I am far from a trigger snob, but I appreciate a nice one when I feel it. There really is something nice about a crisp and clean trigger. You feel like you’re in better control of the rifle and when it fires.
Whether these things are true or not isn’t the point, it’s the feeling of control that you like. If you’ve read my thoughts on trigger selection already, you might recall that I think most people over think this. We try to hunt for the “perfect” AR-15 trigger and cycle through many excellent options, any of which would have been amazing twenty years ago. We’re so conditioned to think that a great trigger costs a lot of money that something like the LaRue MBT just couldn’t be that good at its price point.
Well, that would be wrong.
To date, I’ve handled a lot of very nice combat-quality triggers. I’m not shy about saying that I’ve got a preference for Geissele models. That isn’t because I think they can’t be beat, though. Rather, I just trust the name and am happy with what I get.
To date, I have rifles equipped with the following:
Of course, I also have a drawer full of standard mil-spec triggers from various lower parts kits over time. It’s always good to have spares.
Bottom Line Up Front
When the LaRue MBT first came out, it was at the lofty price point of $250. At the time, that exceeded the price of the excellent Geissele SSA and the market was skeptical. Mark LaRue is a fairly aggressive businessman, though. As Geissele has gone up in price, the MBT has come down. First, it was $199, then $120, and now as low as $87.
To be frank, that’s a steal. If you can get it for less than $100, then I really don’t see a reason to look at the $150-$300 options outside of brand loyalty.
However, I also don’t think the MBT is for everyone, either. I wouldn’t be comfortable handing a rifle equipped the the light spring over to a new shooter lacking in proper trigger discipline.
Ok, let’s get on with the meat.
LaRue MBT Walkthrough
I’m going to hit the highlights on the spec sheet. Not everything is all that important from a technical standpoint, so I’ll talk about what you really care for.
Fit and Finish
Mark LaRue doesn’t make junk. You couldn’t call something the Meticulously Built Trigger and not give it a high level of fit and finish. The trigger comes in a nice little circular tin with a window on top. All of the parts are nestled into designated holes for easy retrieval.
The machining and finish on the trigger is very good. I appreciate the little visual flares like the triangular shape on the inside of the trigger shoe, though it’s certainly not required on a defensive rifle.
Trigger Pull and Weight
Let’s start with the basics. The LaRue MBT is a two-stage trigger. That means there is a light, but smooth, uptake prior to coming up against a “wall.” Once you reach enough pressure, the wall “breaks” and releases the hammer.
The MBT comes with two different springs. A lighter one and a heavier “duty” spring. I use the lighter one in more of an SPR project, and the take up is 2.5 lbs and the wall is an additional 2 lbs. That puts the total trigger weight at 4.5 lbs. That’s about the same as a Geissele SSA, but one pound heavier than an SSA-E at 3.5 lbs.
In all of these triggers, a consistent pull weight of 4.5 lbs or less is fantastic. You really don’t want to go much lower than 3.5 lbs, especially on a defensive weapon. Precision shooters might do it on bench rifles, where the only negative effect of a negligent discharge downrange is getting kicked off the range, but a super light trigger on a rifle you might point at someone while you’re under stress can be…problematic.
LaRue Tactical includes a heavier trigger spring in the package in case you wanted to increase the pull weight back up to 6 lbs. You might do this for legal reasons, or policy reasons if you work for a department that requires a certain pull weight. Some matches exclude rifles with pull weights below 4.5 lbs, so the heavier spring ensures you remain within the rules.
Aside from that, though, I don’t put much thought into the minute differences between a 3.5 and 4.5 lb trigger. You see, a lot of how a trigger feels is the geometry of the trigger shoe itself.
LaRue MBT Geometry
When Geissele came out with the Super Dynamic series, which has a flat trigger bow instead of the traditional curved style, they claimed it helps make the trigger “feel” lighter. Flat trigger bows tend to increase the length of pull, so you have to extend your trigger finger just a little bit further to reach it. In turn, when you pull it, you have a little more mechanical advantage.
It’s very subtle and totally comes down to personal preference. I have both the Geissele SSA-E and the flat-bowed SD-E triggers in different rifles. They honestly feel about the same to me.
That said, the LaRue MBT employs a trigger bow somewhere in the middle between a traditional curved trigger and a full-flat style. They do make a full flat-bow version, though.
More noticeable, to me at least, is that the trigger feels wider than average, with sharply-angled corners on the shoe rather than rounded. It seems like it wants you to use the pad of your finger to squeeze it rather than the crook of the knuckle.
I can’t really tell you why, but the LaRue MBT feels slightly lighter on the pull than my SSA-E, and definitely lighter than the SSA despite them having the same pull rating.
I can’t say how it happens geometry-wise, but the secondary wall of the LaRue MBT feels like it doesn’t take as much effort to get over. Of course, mine could be an exception since there have been examples of the MBT coming in at 3.3 to 3.5 lbs of total pull, which skips right over the geometry question.
It’s been a while at this point, but I don’t recall any difficulty with getting things assembled. In several thousands rounds at this point, I have seen no pin walking or other issues present themselves.
For the record, I used Geissele trigger grease for lubrication.
Larue MBT In Real World Use
Just some notes on how I’m using the MBT. I installed it into my M16A5-ish rifle with the 20″ BCM upper and UBR2 stock. The usual optic is a Trijicon TA-110 LED ACOG. This rifle is somewhere between a designated marksman precision rifle and a field rifle. This is my go-to rifle for most range days and the one I took to the April 2019 NRA ARC match.
I’ve also used it for a few runs down the jungle walks in MVT’s tactical ranges.
I can’t really say how many thousands of rounds have gone through this rifle so far, but it’s never malfunctioned a single time.
When I first tried out the Larue MBT in it, I was concerned that it would almost be too light for safety reasons. To be fair, I thought the same thing of my SSA-E, and in fact had a negligent trigger pull. Thankfully it was on an empty chamber and pointed in a safe direction, but it still wasn’t a good feeling.
The bottom line is that with triggers in this class, you really need to be mindful of your trigger discipline. Keeping your finger off of the trigger should be automatic.
That said, the trigger has performed very well for me in all of these situations. I never felt like it was a limiting factor in the moments I’ve needed it for precision work, nor have I thought it was a liability in the “tactical” work.
It’s just a good all-around two-stage trigger.
The Final Word: Should You Buy It
To be honest, I’m conflicted on this point.
On one hand, my own advice is not to worry about aftermarket triggers until you reach a level of proficiency where you can actually take advantage of it. One the other hand, getting a LaRue MBT for a mere $87 is ridiculous. That puts it at only $20 more than a quality polished mil-spec trigger trigger like the BCM PNT or ALG ACT.
At that price, it’s kind of a no-brainer, especially if you’re working up a precision rifle.
However, and this is important, I do not think is is a trigger I would recommend for rifles you regularly hand to people who lack trigger discipline (specifically with the light spring). There are plenty of people I’ve taken to the range for the first time, and despite how many times I say otherwise, their instinct is to immediately put their finger in the guard and rest it on the trigger.
Thankfully, I’ve always caught it before the rifle is loaded and the safety is off, but I still shudder to think about what might happen with someone who is less…careful.
Am I going to run out and replace my Geissele triggers with LaRue MBT’s? No, not at all. I really like the MBT, and I’m still blown away by its price, but I also really enjoy my G triggers and what they bring to the table.