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The History of Timney Triggers

When American soldiers came back to the U.S. at the end of World War II, they returned home amid a technological revolution spurred by developments in the war effort. During the war, radar was developed, computers were being used in mathematics, and massive advancements in medicine and health care took place.

Soldiers were different, too. Many came back as gun enthusiasts. Tens of thousands who had trained to be proficient with firearms took up hunting as a pastime, often using rifles made for combat to chase big game across the forests and fields of the U.S. 

And that’s where the seeds of one of the most successful gun accessory companies in American history were first planted.

The Trigger Warning

Just south of Los Angles, Allen Timney realized the factory-installed triggers used in the Mausers, Springfields, and Enfields that were fast becoming favorites of postwar recreational shooters were full of issues that affected the reliability and accuracy of the guns. In 1946, he founded Timney Triggers, an aftermarket trigger manufacturer that catered largely to sporting, recreational, and competitive shooters.

Timney’s business did well as the popularity of hunting and competitive shooting soared.  His company gained legions of fans who replaced factory installed triggers with reliable single-stage Timney Triggers by the thousands. They were easy to install and leaps and bounds better than what large-scale commercial manufacturers were putting in their bolt-action guns. Beyond the Mausers, Timney made triggers for the wide range of popular sporting models, including the Winchester Model 70, the Ruger 77, and the Remington 700.

Allen Timney plugged along just fine on the fringes of the gun industry for 35 years, finally selling his company to Paul and Rosemary Vehr in 1981 after a fire in his shop depleted inventory.

timney triggers photo book

Moving the Company

A year after purchasing the company from Allen Timney, the Vehrs relocated it to Phoenix. Paul and Rosemary ran the company until 1999, when they agreed to sell it to their son, John, who was working in the family business since 1994 and served as general manager. Just three days after the 2000 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, Rosemary passed away and five weeks later, Paul also passed away. John eventually bought Timney Triggers from his siblings and began to immediately invest heavily in technology, cutting-edge machinery, people, and, most importantly, he changed the mindset.

“When I started at Timney, we had a tiny little company and a half a million dollars in sales and a bunch of broken-down machines,” says John Vehr. “That wasn’t what I could see in my mind. I could see a beautiful, vibrant company that’s really close to what Timney is right now.”

Until John took over, the triggers were produced in a labor-intensive machine shop. Recognizing the issue, he decided to invest in automated machine tooling — CNC machinery. He replaced 12 operators in his shop with CNC machinery run by three highly skilled and highly trained machinists. What once took 65 separate manual steps to build a trigger now required only three. Instead of sear surfaces ground manually on a grinding wheel, they’d be formed using electronic discharge of metal (EDM). The result was the best trigger Timney had ever made.

“I started to see real results out of making precision parts the first time,” says John. “I was bitten by this bug that goes, alright, how do we create the best possible part where nobody touches anything until we have to?”

Timing is Everything

In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that outlawed the AR-15 and other similar semiautomatic rifles. When the assault-weapons ban finally expired in 2004, gun makers quickly reintroduced them and were greeted by brisk AR-15 sales. Remarkably, like the WWII Mausers, many of the new production AR-15 had trigger issues. 

In 2005, on advice from their customers, Timney introduced its AR-15 trigger to a perfect storm. The market had proven the AR rifle’s popularity, and people wanted to become as accurate as possible with it. 

“We listened to our customers and delivered exactly what they were asking for,” John told a SHOT Show publication. “They found us in droves.”

Timney’s AR trigger offerings now include many models, including a two-stage, the Calvin Elite (the ultimate 3-Gun trigger) and the best single-stage model in the industry. The Calvin Elite Series of triggers are named for Calvin Motley, Timney’s design genius, who is responsible for such award-winning triggers as the Timney AR drop-in trigger, Remington 700 with unique trigger blocking safety and many other critically acclaimed replacement triggers. 

timney triggers history factory floor

Stacking Up Success

In 2013, as the company underwent rapid growth, it moved to an ultra-clean 25,000-square-foot facility north of downtown Phoenix. There are now more than 40 employees operating the latest state-of-the-art technology with machines that run around the clock. 

Today, Timney is the largest trigger manufacturer in the world and produces more than 170 models of triggers for bolt-action rifles, shotguns, AR rifles, and semi-automatic rifles. Timney has worked with manufacturers like SIG Sauer to codevelop a trigger for SIG’s iconic MPX pistol caliber carbine and continues to strive forward with other innovations.

Timney is stacking up awards and accolades, too, but for John Vehr the real value of the company is the people that are part of his team.

“What sets us apart from any other company is our people,” he says. “I know that’s what everybody says, but we are a motley crew of people and every single one of the people who works here is an absolute ninja.”

Find Timney Triggers at: timneytriggers.com/


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