What is a “forced reset trigger” and how do they work?

September 14, 2023  
|  6 Comments
Categories: Guns
Tags: Triggers

Forced reset triggers were the new kids on the block several years ago. The trigger transformation allowed you to shoot faster because a spring helped reset the trigger for you instead of waiting for you to let off the trigger and pull it again. Triggers before that included binary and bump-stock triggers which help the shooter fire the gun rapidly but in slightly different ways.

A man demonstrating how to carry an AR-15 Range Drum.

Forced Reset Triggers (FRT) can be a blast at the range because they allow the shooter to fire much faster than traditional triggers.

FRT triggers immediately caused a lot of debate with some gun experts claiming they are not reliable and should not be used. Others argued they have used them extensively with no issue at all. So, what is a forced reset trigger and why is it such a hot topic right now? On March 22, 2002, the ATF issued a letter to FFL gun dealers stating that forced reset triggers (FRT) would now be considered machineguns.

This is despite the fact that they function differently from the legal definition of a machine gun. Of course, this did not sit well with many American citizens because the ATF does not have the authority to make or change laws. The law states what the definition of a machine gun is, and the ATF has attempted to change it.

What is a Forced Reset Trigger?

A forced reset trigger enables shooters to pull the trigger faster because there is no delay between shots like there are with traditional triggers. There is an array of forced reset triggers from gun manufacturers, but their legality has been in question for several years. Companies like Rare Breed and Wide-Open Triggers were producing them until the courts ordered them to quit.

These orders began a legal battle with the government that has been dragging on ever since. We will talk more about that in a minute. FRTs became popular triggers and were sought after because they provide an impressive fire rate. While they do not function like an automatic weapon, they can fire much faster than a standard semi-auto gun can.

Unfortunately, the government has taken an interest in these triggers and is attempting to make them illegal to sell and own. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has labeled some triggers as machine guns and issued an open letter warning federally licensed firearm dealers against selling these types of triggers.

AR-15 Rifle 60 Round Drum

Forced Reset Triggers are not the same as automatic triggers and function differently.

This type of trigger is a specialized version of a binary trigger and works similarly to regular triggers. It consists of a trigger plate installed over the factory disconnector with an opening for the trigger pin to engage the sear and reset bolt. There is an extra spring that pushes the sear back to its starting position after each shot is fired.

A binary trigger does not force the trigger back to its starting point but fires a round as you release the trigger. Some binary triggers are still available from companies like Franklin Arms, but they do not work quite the same. Many binary triggers are still legal to purchase and have not fallen under the ATF’s hit list… yet.

Why is the ATF after forced reset triggers?

Rare Breed Triggers released their Forced Reset Trigger in July 2021. It features an extra spring that pushes the trigger forward after being pulled, doubling your rate of fire by enabling twice as fast of pulls as traditional triggers. While the springs assists the shooter in moving the trigger faster, it is not operating in automatic mode.

But the ATF did not approve of Rare Breed’s device and issued them a cease-and-desist order for them to stop selling triggers. Rare Breed Trigger challenged this decision in court and has continued their battle against the ATF ever since. The ATF issued an open letter stating that forced reset triggers may qualify some firearms as machine guns and could thereby alter their legal status significantly.

In January of this year, US District Judge Nina Morrison issued a temporary restraining order against Rare Breed and other defendants to stop selling the triggers. The case is still pending in court and could end up before the US Supreme Court at some point. The biggest argument against the ATF ban is the same as the bump stock and arm brace argument. That is to say, the ATF does not have the authority to make new laws and decide things are illegal without congress taking action to do so.

Are there any benefits of an FTR?

Trigger reset is a trigger upgrade designed to increase firearm speed and accuracy to some extent, for multiple shots. This upgrade enables shooters to maintain a grip while pulling the trigger and provide as little movement as possible between shots. Many firearms experts praise and recommend forced reset triggers due to their excellent fire rates, but others argue they are not reliable and should be avoided.

This love/hate opinion is something commonplace in the gun world so it’s not really that helpful. I rarely find a gun, gun part, bullet, optic, or light that does not have some experts praising it and some bashing it. That leaves the decision of owning one up to you, well, and the outcome of court cases. By law, they should be legal, but that doesn’t always work the way it should.

A man demonstrating how to hold an AR-15 DB 5.56 Range.

Having a forced reset trigger allows you to shoot faster.

In the end, people shouldn’t have to justify why they want something. It’s a free country and the right to keep and bear arms did not come with the stipulation that an appointed agency can decide what we need and do not need. But that rant is for another day and another time.

One of the biggest downsides to an FRT is the training involved in learning how much pressure to put on the trigger when firing the gun. If you pull the trigger hard, it will only fire one time. If you pull just enough to release the hammer, it will only fire once. But just a little more pressure, the gun will fire, and the reset spring will push the trigger forward causing it to reset and go off again. In a stressful situation this would be hard to control and thus defeat the purpose of the trigger.

Will the FRT prevail?

Only time will tell if the outcome of court cases will be in favor of the constitutional rights of the people or the power-hungry politicians that want to limit gun control. Companies like Rare Breed will only continue to improve their products if they win in court. If not, the concept of forced reset triggers may very well fade away. Until then, there is a messy, confusing world of trigger types and brands to navigate around. Companies like Franklin Armory still have binary triggers available in some states and others are starting to produce triggers that work slightly different than forced reset triggers until the outcome is determined.

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Jason Mosher

Jason Mosher

About the Author

Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as the Sheriff of a Missouri county for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

6 Comments

  1. Ronald Wagner

    Our government agencies and employees have been acting as the masters of the people rather than the servants of the people. They should be defunded and reorganized. Government unions should be dissolved it should, at least be possible to fire those who seek to subvert the desires of the taxpayers. while criminalizing those who oppose them.

    We can save a lot of money by cutting the size of these agencies and enforcing complete and public oversight by congress.

    Reply
  2. anon

    Why do y’all snowflakes need this kinda shit? What’s it like constantly living in fear and feeling like you need an automatic weapon? You are not heroes or cowboys and are just gonna end up hurting yourself or innocent people. Seek some help.

    Reply
    • Chet Manley

      Shut up faggot.

      Reply
      • M

        Your missing the point, its isn’t about toughness aa much as it is having the ability to engage on a fair fight on the case wxárrrhat technically Americans have the right to own and use firearms and other weapons equivalent to what fed government has in its arsenal in order to have tye in the case the govt becomes an oppressive
        Tyrannical entaty allowing citizens the ability to rise againt55sft 4such tyranny

        Reply
    • Wild Bill Donovan

      Oh look, a limp wristed commie calls us “snowflakes” for wanting an FRT? 😂😂😂😂 Go fuck yourself, anon.

      Reply
  3. Bill

    FRT triggers are the best iterative derivation of faux-full-auto anyone has ever seen. Legally – in a functioning high-trust society anyway – they are a perfect example of technology and individual creativity trumping the law’s inability to adapt. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a functioning high-trust society anymore where the bureaucrats accept defeat in the face of what is clearly a perfect work-around by definition.

    They will and are just changing the rules of the game. Eff them. I can’t wait until new iterative designs are made that can be 3d printed. I want them in every home.

    If the government will not play by its own rules, no one will play by any rules.

    Reply

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