Will Dry Fire Hurt My Gun?

I got a great question from Richard on Facebook yesterday–“Lots of Dry fire could damage the pistol.? Right”  This is one of the most common questions about dry fire.  And for good reason.  People spend hard-earned money on firearms and don’t want to hurt them.

Keep in mind that ANY time you use something mechanical, you’re causing wear, however small.  And enough wear causes damage.

But let me back up a step.

Let’s start from the fact that we know that the more we practice at something, the better we can do it under stress.

So, we know we need to practice…the question is how to do it in the way that maximizes performance in the shortest amount of time spending the least amount of money.

Dry fire is the best answer to that question but again, any time you do something mechanical, there is wear…sometimes a tiny bit and sometimes a lot.

With rimfires, like a .22, you should never dry fire without a snap cap and I’ve yet to find a snap cap that survives for very long.

With 1911s and some other hammer fired pistols, the firing pin will elongate after several thousand rounds if you don’t use a snap-cap, may start puncturing primers, and needs to be replaced.  It’s still WAY cheaper than a few thousand rounds of ammo and having to replace a barrel to do the same training with live fire.  A very popular solution is to just use a snap cap and your firing pin won’t elongate as quickly (again…ALL mechanical things have wear with high volume use)

On quality striker fired pistols designed for combat, like Glock, S&W M&P, Xd, etc. most manuals explicitly say that you can dry fire them.  Using a snap cap is still a good idea.

Other pistols that come from Eastern Bloc countries or South America may not stand up to ANY kind of high volume, whether dry fire or live fire.  Some less expensive US made guns don’t stand up very well to high volume use.  If you’re concerned, check your manual.  If you don’t have a manual, do a google search for the manual and you can view it online.  As an example, if you have a 3rd generation Glock 26,

do the following Google search

Glock 26 gen 3 manual pdf

Even on a striker fired pistol, wear will happen on the trigger mechanism with high volume dry fire.  Some people call that a trigger job and pay good money to have a gunsmith do it.

I personally do a couple of things…

First, my main dry fire training tool is a laser pistol.  > www.DryFirePistol.com  It lets me do high volume training without having to worry about a safe backstop or securing the tool when I’m not using it because it’s not capable of firing live rounds.

Second, when I’m training on something other than a Glock platform, whether it’s an AR or another pistol, I use my newly patented (and soon to be released) snap cap that you can put in the chamber without taking the gun apart, will stay in the chamber when you rack the slide, and provides a clear visual indication that the chamber is blocked.

So, if damaging your pistol was keeping you from doing dry fire…or as much dry fire as you know you should be doing, don’t let it stop you anymore.

And, for some of the best dry fire training drills available…that go WAY beyond old-school, boring dry fire drills and will get you covering basic skills, advanced skills, concealed carry skills, low light drills, and more, check out DryFireTrainingCards.com

If you’re one of the 50,000+ shooters who already have Dry Fire Training Cards and want to amp up your training, then add in Dry Fire Fit.  They’ll get you executing the fundamentals of marksmanship from awkward positions and build your ability to put fast, accurate rounds on target while moving, after being knocked to the ground, under, around, and over cover, and help you practice integrating using the pistol to shoot and using the pistol as an impact weapon.

Questions?  Comments?  Fire away by commenting below:



Leave A Reply ( 32 comments So Far)

Share your thoughts

  1. Terrence
    2 months ago

    I’m very much interested in this new snap cap!

  2. Chris Lisak
    2 months ago

    I would like to be notified about release our your new snap cap.

  3. Michael
    2 months ago

    Very interested in your new dry fire snap cap, please keep me informed.

  4. Chuck
    2 months ago

    Pls notify when available.
    Thank you

  5. Chris Allen
    2 months ago

    Great article to clarify a common concern. Put on notice to get your new snap cap as soon as it is released. Thanks

  6. Cathy
    2 months ago

    Very informative – just the incentive and program that I need. Thanks Ox.

  7. John peters
    2 months ago

    Can you recommend “snap caps” for. Rim & Centerfire rifles?
    Along with bore sighting devices, dry fire would be a great time/ money saver.

  8. Jesus Valentin
    2 months ago

    Need information on your new snap-caps.

  9. Jim
    2 months ago

    Great thoughts! Please let me know when your snapcaps are available!

  10. Joe
    2 months ago

    There is no way dry (or live) fire will elongate a 1911 firing pin. The 1911 uses an inertial firing system. The hammer hits the pin, starts it moving forward, and stops when it (the hammer) hits the firing pin retainer on the back of the slide. The firing pin continues moving against a spring until it hits the primer or protrudes far enough into an empty chamber to use all its energy compressing the firing pin return spring. If the gun doesn’t cycle, the spring returns the firing pin to the rear until it rests against the hammer.

    Over time, the return spring may weaken a small amount, which will reduce the gun’s tolerance for dirt around the firing pin and increase the force of the strike by a tiny amount, but not enough to risk puncturing a primer by a very wide margin. Replacing the return spring every twenty thousand rounds / dry strikes or so will prevent that problem, but a weakened recoil spring is a much more frequent problem. That should be measured when new, and replaced when its uncompressed length decreases by one or two coils after several thousand rounds.

    As to rim fire guns, although it is possible to design a rim fire mechanism to withstand unlimited dry fire, the few I’ve actually looked at allow the firing pin to strike the rear face of the chamber if there is no cartridge in place. This risks peening the pin or chamber but this can be observed visually long before it becomes a functional problem.

    The bottom line is that modern center fire guns wear less from dry fire than from live fire and can be dry fired indefinitely with way less wear than live fire. Rim fire guns can be fired with a snap cap or a fired case in the chamber and the cap will last until there is an actual hole in the rim. If no actual hole develops after many “snaps”, it’s likely the firing pin is being stopped by the internal mechanism before it touches the rear of the chamber. In that case, dry fire without a cap is safe.

    None of this is an argument against using snap caps.

    • Ox
      2 months ago

      Hey Joe,

      I’m not a gunsmith and am only relaying what gunsmiths and gun manufacturers have told me on the 1911 firing pin issue. I don’t have a dog in the fight personally, but I DO want to provide accurate, helpful information to my readers. Thank you for commenting…it’s obvious that you know more about the inner workings of 1911s than I do. Do you know if the stretched firing pin issue is something that is an issue for some, but not all 1911s?

  11. JR
    2 months ago

    Always great information. Any chance you will be offering a deal on the SIRT 107? I have the S&W M&P platform and would prefer to train with that one, but they are very expensive. Thanks for your newsletters. JR

    • Ox
      2 months ago

      I’ll get on the horn with Mike and see what we can do :)

  12. Benny Mullinax
    2 months ago

    I would be interested in being notified when you have the snap cap ready for public release. I have both sets of your cards and they really help and I am sure the snap cap will help just as much. Thanks.


  13. Howard Downing
    2 months ago

    Please let me know when your new snapcap is available.

  14. Ray Garth
    2 months ago

    Drop me a line when you get your snap caps on the market please and what calibers are available.
    Ray Garth

  15. Sarah
    2 months ago

    Please let me know when you have the snap cap available!

  16. Ron Leifeste
    2 months ago

    Great idea!! I get tired of pulling the slide back a little too far and having to reload the snap cap.

  17. Doug Sharp
    2 months ago

    Eastern block guns like CZ’s which are basically Europe’s 1911 don’t seem to have any issues. My favorite has thousands of rounds and dry fires and if it wasn’t so pretty you could drive nails with it and go right back to firing. I agree on some brands though but then I prefer something I could trust my life to working. South American totally agree with that one. Mark me as interested in the snap cap, I do use them and they do wear out.

    • Ox
      2 months ago

      Yes…I like CZs so much I don’t even think of them as Eastern Bloc.

  18. Larry Curtis
    2 months ago

    Please let me know when the snap cap is available. Thanks.

  19. Donnie Smith
    2 months ago

    I would like notification when the new snap cap is released.

  20. Joe Braskie
    2 months ago

    Please notify me when your snap cap becomes available

  21. Joe
    2 months ago

    Coil springs in the 1911 are used in compression, not tension, so if they wear, they will be compressed, not stretched. Some springs are “springier” depending on their exact composition, heat treatment, and forming stress, than others, so any case of a spring taking a set will apply to some individual springs and not others. The recoil spring is the one that really takes a beating during live fire, but clearly not during dry fire. Most of the time in a 1911, and probably most guns, when a spring fails, it breaks, but other parts break too. I just replaced a mag catch retainer in one of my 1911s because it’s retainer pin broke off (mag catch retainer retainer pin — how’s that for a description) and I replaced the spring too on general principles because I had it apart, (The pin is part of the retainer and it snapped off causing the retainer and spring to launch themselves a ways down the bench and the mag to drop). The concept of a single shot 1911 is amusing (at the range, anyway). So I spend the next half hour torturing my hand shooting my twelve ounce (really) ,357 maggie carry gun.

    • Ox
      2 months ago

      Hey Joe,

      Thank you! How about the firing pin getting elongated on a 1911 if it doesn’t have anything to hit when dry fired?

  22. Mike
    2 months ago

    Please let me know when the snap caps will be available. Thanks.

  23. Ken
    2 months ago

    Is using the LaserLyte cartridge the same as using a snap cap?

    • Ox
      2 months ago

      Hey Ken, the Laserlyte cartridge will stop overtravel of the firing pin, just like a snap cap. Both have their uses/advantages.

  24. randall carey
    2 months ago

    i will be interested in the new snap cap

  25. Jerry
    2 months ago

    Inform when available.

  26. Mike
    3 weeks ago

    I’ve got a question for you. Perhaps a little off topic, but close enough. In carrying a 1911, I’ve noticed many police officers carry with the thumb safety on, hammer back – ready to fire. Which I understand in a panic situation “thumbing” the safety can cost seconds you may not have.

    What is your feeling about this, for us common folk? (I don’t own a Glock, but besides the trigger engagement, they don’t have safety’s, right?)


    • Ox
      3 weeks ago

      Hey Mike…I changed “thumb safety off” to “thumb safety on” in your comment. I think that’s what you meant. If not, let me know.

      The proper way to carry a 1911 is with a round in the chamber, hammer back, safety on. It’s called condition 1. It’s really the only safe way to carry a 1911. Carrying it without a round in the chamber is unsafe for you and carrying it without the safety on is unsafe for you and everyone around you. If you’re going to carry a firearm with a thumb safety, it’s smart to practice with it until disengaging the safety is automatic and doesn’t add any time to your drawstroke.

      Glocks do actually have a few safeties…they’re just not obvious.

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