By now most people know that Ruger decided to take a swing at the aftermarket AR trigger market with two new entries called the Elite 451 and Elite 452 triggers. The 451 being a single-stage trigger and the 452 being a two-stage trigger. We will be taking a look at the 452.
What surprised most of us was the price point. MSRP is around $160 with street price is hovering around $110-$125. This is a firmly mid-market price, competing directly with the mid-range offerings of several makers including CMC, Timney, Rock River, and Geissele. Most companies making triggers at this price point either specialize in triggers or have a long record of making very good triggers. Rugger does neither of those things. Rugger makes rugged, reliable firearms. So an argument could be made that this is an ambitious leap into the trigger market for Ruger.
Ambition is a good quality to have, especially when it leads companies to excel. Unfortunately, excellence is nowhere to be found in the 452 unit we received from Ruger.
The retail packaging is one of the coolest and most unique ideas we've seen to date. The trigger comes housed in a polymer chunk of an AR-15 lower receiver, complete with the trigger/hammer assembly and pins, safety selector, and pistol grip. This allows the user to theoretically test the trigger at the store before buying it. All of these parts are removable and could be used on your rifle.
The instructions for disassembling and installing the trigger in your rifle are clear and easy to follow. The polymer housing also teaches the uninitiated about trigger structure by forcing them to uninstall it before attempting to put it in their own rifle. For those already familiar with the process it's just a quick two pins to pop out and on you go.
The hammer spring is incredibly strong. I sincerely doubt you'll ever encounter a light primer strike with this trigger installed. If feels like it could punch firing pins through even the gummiest of firing pin channels and into the hardest of primers.
Testing the trigger in the stock assembly unit yielded mixed results. At its best the trigger performed as advertised with a ~2lb first stage and a ~2.5lb second stage, giving an overall 4.5lb trigger pull about 50% of the time. At its worst my gauage was reading all over the place from 3 pounds to almost 9 pounds. Really? Really. This trigger seems to suffer from inconsistencies unheard of in triggers at this price point. The most glaring of which was intermittently hanging at the end of the second stage. The fact that there is a distinct beginning and end to the second stage says a lot about the smoothness, or lack thereof. When using a slow and deliberate pull on the trigger there are 2-3 noticeable 'chunks' or stages of grit.
Maybe it just needs broken in? Nope. After dry firing the unit 150 times my readings had not changed. Here's a picture of a the gauge after the trigger 'hanging' at the end of the second stage.
This measurement actually showed the trigger breaking earlier than expected
At The range
After my initial disappointment I decided to put the trigger in a rifle and put some rounds down range. I was able to put up some 1 MOA groups using 75gr HPBT ammo at 100 yards, but my single stage trigger (Spike's enhanced mil-spec) does the same. During the course of fire I did not experience as many inconsistencies or hang-ups in the trigger, but the grittiness was still present and very noticeable when trying to shoot groups off of a bag at 100 yards.
After putting 100 rounds down range using the new trigger I packed up and went home. Upon returning home I dry fired the trigger some more. At this point time the trigger was probably approaching 350 pulls and it still felt the same. Sub-par. I took some more measurements with my trigger pull gauge and got the same readings. Half the time it was right at 4.5 pounds but the other half of the time was a crap-shoot between 3 and 9 pounds.
This trigger is not worth the asking price. With the inconsistencies and hang-ups I experienced it isn't worth buying at all. If those are smoothed out the trigger is maybe a competitor at half it's current price point. I'm not sure if I received a lemon or if Ruger is pushing these out the door without enough QC or if it's just a bad design.
The thing that makes a good trigger good isn't the pull weight, it is easy to get a desired pull weight from the array of triggers on the market or by tuning your trigger. What makes a trigger good is consistency and smoothness of pull. The Ruger 452 offers neither of those things.