Romanian RPK Binary Trigger: The Good and the Bad

Binary triggers are pretty high up on the coolness scale. RPKs are even higher—for me anyway. So, logic dictates that combining the two would be chilly, right? Well…yes and no. It depends on the price you’re willing to pay for the upside you get. So, the boys down at the VSO Gun Channel walk us through it in this quick video using a Franklin Armory binary trigger in a Romanian AES10B RPK clone. And the intro is good, too. Anything that references Monty Python…

Romanian RPK Binary Trigger setup
Romanian RPK Binary Trigger setup.

Binary Triggers: What They Aren’t

A binary trigger is not an end-run around the NFA ban on machine guns. It’s just not. It operates differently from a machine gun, or fully automatic rifle, in that the gun still fires one round per trigger function. Yes, with practice, you can increase your effective rate of fire but, as the video says, if you think a binary trigger will magically give you a legal machine gun, “Please be quiet. You don’t know what you’re talking about, and you’re actually making yourself look very foolish.” They put the binary trigger (though not in the RPK) against a proper select-fire gun to prove it. It isn’t even close. So, just stop.

binary trigger on select fire gun
The binary trigger on a gun it was not designed for gets smoked by a real select-fire gun.

Binary Triggers: What They Do Well (With Practice)

As we said before, you can increase your rate of fire with a binary trigger, and there may be some value in that by itself. But it shines if you approach it like the two-round burst mode in the Kriss Vector, as is demonstrated in the video.

RPK with binary trigger
Could a binary trigger improve your favorite commie-inspired gun?

After firing the first shot, holding the trigger to the rear allows the shooter to use controlled double taps, with the first shot being the release, allowing a swift follow-up shot by pressing back and holding for another sequence. It does mimic the two-round burst very well and, with a bit of practice, could be very formidable indeed.

RPKs with binary triggers
RPKs are just cool.

One way of thinking about the desirability of the technique is like a shotgun firing 00 buckshot. Once the technique is mastered, it is almost like having a multi-projectile effect in terms of damage inflicted on the target. And yes, I know 00 buck has a lot more than two projectiles, but you get the idea. That’s why I said “almost.” I’ve never had much interest in binary triggers, but, I have to say, the prospect of learning this technique might cause me to look into one.

Can a good double tap of 7.62x39 equal a blast of 00 Buckshot?
Can a good double-tap of 7.62×39 equal a blast of 00 Buckshot?

The Downside (On the RPK Anyway)

VSO clarifies that the RPK is not designed for a binary trigger, but they’ve tuned it as best they can. But there is still a problem. Since there is no second sear or auto sear, the trigger function is sometimes affected by “hammer follow.” There is nothing to delay the hammer as the action cycles forward to the reset. So sometimes, the hammer will catch up to the bolt carrier and ride it forward, causing a failure to fire. It happens while he is demonstrating the double-tap technique discussed earlier. It’s basically a hiccup, but it is less than ideal. Maybe that’s something you can overlook. I don’t think I would like it much, but I would have to experience it first-hand, to say for certain.

RPK Binary Trigger
A Binary Trigger and an RPK…What’s Not to Like? You Might Be Surprised.

It seems cool, but it isn’t always smooth. Nevertheless, it might be something to look at for your favorite commie-inspired Kalashnikov USA gun. Or not. That’s for you to decide. As always, I’m just some guy on the interwebs.

shooting the RPK with binary trigger
“Way to go John Wayne.” Or would that be Ivan Wayneski?

Watch the video for yourself:

William "Bucky" Lawson is a self-described "typical Appalachian-American gun enthusiast". He is a military historian specializing in World War II and has written a few things, as he says, "here and there". A featured contributor for Strategy & Tactics, he likes dogs, range time, and a good cigar - preferably with an Old Fashioned that has an extra orange slice.

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