A recent announcement from Canadian aftermarket manufacturer TriggerTech caused some concern, as it involved misfires of weapons that had been modified with their drop-in trigger assemblies. Naturally we at the firm take recalls for weapons and their components very seriously because of the obvious disasters that can come from their malfunctions.
Which Products Are Affected?
The TriggerTech recall affects "drop-in" trigger assemblies made for six weapon models, most of which have several production runs subject to the alert. This chart was created by the Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and identifies the serial numbers and date codes on the affected products:
While some consumers may not want to take apart their weapons to examine the assembly for its serial number, it's probably in their best interests to do exactly that. The CPSC also included pictures of each trigger unit as it would appear in its specific rifle or crossbow:
What's Wrong With Them?
According to the CPSC recall,
Carbide rollers on the triggers can crack causing the weapon to discharge without trigger activation, posing an injury hazard to the user or bystander.
The TriggerTech carbide roller is a proprietary item that fits between the trigger and the sear in the assembly. It is basically a small free-floating cylindrical bearing that keeps the two pieces from rubbing together as they do in virtually every other type of "sliding friction" trigger. The official name they've given this innovation is the Frictionless Release Technology™ (FRT) trigger. According to TriggerTech, "This advancement makes it possible for us to engineer the ideal release characteristics into every one of our triggers." Call me crazy, but I don't think "potentially fatal misfires" qualify as "ideal release characteristics."
The recall is meant to address some reports that the carbide rollers have broken over time and extended use, creating situations where little to no pressure is required on a trigger pull for the weapon to discharge. While the assemblies look different in the crossbows that use TriggerTech, the idea remains the same--accidental misfires at times when the weapon is perceived to be inactive or safe.
Who Makes This Product?
The drop-in trigger assemblies are manufactured and sold wholesale by TriggerTech of Mississauga, Canada. As aftermarket triggers to replace the factory assemblies in a variety of weapons, TriggerTech products were sold through a variety of hunting and firearms outlets such as Wyvern Creations, CanadaAmmo, and other stores nationwide. They were also sold online at www.triggertech.com from June 2015 to August 2016 for prices between $120 and $190.
How Widespread is the Problem?
As of the recall's issue on July 12, TriggerTech has received 16 reports of cracked or broken carbide rollers. One report involved a weapon with the safety off discharging without trigger activation, but there have been no documented injuries at this point. TriggerTech alleges it is voluntarily issuing the recall from an abundance of caution.
According to TriggerTech's website about the recall, it applies to all carbide triggers manufactured between June 5, 2015 and July 28, 2016. It seems to affect around 2,000 weapons in the U.S. and another 2,000 in Canada. Given that the triggers had a little over a year to disperse throughout the hunting and shooting communities, they're likely to be in the hands (and weapons) of enthusiasts all across both countries.
In recognition of the problem, TriggerTech switched production to stainless steel rollers in place of the carbide ones in FRT models made after July of 2016.
What Can Be Done About The Carbide Rollers?
The CPSC page relayed TriggerTech's proposed remedy:
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled triggers and contact the firm for a free replacement trigger with stainless steel rollers. TriggerTech will offer a full refund instead of the replacement trigger if the recalled item has been discontinued.
Seems like a fair deal, though I admit I don't know if stainless steel rollers provide the same shooting feedback that TriggerTech fans seem to enjoy from the carbide ones. If it helps avoid misfires at tragically inopportune times, though, it's probably for the best.
What This Means
Lest it seem like I'm proclaiming them Public Enemy Number One, I want to point out a couple of things in TriggerTech's defense:
The product isn't a catastrophic failure. Everything I've seen so far suggests that avid shooters are big fans of the FRT triggers. Most of the online forums I found related to guns rather than crossbows, but professional reviewers and commenting enthusiasts alike praise these aftermarket assemblies. I don't think TriggerTech wanted to cut corners or willfully created inferior products. Carbide rollers apparently aren't up to the challenge of heavy use, but the roller technology itself seems to be an appreciable upgrade for a lot of shooters. TriggerTech saw a need and apparently filled it with a reasonable degree of success.
It's not (yet) a pervasive issue. The misfire reports are few and far between given the number of distributed units, and hopefully the recall will catch and replace the majority of the carbide triggers before anything can happen to their owners. It's also possible that some of them weren't even installed, though I have a feeling that most of their buyers wanted to play with their new toys as soon as possible.
Even with the odds on their side, though, the remaining owners of the several thousand recalled units are subject to danger they might not be aware of. It only takes one undetected faulty carbide roller at one firing range to wreak havoc on a leisurely day of blasting the hell out of some targets.
TriggerTech can afford to be magnanimous right now with the recall because nobody has gotten hurt, but what happens if (God forbid) a misfire takes someone down? If an accidental discharge actually finds a target, we may see the company change its tune slightly. Of course, Canadians' legendary politeness might compel them to do the right thing, but if they choose the more likely route and seek to deflect the blame and thereby defend their bottom line, they might be inclined to suggest that users didn't install or maintain the drop-in carbide trigger correctly. It's not unheard of for a company to blame end-users for a problem; the firearm giant Remington was recently outed for doing that with its 700-series rifle. Curiously, it was the trigger assembly that caused a commotion there too.
The question is really one of foreseeability: Could it have been predicted that a carbide component would have troubles with erosion or breakage from heavy use? Naturally, TriggerTech would say it couldn't. However, if a jury determined that the company failed to properly evaluate its product before sending it out to the market, TriggerTech could certainly have some answering to do. Of course, that's a bridge to cross only if someone is injured, and I'll keep my fingers crossed no one ever is.