Wheeler Engineering’s Digital Trigger Pull Gauge
Wheeler Engineering’s Digital Trigger Pull Gauge
Whether you’re contemplating a trigger job or spring kit for your favorite gun, or just curious how it measures up to factory specs, you’ll need a gauge to get an accurate measurement of trigger pull weight. With that in mind, in this article we’re going to review the Wheeler Engineering digital trigger pull gauge.
In terms of what you get for your money, the Wheeler includes a foam-lined hard plastic case, complete with a factory test card, and a set of instructions.
In order to do some testing, I decided to set up a Smith & Wesson 686 loaded with snap-caps, using a workmate to hold it in place.
Using the gauge is relatively simple; after installing a pair of AAA batteries, the operator simply folds the arm outward, and locks the sensor into place.
Next, with the gauge on and the arm extended, the user slides the sensor into the firearm’s trigger guard, and lines it up with the trigger.
Once properly oriented, the operator slowly pulls the gauge back as straight as possible, employing a consistent amount of pressure until the action cycles.
Initially I had very poor results with the Wheeler, with readings all over the map, sometimes four or even five pounds apart on the same gun. While frustrating, I kept at it, and after about an hour of practicing different methods I found that the trick was to go as slow as possible, with an emphasis on even pressure. Once I had a feel for it, I was getting consistent measurements very much in line with the factory specifications of the firearms I tested.
Beginning with the double-action trigger pull, I recorded measurements from a low of 10lbs 8.1oz, to a high of 11lbs 0.7oz, with an overall average of just under 11lbs.
|Test 1||10lbs 12oz|
|Test 2||10lbs 8.1oz|
|Test 3||10lbs 15.1oz|
|Test 4||11lbs 0.1oz|
|Test 5||10lbs 10.3oz|
|Test 6||11lbs 0.7oz|
|Test 7||10lbs 15.4oz|
|Test 8||10lbs 15.3oz|
|Test 9||10lbs 10.8oz|
|Test 10||10lbs 15.2oz|
Moving along to the single-action tests I came up with measurements from a low of 2lb 11.4oz to a high of 3lbs 6.1oz, with an average of about three pounds.
|Test 1||3lbs 5.9oz|
|Test 2||3lbs 1oz|
|Test 3||3lbs 4.8oz|
|Test 4||3lbs 4.8oz|
|Test 5||3lbs 2.3oz|
|Test 6||3lbs 6.1oz|
|Test 7||3lbs 3.4oz|
|Test 8||3lbs 2.2oz|
|Test 9||3lbs 1.7oz|
|Test 10||2lbs 11.4oz|
Both these sets of measurements are pretty average for a factory 686, so I’m fairly confident in the accuracy of this gauge.
The Wheeler has a large, clear, backlit screen that’s easy to read. Everything’s laid out very nicely, making it simple to find what you’re looking for. The are dedicated spots for the active and average pull weight, low and high values, and even the number of measurements performed in a series. That may not sound impressive, but the fact is no other gauge offers that much information. The buttons are also large and well placed, and the whole unit is so intuitive I had it figured out in no time at all.
It’s also extremely well built; the body casting is made from a durable plastic that feels like it would hold up well to abuse. The arm folds up nicely, and locks in two different positions, giving the user a bit more flexibility when testing as they can pull the gauge from different angles depending on the orientation of the gun.
Above all, it’s accurate. I’ll be honest and tell you I had my doubts at first, especially with the amount of play in the armature. That said, the measurements I got were all quite consistent and in line with what I’d expect for the test gun, so it’s hard to argue with results.
As much as I like the Wheeler, there are a couple of things about it that I’d change if I could. First and foremost among them is the armature and sensor flex. While both components are undeniably tough, there’s a lot of play in them which bothers me. As I mentioned previously, the gauge seems to be very accurate and consistent, but I can’t help but wonder if tighter construction would have made for even better readings– it’s hard to say.
In a similar vein is the size of the sensor itself; this thing is huge, which makes it a challenge to use on firearms with a small trigger guard, particularly pistols.
My only other complaint is the screw securing the battery compartment. This probably seems really petty, but the fact is a trigger pull gauge just isn’t a tool I’ll be using daily. As such, it’s really annoying that I need to get a screwdriver out every time I want to remove, or change the batteries.
So what do I think about Wheeler’s Digital Trigger Pull Gauge? I like it.
It took some practice, but once you get the hang of it, it consistently provides accurate data and displays everything in a clear, concise format that’s vastly superior to anything you’d get from a conventional spring gauge. Compact and tough enough to take with you to the range, this is an ideal tool for setting spring tension on guns. I used it extensively when installing spring kits on my revolvers and it worked like a charm.
While it may not be perfect (what tool is), it does exactly what it advertises, exactly as it advertises, and at a price that won’t break the bank.
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