November 29, 2021
LaRue Tactical is likely one of the best-known manufacturers of high-end QD scope mounts, and perhaps the most famous for their precise quick detachment system. The story of both LaRue as a company and their products expand vastly beyond scope mounts however. Mark LaRue started the company Austin Precision Products Inc. in 1980. This Texas-based company produced complex products for the semi-conductor industry, which demanded machining products to the highest of tolerances and quality control. A traditional machinist, whose focus is always on precision and perfection, and an avid hunter and shooter, it’s no surprise his company came to be "the dead center of precision”.
Exactly “HOW” the LaRue Tactical Division of Austin Precision Products came to be formed though is an interesting story in its own right. Basically Mark got tired of manually resetting falling targets while shooting on his lunch break, and so designed a battery powered resetting target. He brought one to SHOT Show and a specialized military unit of US SOCOM happened to take notice and made a purchase. They were impressed by his target design, and after 9/11 they contacted him to design a rugged quick detachable scope mount they could count on in combat. Mark felt it to be his patriotic duty and rose to the call, quickly designing and refining the desired QD scope mount for military use. While at the time he doubted he would ever recoup the monetary funds placed on this project, the honor of serving our troops during time of war is priceless. His mount with its innovative QD system proved a success, and it soon “trickled down” to other units. This began the legacy of LaRue Tactical. In the years that followed LaRue Tactical introduced a wide array of mounting solutions, sound suppressors and even firearms.
After a positive experience testing and reviewing LaRue’s LT849 MRO mounting system, I had high hopes as well for their two-stage AR-15 trigger, the MBT-2S. It did not disappoint in the least. The trigger came nicely and professionally packaged in a can that would be reminiscent of an old timey candy tin. Included were nicely laid out and very straight forward instructions which would assist even the most novice gun enthusiast to a successful installation. I found packaging and installation instructions much better and more professional than traditional Geissele (the old school "bag-a-trigger" as I nicknamed them) and others.
The trigger comes pre-greased in all the proper contact and interface points between the hammer and trigger, and is the most "ready to install" trigger I've personally worked with. I like the dimpled trigger pins. They are highly reminiscent of original Armalite and early Colt Mfg. pins, and anyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for historically significant ARs. Not only do they have nice aesthetics, they are doubly functional, as they worked well with my delrine trigger/hammer pin punch. This made installation a bit easier than a flat interface. While I use delrine (as while it is sacrificial, it doesn't mar any surface which is great for accident prone people such as myself), a bit of oil and brass (or even steel) roll pin punches would also work well with these pins.
So, in a world chock-full of AR triggers and parts, what makes this one special? Let's start with one word, billet. These triggers are machined from S7 tool steel billet plates, unlike their direct competitors which use cast or even M.I.M. parts. This was a relief for me, as my experience with M.I.M. AR parts (while limited) was not positive, but that’s a story for another day. While I am no stranger to investment cast AISI-8620 trigger components, and it can produce great parts, there's no better satisfaction of having a trigger made from high quality tool steel plates.
Installation was straightforward with zero issues encountered. After installation, the first thing I noticed was the amount of real estate on the trigger shoe itself. Much wider than standard Mil-Spec or competitors, it lends itself well to most avenues of shooting. For those unfamiliar with this, it is highly reminiscent of a wide, target trigger found on classic Smith and Wesson revolvers.
After installation, I always wipe my trigger and hammer contact points down with denatured alcohol and apply molybdenum disulfide grease (aeroshell 64) to all contact and interfacing points, plus a light coat of quality oil to springs as well. While not necessary (as it is pre-greased), the type of grease used was unknown at the time of installation. I always run my triggers through a "break in" process, working them several times and usually 30-60 rounds before passing judgement or doing any type of serious trigger weight measurements. This allows all machined surfaces time to mate together and perform at their peak. That said, a couple of quick "squeezes" on the Lyman trigger scale showed a trigger pull range of 4 pounds 5.3 ounces to 4 pounds 5.8 ounces. Impressive for a freshly installed trigger, and it falls in nicely with National Match regulations on trigger pull weight.
The host gun for this review is my M4A1 clone. I am using a Mil-Spec two-stage AISI-8620 investment cast trigger from Schmid tool in it. Trigger pull is a very crunchy 7+ pounds and absolutely nothing to brag or write home about. So, I was interested to see what effect switching to the LaRue MBT-2S trigger would have on my groups. Being a 14.7-inch 1 and 7 right hand twist barrel, I found it fitting to use Hornady 75-grain BTHP and some 62-grain SS109 FMJ (more commonly known as "green tip") for accuracy trials. I shot several groups using the Mil-Spec trigger group before replacing it with the LaRue MBT-2S and repeating the test.
Out of the gate, the SS109 shot several unimpressive, yet typical 2.5 to 3-inch groups at 100 yards. The 75-grain HPBT load was much more promising, shooting consistent 1.5- 1.7 inch 5-shot groups at 100 yards. Switching to the LaRue MBT-2S, my groups tightened up nicely, but I had shot up all of my SS109 and only had a box of Federal Fusion 62-grain Bonded Soft Point in my range bag, along with plenty of 75-grain BTHP. The Fusion shot well, posting 1.5-1.9 inch 5-shot groups using the MBT-2S trigger. The star of the show of course, was the 75-grain Hornady HPBT Match. The 5-shot groups with this load tightened up a consistent quarter-inch, running from 1.2 to 1.5 inches, as the trigger gave me much more consistency and better trigger control. So, just by changing the trigger I was seeing a measureable difference in accuracy on paper. Plus, I was experiencing the rifle being noticeably easier to shoot to a high standard.
I also enlisted the input of my friend David Fortier and put him to work on the range as well. Using a LaRue PredatOBR rifle in .260 Remington fitted with a TranQuilo suppressor and firing Black Hills’ 140-grain ELD Match he averaged .5-inch for three 5-shot groups fired off a rest at 100 yards. At 800 yards he averaged 4.7 inches firing prone off the bipod. Both of us agreed the LaRue MBT-2S trigger performs very well, and makes the rifle easier to shoot up to its potential.
The MBT-2S trigger is a nicely built component, with great quality control in terms of manufacturing. That said, I did notice a couple of notable machining marks on a couple of surfaces. This is cosmetic at best, as all bearing surfaces are clean and these marks do not adversely affect the performance of the product. Once my "break in" was completed, the trigger broke cleaner and smoother, with a trigger weight still falling consistently in the 4.5 pound range (within a couple tenths of an ounce). The two-stage pull is clean and the transition from first to second stage is both clean and notable, even with gloves. It is much cleaner and more pronounced than its "super" competition. That said, the final break, while clean and crisp, lacks the "glass rod like" break of their enhanced competition and reset while more crisp, it is not quite as instant.
The MBT is a solid choice for defensive work, enhanced patrol rifles (especially for officers that are ex-military and used to two-stage triggers), target use, varmint/hunting use or for DMR rifles. It offers several advantages over their super-star competition, is clean and works exceptionally well. Did I mention it has a price tag of just $99? No, it's not a misprint. A 4.5-pound high-quality trigger with a clean break, for less than half their competition. Overall, I am impressed with LaRue’s MBT-2S trigger. Having used several triggers from Geissele, ALG, Airborne Arms and their Geronimo trigger, Elftmann, CMC, Timney, JP Enterprises and others, I can safely say that no other trigger can touch it within its price range or within twice its price range. The MBT-2S is a product that easily reflects the quality and legacy of the name LaRue and one I will personally continue to use.
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About the Author:
Michelle Hamilton has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security, is a serious student of wound ballistics, military history, small arms design and manufacturing and is a competitive shooter.