by GCA Member Thomas Brooks
Since the year 2008 we have had quite a surge in the sale of firearms. Whether it was a popular trend or influenced by outside forces, some of the most sought after firearms for almost ten years have been the AR platform rifles. At times we had shortages of both available guns and the ammo for them. But that has begun to change. While sales are still high, prices have come down, and availability has gone up. Now that freedom loving patriots have these marvels of engineering in their hands they want to personalize them. This can be anything from pink quad-rail foregrips to thousand dollar scopes. As firearm investments turn from initial panic purchases to increasing a firearm’s worth to its owner there is money to be made for gunsmiths.
The American Gunsmithing Institute has the best training available for gunsmiths and hobbyists. Some of what is available from them is a wealth of training on the AR platform. I won’t profess here to teach what the masters have in the AGI courses. It seems unfathomable to think that I could add anything more to someone’s AGI education, so look at this a some friendly advice.
One thing I have noticed with many gun owners who want “something extra” for their guns is that they often go to accuracy first. Accuracy for many means “trigger job”. Sure, you can lay down a few bucks, maybe like more than a hundred, on good drop in triggers. But, that doesn’t showcase the gunsmith’s skills, or increase his income, like taking a preexisting part and crafting it into a glorious high performance custom firearm. Sure, anyone can drop in a pre-assembled trigger group and be a “part swapper” as Gene Kelly would say. A real gunsmith, a true firearms expert, can take what is there and create something better.
There are many tools available to accomplish anything your heart desires on an AR. You could spend more on AR tools that you could buy ing ten AR’s. Specific trigger job tools are no exception, there are a lot of them. Magnifiers, stoning fixtures, and on and on. Sometimes I get tired when looking for tools, but I just get some more coffee and keep going… I think it’s an addiction, the tools and the coffee.
When I look for tools I often look for something to make the job easier and higher quality. After doing a few AR trigger jobs I realized that doing some work on the trigger group and then testing it in the receiver was very time consuming. You will have to repeat that operation several times, maybe more. The actual reassembly for testing the trigger is time consuming and increases the risk for damage to the firearm. It also hid from view what was actually happening with the trigger. Sure, you can buy or make some extended pins and do an outside receiver mock up of how it will work. But it will not give you the true working and feel of a fully assembled trigger group.
I was not happy with that method and sought out a tool to make things a little easier and accomplish my goals. Solution, Strike Industries- AR Trigger Hammer Jig. Here is the description from Brownells: “Skeletonized aluminum jig lets you observe the function of the sear, hammer, and disconnector engagement points while under normal spring tension. Jig interior is machined to the exact dimensions of the AR-15 fire control pocket. Open sides of jig offer plenty of room to make adjustments to the trigger assembly without having to take it in and out of the rifle. Jig can be mounted in a vise or on a pistol grip. Plastic block permits dry firing the assembly and won’t damage the hammer or jig.”
What could be better to test a trigger job over and over without risk of damaging a firearm, while letting you dry fire and see what is actually happening with the trigger. The pins with oversized heads let you quickly remove them. I took an old AR pistol grip of mine and fastened it to the jig so I could get a good feel for the trigger’s operation. The grip also makes it easier to hold while testing the trigger pull weight.
With slight magnification and some good trigger job stones a professional trigger job can be quickly and easily accomplished. In addition to this jig you can spend a lot on stoning fixtures but I would recommend following the advice from Jack Landis , AGI Technical Services Manager, on a recent Guns and Gunsmiths post: http://www.gunsandgunsmiths.com/trigger-job-techniques/
I really like Strike Industries- AR Trigger Hammer Jig and use for every AR trigger job. I enjoy using it so much, that I may need to go buy some AR’s just to use it in my spare time. I feel that it has increased my quality of work, and I believe that it will enhance that of my gunsmithing brethren as well. There are a lot of cookie cutter parts out there, and you can mix and match parts to create a one of a kind AR rifle using all the same parts that everyone else is using. But, with a custom trigger job from a skilled craftsman and qualified gunsmith a gun owner can truly have a one of a kind firearm.