A common question I get asked is, “will dry firing hurt my gun?” There are so many different answers that people don't know what to believe. I want to cut through all confusion surrounding dry fire and its effect on handguns.
So to correctly answer the question, first, let's just briefly explain what dryfire is.
What is Dry Fire Practice?
Dry fire involves practice with an unloaded handgun. Different methods of dry fire include:
- training with an unloaded firearm
- using dummy ammo or snap caps in an unloaded firearm
- inserting a laser cartridge into the pistol
- using a device like the Glock E Trainer
- retrofitting your gun with the Cool Fire CO2 training system
- practicing with an airsoft replica of your everyday carry gun (EDC)
- combining a laser training pistol like the SIRT with shot recording software
And there are probably more that I missed, but I am sure you get the point. Dryfire doesn't just have to be squeezing the trigger while trying to keep the sights steady.
Will Dry Firing Hurt My Gun?
The answer is NO, and YES.
First, let's start with which guns will be damaged by dry fire and why.
Generally speaking, it isn't wise to repeatedly squeeze the trigger of an unloaded rim-fire handgun. That includes both semi-autos and revolvers. The reason is that the firing pin is designed to strike the soft, metal alloy rim of the cartridge. Without a cartridge in the chamber, the firing pin strikes the hard steel chamber and cause damage.
If you happened to have pulled the trigger on your rim-fire pistol, don't panic. It's not likely that you damaged anything. Due to the design, these handguns are just more prone to damage by dryfire.
Additionally, you should probably refrain from pulling the trigger on unloaded older single-action revolvers.
For the vast majority of other handguns, dry fire is completely fine.
Dry firing a center-fire semi-auto or revolver is entirely safe. The firing pin does not strike anything, so it is not in danger of damage. Companies such as Glock and Sig Sauer state on their websites state that dry firing their center-fire handguns is safe. They recommend using a snap cap or dummy ammo if conducting a “significant” amount of dry fire.
My Personal Experience:
Based on tens of thousands of dry fire, empty-gun trigger pulls, I feel confident that dry fire won't damage my handguns.
I have never had an issue with any component in my Glock or Sig Sauer handguns due to dry fire practice. And I don't use dummy ammunition unless I need it for a specific purpose.
You should count dryfire practice along with your live-fire round count. By doing this, you know when it is time to change out something like a recoil spring.
So as far as wondering, “will dry firing hurt my gun,” I think we busted that myth. Dryfire could damage some guns, but certainly not all.
Dry fire practice is so essential that you should not leave it out of your routine due to overestimating the risk it poses.
If you are new to dry fire, I suggest checking out our basic dry fire kit, which contains core dry fire tools.