With several people looking at or having the Daisy/Avanti x53 series rifles (953, 853, 753), I thought I would put together in one place the trigger modifications for this rifle. This is a compilation of various sources of info, taking the best from each. The trigger mods are variously known as Tom Johnson's trigger mods or Pilkington trigger mod. I don't know where the original source of the mods was, but I think it was Tom Johnson.
When I shot my stock 953 for the first time, I spent more effort fighting the trigger than aiming the rifle. The stock trigger was LOUSEY. It felt like I was dragging a 2x4 over a very ROUGH road. This then caused me to fight the trigger, distracting me from aiming the rifle. Needless to say, my score STUNK.
I first read of the solution to the trigger problem in an article that I found "Tom Johnson's Tips on Tuning and Caring for the Daisy 853." In this article, he mentions making 3 modifications to the trigger. This is written up better in the CMP booklet "Tom Johnson's Sportster Tips" http://estore.thecmp.org/Store/catalog/catalog.aspx?pg=product&ID=716&item=716&sfv=&cat=&desc=&udc=&mct=&vndr=&ba=&pmin=&pmax=¬e1=¬e2=¬e3=¬e4=¬e5=&max=500
(which I recommend you buy from the CMP, for only $2)
1 - smoothen the trigger pull
2 - lighten the trigger weight
3 - reduce the length of the trigger pull
1 - Smoothen the trigger pull.
When Daisy manufactures these rifles, the trigger sear is stamped out of a piece of thick metal. The burrs left as a result of the stamping process is not removed. This result in a sear surface that could be as rough as a piece of sandpaper. And to compound the problem the mating surface on the hammer may have a small ridge. When you pull the trigger, whenever the ridge on the hammer runs into a high or low spot on the sear, the sear could get "stuck." Now you have to pull hard enough to unstick the sear and get past that rough spot. Think of it like dragging a 2x4 over a really ROUGH road.
To fix this, you need to deburr and polish the mating surfaces on both the sear and hammer. A #1000 or #1500 (the finer the better) wet/dry sandpaper supported by a popsicle stick will do to remove the burrs and smoothen the engagement surface of the sear and hammer. Be VERY careful to NOT change the angle of the sear. I run my finger nail on the sear, feeling for places where it hangs up, then polish until my finger nail moves smoothly and does not hang up. I also deburr the sides of the sear, so there are no burrs sticking out that could hang up on the inside of the trigger housing.
WARNING. Do NOT use a Dremel tool with a polishing wheel, or anything similar. I have seen 1 or 2 posts on this, and I do NOT recommend it. The reasons are:
#1 - With a polishing wheel, you have little or no control over maintaining the FLATNESS and original angle of the surface of the sear. You could end up with a wavy surface that would not have an even trigger pull. You want the bearing surfaces FLAT and SMOOTH.
#2 - You could easily round off the sharp point of the sear, where the sear holds the hammer. The hammer could slip off the sear early. This is especially of concern if you reduced the length of the trigger pull (modification item #3 below).
If you do only one modification, this is the mod to do. It will give you 80% of improvement of the 3 trigger mods. And best of all, it is the easiest to do.
2 - Lighten the trigger weight.
You MUST do this AFTER smoothening the trigger pull. The process of smoothening the trigger pull will decrecrease the trigger weight also.
To lighten the trigger you clip off loops (or partial loops) off the trigger spring. This is a trial and error process until you shorten the spring enough to reach the desired trigger weight. Because of the trial and error process, I recommend ordering spare springs from Daisy, just in case you clip off too much of the spring.
CAUTION: Sportster rules limit the min trigger weight to 1-1/2 pounds. There are coaches that feel that going below 2 pounds in these rifles is not safe. Remember this is not a precision rifle trigger mechanism.
However if you do the adjustable #3 below, do not lighten the trigger until you do that mod.
You can choose to stop here, you do not have to do #3.
3 - Reduce the length of the trigger pull.
This is called by various terms; removing slack, removing creep, etc.
What you are doing is shortening the distance you pull the trigger before the sear releases the hammer.
There are 2 ways of doing this.
1 - File down the height of the sear. You need to have spare sears, in case you file it down too much. Since this is probably the easiest to do but tricky to do right. Again a lot of trial and error to get to the correct amount of material filed off. Thus I recommend #2 below.
2 - Install an adjustment screw to make the engagement adjustable.
The easiest way to do this is to get the appropriate replacement parts from Daisy.
#3 and to some degree #2 can be done at the same time by replacing parts of the trigger mechanism of the x53 rifle with parts from the 888 which has the trigger travel adjustment screw. This adjustment screw also affects trigger weight, so do not do #2 until you do this mod.
CAUTION. The adjustment screw also removes the slack from the trigger, so there is no take up of trigger slack. This means that when you pull the trigger, you are IMMEDIATELY moving the trigger sear. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
First download these instructionswww.thecmp.org/wp-content/uploads/853Repair.ppthttps://umdrive.memphis.edu/ksingltn/public/Daisy%20M853%20M753%20M888%20M887%20Trigger%20Modification%20Instructions%20PDF.pdf
These 2 documents have the disassembly and reassembly instructions better than I can give you, and the pictures are great.
However, the second instruction does some of the mods the hard way.
For mod #3, call Daisy Customer Support and order the following parts
888-3 Trigger Housing, already has the hole drilled for the adjustment screw
888-5 Trigger Assembly, already has the trigger parts shaped for you
888-18 Screw assortment, the trigger adjustment screw is in this kit (not needed if you use a 8-32 screw as mentioned below)
With these parts you do not have to cut/file/drill the parts as shown in the slides. You just replace the part with the appropriate part from Daisy, already setup ready to go. But you still have to do #1 (deburr/polish the sear and hammer).
I recommend that you replace the Daisy trigger adjustment screw with a 8-32 screw as done in the slides. However, I used a stainless steel headless hex allen screw (from Home Depot) instead of the socket cap screw in the slides. The 8-32 screw provides a finer adjustment than the course screw of the stock Daisy setup, and the headless screw was easier to install than the cap screw in the slides. And don't forget to get a matching allen key for the screw or you won't be able to install and adjust the screw.
As for the trigger adjustment. Sportster rules specify a minimum trigger weight of 1-1/2 pounds. Several coaches recommend a min of 2 pounds, as they feel the trigger is not reliable below 2 pounds. Remember, this is NOT a precision trigger.
Do the BUMP test. Cock the hammer then bump the butt of the stock on the floor, if it fires, you have the adjustment too fine, you need to increase the sear engagement/trigger weight.
If you replace the trigger housing, the replacement trigger housing from Daisy may or may not have the safety pin installed. If it is not installed, you need to move the safety pin from your trigger housing to the replacement trigger housing. You need to be very careful here. There is a spring loaded ball bearing in the safety pin. When you remove the safety pin, keep your hand or a towel over the trigger housing to catch the ball bearing. When you put the safety pin into the replacement trigger housing, you need to hold the ball bearing on top of the spring while pushing the safety pin in. This was very difficult for me, the ball bearing kept slipping out from my finger and went flying off, then I had to go find it.
TIP: work on the safety pin (disassemble and assemble) on a large white towel, and put another towel supported over the receiver to catch the ball bearing if it slips out from under your finger. And wear safety glasses to protect your eye, if the ball bearing heads in the wrong direction.
Finally, the trigger sear is not hardened steel, it will wear over time. If you remember how easy it was to deburr the sear in #1 above. If you shoot a LOT, expect to have to replace the sear when the tip of the sear wears round. This is especially so if you adjust the trigger for a minimal sear engagement. If you bought the trigger assembly kit above, you already have your spare sear.
Not having the Daisy grease, I used white lithium grease from Ace Hardware, and that seems to work just fine.
ps For those of you who bought a CMP refurbished 853, the trigger mod may or may not have been done to the rifle that you received. Some may have been modified, and others left stock.