Geissele Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced (SSA-E) Trigger Review
Major Pandemic 03.25.14
Let’s face it: the gritty stock triggers included in most off the shelf AR rifles and AR kits suck. They are durable little buggers, but that crunchy trigger feel can drastically reduce accuracy when the stakes are highest or when impressing yourself and friends.
In 2004, Bill Geissele (pronounced “Guys-lee”) realized that AR triggers could be significantly improved and started manufacturing the High Speed AR trigger for National Match shooters. This trigger was fully adjustable and proved to be the standard by which all other target triggers today are judged.
Several years after starting the business, Geissele was contacted by the Department of Defense Special Ops community for a non-adjustable match grade combat trigger for the HK416. The result was the development of the SSF – Super Select Fire for government agencies. This incredibly well received, non-adjustable trigger was eventually released to the general public in a variety of continually evolving, semi-automatic-only trigger versions tuned for precision distance marksmanship, designated marksman rifles, close quarters combat, and 3-Gun type competition.
Which Geissele Should I Choose?
Many think that a great trigger needs to have an extremely light trigger pull and be completely adjustable, but this is certainly is not the case. A super light, 2lb adjustable trigger is important in the safe civilized target shooting confines of Camp Perry matches, but when you start knocking your gun around in adrenaline saturated combat, defensive, and competitive 3-Gun type situations, a very light breaking trigger with tuning adjustments can open up legal liability and/or safety issues. It is my opinion that most triggers suited for field and defense use should be able the 3lb+ range and be non-adjustable. For all-purpose gun builds, you should stick with one of the factory tuned, non-adjustable Geissele models, and you will save a little cash in the process.
Regardless of model, each Geissele trigger has exceptionally smooth 1st stage take up, glass-like 2nd stage breaks, and no over travel. The difference is how each trigger profile has been tuned for each type of shooter/competitor. The 3-Gun models have shorter 1st stage take up and fast reset for faster shooting, and the combat versions provide a wider margin of safety with higher pound pull profile to prevent accidental discharges. The enhanced versions provide a safe, precision, long-range, combat proven trigger for the designated marksman with a lighter trigger pull. This gives shooters the option to choose a trigger profile that will fit their shooting style and intended rifle purpose best.
For my Aero Precision lower receiver used with my custom built Aero Precision COP monolithic upper with Precision Designed Marksman focused White Oak SDM barrel, I wanted a trigger that would deliver proven combat safety and precision. The Geissele Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced (SSA-E) is a perfect fit for the purpose of the White Oak SDM barreled upper.
Fit, Feel, and Features
Geissele has long been recognized for high quality, and you’ll notice that this is a whole different level of beast than your stock trigger. Even when comparing it to the famed production Rock River Arms 2-stage trigger, the Geissele has a substantially higher quality fit, feel, and finish. The Geissele triggers and hammers are made from quality tool steel with sear surfaces cut by a wire EDM machine, which produces a very accurate and smooth non-directional surface finish. This means you will not see the expected directional machining or grind marks on the sear and hammer contact surfaces, just a super smooth finish that’s the basis for the excellent Geissele trigger feel.
The Geissele Super Semi-Automatic Enhanced (SSA-E) Trigger is a finely-tuned, non-adjustable, semi-automatic-only version of their proven full-auto, two stage combat trigger presently used in the U.S. Special Operations Community. Built on the chassis of the Geissele SSA, the SSA-E provides enhanced trigger control and a little lighter trigger feel for improved precision shooting, all while maintaining the robustness and reliability of the combat-proven two-stage SSA trigger.
The SSA-E’s reduced 1st and 2nd stage pull weights result in a trigger with a smooth and light 1st stage take-up and a crisp candy cane-like 2nd stage break. The SSA-E is ideal for use in precision Squad Designated Marksman type rifles where a non-adjustable drop in trigger is desired for longer precision shooting and where weapon accuracy and reliability are critical. Not to belabor the point, but legally the last thing you want in a gun that might see defensive duty is an adjustable trigger which could be perceived as being tuned to a dangerous level by you — the same reason you should not have a tunable match trigger in a handgun. The SSA-E provides both the trigger feel of a tunable trigger with the ease, durability and defendablity of a non-adjustable trigger.
Target focused triggers can be finicky with ammo because they attempt to lighten the hammer spring too much, but Geissele used a lightened bobbed hammer for faster lock time and a full force hammer spring for both quick locktime and positive ignition of all types of ammo. I have a few other guns with target triggers and bobbed hammers, and it has been my experience this combo increases both ignition reliability and accuracy across all ammo.
Install is an easy drop-in process requiring no more than a punch and light striking device. If you only have a Leatherman MUT, you need nothing more. Remove your hammer and trigger pins, pull out your old hammer and trigger, and drop in the Geissele trigger, all without typically needing to remove the safety. For some reason I can always remove the old trigger, but I have to fidget to get it back in without removing the safety. The trigger kit also includes a slave pin, which can be handy for holding the disconnector in place during installation, but I usually just use a punch.
The trigger is similar to the AR-15 trigger with the same number of parts with all the springs captured and no adjustment screws to lose during assembly or field cleaning. The install should be familiar and hassle-free for anyone who has disassembled their AR lower at least once. If you are a AR newbie, don’t worry. Geissele makes installs easier with full printed instructions and a step-by-step video installation hosted by Bill Geissele himself on their site.
Geissle’s site has trigger profiles under each trigger so that you can see the differences between the trigger profiles and let-off pull. The preceeding SSA model has a similar profile with a higher pull weight throughout compared to the SSA-E. The SSA-E has a pull weight of about 3.5 lbs, with a 2.3lb 1st stage and 1.2 lb 2nd stage with a small linear increase at the second stage. It feels light, smooth, and pronounced as you hit the 2nd stage. Geissele says this smooth linear break assures the sight picture and intended bullet placement is undisturbed even in higher stress situations. I say it allows you to be a bit sloppy and still make the shot.
My trigger control is quite good 80% of the time, but it’s usually that last 20% where I start getting excited and then blow the pull and mess up a great group. The reality is that the SSA-E is forgiving enough that even less than perfect trigger pulls deliver great results. The trigger pull delivered as advertised and allowed both short range higher rate trigger slapping, along with the precision for long-range shots.
It is without hesitation that I credit some of the 1/5” 100 yards groups from my White Oak Precision barreled upper to the Geissle trigger. Some of these groups should have been larger. There were shots I called fliers the nano-second after my poor trigger pull which still landed acceptably. This is a confidence building trigger for those interested in starting to explore longer range accuracy.
If I had a gun focused on defense, I would probably want a little heavier trigger pull. For 3-gun build I’d want a shorter take up for faster shots. But that’s the beauty of Geissele triggers: you have the choice. For a dual purpose combat rifle for long and arms length squad designated rifle engagements this is the perfect trigger — it’s affordable, easy to install, and is probably one of the best accuracy upgrades you can make on any rifle from stock barreled to custom.
- Geissele SSA-E
- Price: $210.00
- Item Number: #05-160
- Pull weight – About 3.5 lbs
- 1st stage – 2.3lbs
- 2nd stage – 1.2lbs
- Installation – Easy drop in installation