Safer Dry Fire With An AR-15

If you’ve been a subscriber of mine for more than a few seconds, you know how important dry fire is.  (If you are new and don’t know, check out this article where I go into 10 of the top reasons why dry fire training is better than live fire.)

But what you may not know is how to safely do dry fire practice with your AR-15.

Keep in mind that it’s 100% impossible to have a negligent discharge while doing dry fire.

This is because of the fact that dry fire is the manipulation of a firearm with no ammunition present.

As soon as you introduce ammunition into an area where you’re doing dry fire training with a firearm capable of firing live rounds, it is no longer dry fire training.

I do SOME dry fire training with firearms capable of firing live rounds, but for the most part, I use inert training platforms or temporarily render “real” guns incapable of chambering live rounds while I’m practicing.

With that in mind, I want to share 8 AR Dry fire tools that you can use to make your dry fire training with an AR safer…not safe, but safer.  Safety depends on the shooter having muzzle and trigger discipline in addition to keeping ammo out of the training area.  That being said, there are a couple of options here that make it virtually impossible to have a negligent discharge.

First off is an old-school, simple as dirt solution…simply remove the bolt carrier group while you’re doing your dry fire practice.  99% of dry fire training can be done without an active trigger.  If you look at first shot speed, most shooters will make bigger gains in performance by focusing on mounting the gun quickly and consistently and acquiring a sight picture quickly than they will by focusing on pressing the trigger quickly.


Second is almost as simple as the first…and, in fact, can be combined with the first:  Stick a length of 550 cord from the chamber to the muzzle, and tie the ends together outside of the gun.  This way, you’ve got a visual indicator that the chamber is empty and can’t accept live rounds.


Third is our new patented and soon to be released barrel plug…it plugs the chamber, sticks out the end of the muzzle, and you don’t have to disassemble the gun to insert or remove it.


Fourth is the BladeTech AR training bolt.  I don’t have one of these yet, but I have the Glock version and I like what I’ve seen.  They’re basically a yellow plastic replacement bolt that you swap out for your real bolt.  As far as I can tell, they’re only available through BladeTech.

Fifth is the Mako Safety Rod.  These are a slick little tool.  They plug the chamber and stick out the end of the muzzle.  The only downside is that you have to pop the takedown pin and remove the bolt carrier group to insert and remove the safety rod.


Sixth is the SIRT Bolt.  This is a laser that replaces the bolt carrier group and emits a laser pulse every time you press the trigger.  I LOVE this setup, but it does take awhile to set up.  It’s a great situation if you can set it up and leave it, but not as good if you want to do frequent 5-15 minute practice sessions.


Seventh is a Blue Gun.  These have a use for practicing muzzle strikes and other pugilistic skills with the AR, but I’m not a big fan overall.  Some people LOVE them, so this is one time when you shouldn’t take my experience at face value.  But before you buy one, I’d suggest borrowing one from a friend.

Eighth is an airsoft gun that’s set up similarly to how your real gun is set up.  It doesn’t have to be exact.  My real guns have Aimpoint and EoTech sights that cost several hundred dollars apiece.  My airsoft guns have cheap Chinese knockoff optics that cost $20-$40.  Exact size and weight is nice, but you can do a LOT with an inaccurate analog.  Mounting the gun is the same process, acquiring a sight picture is the same, calculating mechanical offset is the same, transitioning between targets is the same, dropping a mag and inserting a new mag is the same.


The best part about using an airsoft is that I keep an airsoft in my living room, with the battery removed, 24/7 with no concern about my kids picking it up or someone stealing it when we’re gone.  That means that I can pick it up and do 1-15 minutes of practice any time I want with absolutely no setup time.  This is absolutely, positively, my preferred method of practice, and I choose it over my own patented device…but it’s also the most expensive option of any of the options that I shared with you today.

If you’re one of the first plank holder students of the Home Defense Rifle course, these options are going to be a big help for you and help you be more confident about how to do dry fire drills more safely with your AR.

If you’ve been on the fence about getting the Home Defense Rifle AR-15 self-defense DVD course because of safety concerns, this will have squashed those concerns…so head on over to, sign up now, and you can start training in as fast as the next 10 minutes (or anytime this weekend).

If you’re currently doing dry fire training with your AR, what method do you use?  Please share what you’re doing, as well as questions and concerns by commenting below.






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  1. g.e.h.
    1 week ago

    I once read Air Soft is dry fire on steroids. I have used the higher quality (still not expensive) firearms for years with great success. With proper safety equipment they are also useful for force on force training

    • Ox
      1 week ago

      :) That statement…”Air Soft is dry fire on steroids” came from an article David and I wrote back in 2009 that was expanded on to become a chapter in Tactical Firearms Training Secrets. At the time, airsoft was generally considered a joke with absolutely no practical application. There were only a few isolated souls who realized the potential. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then.

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