1 Question: Will Dry Firing Hurt My Gun?

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.

will dry fire hurt my gun

If you don't dry fire, you're missing out. But does dry fire damage your handgun?

So to correctly answer the question, first, let's just briefly explain what dryfire is.

What is Dry Fire Practice?

will dry firing hurt my gun

There is a lot you can work on without having to fire a single live round.

Dry fire involves practice with an unloaded handgun. Different methods of dry fire include:

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.

Glock 44

Semi-auto handguns like this Glock 44, chambered in .22LR, should not be fired with an empty chamber.

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.

While I conduct lots of dry fire reps with an empty gun, some prefer to use dummy round or snap caps like those pictured here.

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.

Conclusion:

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.

dry fire kit, for dryfire

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.

15 Comments

  1. Alan on May 16, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    Depending on the particular piece, dry firing might or might not be harmful. If in doubt, use Snap Caps, or Dummy Rounds, which can be made or store bought.

    • Merrill on April 2, 2023 at 5:45 am

      If your edc is a cz 75 b, use snap caps. See the enterwebs for description of damage to firing pin pin.

  2. David Stagg on May 16, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    99% of all rim fire guns should not be dry fired . damage could happen . Center fire is another thing , 50/ 50 it depends on the gun Some center fire single action cowboy guns can be dry fired . Others can not— damage can happen / A freedom arms S/A says no– a Ruger S/A say yes its ok to dry fire . So do your homework look at the factory booklet that came with the gun . I generally put dummy rounds made for dry firing in all my guns – if I want to fry fire regardless of gun . ITS NOT GOOD WHEN YOU DRY FIRE A 22LR REVOLVER AND IT PUTS DENTS IN THE CYLINDER — THE ROUNDS / AMMO DO NOT FIT PROPERLY FIT YOU HAVE TO GET A GUN SMITH TO FIX A CYLINDER OR EVEN HAVE A NEW FACTORY CYLINDER INSTALLED ! David Stagg Fallbrook California

    • Tom Rosser on December 12, 2022 at 1:00 am

      Correct. I am finally happy that someone has the
      Truth. Do not fry fire .22 revolvers.

  3. David Stagg on May 16, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    Here is another example for you — food for thought —– Per factory instructions –Ruger SR9 9mm semi auto pistols can be dry fired without damage to the gun as long as the magazine is inserted .CAUTION dry firing without the magazine installed will result in damage . David Stagg Fallbrook California

  4. william hopkins on May 16, 2021 at 11:16 pm

    . . I agree that dryfiring a rimfire of any type is not a good idea because of the inherent problem of it NOT being a centerfire and therefore will/may encounter the firing pin hitting the breech face in the absence of a cartridge rim.. . . I do not understand what difference it makes with a single action as opposed to a double action, unless it is a rimfire and not a centerfire. . .Maybe I’m missing something in the wording, like when I tell people that a double action revolver is technically a semi-auto. . . They look at me like I have two heads !

  5. RugerSturmer on May 17, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    I have had two firing pins break on striker fired pistols and a hammer and two firing pins break on a hammer-fired semi-auto all through dry-firing.

    • Matthew Maruster on May 18, 2021 at 6:37 am

      What make and model of guns are you constantly breaking firing pins through dry fire? What happened to the firing pin, can you elaborate?

    • Tom on March 15, 2023 at 8:41 pm

      Wow. That’s really unusual. I’ve never heard of
      anyone breaking so many strikers or pins in one gun.
      I have shot competition with a stock Glock (which has a striker)in limited class and have dry fired the the life out of it never had any problems..??
      It’s a Gen 2 also. Maybe just lucky I guess.
      Also have a S&W 29-3 that has been dry fired for over 30 years with no damage.

  6. Julius on May 18, 2021 at 10:07 am

    I dry fire several thousand reps per month. I’ve had a firing pin break on a striker fired M&P 2.0 pistol. The little nub on the end that hits the primer broke off. I didn’t know that happened until I shot the gun live during a training class. Click instead of bang. That would have been horrible had that click been during a defensive use.

    I have another striker fired M&P 9 1.0 handgun with 3x the dry fire reps and 5x the live rounds more than the number of dry fire reps and live rounds as the gun that broke. Zero issues with the 1.0

    Until that firing pin broke on the 2.0, I did not use dummy ammo. Now I use A-Zoom snap caps just to be sure. The 1.0 has been bomb-proof.

    Both use the exact same striker pin assembly part number. I’m guessing a change in metallurgy in the actual striker pin itself between the times I bought both guns.

  7. peter ruiz on May 19, 2021 at 2:19 am

    Would someone please talk about one of THE MOST USED weapons, the 1911, series 80…Dry firing. Mine is a SigSauer ‘target’

  8. Michael Frankowski on October 17, 2022 at 4:57 pm

    I recently purchased an As New Colt SF-VI. The only reason it was listed as As New rather than New is because there is a slight turn ring. I’m believing that may be due to the gun having been dry fired. When researching information online, I note that several sources indicated that dry firing these guns can damage them, which has me concerned. Any thoughts or comments on this?

  9. G. Taylor on February 17, 2023 at 7:16 pm

    Being lucky doesn’t change or bust it.

  10. Paul S on March 3, 2023 at 2:52 pm

    Every tool will break if not used properly. The firing pin was designed to hit a primer. If no round, or dummy round is in the chamber the firing pin will over travel. What stops it? Over travel of the spring, wearing it out sooner, the firing pin has steps in it. If the spring doesn’t stop it, then the larger diameter will hit the inside of the slide pounding it away a little at a time. The primer stops the firing pin, if chamber is empty what stops the firing pin. I prefer to use tools the way they were designed, they last longer. Gunsmiths’ feel free to correct my thoughts.

  11. Brock on May 19, 2023 at 7:14 pm

    Can a rock island baby rock 45acp be dry fired

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