Thursday, October 16, 2014

First Impressions: Apex Tactical Specialties AEK Polymer Trigger

I had been wanting to replace the trigger on my M&P9c for some time.  I finally got around to ordering the AEK Polymer Trigger from Apex.  Once it arrived, I set about getting it installed.

I highly recommend having the right tools on hand as well as watching the installation video that Apex has out on YouTube.  It will go much smoother if you have what you need up front than trying to improvise with other tools.

Once the trigger was initially installed I function tested it and dry fired several times.  It appeared good to go.  From an ergonomic standpoint the AEK trigger is so much easier to pull straight back to the rear.  The articulated two piece S&W trigger got the job done, but I really did not care for the way it was shaped.  I also did not like the fact that the trigger face is actually hinging in the middle as you press the trigger.  Apex claims the AEK trigger "reduces pre-travel and over-travel by approximately 20% from the factory trigger".  I have to agree with that assessment purely from tactile feedback.

I went to the range after installing the AEK trigger the next day to get acquainted with the upgrade.  I was 50 rounds in when I had a what I thought was a failure to fire.  I let the trigger out further and then pulled the trigger again.  BANG!  Ok, maybe I just didn't let it reset.  Approximately, 10 rounds later it happened again.  Okay, I know it reset.  Turns out that I was encountering the issue mentioned in Apex's video concerning the trigger bar rotating the sear, but not allowing the striker to release.  I experienced the striker not wanting to release twice after that during the range session.

I dry fired when I got home and the issue was more pronounced.  It got to the point where the trigger would physically be depressed all the way back and only a sharp release and then a sharp trigger pull might release the striker.  I have to admit, I was a little perturbed by this since I thought I was good to go after the initial function check.  It never occurred to me that there might be some kind of break in period.

Busted out the tools to readjust the "candy cane" on the trigger bar.

I picked up some feeler gauges the next day.  I disassembled the pistol and took a measurement of the "candy cane" that rotates the sear.  The gap measured 0.011 inches.  I decided to add another 0.005 of an inch to the gap.  The sear now contacted the trigger bar sooner rather than later in the trigger pull and there was definitely no problem of the striker being released.  It is worth mentioning that if you do this that the loop can be opened too much and not allow the striker to reset resulting in a "dead trigger".  It is my understanding that the sear should definitely not be contacting the "candy cane" when there is no pull on the trigger.

Everything is in place in this shot.  Can you spot the "candy cane"?  Watch Apex's video for details on how this is adjusted.

So, good to go right?  I had thought I was fine after the initial install.  The only way I was going to feel comfortable was by putting 100 rounds through it at a minimum.

10 rounds in 10 neat little groupings.  The trigger definitely does not hurt having it installed... as long as it stays the way I adjusted it!

I made it to the range and shot 10 round groups at 3 yards for a total of a 100 rounds.  I did not experience any more issues with the striker not releasing.  I dry fired that entire evening and still did not encounter any issues.

On a side note, I recently picked up a M&P Pro Series CORE.  I had the gunsmith do all the Apex upgrades including the AEK trigger in this as well.  Can you guess what happened?  Not only did I experience the same issue with the striker not releasing, but it happened after just dry firing for several hours!  I opened up the "candy cane" on it as well, put 50 rounds through it, and dry fired afterwards.  So far, so good, but I will have to keep an eye on it as well.

The moral of the story:  Do not think you are good to go after an installation and function check.  Take it to the range and try and wring out any issues!  I will still try and go to the range over the next several days to put rounds through the 9c as well as dry fire to ensure it does not reoccur.

So, my initial impressions of the Apex AEK Polymer Trigger?  Very positive!  It does what it says in terms of reducing pre-travel and over-travel.  It also feels way better to shoot when at the range.  Specifically, I can pull the trigger straight back much more smoothly than I could with the factory trigger.  The issues with the striker not releasing are issues that Apex warns about clearly on the product page.  It was my expectations of the trigger being good to go after an initial function check that were misguided.

Have you adjusted your pistol's trigger?  If so, what are some tips or tricks to help fine tune?  Or do you have some advice on troubleshooting trigger issues?  I would love to hear from you.  Please comment below and share.


  1. The only handgun trigger I have done so far is a Skimmer trigger in my Gen 4 Glock 19. I didn't carry it until I got a chance to put 200 rounds through it though, just to make sure it worked without a hitch and to get used to the new feel.

    It has ran flawlessly through 300 rounds so far, it has a nice reset and a much shorter pull than the stock Glock trigger. I like it, I don't know if I like it enough to spend $160 on another one though.

    1. The AEK trigger helps get the pull closer to a Glock, but reset is still not as noticeable.

      Is like to try the Skimmer, but not on my own dime. :)

    2. The Skimmer is decent, it would be better if it was $100 instead of $160. It's definitely an improvement over stock, but I was a bit underwhelmed after first shooting it. I'm considering springing for a really nice ZEV adjustable, but I don't know if I want to invest that much in a Glock.