In this guide let's discuss the difference between single stage vs two stage triggers for AR15 and other firearm platforms. Once you understand why they are the way they are, how trigger weight and trigger bow designs can affect your shooting experience, then you will know exactly how to choose in the future.
There is not right or wrong answer, and what you pick is based on personal preferences. However, there are distinctive performance features of the single stage and two stage triggers you need to experience.
Single Vs Two Stage Major Applications
For quick references
Single Stage - No Take Up, Trigger Immediately At The Wall
Single stage is designed for fast split time shooting. Typically 3.5 to 5 lbs trigger pull weight for competition shooting as well as defensive shooting. The shooter senses the trigger wall immediately without any trigger take up, and the trigger breaks. The trigger then resets with minimum travel and it's at the wall again.
Single stage trigger can also feature flat face and curved trigger bow
This subtle feature significantly reduces trigger split time for competition shooting.
Two Stage - For Precision Shooting
Two stage trigger is good for precision shooting as well as defensive shooting. It features a small take up to prepare the trigger as the first stage trigger pull ( 2 - 2.5 lbs), and the super light second stage trigger pull follows after (about 1.5 lbs on average).
The reason for this design is to have the lightest trigger pull without introducing finger tremor for long range shots, and the first stage acts almost like a safety stage to at least get the shooter ready at the second stage wall.
Two-stage triggers that are commonly issued in the military (About 8 lbs trigger pull weight) but many professionals preference for aftermarket single-stage triggers. Not all two-stage triggers are equal in terms of quality and reliability.
Does It Really Matter
Yes, the shooting experience is significantly different once you get some range time with them. For the most part, these trigger systems provide much lighter trigger pull weight and much crispier trigger break. Whether you are shooting with gloves on or off, in the freezing cold or
For experienced shooters who understand the mechanics behind these trigger systems will appreciate both designs. Most aftermarket single stage and two stage triggers both feature reduced trigger pull weight in the range of 3.5 to 5.5 lbs.
While a standard mil-spec AR-15 trigger costs almost nothing to make, and the trigger pull weight is about 8 - 9 lbs.
However, if the trigger weight is too light, it can be a safety concern. In addition, if the trigger runs faster than the bolt can complete the full cycle, then the rifle can expect light primer strike when the hammer is riding the bolt as it returns to chamber a new round.