Best Binary Triggers: Are They Even Legal?

by Kat Ainsworth-Stevens

September 11, 2023

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If you own an AR-15, you’ve probably heard of binary triggers and wondered if your gun game would benefit from one. Or maybe you’ve heard of binary triggers and just want to learn a little more about them—how they work, if they’re worth it, and the legalities of their use. Whatever the reason for your interest in binary triggers, we’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of the best binary triggers and we’re going to get into how they work and why you might want one in your rifle.

Types of triggers

Before we get into binary triggers themselves, let’s consider the types of triggers. We can break triggers down into one of these categories:

Single-action triggers – Commonly found in guns like 1911s and perform one action: drop the hammer to fire a round. With a single-action trigger, you meet a single level of resistance before firing the gun.

Double-action only triggers – Perform two actions: cock and release the hammer. These are commonly found in revolvers. These triggers are heavier and longer than single-actions.

Double-action/single-action (DA/SA) triggers – Found in a lot of revolvers and take you through two actions, meaning there are two separate trigger pull weights to fire the gun. First, you meet the greater resistance of the double-action, then the lighter resistance of the single-action.

Two-stage triggers – Often found in competition rifles, although there are hunters and target shooters who prefer them as well. They require two stages of pull to fire the gun, meaning two separate pull weights.

Binary triggers – Designed to allow you to fire one round when you pull the trigger, then fire a second round after the trigger resets. This means you must reset the trigger and allow it to move forward to fire that second round. If you hold the trigger after firing, the second round won’t fire until you release and reset it.

Forced reset triggers – Should not be confused with binary triggers. These triggers do exactly what their name implies: they force the trigger to reset through the use of a spring. As the trigger is pulled rearward, one round is fired, and another round is fired as the spring in the trigger forces it to return to the forward position. A forced reset trigger is not the same thing as a binary trigger.

It’s common for binary triggers and forced reset triggers to be confused when it comes to legality. It was the forced reset trigger the ATF ruled on and had manufacturing cease (Rare Breed Triggers was the manufacturer in that case). Of course, there are restrictions by state on binary triggers. As a gun owner, it is your duty to know the laws regarding binary triggers in your state and any other place you plan to bring your gun with a binary trigger. At the time of this writing, these are the states with restrictions in place (meaning manufacturers also won’t ship to them):

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington State

When the ATF ruled that forced reset triggers couldn’t be manufactured without regulations, they sent out an open letter to FFL holders. A portion of that open letter stated:

“Both the NFA and GCA regulate machineguns. “Machinegun” is defined under 26 U.S.C. § 5845(b) and 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(23) as—

Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. This term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed or intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.

ATF’s examination found that some FRT devices allow a firearm to automatically expel more than one shot with a single, continuous pull of the trigger.”

Bottom line was that Rare Breed Triggers was ordered to end production of their forced reset triggers. Remember: binary triggers do not perform the same action as forced reset triggers. While that doesn’t mean they will never come under scrutiny or be regulated by the federal government, it hasn’t happened yet. Specific states listed above have put their own regulations of binary triggers into effect, but it’s worth noting that those are the same states that have stricter gun control than most states already.

If you’re curious about the legality of binary triggers in your area, do the legwork and find the current laws. This is the type of detail you need to know and find for yourself.

Gun University’s Choices for the best binary trigger

There might not be as many binary triggers on the market as you think, but there are still options. We’ve narrowed it down to a few for you to consider based on your platform and what you want it to do. These are the best binary trigger categories:

  • Best overall binary trigger
  • Best AK-47 binary trigger
  • Best assisted reset binary trigger
  • Best 10/22 binary trigger

Best Binary Triggers

Franklin Armory BSFIII AR-S1
  • 3 Positions, Safe, Semi, Binary
  • Release round can be canceled by user
  • Works in most AR platforms
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Fostech Echo AK-47 Drop In Binary
  • 3 settings, Safe, Semi, Echo
  • works with stamped AK receivers
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Best assisted reset

Tac-Con 3MR Trigger

Tac-Con 3MR Trigger
  • 3 Modes, safe, semi, positive reset
  • Drop In
  • 4.5lb pull
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Franklin Armory BFSIII 22-C1-P
  • 3 positions, safe, semi, binary
  • works on most 10/22 firearms
  • Release round can be canceled by user
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Best Binary Triggers

Here is our list for the best binary triggers by category.

  1. Best Overall: Franklin Armory BSFIII AR-S1
  2. Best for AK-47: Fostech Echo AK-47 Drop In Binary Trigger
  3. Best Assisted Reset: Tac-Con 3MR Trigger
  4. Best for 10/22: Franklin Armory BFSIII 22-C1-P

Best Binary Triggers – Reviews

Best overall Franklin Armory BSFIII AR-S1

Franklin Armory BSFIII AR-S1 Featured Image

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Franklin Armory BSFIII AR-S1 Review

Franklin Armory designs what just might be the best binary triggers on the market. Their trigger line-up is relatively extensive and they’re constantly refining it. This particular model is the third generation of the design. This trigger has proven itself to be exceptionally well-made, reliable, and a favorite among countless shooters across the country.

The Frankly Armory BSFIII AR-S1 is a three-position trigger with a trio of settings: safe, semi, and binary. Binary is the third position during which a second shot is fired after the trigger resets and is released. It has great tactical and competition applications, but it’s also just fun at the range. Franklin Armory lists the following features of this trigger:

  • The release, or second, round can be canceled by moving the Franklin Armory Patented selector out of binary mode while holding the trigger rearward so it doesn’t reset.
  • Installation is easy and does not require a gunsmith thanks to the trigger’s drop-in design.
  • Trigger set at the factory with a 4.5 pound pull weight
  • Buffer springs are enhanced for greater flexibility
  • Compatible with most AR platform rifles and calibers, including 5.56 NATO, 308 Win, 9mm, rimfire, and more
  • Compatible with the majority of bolt carrier groups on the market
  • Designed for everyone from competition shooters to tactical shooters to recreational shooters
  • Made with a straight, flat-faced trigger for improved finger contact and better trigger control
  • Trigger pin size is 0.154 inches

It’s possible that certain AR platforms will require additional gunsmithing for proper function, but that’s true of any aftermarket trigger on the market. If the Franklin Armory trigger doesn’t work properly after installation, they recommend having a qualified gunsmith handle any necessary modifications to the gun itself. This trigger has a crisp break, a positive reset, and reliable overall performance. It’s a great option for anyone looking to get into binary triggers.

Franklin Armory BSFIII AR-S1 Deals

Best for AK-47 Fostech Echo AK-47 Binary Trigger

Fostech Echo AK-47 Binary Trigger Featured Image

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Fostech Echo AK-47 Drop In Binary Trigger Review

Binary triggers aren’t only for AR platform rifles, they’re for the AK-47, too. The Fostech Echo AK-47 Drop In Binary Trigger is made for stamped AKs. It can work with milled AKs as well, but that use could require modifications to the mode selector plate and trigger blade. According to Fostech, this trigger has been specially tested and is compatible with the following milled AK-47s:

  • Molot-Orozhie LTD—Vepr Rak Com Bloc
  • Childers Guns—CG1
  • Century Arms—AK63DS
  • Arsenal—SAM7SF
  • Interarms—AKM47
  • Riley Defense Inc/Morrisey Inc—AAM-74
  • CAI (Century Arms Int)—N-PAP M70
  • CAI (Century Arms Int)—WASR-10

The Fostech Echo AK-47 is a curved trigger with three settings: safe, fire, and echo (binary). Fostech describes it as a “response trigger” and states it has the same function and performance as their Echo AR-II. This AK-47 specific binary trigger is a solid way to get that second shot after trigger reset. It has a clean break and tactile reset, so there are no surprises. The trigger blade is black, and the housing has a battle-worn FDE appearance. As with all binary triggers, this model is drop-in style, so it’s incredibly easy to install.

Fostech Echo AK-47 Drop In Binary Trigger Deals

Best Assisted Reset Tac-Con 3MR Trigger

Tac-Con 3MR Trigger Featured Image

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Tac-Con 3MR Trigger Review

This is a binary trigger model and company not everyone is familiar with, but it’s well made and performs reliably. The Tac-Con 3MR Trigger is marketed by the manufacturer as the “only ATF approved” trigger of its kind. It’s a binary trigger that’s compatible with AR-15 platform firearms. At this time, it is unknown whether the trigger is compatible with the AR-10, and the manufacturer did not provide any information on this matter.

The Tac-Con 3MR Trigger is made with what the company describes as a “positive reset” that functions by “transferring the force from the bolt carrier through the trigger assembly to assist the trigger back onto the front sear.” They state this creates a trigger with an impressively fast reset. As with other designs, it as the three settings of safe, semi, and binary. It has a 4.5 pound trigger pull weight that’s set at the factory. Users report a crisp break and rapid reset.

If you’re interested in an AR-specific binary trigger with a slightly different design, this one’s worth checking out. At the time of this writing, the Tac-Con 3MR Trigger is the only one reporting a design that transfers reset to the bolt itself, making it a unique and interesting design.

Tac-Con 3MR Trigger Deals

Best for 10/22 Franklin Armory BFSIII 22-C1-P

Franklin Armory BFSIII 22-C1-P Featured Image

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Franklin Armory BFSIII 22-C1-P Review

If you have a Ruger 10/22 and an interest in binary triggers, you’re in luck because Franklin Armory does make a trigger for that specific model. The BFSIII 22-C1-P was designed in collaboration with YouTuber 22Plinkster as a drop-in aftermarket option for the Ruger 10/22. This means binary triggers aren’t only for the expected semi-auto AR and AK owners, they’re for you, too.

The Franklin Armory BFSIII 22-C1-P, also known as the 22Plinkster Edition Binary, is a drop-in trigger with a billet aluminum housing. It has three user positions—safe, semi, and binary—and is designed for positive reset on release so shooters are well aware of the moment of reset. They made this binary trigger to be compatible with most 10/22 firearms. Although users should be aware, there are occasional differences in tolerances that could render the trigger inoperable in certain guns.

This trigger is made so the shooter can cancel the second, or release, round by holding the trigger rearward and then moving the trigger’s selector out of binary mode prior to allowing the trigger to reset. According to Franklin Armory, they designed this trigger for all 10/22 shooters, including competitors, target shooters, and varmint hunters. This is a well made, high quality binary trigger that can take your 10/22 to the next level.

Franklin Armory BFSIII 22-C1-P Deals

Should you get a binary trigger?

Whether you enjoy the use of a binary comes down to purpose and personal preferences. These triggers are more for fun and range use than anything else. If you spend time plinking and punching holes in paper, you might enjoy adding a binary trigger to the mix. And if you like to use your 10/22 for shooting squirrels or other small pets, a binary trigger might serve you well, too. I do not recommend these triggers for installation in firearms meant for dedicated defensive purposes. In addition, if you’re a hunter, remember that shot placement is key for an ethical hunt, meaning it would be best not to install a binary trigger for something like a deer rifle.

Overall, binary triggers can be a lot of fun and can certainly have niche tactical applications. When used correctly, they can also help teach you greater trigger control and awareness of reset, which is a huge bonus.

What’s your favorite binary trigger? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.

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About Kat Ainsworth-Stevens

Kat is a respected author and dedicated student of the gun. To date, she has published three books and written thousands of articles on firearms and self-defense in print and online.

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1 COMMENTS

  1. I bought this drop in trigger for my LWRC REPR MKII (7.62x51mm). It’s a precision AR-10. And the Franklin Armory BSFIII AR-S1 was the perfect addition to my REPR. I will warn you about the amount of fun you’ll have with this set up. You might want to get a 2nd job so you can buy more ammo. With a rapid single or multiple tap the rate of fire is so fast that it almost eliminates muzzle rise. With my setup when I single tap, I’m grouping about 6” at 100 yards. Some people may complain about the price. I’ve had mine for roughly 2 years now and it still works just as good if not better than the day I installed it. Trust me, it’s worth the money. I have gone through at least 5,000 rounds and no issues. I can’t say enough good things about this trigger. I’m even smiling as I’m typing this. 👍🏼

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