What’s the best trigger available for the 10/22? Many people who have vast experience with customized 10/22s say it’s the Kidd full trigger group (www.coolguyguns.com), whether single-stage or two-stage. I have a Kidd single stage on my workbench. This article will compare it to the OEM trigger group and analyze some of the features that make the Kidd so special.
The experience of firing the Kidd trigger really is sublime. There is zero take-up – no perceptible movement at all before the shot breaks. The overtravel is about 2mm – also nearly imperceptible. The pull weight is set at the factory to 1.5 lbs. Other than the hair triggers on some bolt-action target rifles and free pistols, I have yet to see such a direct connection between my neurons and a hole in the x-ring. The video below shows the Kidd and one of my OEM triggers with a Volquartsen hammer. The total travel of the Kidd trigger is less than the take-up on the Ruger.
The Kidd group has the same dimensions as the Ruger polymer group. But it weighs 6.8 oz compared to the 4.6 oz weight of the Ruger. The Kidd housing is machined out of a solid aluminum block, which accounts for the weight difference. Every part of it is nearly perfectly smooth and beautifully finished. This is not just bling. The fine fit and finish of the Kidd is one reason why the parts move so smoothly in operation. The very tight tolerances and exact fit of the working parts is another. The Kidd’s hammer pin is .157” diameter vs. the OEM .1545”, and the trigger pin is .1245” vs. .1220”. In fact, the hammer pin fit so tightly that there was considerable friction in the hammer’s rotation. Even outside of the housing at first I needed a punch and mallet to get the pin out of the hammer. I cured this by putting a drop of oil on the pin and spinning the hammer on it for about 100 revolutions by hand. Now it’s as slick as ice. When the group is together and the hammer uncocked, there is zero side-to-side movement of the hammer on its pin, unlike the OEM which had over .030” of play.
Hammer and Sear Engagement
The “secret sauce” of the Kidd trigger is its unique hammer/sear engagement. The sear hook on the hammer is a very small, square cut notch, and the sear itself is thicker than the Ruger’s. The photo below shows the vast differences between the sear hooks on the Ruger OEM, Volquartsen, and Kidd hammers (from left to right).
This photo below compares the Kidd sear (left) to the Ruger (right). The Kidd sear’s engagement surface is deeper and just the top edge of it contacts the hook when cocked.
The two photos below compare the Kidd’s hammer/sear engagement when cocked to the OEM’s. You can see how the deep, curved sear hook on the Ruger hammer will force considerable rearward rotation of the hammer – against pressure from the hammer spring – before the sear can drop clear. This cocking action is what causes most of the pull weight, and the depth of the engagement is what causes “trigger creep” as the sear scrapes along the notch under pressure. The bottom edge of the narrow sear actually has to push the hammer back by pushing down on the curved notch. The Kidd has minimal engagement depth and the notch is cut straight. The result is light pull weight and no creep.
While the Volquartsen target hammer is less deep and not as curved as the OEM, it also has noticeable take-up and creep before the shot breaks. My trigger with the VQ hammer breaks at 2.0 lbs, and the same group with the OEM hammer shown breaks at 4.5 lbs. (It was 7.0 lbs before I polished all the working parts and changed a spring, which is a different article.) The Kidd is adjustable from 5.0 lbs down; Kidd recommends a minimum pull weight of 1.5 lbs.
So is safety compromised? Of course not. The Kidd design has some features that make it totally safe with the minimalist engagement. First, the sear is wider at .252” vs. .234” for more contact area across the hammer. Second, the Kidd’s sear spring (between the sear and the disconnector) is .500” long vs. .375”, and stronger than the OEM spring. The stronger spring pushes the sear more tightly against the hammer but because it moves with the trigger, it does not affect pull weight. Third, the angles of the hammer notch and the sear are designed and cut precisely, and with sharp edges, to make the engagement secure. I don’t have the equipment to test it, but I suspect that Kidd uses a harder grade of steel than the OEM parts as well.
The photos below show the Kidd and OEM/VQ hammers in the cocked position. You can see that the Kidd hammer is farther back than the OEM one. This allows the hammer to hit the firing pin with greater velocity, which is good for reliable ignition of the cartridge.
Another part of the secret is Kidd’s proprietary trigger return unit, which replaces the plunger and spring of the OEM group. This unit is screwed into place and adjusted at the factory with the perfect amount of overtravel. You should not need to change that. The pull weight is adjustable with a 1/16” hex wrench, inserted into the trigger return unit from the rear:
The unit also has Kidd’s adjustable sear, also used on their Trigger Job Kit, but you will not need to change anything if you buy the complete group because the factory sets it perfectly. The sear has a set screw in the front foot (right side of photo below), which contacts the safety, and one between the sear and disconnector, which eliminates any take-up slack. These features are there for fitting the Trigger Job Kit into an OEM trigger group whose pin hole locations and tolerances may not be as exact as the Kidd group’s.
The Kidd trigger shows how much small details matter. It is aluminum, rather than the OEM plastic, for a direct, positive feel. The profile of the trigger is less curved than the OEM, which I find helps to ensure a straight-to-the-rear pull to keep the muzzle still. Finally, it has a flat, smooth surface while the OEM has an arched, ribbed surface that creates a pressure point on your finger pad and can cause any sideways pressure of your finger to affect the muzzle. With the Kidd, any sideways finger pressure has nothing to push against, helping you keep the movement straight back.
The Kidd single-stage group comes apart exactly like the OEM, with a few notable exceptions:
- When removing the stock from the action, the hammer must be cocked. Then you have to hold the safety in the centered position until it clears the stock. The sear is too wide to allow the safety to move to a centered position if the hammer is not cocked.
- The ejector is permanently bonded and roll-pinned into the front of the housing.
- The hammer pin can only be inserted and removed through the left side of the housing. The right side hole for this pin is too small for the pin to pass through. This feature holds it securely in place during operation. Also, the hammer pin has a tapered end and a flat-cut end; the tapered end goes in first.
- The trigger return unit is not to be removed.
- Be careful to put your hand over the top of the housing when removing the trigger pivot pin – that extra-strong sear spring wants to launch itself as soon as the pin is out of the sear. You don’t want to spend an hour searching for it.
A few owners report having a problem with the sear not resetting after the first shot. This issue is usually due to the fact that the hammer strut sticks out of the housing slightly when cocked. If the stock fits so tightly as to block the hammer strut, the hammer will not fully cock and the sear will not reset. That’s why this unit is on my bench.
The remedy is to make a small dimple in the stock to make room where the strut protrudes. This can be done with a curved gouge, a slow drill, or a carving bit on a rotary tool. As you can see, it doesn’t take much. As always, go slowly and test fit often.
The Bottom Line
I don’t know if this trigger group is the world’s best semiautomatic rifle trigger, because I haven’t tried all the others. I can say that it is the best I have ever tried. Some people object, “It costs as much as the entire rifle.” While true, that says more about the low price of the 10/22 than about the high price of this trigger unit. People happily pay more for AR triggers that don’t feel as good as this one.
Note: all measurements were taken with a digital caliper accurate to .0005” on the parts I have. Yours may measure slightly differently due to manufacturing tolerances.