Occasionally you are invited on an adventure which you have no expectation of or realization the unexpected turns it will take. In September of 2014 I was invited to the Timney factory in Scottsdale AZ with a few other industry writers such as The Truth About Guns and Tactical Hogs Weapons & Tactics editors.
The funny thing is that I didn't know what to expect on the trip. Ellis Media, the Media Company representing Timney, just set up all the travel arrangements and said "Just come on out"... so I did. I have to say the trip and travel were amongst the most well thought out and smoother trips I have had arranged for me.
The night before we all traded stories around products, firearms, and relationships within the industry, drank, broke bread together, and prepared questions for the next day's factory tour. Timney moved into a new 25,000 square foot building in 2013 with new machining capabilities beyond what I have seen at any other firearms factory. Timney toughed things out in their old facility from 1997-2013 until they finally were at a point where they had to make a move to a larger space or face splitting operations into two buildings. The result was a move to a larger building which was purchased, gutted, and built out to meet Timney's specific design needs.
Walking into the new updated facility's second floor executive conference room, we were greeted with a wall-to-wall windows overlooking the manufacturing operations of Timney and the view was stunning. Timney's facility is meticulously clean... like place a cheese burger on the floor and I the germaphobe would eat it. Considering Timney is designing, prototyping, and machining 100% of the parts for every trigger in house, this cleanliness is a bit magical. Ya, know? Things should get a bit dirty, however Timney's design and manufacturing team, and apparently their antimicrobial cleaning army is pretty anal retentive about setting up the closed door cabinet manufacturing processes to run impeccably clean.
As we toured the facility what we saw was a near fully automated lights out manufacturing operation. People throw around the term “lights out manufacturing”, however Timney actually seems to have it down with a 22 hour by 7 day a week operation. Literally they actually turn lights out and leave the building while machines are churning away at night. A two hour maintenance window is provided per day during working hours to reload raw materials and change out worn tooling. Robots are picking up finished machined parts and loading new blanks. It was like watching a digital machining ballet where billet was turned into beauty. It was an amazing thing to watch whether on the Wire EDM machines cutting hammers, trigger, and sears, or the automated milling or Swiss machines milling and turning trigger bodies and parts. What I saw impressed me and I am not a newbie to manufacturing sophistication and automation.
We even met the assembly and shipping teams whose responsibility it is to assemble, test and ultimately get the right product to the right custom. I had the privilege to watch one of the two testers qualified to assemble the Timney 10/22 trigger, put together my trigger just used in my Magnum Research MLR-22ATU review. I also watched as the shipping team packaged up both the Timney 10/22 trigger and the Skeletonized AR15 trigger used on the Mercury One Foundation AR 308 build.
|Timney's version of a doorstop|
From sourcing 100% American made metal stock, through the manufacturing operations, to assembly and shipping, Timney has clearly worked to develop one of the most cutting edge manufacturing facilities which maximizes efficiency and quality. The owner and the lead designer (Calvin) often attend manufacturing trade shows just to assure there is nothing else they could be doing to improve manufacturing operations.
The 20'ish person staff would be closer to seventy according to the owner if they had to go back to doing everything without manufacturing automation. Some may think that automation is taking jobs away from qualified people, however as a business owner, the goal is to deliver the highest quality, most consistent, and efficiently produced product possible and in this case, automation was the better answer than more staff. For example, by going to "lean" manufacturing, Timney saved 36 hours of manufacturing time on the AR15 trigger shoe over the year’s production time. Considering this is just one part of an AR15 trigger, 36 hours is a huge dollars and cents savings for just one part. Consider that savings when you expand it to all the parts in an AR15 trigger and then to all the 50+ triggers of the 20+ firearm brands they produce. Automation and Lean manufacturing can and do make a huge difference in the manufacturing business.
Timney offers the most expensive aftermarket match performance triggers in the market. Most trigger manufacturers offer one or two triggers usually for either 10/22, Remington 700, or AR15 rifles. Timney offers triggers for everything from ARs, Arisaka, Tavor, and Mosins to Remingtons and Winchesters and many, many brands and firearms in between. If you need a trigger for your rifle, chances are Timney makes one for your rifle. If they don't, they do take customer suggestions and this was one of the main reasons the Tavor and Mosin triggers were created. Interestingly they also produce bow releases for archers as well, so if you want that Timney feel on your bow, you may want to take a look at their archery releases as well.
|Timney AK47 Prototype Trigger|
Currently, Timney is working on triggers for the ARX100, Ruger America, and the one I am most excited over, the AK47. I asked that they start making Ruger Mark III pistol triggers as well as a a precision ambi-selector for the AR15... but this was where I got a blank stare back at me. That was a part and not a trigger. My point to them was that with all this machining precision capabilities, I see no reason why Timney should not begin offering more than just triggers. I went on that a precision Timney selector paired with a AR15 Timney match trigger would actually improve tuning accuracy without having to adjust the trigger to allow for the slop of whatever selector you happen to be using.
Chris Ellis from Ellis Media said he wanted us to leave with the impression that Timney was one of the most advanced trigger manufacturers in the world. I left Arizona with a different impression; Timney is a cutting edge manufacturing facility which could be doing and offering shooters more. This may seem like I am overlooking all that Timney has and is doing for us in the Trigger market, however from the 3D prototyping, rapid prototyping, to fully automated processes, I saw no reason why they could not be offering more amazing products beyond triggers, however I am told Timney for the moment will stick with just triggers.
So we came, we saw, we played with triggers, and of course gabbed like little school girls passing notes on what products were "OMG, like so hot" and, as would be expected, we talked a lot about all the Timney triggers we had tested and used.
What struck me was the "family" vibe everyone talked about at Timney from John the owner, to the managers, machinist, assemblers and shippers. It was a family who noted that John was going to extremes to offer an environment where their suggestions were converted to product, process, and company value improvements. This family extended from John the owner to Joliet the beautiful and friendly English Mastiff roaming the premises who I thought was so cute that I snapped a few pics before I left the Timney facility, got on the floor, and gave the old girl some love. I am a dog person… more specifically I love mid to large sized dogs.
We freshened up at the hotel and met for drinks to head out for dinner and spent the next hour all crying and blubbering uncontrollably. All us editors all had at least one strong drink in us and were working on our second when Chris Ellis mentioned that Joliet has passed away about thirty minutes after I took these last pictures of her and that tomorrow's follow up factory tour would not happen because everyone at Timney was devastated.
John (Timeny's Owner) had noticed Joliet, Timney's furry employee, was acting a little odd right after we left and ran her by the vet at which time she passed away from natural causes. Most of us had lost a great dog in our past and began reminiscing and weeping uncontrollably over John's loss. It was quite the spectacle which had passers by I am sure wondering why a group of guys were all sitting in a Marriott teary eye-ed with drinks in hand. As a long time dog owner, it was my privilege to meet Joliet. I immediately emailed these last pictures to Chris to forward to the Timney team and when returning home I immediately gave my doberman twins a hug and kiss. Family is important and I understood at that point how tight the Timney family was.
The trip was an adventure. I had no idea what to expect or to prepare for. Mrs. Pandemic asked repeatedly "what" we would be doing... I had no idea and I think that was the idea to just see what happened.
Timney produces exceptional triggers for a huge variety of firearms and they all work wonderfully and all have that Timney “feel”. I personally have used and tested their 10/22, Mosin, and AR15 drop in triggers to enhance the accuracy and trigger feel. Currently I am working on a Remington 700 SPS build which will also features a Timney trigger, just because I very excited after feeling some of the Rem 700 triggers the assemblers were adjusting while I was there. If you are looking for a great trigger, take a look at Timney, they are indeed more than just a trigger manufacturer... they are a trigger centric family which is making the broadest array of match quality triggers in the business.
Timney Triggers - http://www.timneytriggers.com/