On Target Review: Timney AR 15 Competition Trigger

Timney has been making triggers since 1946.
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 by Rob Kay and RN Price

Timney has been making modular triggers since 1946.

Timney is one of those iconic names in the gun world. We’d heard about their products for years but never had a personal relationship with one until recently.


More on that later.

The company has been around since 1946 when it was founded by Allen Timney, a WWII vet, who enjoyed “sporterizing” war surplus and became quite adept at it. So adept, that he had more trigger work than he had time. He came up with the idea of a modular “sportsman’s” trigger for Mausers and Springfields because it was a good way to keep up with demand. He particularly wanted to make his triggers adjustable and easy for a non-gunsmith to install. Mr. Timney retired in 1980 and sold the company to Paul and Rosemary Vehr. Their son John bought the company from his parents and now runs it.

Timney currently produces 22 different styles of triggers for roughly 100 models of rifles ranging from AR 15s and Scars to Winchester bolt action rifles. They are hand–assembled, custom calibrated and all have life time warranties.

Essentially Timney does one thing and one thing well—they manufacture single stage triggers. 

 Customer Service Manager Kevin “T-Bone” Dee says that one thing that really differentiates the Timney from his competitors is that each and every trigger is hand tested and hand calibrated on an action.  The company also uses hi-tech manufacturing such as Wire EDM technology–a very precise way of making parts which erodes the metal (by running current through a wire) instead of physically cutting it. The critical parts–the sear, trgger, hammer are made this way. T-Bone says “you can make incredibly precise cuts accurate to 50/100,000 of an inch or less.”

The modular housing, baked with gold enamel, is milled on CNC machines. 

The upshot says T-Bone is “consistency and quality”. Every unit is exactly the same. He says Timney has the state of the art robotic machines and the company invests quite a bit in hiring the best people.

Timney is modular so you just drop it in. Competition trigger is slightly elongated compared to Milspec

One of the products’ biggest selling points (in addition to the performance) is that you don’t have to be a gunsmith to install them. This (as we found out first hand) is especially the case the with AR platform. Unlike putting together an AR lower receiver, you don’t have to mount springs, a hammer, etc. Like all Timneys they are modular and pre-assembled. Just drop it in, and you’re in business.

The history of Timney’s involvement with ARs began around the year 2000 when the owner, John Vehr, was asked by journalist why they didn’t make triggers for the AR platform. His answer was something along the lines of “because everyone else does”. Later he decided it might not be a bad idea to take the journalist’s advice, and he engaged the services of his veteran designer who came up with a prototype in three days. (I guess if your company has been designing triggers since 1946, it’s not difficult to come up with a decent prototype in a couple of days!)

John Vehr wanted something different and that’s what he got.

The competition model triggers are designed differently from the typical milspec version. The trigger is considerably less rounded or curved and the frontal that meets your finger is both highly polished and slightly beveled.

The trigger has a gold or bronze hue and its housing sports a near candy apple gold color.

So how do you determine which variety of trigger to install?

The “skeletonized” version is more expensive and “curvier” than the competition model

In the AR platform there are only two types to choose from—the “skeletonized” and the competition versions. The main difference between them is (save price) is aesthetics. The skeletonized verzion has more of a curve or crescent moon shape than the competition model.

Once you’ve determined which one you like, the next step is to figure out whether you want a 3, 4 or 4.5 lb pull. That will be your biggest decision. There’s no right or wrong.

We opted for a 3 lb trigger for precision shooting although I’m sure the heavier triggers would have done just as well. According to T-Bone, the 3 lb trigger is by far the best selling model.

Timney’s AR 15 trigger differs from those it produces for other rifles because they are not adjustable. T-Bone said that if they were to make them adjustable operators would invetably tweak them. Too light a pull can be dangerous and can result again in multiple shots and even full auto fire.


Installing the assembly, as we alluded to with no reservations, was exceedingly simple. The trigger comes with an instruction set or you can go online and find the same text as well as a slide show which was hidden the FAQ files. 

Process begins by popping out the two pins holding the stock trigger assembly.  Toss the old parts and prepare to enter a new universe

The first step is to gently punch out the two pins on the lower receiver that hold the trigger and hammer assemblies. Use a brass punch if you have one.

The only thing you really need to be careful of is to not slip and inadvertently mar the surface.

Fortunately, that’s pretty hard to do unless you are suffering from delirium tremens but I supposed it could be done. After gently popping out the pins you’ll find yourself with a collection of springs, a hammer and a trigger. Give them to your kid cousin or throw them in the nearest lake. (Just hold onto those pins).

Next remove the grip (with a screwdriver or Allen head wrench depending on your circumstances) and make sure to flip the lower upside down as you slowly remove it. You’ll see a long spring appear from the the grip where it joins the lower receiver. There’s also a tiny safety detent inside the cavity that will fall out if the receiver is held right side up. 

Hold onto that as well if it appears. Then remove the safety lever. This may take a little jiggling to extract. You’ll figure it out.Then drop in that pretty gold trigger assembly and align the two openings that appeared when the pins were popped out. You can then simply place the two pins by hand or with a gentle nudge from a mallet. (Note that the pins have bevels at different points. It doesn’t matter which side to place them).

Once you’ve removed the stock trigger assembly drop the assembly in. So easy, even we can do it.

Once installed you may find the pins want to slide out. To keep them in place release the trigger, placing your finger in between the hammer and receiver, so it doesn’t smack the side. The pressure from hammer will keep the assembly in place. Then put the safety lever back in the receiver.

Now it’s time to tighten the trigger lock screws with the tiny Allen wrench that’s provided in the kit. Don’t over tighten these screws or you’ll strip the threads. No need to use Loctite.

After that you’ll want to replace the safety detent pin into the channel in the lower receiver (f you removed it). Make sure the pointy end goes in first, then install the long detent spring. Finally, re-install the pistol grip, making sure that the detent spring goes into the hole in the grip, and that it isn’t jammed or twisted as the grip is lined up with the lower receiver.

That’s all there is to it. The whole job should take you less than 20 minutes.

What about maintenance? Don’t worry about lubing. Timney uses a Telflon nickel coating which doesn’t require oil. “The main thing,” says T-Bone, “is to keep it clean.” He recommends cleaning it out with lighter fluid or Hoppes #9 and then blowing the fluid out with some compressed air.

Home on the Range

The trigger is a bronze color. The edges are slightly beveled and the surface is polished. Feels so natural that it becomes part of your appendage.

We like to think of ourselves as real trigger aficionados. That just means we know what we like. With a good trigger, even if you’re not the world’s best shot, you’ll at least have the opportunity leverage every bit of “native” accuracy that your gun offers. Without a good trigger, you’re simply handicapping yourself.

We both own 1911s and target guns of every stripe. We can say unreservedly the Timney is among the best we’ve ever tried. The ergonomics are great–the “stretched” or flattened trigger on the competition model is wonderful. There’s no creep, the break is as clean and crisp as they come. The reset is quick, short and natural feeling.

Even though ours had the 3 lb “pull” (about half of what you’d expect with milspec) it was anything but “hair” trigger. You’re not going to squeeze off a round unless you intend to do so.

Even though both CMMG and Stag’s triggers (Stag in particular) are above average for ARs, Timney takes you to another level of performance. The thing about the Timney is that you forget that it’s there. It simply does its job because you have become one with it.

Without getting mystical about it, the trigger has in effect become part of your appendage.

We would strongly recommend this product to any experienced shooter who wants their expectations of what a good trigger should be, fulfilled.  I’d also recommend it to a newbie who is tired of driving a Ford pickup and wants to know what it’s like to round corners in a Porsche. MSRP is $209.

Top photo and “shot of skeletonized” trigger courtesy of Timney. All other photos by On-Target Hawaii Staff. 

Questions?  Comments?  Contact us at ontargethawaii@gmail.com

Rob Kay writes about firearms for Hawaii Reporter and is the author of How to Buy an AK-47.
Read more of Rob’s articles on OnTargetHawaii.com






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