The world of firearms is extremely conservative: after all, the basic layout of guns has remained more or less the same since centuries. So, when we heard about a “trigger” that can be operated with the thumb we perked right up. A young US-based company named Iron Horse Firearms in fact developed a “thumb operated receiver”, or TOR for short. Its genesis is explained by the company’s owner and founder Ryan McDonald, a US Marine veteran:
“On a slightly overcast day in August, I was sitting on an LAV thinking about different weapon platforms, listening to the other Marines talk about whatever it is they were talking about that day. I mentioned an idea I had regarding a modification to an AR15. This resulted in a conversation with my fellow Marines about how things could be better, and why no one was doing this ‘thing’. We decided then and there we would start working on our idea. After almost 2 years, many ugly handmade prototypes, countless long days, and plenty of failures, I am pleased to announce that the TOR is finally available.”
TOR, no more trigger jerking
Basically, the TOR is a system where you use you thumb instead of you index finger to fire an AR15-type rifle. The most evident advantage over a “traditional” trigger is that the force applied to engage the trigger is directly in-line with the shooters center of aim rather than laterally against the firearm, so there is no trigger jerk. This is beneficial for accuracy. Being a completely enclosed design, it’s a snag proof system even in brush or dense vegetation too. Additionally, the manufacturer claims that with the TOR the learning curve for trigger manipulation is reduced, also offering a superior finger positioning for quick mag release since index finger isn't needed to engage the trigger, which leaves it available to work the magazine release. Lastly, the TOR should ensure increased dexterity in cold weather conditions.
After offering only serialized lowers for some time, Iron Horse Firearms is now selling a complete “TOR 1”semi-auto rifle in 5.56x45mm NATO with 16” barrel. The TOR 1 rifle features an AR15 Gen 1 assembled 7075 aluminum TOR lower receiver with black anodized finish, an Aero Precision AR15 Gen 2 assembled upper receiver, and Aero Precision ATLAS S-ONE handguard of choice, an Aero Precision 16" / 406 mm 5.56mm CMV barrel and an Aero Precision low profile gas block and carbine length gas tube. Price for the TOR 1 5.56mm rifle is 1350 USD.
So, is the thumb operated receiver the revolution we were all waiting for? Hard to say: Iron Horse Firearms is not the first company to introduce a gun with a thumb-operated trigger – the Italian Tecnostudio Engineering is working on a pistol based on the same concept. Above all the “thumb trigger” system has still to prove its validity in the field, and even if it were effective, it could simply be unconvincing to shooters and the military for whatever reason. Yet, one cannot fail to acknowledge the innovativeness and the courage of the idea. Good luck!