What is a Binary Trigger?

"Reformation - Redefining Firearms"
January 22, 2022  
Categories: Assorted Ramblings

What the hell is a binary trigger and how does a binary trigger work? Binary is a word that gets lots of traction these days, and it might be tough to see how exactly it relates to a trigger. The definition of binary is ‘relating to, composed of, or involving two things.’ I can promise you it has nothing to do with double-action triggers, either.

A binary trigger is a drop-in trigger system that fires when the trigger is pulled and fires when the trigger is released. Pretty neat, right? Binary triggers have been around for a few years now and have made quite the stink. I think every gun owner who heard of these devices has at least considered purchasing one. I know I have.

We Wanna Go Fast

If you hate gun control, the NFA, and things like assault weapon bans, then you’ll love the Franklin Armory BFSIII firing system. They’ve seemingly made it their goal to find a workaround for nearly every popular gun control law relating to firearms technology. There is an entire industry that makes things like the CSW that makes a compliant with assault weapon’s bans by removing the stock and pistol grip and replacing it with a spade trigger. Not to mention the ship to your home 80 lower receivers and 80 percent lower jigs, or Mossberg Shockwaves

"Reformation - Redefining Firearms"

Sadly the ATF reclassified the Reformation to an NFA weapon.

We have the ill-fated Reformation, which utilized a new form of rifling and could be an NFA-free means to acquire an AR with a barrel shorter than 16-inches. Although the ATF later revoked the legality at a whim and reclassified it as a short-barreled shotgun.

Close up of the BFSIII AR-C1.

The AR-15 was the first gun to have a binary trigger.

Franklin Armory created the Binary Trigger to get around the NFA and Hughes’ amendment provisions against full-auto firearms. Franklin Armory released the first AR 15 binary trigger in 2015, and since then, the concept has grown and evolved quite quickly. With it, the ire of anti-gunners has also grown.

How Does A Binary Trigger Work?

They work fairly simply, and the trigger releases the sear on both the pull and release of the trigger. They look complicated but installation is seemingly easy. Franklin Armory thought things through and designed the BFSIII trigger to be a three-position system. The first is your normal safe position, the second is standard semi-auto, and the third is your binary trigger.

Close up of various parts to a binary trigger.

It’s not super complicated but it can be expensive.

In binary mode, when the trigger is pulled and released, the weapon fires. However, should the shooter decide they don’t want that second shot to fire, they simply need to move the selector to semi or safe, and the weapon won’t fire on release.

Overall it’s just as safe as a standard trigger and very well thought out, so we hope that answers the ever-so-common question, “How does a binary trigger work?”

Is This Legal?

Sure, mostly, kind of. It’s federally legal. Years ago, when Trump banned bump stocks, lots of folks assumed binary triggers would get the ax as well. However, the trigger persevered. Federally anyway. You see a machine gun fires multiple rounds with one smooth trigger pull. The release of the trigger isn’t covered, so the binary action makes it a super semi-auto at best.


The Ole AK got the treatment as well, and so did HK, CZ, and Ruger

Some states went ahead and banned them along with bump stocks. I live in Florida, and RINO Governor Rick ‘Skeletor’ Scott signed legislation to ban bump stocks with wording so vague that most assume binary triggers are included. Franklin Armory sadly won’t ship here, and neither will anyone else.

Besides the gunshine state, we saw the usual freedom-hating states in the United States ban binary triggers. This includes CA, CT, HI, IA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, WA, and the District of Colombia. So they are legal, mostly, but also illegal in a number of states.

What’s It Good For?

That’s a good question. To be honest, not for much. I don’t see much practical use for a binary trigger. There might be a place for a proper two-round burst from a defensive standpoint, but I don’t think the binary trigger works best for this role. Honestly, I don’t see a normal person’s gunfight involving a suppressive fire from a rifle.

From a competition shooters’ side, I’m also not seeing much use. I’m not much of a competitive shooter, but I do know some targets require two rounds. However, they require two accurate rounds, and I’m betting the binary trigger doesn’t make a difference here. You want to score two sight pictures and two shots, and I don’t see it being an advantage.

Installed binary trigger.

Once installed, it doesn’t necessarily standout.

Also, the move-and-shoot nature of some action shooting sports might make the binary firing system a dangerous choice. Lord forbid you slip, trip, or stumble and release an unintentional discharge. So it’s not great for defensive use or competition, and I think we can agree it’s not great for hunting.

So what’s it good for? Well, it’s flipping fun! Seriously that’s where it shines. The subtle art of turning money into noise is the realm of binary triggers. Plus, it’s the malicious compliance middle finger to the gun control industry and the ATF.

My Impression

I’ve only fired binary triggers at media events. I’ve always found them fun but somewhat intimidating. After a lifetime of pulling the trigger and expecting one shot per pull and release, it’s tough to accept that it will fire again. I’ve always walked before I ran with these triggers. I have found them to be extremely reliable, though, and they work as promised.

I’ve used them in ARs, AKs, and PCCs. Personally, I’m a big fan of these things in PCCs, especially suppressed guns. I had a ton of fun shooting a suppressed Scorpion with a binary trigger at a range once. The limited muzzle rise, noise, and recoil of the 9mm gun made it a ton of fun. If I owned a binary trigger, it would be in a PCC or maybe their newest Ruger 10/22 binary trigger.

Close up of the BFSIII 22-C1.

A binary trigger for a 10/22 seems like a fun day.


You might oughta check out our Glock binary trigger article too! 


Weapon Selection

Speaking of the newest models, let’s discuss all the fun weapons you can get binary triggers for. We have the usual suspect, the AR-15, of which the first binary trigger system was invented for. We also have:

AKs (Works in Saigas too)
Ruger PC (And PC Charger)
Ruger 10/22
HK (G3/91/93/MP5)
B&T (APC9/45 and GHM9/45)
Bushmaster ACR
CZ Scorpion.

Pretty good little selection. On some guns, the trigger comes with an AR-style safety. Namely, the Ruger rifles which use a cross-bolt design. This ensures the weapon can be utilized in the three modes and that the user can cancel the release fire when necessary. Price varies between 250 bucks to 700 depending on the trigger and platform it’s dropping into.

Franklin Armory binary triggers are expensive, but man, they are fun. They aren’t for everyone for sure, and I mean, legally, they aren’t. However, I can’t deny that I’ve always had fun with one. What about you? Is it for you? Yay, nay? Let us know below. We hope we helped with the legality of the triggers, and hopefully, you won’t have to wonder anymore, how does a binary trigger work?


If you’re interested in how triggers perform, check out this one about SSVI

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Travis Pike

Travis Pike

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