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Trigger overtravel

This report covers:

  • What is overtravel?
  • Why?
  • Roamin Greco
  • Pistols, too?
  • Rifles that don’t need overtravel stops
  • Did I answer the question?

I switched blogs today to answer reader Vana2’s question.

BB,

Would you please comment on “trigger over travel”.
It seems to be a big concern but I’ve never really worried about it.
Before all these adjustable triggers the trigger was what it was and you just had to learn it. Trigger over travel was common and I just considered it part of the follow through of the shot.
Maybe it’s just my archery background showing through… hold on target until the arrow gets there.”

Hank

What is overtravel?

Overtravel is the movement of the trigger after it releases the sear and the gun fires. On target guns you probably don’t want any overtravel. On some sporters you also don’t want any, while on others it’s okay, or at least not distracting.

Why?

What’s the big deal about overtravel? Well, it CAN cause the trigger finger to stop against the end of the pull after the gun has fired and that can cause the gun to move. Or if the airgun is light and the trigger is heavy the gun can jerk to the side when the sear releases and the trigger suddenly gets lighter. If that happens, it is the antithesis of follow through. I capitalized the word can, because it depends on many things whether or not it happens that way.

Let’s look at a target rifle trigger. I have a target rifle that is hands-down the most accurate .22 rimfire I’ve ever owned, seen or shot. It’s a Remington model 37 Rangemaster from before World War II, and it’s fitted with the “miracle trigger” that Remington once sold. Not all Model 37s have this trigger so I feel especially fortunate to have one.

This trigger has no perceptible movement and releases with just an increase in finger pressure. It’s much like an electronic trigger, only this one is all mechanical. What you do is squeeze the trigger until the rifle fires. The trigger doesn’t move, so it can’t impart movement to the rifle — as long as the shooter does his or her part.

Remington 37
Remington model 37 with the miracle trigger.

The rifle has a Redfield 3200 target scope. It magnifies 24X and has parallax correction down to extremely small increments out to 50 yards. With its peep sights I have put five .22 rimfire rounds from this rifle into a quarter-inch at 50 yards. But I used the rifle in one of my reports to demonstrate a point — namely that .22 rimfire ammo is just as subject to be accurate or inaccurate as pellets. I needed a rifle that was as accurate as possible.

CCI Subsonic
The scoped Remington Model 37 Rangemaster put 10 CCI Subsonic rounds into a 0.504-inch group between centers at 50 yards.

So, Hank, the miracle trigger was created to eliminate all possibility of trigger overtravel, because, from the shooter’s perspective, the trigger blade doesn’t move at all. It probably has to move a little, but I cannot feel it. It feels weird until you get used to it and then you wish all triggers worked that way.

Now, as far as I know, Remington patented the miracle trigger and it was never used on any other target rifle beside the model 37. And there is good reason for that. If the overtravel stop screw of a conventional target trigger is adjusted perfectly on a non-miracle trigger, the effect is identical. The “problem,” if there is one, is adjusting the overtravel stop screw perfectly. Adjust it slightly too much and the trigger becomes much heavier to pull. Go a little farther and the rifle won’t fire at all.

Roamin Greco

Then reader Roamin Greco chimed in and said:

“What I think is happening for me is that the Crosman trigger is rather heavy, so at the shot, the trigger suddenly lurches back. Even on a sandbag, sometimes, the movement of the trigger occasionally causes me to pull the shot. I originally thought it was the ever so slight motion of the hammer, but the more I shoot it, I think it is my fault of putting too much meat on the trigger plus the overtravel. Last night I saw the 362 sights clearly move left at the shot, spoiling an otherwise very nice group. I am very interested to see BB.’s report mañana.”

Wow! You guys are writing this blog for me! “Lurching” is exactly what the lack of an overtravel screw does. The trigger finger suddenly moves back when the rifle fires and the trigger gets lighter or it moves a little more and stops at the end of the travel. Either thing moves the gun.

Pistols, too?

Yes, pistols are affected by overtravel just like rifles — even more so if they are target pistols that are shot with one hand. So the best target air pistols have adjustments to compensate for overtravel. And learning to follow through is even more necessary with a pistol than with a rifle — especially an air pistol.

Firearm target pistols also have overtravel adjustments.

1911 target trigger
Wilson Combat 1911 trigger adjustment.

On this Wilson Combat 1911 trigger above you adjust the screw (arrow) until it just releases the sear and stops. No overtravel!

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

Rifles that don’t need overtravel stops

I said in the beginning that some sporting rifles can use overtravel stops while others don’t need them. If the release of the sear or striker is smooth enough, or if the rifle is heavy it doesn’t matter so much if the trigger moves afterward. With rifles like this, you don’t really notice the lack of an adjustment. A large part of the reason is that with such rifles you aren’t trying to put pellet upon pellet. They aren’t capable of it even if you wanted to. If you hit the can that’s good enough. But when precision matters, then the trigger comes into play.

Did I answer the question?

Hank — was that what you wanted to see? Or is there something else I didn’t address?

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

37 thoughts on “Trigger overtravel”

  1. B.B.

    When people who talk about how difficult springers are to shoot, they often forget about trigger pull.
    If you have a bad trigger, you can do everything else properly; ie light cheek weld, artillery hold, etc. and still mess up your shot.
    I concentrate on have my trigger finger and my thumb perfectly parallel to each other. That way whatever pressure I put on the trigger blade will be hopefully offset by the pressure of my thumb.
    The farther apart your trigger finger and thumb are the harder it is to do.

    -Y

  2. BB,

    I’m stumped as to why a lot of shooters are obsessing over light trigger pulls to the point that company lawyers have probably forced their engineers to design their guns to have triggers with heavy trigger pulls all in the name of liability. Is this a chicken and egg sort of thing? Did somebody use a light trigger pull as a defense from a possible criminal liability prompting company lawyers to push the engineers to do that?

    Siraniko

    • Siraniko,

      When someone shoots someone else, one of the claims is the gun went off before expected. This devolves to a trigger that’s too light.

      Instead of requiring everyone to only point guns at what they want to shoot, lawyers focus on triggers that go off before expected.

      It’s a lack of public knowledge about guns — not the fault of light triggers.

      BB

  3. I have always been taught to “squeeze” the trigger with the pad of my forefinger by gently squeezing. I “pretend” anyway to not be aware of when the seer releases the trigger, and merely keep gently squeezing until my follow-through at the target is finished. No, I’m certainly not a competitive shooter, but sure enjoy putting holes through paper targets and the modified FT targets we have here where I live.
    On another subject, I’ve now recieved my Seneca Dragonfly. 22 and plan on the grand opening tomorrow. This is the one I sure hope my 10 year old grandson will enjoy shooting. My son and he will be visiting with us for a week in mid July. Orv.

  4. When you have pulled a trigger like BB is talking about, then you will know exactly what he means. Describing that sensation is almost impossible. If you dig back into his blogs about the Edge he traded from me. you will read where he took it to John McCaslin of AirForce for him to try. That trigger still had about an eight-ounce pull, but pretty much zero overtravel. It is sooo sweet. It still has side to side and forward flop, I did not have time to get that out, but when you pull back… I do not know how he will fairly compare that Edge with his Challenger 2009.

  5. B.B.,
    This was an interesting report and that Remington with the Miracle Trigger is one sweet rifle!
    I’ve read that an overtravel stop is especially effective for a two stage trigger, because the trigger movement is stopped just after the “glass rod” of stage two breaks and gives a finality to the trigger work required for the shot.
    This Crosman Backpacker shown in the photo with its experimental overtravel stop has a single stage trigger. The stop was adjusted toward the trigger blade until the gun wouldn’t fire, and was backed out until the sear would release, then backed out a tad more, for reliability.
    I like the way it works, it increases my confidence while shooting my little “Mod Rod”. But realistically I’m not sure I like it because it makes using the trigger better, or whether it’s because I did it myself and it didn’t hurt the function of the gun.
    Will

  6. Thanks BB, this clears things up 🙂

    Been thinking about what type of trigger I prefer and why.

    A light match grade trigger works best for me. My style of shooting a rifle comes from my experience of shooting a bow instinctively. I strongly focus on the target, take up the first stage slack and have my subconscious break the shot when the sight picture is right.

    Long travel and/or heavy trigger distracts me and I become aware of the trigger. Then I take manual control, override my subconscious self and deliberately press the trigger. Results are never as good as when I shoot instinctively.

    Thanks for answering my question!

    Hank

  7. B.B.,

    Thank you for a great Blog today! The BIG deal:
    “Why?
    What’s the big deal about overtravel? Well, it CAN cause the trigger finger to stop against the end of the pull after the gun has fired and that can cause the gun to move. Or if the airgun is light and the trigger is heavy the gun can jerk to the side when the sear releases and the trigger suddenly gets lighter. If that happens, it is the antithesis of follow through. I capitalized the word can, because it depends on many things whether or not it happens that way.”
    Well now…only one thing is missing and you have covered it many times in the past…HOW WILL YOU KNOW that any of this is happening and what to do about it? When the BANG! Or the bang occurs you reptilian brain will make certain you will never notice untill you look at the target and shake your head yet again or wonder why the Feral Soda Pop can didn’t move this time just like it didn’t many times before! What to do?????
    DRY FIRE! and then DRY FIRE some more until you can see and feel what is happening with every shot. You need to beat that reptilian brain response into submission.
    So learn about HOW TO DRY FIRE and then do it 10:1 compared to live fire…but you already know that…but does most of your Readership?

    shootski

    • Excellent point about dry fire, shootski. I will try to incorporate that, especially with my CO2 guns and the pneumatic guns.

      B.B., is there any issue with harming the gun if I cock and fire an empty CO2 gun or a single pump or multi pump pneumatic without pumping??

      Springers are not conducive to dry firing, however.

        • Cool. I think dry firing would be especially helpful with pistol practice like with my collection of Crosman Mark Is and IIs. I could do a lot of dry fire practice at odd times without a lot of fuss. Just pull out the pistol, from the safe, fire a few dry fire shots, and put it away. Or it could be a warm up for a shooting session.

  8. B.B.,

    The EDIT function appears to not be working today! I tried to fix some typos on a post above and they don’t take. The next thing that happens is the loss of the option to try to CLICK TO EDIT and the Countdown Timer.
    shootski

  9. Thanks, B.B. you really described what I have been experiencing.. Now what can be done??

    Last night, I tried to fashion a version of Gunfun’s hot glue trigger stop for the Crosman 362, which is a light gun with a relatively heavy trigger pull (way heavier than my Beeman R7’s trigger). I ran into some difficulties and couldn’t test it fully for differences in accuracy, but it FELT a lot better and more consistent. I could also see that the gun did not jump as much at the shot.

    However, I noticed something new…the bolt sometimes flies up at the shot, and that seems to be torqueing the gun, too. I am hoping that the steel breech that I will be ordering will not have that problem, but in the meantime, I will need to do something to isolate that movement. Perhaps I just need to put a rubber band around the bolt and the trigger guard and see if I can prevent the bolt from flopping around. I have gotten some phenomenal groups with this gun, but not consistently, which is very frustrating. More testing is needed.

      • Oh, you know, running out of glue….

        I was pretty frustrated last night. I tried to melt the cold blob of glue with the hot metal tip of the glue gun but couldn’t get it to stick, so in the end, I just grabbed some tape and forced the issue. Looks bad, but I was able to get a few shots off with it. Enough to know it was a VAST improvement over the stock trigger. The other way of course would be some trigger modification that would lighten the trigger. But I know my limitations.

        Michael, are you still with us, man? I was thinking about you last night when I was deciding whether or not to take a peek at the guts of the Crosman 362 trigger. I had a vision of the parts exploding all over my basement floor. I’m staying with the blob of hot glue and tape for now, until I can restock the hot glue.

    • Roamin Greco,

      On the 22XX airguns with I believe a same or similar plastic two part breech a larger (SLIGHTLY) O-Ring on the bolt probe can stop or reduce the tendency for the bolt handle to fly up. The same works for most bolts that seal the bolt-barrel with an O-Ring and not some form of caming action.

      shootski

      • Thanks for the tip. How do you figure out what to buy and where? Will a call to P.A. provide the correct size or do I remove the existing o-ring with a dental pick and take a trip to the hardware store? I would guess that we want something with the same inner diameter but just a hair fatter? Any particular material to resist the constant abrasion and squeezing of the bolt going in and out? I am planning to get the steel breach. Does anyone with the steel breech have issues with the bolt moving on the shot?

        • Roaming Greco,

          PA should be able to tell you the installed bolt O-Ring size. A Crosman EVP diagram(s) should do the same for 13xx and 22xx airguns their bolts are the same. Buna is what is normally used and since they are easily replaced with no disassembly required you probably don’t need a Viton O-Ring.
          I use the O-Ring Store for my bulk purchases and their, inventory, knowledge, and resource links.

          shootski

  10. An update on my Daisy 230 (Milbro 23 / Diana 23). I received the replacement front sight. I had a dickens of a time removing the front sight with the little hammer that came with my new set of roll pin punches, Anyway I finally got that out but the replacement front sight wouldn’t fit. I tried filing it, but at some point, I got increasingly worried that hand filing would put one of the edges out of alignment with the dovetail machined into the barrel, so I put a hold on that project for now. I’m taking it to my friendly, neighborhood gunsmith to see what needs to be done. More later. But here’s a picture comparing the gun as I bought it (with the stock cut down for an 8 year old girl who was the original owner) with the replacement stock I purchased.

    • $12 to fit the front sight. So worth it, although if I had the time, I would love to be his apprentice. He is also going to make me a spanner screw driver so I will be able to tighten the screws with those round, slotted nuts.

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