Keep It Dry

A question I get periodically is “can I dry fire my gun?”. The answer is “Yes…but with some caveats”. For the uninitiated, dry firing is practicing every phase of the firing process using an unloaded firearm. Dry firing is an essential part of your overall training regimen, as it allows you do practice all the fundamentals of shooting…grip, aiming, breath control, trigger control, hold control and follow through. Dry firing is perfect for practicing at home. Perfect for practicing drawing from a holster, drawing from different positions or drawing from behind cover.

Dry firing using snap caps can address and alleviate double-feed issues, such as in this photo.

All modern firearms allow dry firing. If you are firing a center-fire gun, you should be alright because the firing pin, will simply extend into the center of an empty chamber.

The chamber of a .22LR gun. A indentation at the 12:00 position is damage caused by dry firing this gun without the use of snap caps.

But this is not the case with rim-fire gun. The reason is that the firing pin is designed to pinch the rim of the rim-fired cartridge, if you dry fire a rim-fire gun, the firing pin can easily hit the outer circumference of the chamber, there by possibly doing damage to the firing pin.

But regardless of the gun type, you should always use snap caps. These are dummy ammunition rounds, often made out of plastic, which have a rubber or spring-loaded primer which absorbs the firing pin hitting it.

There are many aids beyond snap caps which can assist you in dry firing. Beside snap caps, the best aid is a laser cartridge. This is a cartridge, a snap cap of sorts, chambered in your caliber, that you insert in your gun’s chamber. When you squeeze the trigger, instead of the firing pin hitting an inert snap cap, it hits the laser cartridge and shoot a laser beam at your target.

Snap caps with a rubber primer, which saves wear and tear on the firing pin

Another aid which works in conjunction with the laser cartridge is a dry fire system. The system uses a smartphone app and a smartphone stand. You download the app onto your phone and launch it. Then mount your phone onto the stand and point it at your target, with the target completely filling your phone’s screen. When you squeeze the trigger, the laser beam hitting your target is registered by your phone’s app. The app then tells you or shows you your shot placement.

The problem with these systems is that you lose all your follow through practice. The reason is that after every shot, you need to rack your gun, thus negating the follow through concept of keeping your gun on target. But they are better than nothing for dry firing your actual firearm.

Keep It Dry