It seems that just about every shooter has their own personal “policy” on dry fire. Put simply, dry firing your firearm is when you pull the hammer back and pull the trigger with no ammunition in the chamber. Some gun owners go to great pains to see that the trigger is never pulled on their guns except when loaded at the range under their direct supervision. They believe that dry firing a gun can lead to problems with the firing pin and in a rimfire caliber gun can even cause damage to the mouth of the chamber. Other shooters have no problem dry firing their guns on a regular basis as long as its under safe conditions. These shooters think it’s a cost-effective way to practice shooting techniques without the need for ammunition. If you’re not quite sure where you stand on the subject of dry fire yet, be sure to watch the video above for more on what exactly it is as well as a closer look on what fuels this often-overlooked debate.

What Do You Think?

So does dry fire pose a real risk to the condition of your firearms? Is it only an issue that affects rimfire guns? After you hear both sides in the video, vote this week’s poll and let us know what you think about dry fire in the comments. Have you had a firearm break as a result of dry fire or have you incorporated dry fire practice a regular part of your training routine? Let us know below!

Do you ever dry fire your guns?

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  • Mike Scooter Mathis

    I have dry fired all my firearms except for the rimfire without any issues. And I do believe that it is an important tool in learning proper breathing and trigger pull. I know first hand that the U.S. Army teaches BRM using dry fry techniques to soldiers so that they learn proper breathing control, sighting, and trigger squeeze.

  • Erik Pakieser

    If a gun is so fragile that it can’t handle being dry-fired, then it has no place as a self-defense tool.

    • LG Chris

      That’s probably true, but we’re not limiting the dry fire discussion to just self-defense firearms. There are plenty of guns out there that “can’t handle dry-fire” but are still quality guns, when used for their intended purposes.

    • Adam Skidmore

      yeah, I agree with that. I am not about to use a 1911 or a ruger mark 2 as a carry gun.

    • Tyler London

      1911s, PPKs, SW revolvers, AR-15s… none of these are meant to be dry fired. Are you saying none of these have a place as self defense tools?

      Blaming a gun for not being able to be dry fired is like blaming a cartridge for not being able to be fired outside of a gun without rupturing. Cartridges are not designed to withstand their own pressures without the support of a chamber, and a lot of guns aren’t meant to withstand having their parts dry fired without something for the firing pin to punch into. It’s all about design. Don’t push the limits of the design and you won’t have to worry about it failing.

  • Frank Richmond

    The only valid reason I’ve heard for not dry firing is if that is simply a part of your safety protocol and you have plenty of time to practice with live ammo several times a week. In that case, I could see refraining from ever pulling the trigger unless you were expecting a bullet to leave the muzzle. Any other time, just make a rule for yourself of NEVER pulling the trigger. But, as far as damaging the firearm, I don’t think it’s a problem.

  • Jeff Hulsey

    Gunsmith’s Answer: “Some weapons can be damaged by dry firing. Some are designed so that they won’t be damaged. Always consult your owner’s manual. If it doesn’t instruct you to dry fire the weapon (eg: Glock disassembly process), or specifically warn against it, consult your gunsmith.”

    • LG Chris

      Solid advice. Thanks for passing that along, Jeff.

    • Ron Cre

      Again, as I said, I will not own one that I cannot.. let me qualify that statement… an older Stevens single shot, bolt action..22.. best shooting .22 I ever fired.. I have owned and would own again.

    • Jeff Hulsey

      You missed my point. I didn’t say you should or shouldn’t own any specific firearm. I said to consult the manual regarding dry fire, and if it isn’t clear, you should ask your gunsmith. If you don’t have a gunsmith, find a good one. We’re not hard to find, but it’s hard to find a *good* gunsmith – someone who is willing to say, “Hold on a minute while I look that one up,” or “I haven’t worked with that model before,” or “I haven’t seen one of those in years.” He (or she!) may not have the answer right away, but will know where and how to find that answer for you.

  • Steve Wilson

    erik pakieser
    you got that right

    • LG Chris

      Hey Steve, if you want to respond to a specific comment, you can just hit “reply” right below it.

  • Shawn Curran

    In the corps we train our nations best by dry firing. And like 60 hours of it. Never had a issue. I was the head armor and range armor. Never had damage as a result of dry firing.

  • Jon Thommarson

    Yeah. Dry fire all the time.

  • Thom Humphreys

    I have an old Star Model B LPN that I will not dry fire but all my others ,yes.

    • LG Chris

      I always liked the old Star Model Bs. Are they known to have particularly fragile firing pins, or do you just avoid dry firing it because its old or collectible?

  • Chris Alcedo

    Except for revolvers and rim fire, heck yeah I dry fire. Only been doing so all my life and have never had an issue due to this. But learned a whole lot about shooting by doing it. Without the expense of ammo. If your not dry firing, your not being all that you can be. And the excuse about keeping your internals pristine by never dry firing, hog wash. If your gun can’t take dry fire, then it can’t take defending you seriously.

    • LG Chris

      Any specific reason you don’t dry-fire your revolvers?

    • Tyler London

      LG Chris On the old style ones with the little tip on the hammer, it can break that part as well as deform the hole through which it must pass to strike the primer. I’ve seen it in person.

  • Tom Galloway

    it seems to be okay as long as the manufacturer allows.remember the warranty.

  • Brady Taylor

    Department of Homeland Security and the NSA are recording your IP address with each comment. Now they know if you have a firearm in your possession. No denying it now! If you don’t check with the manufacturer before dry firing, you might damage your firearm. That’s a fact…

  • Ron Cre

    I have a .22 semi auto rifle, how am I to un-cock it when empty except to dry fire.. get over it people

    • LG Chris

      In that case, the question really is whether the bigger risk is wearing out the spring from keeping it cocked, or breaking the firing pin from dry fire. Or it could be that neither is an issue to worry about. This is where the owner’s manual is really useful (you know, that paper thing that comes in the box with the gun that we never read). For what it’s worth, I’ve seen at least two rimfire rifles with broken firing pins as a result of occasional dry-fire. I don’t think telling their owners to “get over it” is a helpful solution. It may not be a real problem for all guns, but definitely some, especially older ones.

    • Ron Cre

      LG Chris My point exactly.. the danger there is weakening the springs. and as I said to someone else.. if the weapon is so weak that dry firing will damage it, get rid of it, not worth having.. Only need hardy stock. I do not go around indiscriminately dry firing, but do dry fire, also with my Black hawk, when practicing quick draw, not often, but do, no damage.. so as I said, get over it.. it is good advice to the anal retentive.. if your weapon is so weak not going to take it.. time to replace it

  • Joseph C. Davis

    In Army basic training, hours are spent the first week of basic rifle marksmanship dry firing M-16’s. given that they turn these over every 9 weeks to a new batch of recruits, and honestly, I have never heard of huge repair costs associated with this teaching technique, I’d say…it’s a myth that it damages guns.

    • LG Chris

      I’m sure you could dry fire an M-16/AR-15 all day with no problem, but dry-fire will definitely damage certain guns for reasons outlined in the video.

  • Bill Hall

    If you buy junk, do not dry fire. If you buy a quality weapon, then have no fear, practice your trigger pull.

  • Adam Skidmore

    found out my 1911 firing pin would stick if I dryfired it, so I baby that one.

  • Thom Humphreys

    Both, and they have fragile firing pins, I would have to have a firing pin made and since this is a 1951 LPN Model B in great condition with no import marks I try to keep it clean. I could use firing caps but don’t.

  • Bob Vollenweider

    I dry fire all the time. My only criteria is that there is a fired brass in the chamber for the pin to hit. It’s called maintenance.

  • Chris Martin

    “Dry firing done correctly, is the practice swing of shooting.”

    • LG Chris

      Haven’t heard that one before. Who are you quoting there?

    • Chris Martin

      LG Chris My old SNCOIC when I was an instructor at the Marine Corps CQB School used to say it all the time prior to us having the students dry fire.

  • Gregg T Jenkins

    Most handguns made in the past 20 years, are designed with Fry-firing for practice in mind.

  • Grant Wordsen

    On the M+P shown, you can reset the firing pin/trigger just by giving the slide a “tap,” that is racking it maybe an inch. You do not eject the snapcap, but reset the trigger and firing pin.

    • LG Chris

      Yes, that’s true. And it may even take less than an inch to reset the trigger in order to dry fire again. But I have found that doing that repeatedly in dry-fire practice develops the bad habit of only partially racking the slide. In performing tap-rack type malfunction drills, it’s important to rack the slide completely each time, and I would rather not have “programmed” myself into only doing a partial rack.

    • Grant Wordsen

      LG Chris I only do the half rack when I’m using my laserlyte for at home target practice. I am worried about developing bad habits!

  • Jon Register

    depends on the firearm. My Mossberg 702 .22 states that you need to check for proper operation after cleaning which includes test firing.

  • Keith E Loomer

    ANY one know what happens to a pin when you hit it over and over steel gets more hard with each hit and will get to a point of fracture Brownnells sells pin stock that is made for that reason for machineing pins and the pin hardens a little with each fireing go ahead boys dry fire a way I wont was smithing to long I know what I have seen

  • Raina Collins

    My husband and I do dry fire practice almost every day. It’s invaluable, especially if you can’t afford to go to the range constantly. We do use snap caps however. I usually grab the A zoom brand. Before we went to snap caps, we broke the firing pin in a Star model BM (think a cross between a 1911 and a BHP), damaged a very early j-frame, and destroyed the roll pin on an XD9. I’ve since replaced the roll pin with a super heavy duty one from the aftermarket and it’s now the only handgun we dry fire without snap caps on a regular basis. I keep an eye on the roll pins on our various CZs too. I’ve heard that most modern service pistols (Glocks, M&Ps, etc) can be dry fired thousands of times without an issue. Rifles get dry fired without reservation. I can’t advocate dry fire practice enough. It’s a free trigger job, flinch prevention, and safe practice all at the same time.

  • Tyler London

    Whether your gun can handle dry fire depends on the design of the gun. I’ve bought several broken guns at huge discounts thanks the broken firing pins, deformed bolt carriers, warped firing pin holes, etc. all thanks to dry firing guns that aren’t meant for it. Compare that to, say, AK-47s and Glocks which can be dry fired indefinitely without breaking or warping.

    When in doubt, use snap caps.

  • Joris Houben

    Disassemble glock without dry-firing.
    Procedure :
    – lock the slide back
    – flip the gun upside down
    – use a punch (or the glock) tool to press forward on the visible part of the plastic firing pin spacer sleeve.
    – at the same time slide down the slide cover plate, on the back, and remove it
    – take out the firing pin assembly
    Now the slide can be removed , without dry-firing the gun.

  • Ben Nickerson

    The reason that I do not dry fire my guns has less to do with damage occurring to the gun and more to do with that it can “teach” you to expect that the gun will not fire. You should always expect that the gun will fire and recoil when you pull the trigger. There is a real difference in the feel of a gun firing a real live round and a gun that is just releasing a hammer. I am not an instructor or a competition shooter, but I was taught this by my father (R.I.P.) Special Forces, First Cavalry Infantry Airborne Division in Vietnam (bronze star 2 Purple Hearts). He said that you should not teach yourself that a gun may not fire when you pull the trigger.

  • camdogify

    I don’t dry fire accept for function checks.

  • Good stuff! Thanks.

  • Steve Romero

    Never dry fire a Beretta pico. I found out the hard way and broke the firing pin. Beretta replaced it promptly without questions, but why go through the hassle/time. I now have a laser bullet to dry fire with and it’s perfect for practice at home. The Beretta pico is an amazing gun FYI