At ARBuildJunkie, we’re passionate about learning the ins and outs of companies and learning the how and why behind their products. One unique AR trigger that has repeatedly caught our eye is the Hiperfire Hipertouch. To learn more about the idea behind its design, we reached out the the founder and CEO of Hiperfire, Terry Bender.
Q: Terry, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to develop the Hiperfire Hipertouch?
Terry Bender, Hiperfire: I started working on firearms stuff as a hobby back in 2001. I spent a lot of money and I didn’t get anywhere…because I’m technical and an engineer, not a businessman. Anyway, I spent a lot of money and it got to the point where I was going to have to stop spending money and stop following the hobby, or I was going to have to do something else.
In addition to not having a business background, I also don’t have a firearms background…I have a graduate degree in mechanical engineering, I worked in R&D at Honeywell for about 14 years. I quit Honeywell and I had an engineering and consulting business for about 12 years. That was a dead end, only because the economy had pulled back, and even though I was very good as an analyst, I did forensics and computer simulations…I was not a very good salesman. It was hard to attract business as a one-man operation. Business also began to decline as computers and software became less expensive. You didn’t need workstations any more.
So, very fortunately for me, the firearms thing took off. I think I had a few good ideas, and they are what brought Hiperfire to where it is today.
Q: Let’s talk about those ideas…Can you describe what those were and how they came about?
Terry Bender, Hiperfire: Well, when I was a kid growing up, I had an older brother. He would never let me touch guns. He could touch them, but I couldn’t because I was the younger brother.
My dad was a World War II vet…He was in the 10th Mountain Division in northern Italy. He went deer hunting when he got back from the war, and he had a bullet zing past his head. I recall he came home and said “I went through World War II without a scratch, and I’m going to go deer hunting in Wisconsin and get killed?” So, he gave up deer hunting. Because of all that, I was not around firearms very much, but I was most certainly curious about them.
“I realized I was an idiot”
Then I became an adult and had a kid. And when he was about 9 years old, he had a firearms-related accident with the neighbor. I realized I was an idiot because I didn’t teach him enough about firearm safety.
So, at that point, I began to acquire firearms to teach him how to shoot and be safe. And because I had extra time on my hands, I started thinking about things, and grew an interest in firearms in general. That led me to wanting to buy a semi-automatic .50 caliber rifle.
In Pursuit of .50 Caliber Perfection
However, I realized right away the rifle that I wanted had some shortcomings. It was sold and advertised as an “anti-materiel weapon.” In other words, at long distances you couldn’t hit a small target…When I realized that the firearm I was looking at was not going to satisfy me, I began thinking about ways to improve on it. Basically, I wanted to develop the ultimate long-range hunting rifle.
Anyway, I went before some investors in 2011, in an effort to see if I could get this semi-auto .50 caliber rifle I had developed off-the-ground. After I presented it to them, they told me they would not give me any money.
I was bummed and asked why. They said, “you don’t need money from us. You could start selling what you have right here. You’d be surprised what people will buy.”
The Lightbulb Goes Off
But then they asked something that made the lightbulb go off in my head. They asked if the trigger I had developed for my .50 caliber could be adapted for the AR-15.
So, I went to that meeting thinking that if I didn’t get the money, I was going to hang it up and do something else because I wasn’t going anywhere with it…to where I came back to Minnesota, and within a week I formed High Performance Firearms LLC and filed the first patent application on the trigger. That trigger is now known as the Hipertouch Trigger. It’s the trigger with the extra toggle springs.
Since that trigger got patented, I have eleven more patents and there’s a couple more patents that are pending on some different things. But that’s how it started back in 2011, and really…looking back, it was all kind of an accident.
From Patent to Production
Fast forward to the fall of 2012, I began selling the first pre-launch trigger. In 2013, we launched what became known as the Hiperfire Hipertouch 24. I called it that because you could adjust the weight three different ways between 2 and 4 pounds.
Q: How was business at first, and how are thing going for you today?
Well, it wasn’t until 2014 that the company was in the black. But in that investor meeting I went to in 2011, one of the guys there told me in my first year in sales, my revenue would be half a million. And that’s exactly what the revenue was the first year that I began selling. (laughs)
So, there were some smart people in that meeting. They didn’t give me any money, but they gave me a lot of advice. Hiperfire today is self-funded…has no debt…it’s a very healthy situation right now. It’s all gravy. We can do what we want as long as we do it wisely and we don’t have anyone looking over our shoulder.
Q: Do you think your lack of a firearms background was a help to you as you started working on what became the Hiperfire Hipertouch?
Terry Bender, Hiperfire: I think so. I didn’t have firearms background, so I didn’t have a bias that I had to fight against. I was able to think outside of the box. as a consulting engineer in forensics, a lot of times I knew the answer that clients were looking for but they wouldn’t believe me unless I went through the analytics and proved it to them. So I will say I had a pretty good intuitive sense of physics and the real world.
The Lightweight Trigger Challenge
My challenge with the design was I had to think about how I was going to resolve lightweight triggers having lightweight hammer falls…especially for the AR-15.
For my .50, I wanted a hammer that hit really hard, but had a weight that didn’t fatigue my finger…So that when I wanted to shoot, the rifle would just respond to me and I didn’t have to fight it.
So, at the time, there were a lot of factors that were bouncing around my head. Now, I didn’t sit down and think how am I going to solve this problem. Instead, I just filed these issues and problems that I saw in the back of my head, and by simply sleeping on it over months, the idea really just came to me.
“I can’t be that lucky”
When the idea for toggle springs finally came to me, my very next thought, and it was immediate, was that someone else must have already come up with this idea. I can’t be that lucky.
But basically the idea was that when the hammer went over center, those toggle springs unloaded the sear. Then when the hammer fell over center the other way, those springs that had been working against the torsion spring on the hammer now cooperated with the torsion spring. So, I was able to have the best of both worlds – a lightweight trigger with a heavy hammer fall…but also a very positive reset, very short over travel…all those kinds of things. It was really striking the correct balance with how the trigger felt on your finger.
“Early triggers out to 3-gunners”
Though the idea was simple and made sense to me, there was a practical matter of learning what the tolerances were for the sear, the sear geometry, and all those different issues.
So, once I came up with some prototypes it was a matter of seeding those early triggers out to 3-gunners to get their feedback. Then after that, it was just a matter of tuning the triggers to meet their expectations.
Q: Can you talk about why you sought out 3-gunners first?
Terry Bender, Hiperfire: We went to 3-gunners because they are probably the most discriminating of trigger buyers for AR-15s. If I could satisfy them with a trigger, then I’d have something. And, that’s how it worked out.
The first trigger, like I said was the Hiperfire Hipertouch 24, and we came out with that in the spring of 2013. In the fall, I was at the AR15.com Pro AM at Rockcastle and I introduced the 24 Elite and the 24 Competition.
Friday was the first day of stages and by noon, the buzz had already started. A couple of guys had put the trigger in their rifles and they were pretty impressed. That weekend I knew that the triggers had legs and were going to go someplace.
Today, I’d say a vast majority, over 90% of those who end up getting Hiperfire Hipertouch triggers never go back to what they were using…and there are a lot of good triggers out there.
Q: Can you talk about some of the flavors of Hiperfire Hipertouch that exist today?
Terry Bender, Hiperfire: The Hipertouch trigger today is now a family of trigger products, and there are five triggers. There is actually a sixth one which is full auto version. We used to sell them with three springs, but now we sell them with two springs. You can set them up for either a 2.5 or 3.5 pound pull weight.
As far as naming, the 24 is now called the Hiperfire Hipertouch Genesis because it was our first trigger. It became the flagship for all the other Hiperfire Hipertouch triggers. The pull weight on that is just a little over 2 pounds but it has the same amount of creep as a mil-spec trigger.
The Hiperfire Hipertouch Reflex, the Hipertouch Competition and the Hipertouch Eclipse have the same sears and are machined the same way, but they feel a little different because you have a traditional curved bow on the Reflex and you have shoes on the Competition and the Eclipse, but basically all five of these triggers feel differently on the finger.
For Sensitive Fingers
There are some people who cannot feel the difference between the Competition and the Eclipse, but our 3-gunners who have very sensitive fingers say it’s a night and day difference. So, when you get up into those higher priced triggers it’s for those who can appreciate some of the finesse and qualities that we’ve applied to them.
In a nutshell, the Hiperfire Hipertouch triggers are all different and it basically comes down to weight and grossly the amount of creep. With the Reflex, the Competition and the Eclipse, when you fire a shot and reset the trigger, and pull again, the pull exactly the same as the first pull, whereas with the Genesis and the Elite, when you take a shot and slowly reset and stop your trigger let-off at reset, and then pull, the pull will be a little bit shorter than the initial pull
Q: Is there one particular Hiperfire Hipertouch you’d recommend for a beginner?
Terry Bender, Hiperfire: Right now among the competitive shooters, our Competition trigger is our best-selling Hiperfire Hipertouch by a little bit over the others. I’ve seen many people shoot that trigger for the first time and their jaws drop. They just can’t believe what their feeling…it’s that impressive.
Now, when we came out with the shoe and introduced it and it was red, some people said “well here’s another trigger company coming out with a gimmick”, but they realized really soon that the shoe was more than a gimmick. Now it was a gimmick in that we made it red to get their attention, but what the shoe does it it increases the contact area on your finger so that even though the pull force is the same, the pressure is less because of more contact area.
“You can feel everything that trigger is feeding back to you”
What that means is the trigger begins to move sooner than if you didn’t have the shoe. It’s a very subtle thing but it makes the trigger very responsive to your pull. And because of that large contact area, you can feel everything that trigger is feeding back to you.
I also find the trigger is so smooth and so easy that you don’t have to spend a lot of time cycling your trigger, dry firing…or putting rounds down range to train your muscle memory. The learning curve is very fast. When we introduced it at Rockcastle, every 3-gunner there said they wouldn’t run a trigger in competition until they had put at least 3,000 rounds through it. But the guys who said that were also the guys who began shooting it that first Friday and never gave it up.
We have a saying here that “the trigger finger can tell no lie.” So if people out there are looking for a trigger, I’d encourage them to seek out one of our Hiperfire Hipertouch triggers and get their finger on it and pull it. That will tell them all they need to know.