-it-yourself job can be a bloody (often fatal) thing, and the liability issue would be staggering.

Should you be considering having the triggers/actions of your firearms tweaked, please seek out an experienced, competent gunsmith to do the work. Also, respect his or her opinion if they say that your request might compromise your safety or that of those around you.

Good luck, and good shooting!

Dave Sample
August 14, 2005, 02:27 PM
I couldn't agree more with the previous post. I never liked the expression "Trigger Jobs" or "Action Work/Jobs" because they are regarded by a lot of people as a must on every firearm they aquire. I do Cowboy Action Tune Ups on 1873 type single actions but refuse to call it Trigger Jobs or Action jobs. That is not what it is all about. These guns have a 130 year old lock work and they are not built to take the abuse they get with a Cowboy Shooter. Instead of concentrating on the trigger pull, I largly ignore it. If a prospective client asks for a certain Poundage on his trigger, I pass on the job and send them down the road. I go through the whole action, exchange the springs for brand new ones, install a spring and plunger for the hand and re cut the hammer notches and the end of the trigger to give them a safe and friendly shooter. I also revise the front sight on the Italian guns and cut the V-Groove away with an end mill and make a square notch for the rear sight and then serrate the rear of the front sight to eliminate glare. I try to improve the guns I work on, and have always refused to do work that is not needed. I am a lousy business man in that regard, buit I am always glad to be me.

August 14, 2005, 09:52 PM
Whoever does this type of work must be intimately acquainted with the principles of engagement and how to deliver "improvements" in the safe and correct manner. Also, they must understand completely the consequences of each "adjustment" that is made. The "good" results should be a result of perfecting the engagement of hammer and sear. :)

August 14, 2005, 10:39 PM
Dittos to the other comments. I will throw in that way too much is made of having light triggers. I placed nationally in air pistol many years ago, and the triggers on those guns are very light. Unfortunately, I found the brain learns where that light trigger will break just as readily as it does a heavy one. You soon find you are no less prone to pulling a shot out of the ten ring with a light trigger than you are with a heavy one.

The advantage to a light trigger, like an overtravel stop, is strictly about reducing mechanical disturbance on release of the shot, and not about better control of when the shot breaks. Bench rest levels of accuracy are an example of when mechanical pressure on a trigger could possibly cause enough disturbance or alter vibration enough to affect mechanical grouping. Other than this, if you learn to press the trigger straight to the rear, any clean breaking trigger up to about 6 pounds will serve in most instances.

Two-stage triggers where more than 1/2, and preferably 2/3 of the total break pressure is in the first stage (take-up) will decieve the brain into thinking the let-off is much lighter than it actually is. A broad trigger spreads the weight out, lowering the number of pounds per square inch required to achieve the same total break pressure, and thus lowering the percieved release pressure. This what made trigger shoes popular for awhile.

I have a scoped Ruger Redhawk that is heavy enough that I grip it quite firmly in firing. The firm grip and broad trigger makes the crisp 5 pound single-action trigger break feel like a 2 1/2 pounder.

There does seem to be a magic limit at around 6 pounds. A friend with an otherwise identical Redhawk has a gritty 7 pound single-action release, and that gun is a misery to try to group with. A couple of decades back, another friend, wanting to hunt deer on a budget, had picked up a gun built on the H&R single-shot shotgun platform, but with a 30-30 barrel. It had a 9 pound trigger that broke O.K., but had lots of overtravel and not one of us could get it to group much better than to stay on a paper plate at 100 yards. It was just too much. Deburring it brought the weight down to 4 pounds, and then it grouped about 2 1/2 inches.


August 14, 2005, 10:52 PM
Dave S. and Hunter,

I couldn't agree more. That's why I'm trying to educate myself. Trying to muck with the hammer/sear engagement is well beyond my skillset and I have no desire to see one go full auto.

I was trying to understand what all was involved in the process. Reading about these made me curious. I wondered if changing springs, and hand polishing deburring contact surfaces with an emery cloth made any appreciable difference without getting into dangerous areas.

August 14, 2005, 11:29 PM
If you are interested in action jobs/ trigger work there is a lot of info here:


August 15, 2005, 12:18 AM
The idea of what constitute a "good trigger job" has changed over the years.

In the case of actual trigger and sear work, like on a rifle or the single action of a revolver, the idea is to have as close as you can get to the famous "Glass rod break".

In other words a "perfect" trigger should just suddenly fire with no discernible movement.
It should just suddenly break like snapping a glass rod.

In these cases, the idea is to minimize take up, creep, and over-travel.

In the case of double action revolvers, the intent has shifted over the years.

In the old days, the lighter a DA trigger was, the better people thought it was.
Springs were cut, parts were polished and altered, and geometry of parts were changed to try to give the lightest possible DA pull, but still be reliable.

The problem was, the reliable part. Too many "trigger jobs" wound up being amazingly light......and causing unreliable ignition.

In more recent years, the idea has changed to an almost box-stock trigger pull, BUT one that's as SMOOTH as possible.

Some top revolver shooters like Jerry Michlek, Eldon Carl, and others discovered that the lighter the double action pull was, the SLOWER the action was.

They started going back to standard weight springs, but tuned the action to give the smoothest operation.

Turns out, a SMOOTH, heavy pull not only offers full reliable ignition, but also give the best "shoot-ability".

This is a tough sell to most shooters, who still think lighter is better, but the idea of the smooth but standard springed revolver is the way to go.

Back in the late 80's I'd bought a limited production S&W Model 66, with the rare 3" barrel.
I'd tuned it for a light DA pull, and tuned for smoothness.

I recently dug it out and replaced the lighter springs with factory standard, and did a higher level smoothing job.
With standard springs and the smooth action, I can shoot it better than I ever could before, AND there are no worries about an ignition failure.

So my advice on revolvers is, forget the super light DA action jobs, and go with standard springs and a smoother action, you'll be surprised at how well and FAST you can shoot it.

August 15, 2005, 02:10 AM
I have for years advised against the light weight springs in a defensive guns, and even on target guns for that matter. I have had them come in where the mainspring screw was backed out all the way and the guy couldn't figure out why it wouldn't shoot. I had one recently, a guy brought in a S&W revolver and the thing had a DA pull of about 3lbs. and was having FTF a good bit. I replaced the spring with a factory spring and it got rid of the FTF's. I smoothed it up a little for him and stoned off the back of the sear and smoothed up the rebound spring and he said he couldn't tell much difference in the pull. The only thing was, the DA was back to a little above a 5 lb pull. He left with a smile on his face.

Dave Sample
August 15, 2005, 11:55 AM
If you are in this business for the money, you are between a rock and a hard place. You have to do the work that comes your way to the best of your ability and collect what money you can for the jobs you do. If the guy that wants the work done insists on a "Light Trigger Pull" or "Action Job", that is what you give him if you want to pay the rent and eat.
Trigger work is very delicate and requires skill with files and stones. I have spent years working on 1911 triggers and have found that with the new generation of parts, that the knowledge I have attained is almost worthless today. With the improvements made with Big CNC Mills and Lathes, the tolerances are so close that the parts almost drop in if you buy the right ones. The secret to good 1911 triggers is where the holes are drilled in the lower end for the sear pin, the hammer pin, the slide stop, and the thumb safety. If they are right on, you have an easy job of tweaking the sear, hammer, and disconnector. The spring tension still has to be right, but smooth is important and a consistant let off gets the job well done. I have people pick up my personal shooters and think that 4 1/2 pound pull is 2 pounds. There is a very fine line between safe and unsafe here. If you know how to test it and make sure it won't follow or go to half cock, you can play with this stuff at home. I never recommend it. though. There will always be a need for highly skilled people who work on guns as long as we have them. They break. They wear out. They are machines that launch bullets.

August 17, 2005, 09:30 AM
While we're on the subject, I've noticed a lot of people buy ruger GP and SP's and immediately have an action job done. Can anyone tell me roughly what this would cost?

August 17, 2005, 10:21 AM
Dave, your last post is sort of what inspired this thread.

A gun doesn't need a light pull if it has a smooth pull.

My original thought was that a trigger job, was the lightening of the pull weight, and or changing the hammer/sear engagement.

An action job would be polishing, deburring the "action" to smooth it and maybe swapping in fresh springs.

The former is definitely experts only, but the latter might be something a careful enthusiast could try.

August 18, 2005, 09:13 AM
I'm betting you that a pistol with a "smooth" trigger pull of 15# won't be as accurate as a pistol with a slightly-rough pull of 2#. :) Now a trigger with a smooth 2# pull, that's cookin'.

When you take your Remington 700 to a gunsmith and have him do a $40 "trigger job", what he's doing is a trigger adjustment job, usually. Takes him about three minutes, after the action's off the stock. Something that anybody can learn to do, safely, if one has SOME mechanical skills and can read and follow instructions.