The Ultimate Trigger?

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.

Specifications

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).

Hammers

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.

Sears

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.Sear engagement OEM Sear engagement Kidd

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.

Hammer Swing

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.

Hammer angle Ruger Hammer angle Kidd

Adjustability

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:

Return plunger unit Pull adjustment

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.

Adj Sear

Trigger Profile

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.

Triggers side Triggers face

Disassembly/Re-assembly

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.

Reset Issue

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.

Hammer strut issue

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.

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5 Responses to The Ultimate Trigger?

  1. Doug says:

    This is an excellent review of the KIDD single-stage trigger and totally consistent with my experience. I currently have 11 10/22 builds, with my first done in 1992 (which I still have and updated with a KIDD two-stage trigger replacing a Jewell). Over the intervening years, there have been many variations in my search for “perfection” with components from numerous suppliers — some of them OK and many very good. However, Tony Kidd’s products — barrels and triggers, especially — have been the culmination of my search. I now have three total KIDD builds, including his excellent receiver (it is a work of art); eight of the builds have KIDD barrels in various configurations (all are superbly accurate), and ALL have KIDD triggers — five single-stage, four two-stage (two of which are 3 oz./3 oz.) and two KIDD drop-in trigger kits which are good for a crisp 1.5# trigger pull. The icing on the cake for these superb products is KIDD’s excellent customer service.

    Doug

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  2. Vincent Brennan says:

    I have a KIDD single stage and love it. I also have a couple triggers I have done, a R/T CNC trigger and a trigger made of stock Ruger parts with one of my Torsion springs.

    While I agree with most of what you say I think the comparison is a little unfair in that the Volquartsen hammer was used alone rather than with an adjustable sear which removes 95% of that take up. The KIDD has a special sear and the VQ should have been given an equal chance. I make my own adjustable sears using Ruger parts that are annealed, drilled and tapped and then re hardened. Several company like Rimfire Technologies make drop in adjustable sears.

    My triggers using VQ Hammer and adjustable sears (either I made or bought from suppliers) bring the trigger much closer to the very expensive KIDD. I have one that I have been using for 5 years or more that is a safe 1.2 lbs. This test compares apples to oranges as done. To make it fair the triggers being compared should have an adjustable sear.

    Lastly I have trigger done with all Ruger parts with the exception of the torsion spring similar to the one I make (not for sale) that is equal to the KIDD in every way except it looks like a Ruger. It is right at 1.5 lbs and according to the trigger gauge and my well calibrated finger is equal to the KIDD in every way but cost.

    This test was not a good representation if you use ONLY another hammer. It would have been great if you had just left VQ out of it altogether or if you added the sear. As is it is not very accurate as to what can be had for well under the price of the KIDD. If you had just told us about the KIDD I would have nothing to say but to compare it to JUST adding another hammer is misleading although I am not saying that was your intention.

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  3. Vincent, you make good points. I did not intend to make a head-to-head comparison between a $36 hammer/spring kit and a $200 trigger group. That would be unfair. Perhaps I will get an opportunity to hold a real, competitive “shoot-off” between comparable aftermarket triggers.

    Volquartsen makes a “matched” hammer/sear set for about $70 that I also have not tried, but I see that the sear is also not adjustable. Nowhere in their catalog do I see an adjustable sear.

    I included it in the review because it is one of the cheap and easy upgrades that as a typical beginner I bought early on as one of my first 10/22 upgrades, and because the trigger pull at 2.0 lbs is indeed light. It was a foil to highlight the crispness and lack of overtravel of the Kidd trigger. The difference between the two hammers’ sear hooks speaks for itself. It would be nice if I could afford to buy and test one of everything.

    Kudos to you on making your own adjustable sears. I am amazed at the skills and craftsmanship that guys like you have.

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  4. Pingback: Update: Kidd Trigger Issue | The 10/22 Companion

  5. Mike says:

    Vincent, 1022companion:

    I for one find the comparison helpful. I presently have a Volquartsen hammer, and while the pull is great, I have been looking for solutions to reduce creep. The Kidd kit looks good, but I wanted to know how it will perform in comparison to my current setup. This article answered my question magnificently.

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