Taking a Timney Trigger Factory Tour
Major Pandemic 07.05.16
Occasionally you are invited on an adventure of which you have no expectation, nor any realization the unexpected turns it will take. In September of 2014 I was invited to the Timney Triggers factory in Scottsdale AZ with a few other industry writers.
The funny thing is that I didn’t know what to expect on the trip. Ellis Media, the Media Company representing Timney, set up all the travel arrangements and said, “Just come on out.” So I did. I have to say the trip was one of the best-thought-out trips I have had arranged for me.
The night before the tour, I and the other media attendees traded stories about products, firearms, and relationships within the industry; ate and drank; and prepared questions for the next day’s factory tour.
In 2013, Timney moved into a new 25,000 square foot building with machining capabilities beyond what I have seen at any other firearms factory. Timney toughed things out in their old facility from 1997 until 2013 when they finally had to make a move to a larger space or face splitting operations into two buildings. The result was a move to a larger building, which was purchased, gutted, and built out to meet Timney’s specific design needs.
Walking into the new facility’s second floor executive conference room, we were greeted with a wall-to-wall windows overlooking the manufacturing operations of Timney, and the view was stunning. Timney’s facility is meticulously clean, so clean that you could place a cheeseburger on the floor and I would eat it, in spite of my germaphobia.
Considering Timney is designing, prototyping, and machining 100% of the parts for every trigger in house, this cleanliness is a bit magical. Ya know? Things should get a bit dirty, but Timney’s design and manufacturing team, and apparently their antimicrobial cleaning army is pretty good about setting up the closed door cabinet manufacturing processes to run impeccably clean.
As we toured the facility, what we saw was a near-fully-automated lights out manufacturing operation. People throw around the term “lights out manufacturing,” but Timney actually seems to have it down with a 22 hour by 7 days-a-week operation. They actually turn off the lights and leave the building while machines are churning away at night.
Two hours per day are set aside to reload raw materials and change out worn tooling. Robots pick up finished machined parts and load new blanks. It was like watching a digital machining ballet where billet becomes beauty. It was an amazing thing to watch: Both on the wire EDM machines cutting hammers, trigger, and sears, and the automated machines milling and turning trigger bodies and parts. What I saw impressed me, and I am not a newbie to manufacturing sophistication and automation.
We even met the assembly and shipping teams, whose responsibility it is to assemble and test the triggers and ultimately get the right product to the right customer. I had the privilege of watching one of the two testers qualified to assemble the Timney 10/22 trigger put together my own trigger. I also watched as the shipping team packaged up both the my Timney 10/22 trigger and the Skeletonized AR15 trigger I used on the Mercury One Foundation AR 308 build.
From sourcing 100% American-made metal stock through the manufacturing operations to assembly and shipping, Timney has clearly worked to develop one of the most cutting-edge manufacturing facilities that maximizes efficiency and quality. The owner and the lead designer (Calvin) often attend manufacturing trade shows just to ensure there is nothing else they could be doing to improve manufacturing operations.
Without automation, I’m told that instead of 20 employees, there would be closer to seventy. Some may think that automation is taking jobs away from qualified people, but the goal of a business owner is to deliver the best product in the most efficient manner. And in this case, automation was the answer.
For example, by going to “lean” manufacturing, Timney saved 36 hours of manufacturing time on the AR15 trigger shoe over the previous year’s production time. Considering this is just one part of an AR15 trigger, 36 hours is a huge dollars-and-cents savings for just one part. Consider that savings when you expand it to all the parts in an AR15 trigger and then to all the 50+ triggers of the 20+ firearm brands they produce. Automation and lean manufacturing can and do make a huge difference in the manufacturing business.
Timney offers the most-expensive aftermarket match performance triggers in the market. Most trigger manufacturers offer one or two triggers, usually for either 10/22, Remington 700, or AR15 rifles. Timney offers triggers for everything from ARs, Arisaka, Tavor, and Mosins to Remingtons and Winchesters and many, many brands and firearms in between.
If you need a trigger for your rifle, chances are Timney makes one that will fit. If they don’t, they do take customer suggestions, and this was one of the main reasons the Tavor and Mosin triggers were created. Interestingly, they also produce bow releases for archers as well. So if you want that Timney feel on your bow, you may want to take a look at their archery releases as well.
During my tour, Timney was working on triggers for the ARX100, Ruger American, and the one I am most excited over, the AK47. I asked that they start making Ruger Mark III pistol triggers as well as a precision ambi-selector for the AR15, but this was where I got a blank stare. That was a part and not a trigger.
My point to them was that with all this machining precision capabilities, I see no reason why Timney should not begin offering more than just triggers. I went on to say that a precision Timney selector paired with a AR15 Timney match trigger would actually improve tuning accuracy without having to adjust the trigger to allow for the slop of whatever selector you happen to be using.
Chris Ellis from Ellis Media said he wanted us to leave with the impression that Timney was one of the most advanced trigger manufacturers in the world. I left Arizona with a different impression; Timney is a cutting edge manufacturing facility that could be offering shooters more. This may seem like I am overlooking all that Timney has done and is doing for us in the trigger market, but from the 3D design, rapid prototyping, to fully automated manufacturing processes, I saw no reason why they could not be offering more amazing products beyond triggers. But I am told Timney for the moment will stick with just triggers.
So we came, we saw, we played with triggers, and of course we gabbed like little school girls passing notes on what products were “OMG, like so hot.” And as would be expected, we talked a lot about all the Timney triggers we had tested and used.
What struck me most was the “family” vibe at Timney. It was a family environment in which employee suggestions were converted to product, process, and company value improvements. This family extended from John, the owner, to Joliet, the English Mastiff dog roaming the premises.
We writers freshened up at the hotel and met for drinks before supper and spent the next hour crying and blubbering uncontrollably. All us editors all had at least one strong drink in us and were working on our second when Chris Ellis mentioned that Joliet had passed away about thirty minutes after I took this last picture of her and that tomorrow’s follow up factory tour would not happen because everyone at Timney was devastated.
John (Timny’s Owner) had noticed that Joliet was acting a little odd right after we left, so he took her to the vet, where she passed away from natural causes. Most of us had lost a great dog in our past and began reminiscing and weeping uncontrollably over John’s loss. It was quite the spectacle, which had passers-by, I am sure, wondering why a group of guys were all sitting in a Marriott teary-eyed with drinks in hand.
Overall, the trip was an adventure. I had no idea what to expect or to prepare for. Mrs. Pandemic asked repeatedly what we would be doing. I had no idea and I think that was the idea: to just see what happened.
Timney produces exceptional triggers for a huge variety of firearms, and they all work wonderfully and have that Timney “feel.” I personally have used and tested their 10/22, Mosin, and AR15 drop in triggers and have plans to use others as well.
If you are looking for a great trigger, take a look at Timney. This company is indeed more than just a trigger manufacturer. It is a trigger-centric family that is making the broadest array of match quality triggers in the business.