BarrelBlok vs Dummy Ammo, Which Dry Fire Tool is Best For You?

Dry fire practice is an essential component of firearm training, honing crucial skills with no live ammunition. In this realm, many dry fire tools flood the market, each serving distinct purposes to enhance proficiency. Among the array of options, two standout tools, the BarrelBlok and dummy ammo, hold specific dry fire applications, with some functional overlap. To maximize the effectiveness of your dry fire practice, it's imperative to discern when to employ each product. This guide will explain the optimal utilization of these tools, ensuring safe, focused, and efficient dry fire practice session.

Dummy Ammunition-

Chances are you're familiar with dummy ammunition. Dummy ammunition, often referred to as “snap caps,” because of a popular brand of dummy ammo, is a crucial component to firearm training and maintenance. These specialized tools replicate the shape and size of live ammunition, but lack a powder charge or primer. Using inert ammunition allows for safe and effective dry fire practice.

dummy round

Applications For Dummy Rounds:

Use of dummy ammo in dry fire is not new, and actually the inert rounds have usefulness even in live fire to simulate a failure to fire, also known as a type 1 malfunction. People use dummy rounds in their gun during dry practice for various reasons. There are some new dummy rounds specially designed to induce a Type 3 double-feed malfunction. You can learn more about this unique tool here.

Dummy rounds add some weight to an otherwise empty magazine, which gives the magazines a more realistic feel when practicing magazine changes. Also, a filled magazine is less likely to get bound up on the magwell during magazine changes, compared to a magazine with a round on top.

During dry fire practice with an empty gun, the slide locks back with an empty magazine inserted. This doesn't happen if you use a magazine filled with dummy rounds, so practicing both malfunction clearing and magazine changes in dry fire practice is better when you use dummy rounds.

Dry fire practice can damage some firearms, mainly antique or .22 rimfire designs. In these cases, dryfire with dummy rounds is important to protect the firearm from damage. Modern, striker-fired, DA/SA/ and single action handguns, as well as modern revolvers, are safe to dry fire without dummy rounds.

Finally, dummy rounds are useful in teaching a new shooter how to fill magazines, load, and clear the gun without the added fear of an unintended discharge.

So if what I described above sounds like what you want to do, dummy ammo might be what you want.

BarrelBlok Dry Fire Training Tool-

The BarrelBlok tool is a lesser-known, but equally useful tool in dry fire practice.

BarrelBlok is a caliber-specific polymer device that installs in the chamber of your semi-automatic pistol. In this respect, it's like a dummy round. However, BarrelBlok has a polymer rod connected to the front that extends out the front of the barrel. The cartridge-shaped part of BarrelBlok doesn't have a rim, so once installed, you can cycle the slide and BarrelBlok won't eject like a real or dummy round.

Applications For BarrelBlok:

BarrelBlok is the single best tool that renders your firearm inert and completely incapable of discharging a round. It blocks the chamber, so even if during dryfire you inserted a magazine with live rounds, you simply couldn't chamber and fire the round. As safe as people try to be, people still make mistakes. Below are just a few resources that we put together in the past that recap stories of real life unintended discharges shared by contributors, and explain some methods to implement during your dry fire practice.

When Dry Fire isn't Dry I only Killed my Refrigerator (PART 1)

How to Dry Fire Safely When You're Away From Home

Best Strategies for Safe Dry Fire Practice at Home

Because a portion of BarrelBlok is visible, it is easy to confirm that the firearm is clear and incapable of firing. This is great both for the individual during dryfire, and in a training environment where all guns should be clear and there shouldn't be any live ammunition present.

For those who only like to dryfire with a dummy round chambered to protect their firearm, BarrelBlok can satisfy this requirement.

The BarrelBlok also comes with a few MagBloks, which you install into the magazine. When installed, MagBlok depresses the magazine follower, so it doesn't engage the slide stop and lock the slide open. This is helpful for all kinds of dryfire drills and practicing slide manipulation. And it won't chamber or eject like a dummy round, so if you want to practice without dummy rounds flying all over the place, this is the way to do it.

MagBlok also doesn't allow any live rounds in the magazine to feed into the chamber. So even if someone made a mistake and installed the MagBlok in a magazine with live rounds, those rounds couldn't feed into the gun. And with BarrelBlok installed, there would be no way to have an unintended discharge.

For Dry Fire Unloaded is Good. Inert Is Better

barrelblok used on live fire range

Using BarrelBlok and Dummy Rounds Together?

Mainly, you would choose to use one of the two dry fire practice tools on their own. However, I can think of one application where using both BarrelBlok/MagBlok and dummy rounds would be beneficial.

If you wanted to simulate as close as possible, the weight of a loaded firearm and magazines during dry fire try this: fill the magazine with these polymer filled dummy rounds, and install a MagBlok on top. Then install a BarrelBlok in your barrel, and you can safely conduct dry fire with a gun and magazines that feel nearly the same as when you're out on the range.

Have you used a BarrelBlok or dummy rounds? Let us know how you use the items in the comments below.

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.


  1. Clark Kent on October 24, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    BarrelBlok seems like a poor training aid. While training, you SHOULD have dummy rounds ‘flying all over the place’. You have to make sure you are properly and forcefully retracting the slide and ejecting a dud if you encounter a misfire during an armed encounter. This is especially true for new shooters or those who have limited strength.

    • Jacob Paulsen on October 24, 2023 at 12:27 pm

      Certainly if you are training clearing malfunctions then I agree. I think its a mission specific thing. In Dry fire we SHOULD have a lot of things like loud sounds and recoil and running out of ammo and all sorts of things we can’t perfectly replicate. For me there are purposes to both tools but I think Clark brings up a good point.

  2. old fat jon wick on October 31, 2023 at 7:41 am

    a very important dry practice drill is draw from concealed holster and get a first round hit. both of the featured items get in the way of this drill, except perhaps the mag block.

    • Jacob Paulsen on October 31, 2023 at 8:17 am

      The BarrelBlok is actually perfect for that drill. It protects the firing pin, ensures the gun is safe and doesn’t in anyway disrupt the execution of a draw to first shot drill.

  3. Big Chief GM on October 31, 2023 at 8:30 am

    And here comes Jacob to the rescue to correct everyone with his self-prescribed wisdom. There’s a Jacob in every comment section…he’s his own biggest fan. Wonder if he sits back after typing and congratulates himself. Go Jacob!!

    • Tim S. on October 31, 2023 at 12:12 pm

      With all due respect, Jacob is correct. Perhaps there’s always a “Big Chief” in every comment section? …to stir the pot unnecessarily? Gents, let’s be civil.

      Both dummy rounds and the BarrelBlok are excellent training aids with a place in all of our toolkits.

  4. Biejay Escoto on November 12, 2023 at 8:24 pm

    I have purchased several Barrel Blok sets for both myself and my students. Thank you so much for suggesting these awesome training tools. While I also have other tools such as Dummy Rounds or my SIRT Pistol, I enjoy using the Barrel Blok for drawing from concealment exercises and for showing students how to field strip pistols. It gives an extra layer of safety when I see the orange tip sticking out from the barrel. This is especially useful when I have students who have zero experience with firearms.

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