Rifle Triggers Of The 1950’s

Rifle triggers are one of those Components on a rifle that would get a lot of discussion on how to adjust and use it. 10 shooters, whether they are hunters or target shooters would all be quite different in their interpretation of what the trigger adjustment should be. This would be primarily for a hunting rifle.

What is the best trigger and what pound should it be set at. Should the triggers have no creep or have a 2 stage military trigger or possibly a set rifle trigger? There are different styles of triggers and a vast amount of opinions on how to adjust them.

I will consider a couple of different rifle  triggers from the 1950’s era. The number one style would be an open style where the trigger is not enclosed in any housing that the sear and trigger would ride in. This would primarily be the style trigger that a Winchester model 70 from the 1950s, 60s era would have.

The second style would be what I call a box style trigger where the sear and trigger mechanism are enclosed in a metal type enclosure that keeps everything intact inside the box. The open system and the box system were both used in the firearms of the 1950s and 60s.

My preference was always the number one style open trigger system because I felt it was much easier to work on or adjust and also had no issues with tolerances around it.



Triggers in the box style system were primarily what the Remington model 721 and 722 triggers had in the 1950s. This style had the spring and sear and internal components mounted inside the box system. Everything was enclosure inside the box. This style is used on the Remington 700 rifle of today.

The 700 Remington rifle trigger adjustments should be left to the experts.

Although this system worked very well and was very successful, the problem I had with that type system was that shooters and some gunsmiths would have a tendency to oil the gun repeatedly and over time the oil would build up inside the box.

In that style trigger I would have some of those triggers be surrounded by a varnished type substance or sticky substance that would eventually build up from the oil and cleaners that got down into the mechanism. This could create a very dangerous condition. 

If you look at the 700 trigger, shown at end of article. You will see a green  X  on the sear. That would be one of the areas that could get gummed up. The trigger, trigger connector, and sear would all be inside the housing.

I would have to disassemble the complete trigger and clean the sear and trigger assembly of all matter in there to get a good functioning trigger that was now safe to use.

As a gunsmith in the 70s and 80s, I would not adjust the hunting Rifle triggers below 3 1/2 pounds.

My reasoning is primarily safety and having a light trigger on a hunting gun where you’re walking through the woods and climbing over stonewalls or fallen timber is not the place to have a light trigger. 

For general large game or small game hunting a rifle trigger pull below 3 pounds is not recommended.

It has always been my contention that it is more important to shoot and get used to the gun you have and this would include bench shooting it and offhanded shooting it for hunting situations. Also once you get used to rifle triggers at 3 1/2 or 4 pounds you can be consistent in any type of hunting in North America.

Now I never considered the rifle triggers of the 1950s or 60s to be adjustable below 3 pound. I would never adjust a trigger on those commercial made rifles below 3 pound even for the bench rest shooter. Those triggers were not designed for lower weights (IMHO).

And this is what some of the older gunsmiths and firearms experts I knew from that time and they would also adhere to that practice. If you have one of those rifles of the 1950s or 60s and have the rifle triggers adjusted below 3 pound, I would seriously consider re-adjusting that to 3 pound or above in my humble opinion.

There were some guns like the Mannlicker Schoenouer rifle that did have what was called a set trigger and those could be shot at lighter weights by using the set trigger. Obviously some of the target guns did have much lighter rifle triggers and could be adjusted to lower weights and were designed for that.

They should never be installed in a hunting gun or used for hunting purposes. If you were out in the field hunting woodchucks from a stationary type position then I would say yes you could use it. For general large game or small game hunting a rifle triggers pull below 3 pounds is not recommended.

Today’s modern firearms do come with many updated triggers that can be adjusted to lower weights in many fine hunting rifles. I am still one of those old timers that believes rifle triggers on a hunting gun should never be lower than 3 pounds.