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How Are Firearm Triggers Made? Timney Triggers Factory Tour

From the iconic Rem. 700 trigger to modern AR-15 and Glock triggers, Timney is American firearms parts manufacturing royalty. Here is a look behind the scenes.

How Are Firearm Triggers Made? Timney Triggers Factory Tour

Timney is the oldest and largest trigger manufacturer in the U.S. Currently located in the Phoenix area, they have 44 employees…and 410 SKUs.

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I recently had an opportunity to tour Timney Triggers in Phoenix, Arizona. Timney is the oldest and largest trigger manufacturer in America, started in 1946, which makes them a kind of royalty. For people my age, they are known for their improved Remington 700 triggers, but in the past few decades, they have branched out as shooting interests have expanded. Their AR-15 triggers are popular, and their Glock trigger system, introduced just a few years ago, upset an entire industry. Timney moved from California to Arizona in the 1980s and has been in their current facility for just over a decade. They are in an upscale industrial area on the north side of Phoenix, across the street—and I mean that, they are actually right across the street—from Galco Holsters. Timney is a second-generation, family owned business, and currently there are about 45 employees. Nate Moser, who has done a little bit of everything with the company, gave me a tour of the facility.

timney-trigger-factory-tour-02
One of Timney’s wire EDM machines (left), busy cutting AR-15 hammers—underwater! Bins full of machined and inspected parts (bottom right). To build a trigger unit, an assembler grabs the necessary parts—hammer, pins, springs, etc. from here and assembles the trigger unit—like tactical LEGOs.

Timney uses both wire EDM and CNC machines. Wire EDM machines do more precise work, but their cuts are simpler. If a part needs to be cut along many axes (plural of axis) they use a CNC machine. Wire EDM (electrical discharge machining) is fascinating. It happens underwater, and a fine wire (in this case brass) is electrified and run near the piece to be cut, and it is electrical discharge which actually removes material. There is no physical contact between the wire and the piece to be cut. When I was at Timney, they were just starting a run of AR-15 hammers on the wire EDM. The operator sets up the machine, turns it on, and then goes and does other things. Thirty or so hours later the machine is done, cutting a batch of more than 150 hammers. Those hammers are then sent to a CNC machine for a “secondary op”—secondary operation, i.e. an additional finishing cut or two.

Timney does all their own metal cutting, although they do contract with outside companies for coating and heat treating. Their hammers and other important bits and pieces in their trigger units are precision ground/cut from billet in-house. In addition to the AR-15 hammers being cut from tool steel, I saw a CNC machine set up to carve Glock trigger shoes from small aluminum blocks. Timney has wire EDM machines, CNC machines, and even a Swiss screw machine, which is an automatic lathe—bar stock goes in one end, and small parts come out the other. After leaving the machines, the parts are brought to inspection, then the various parts are stored in numbered/bar-coded bins. All of Timney’s trigger systems require assembly and multiple parts/pieces, and during assembly, the assemblers are tasked with grabbing the right parts to make the various trigger units.

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Completed triggers waiting for packaging.

I don’t know why I was surprised to see/learn that every single trigger that comes out of Timney is tested by hand. There were two rows of testers clicking and snapping at triggers while I was there. Every trigger is put into an action and test-fired repeatedly, in various ways, checking to make sure it works properly. Adjustable triggers are tested all the way up and down to the listed weight limits for weight, crispness, creep, consistency, etc. During packaging, they have a list of everything that’s supposed to go in the box with the trigger—instruction kit, parts, extra springs, etc. Even though they are the largest and oldest trigger manufacturer in the country, Timney still isn’t a huge company—two people package and two people ship everything they make. Every trigger is also shipped with a lollipop as well—specifically a Tootsie Roll Pop, which are the Cadillacs of lollipops. It is a Timney tradition. Timney technically has 410 different SKUs (model) of triggers, although that includes a lot of short-run and custom products with nickel-plating and special pull weights. The number of standard triggers they offer is half that, but that’s still a lot of triggers, and you might be surprised to see what’s on the list.

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Timney employees testing the completed triggers. You’ll see the closer employee has a trigger gauge. Adjustable triggers are tested throughout their adjustment range.

Sure, everyone knows Timney makes triggers for the Remington 700 and AR-15s, and their newer Glock triggers have made a big splash, but I reviewed a Timney trigger for the CZ Scorpion EVO in these pages not too long ago—it was excellent. They also make a drop-in trigger for the HK MP5 and clones, replacing the factory 7- to 10-pound piece with a two-stage 4-pound unit. With the increased popularity of precision .22 rifles their .22 triggers have become popular as well. The engineers and R&D department continue to work to expand their product offerings, and as I write this, they plan to show off some new products at the NRA Show in Dallas in May.


If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.




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