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Comparing Dry Fire Guns – The Best Tool For At Home Practice

I'm writing this as I'm “stuck” at home during a self/wife-imposed quarantine. The government hasn't mandated a quarantine as of yet but I'm trying to do my best to not gain or spread germs.

Many of you may also be in a situation where you are spending more time at home than normal or perhaps you are reading this long after the Coronavirus epidemic and you just understand the value of dry fire, generally speaking.

Whatever the reason, my intent today is to answer the question “What Dry Fire Training Gun Should I Buy?”

As a full time professional in the industry; and as a vendor who sells most of these products; I'm fortunate to have one of about everything and that puts me in a unique position to compare these products head to head. If you are looking for other dry fire tools, beyond the guns themselves consider this other article I wrote: Dry Fire Tools

This is not meant to be a comprehensive review of any of these products individually (and a quick Google search should yield plenty of reviews) but more of a head to head look at them compared to each other.

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I'm dividing the products into 4 categories and roughly moving through them in order of cost. Let's get started …

The Use Your Own Gun Options:

BarrelBlok, Glock Easy Trainer, Dry Fire Mag, & Laser Cartridge Inserts

Before we discuss ways you can spend money on dedicated guns we should remember you can use your own firearm in dry fire. It may not be as ideal as some of the other options further down in this article but it has some advantages including the ability to use it with your holster, train with your sights and trigger, and no expensive dedicated training gun.

However, since safety is our most important consideration and since feedback, relative to accuracy, matters here are 4 products you might consider installing in your own firearm before conducting dry fire practice.

BarrelBlok – Guarantees Safety

The BarrelBlok is the lowest cost way to ensure safe dry fire. It slides into the barrel via the ejection port and settles snug into the chamber. It is caliber specific to ensure a good fit and it protrudes from the end of the muzzle so the user and other observers nearby can all visually verify the firearm is inert and safe.

While installed the firearm is incapable of chambering or firing a round. BarrelBlok is sold as a package with 3 “mag-bloks” which are inserted into the magazine to depress the follower and prevent slide lock. This facilitates more realistic training with reloads and other manipulations.

Price: $12.99
Summary: Easily is installed in any gun without disassembly and ensures the gun is safe during dry fire. Will not work in conjunction with laser cartridge inserts.
Link to purchase: Click here

Glock Easy Trainer – For repeated trigger presses on Glocks

Striker fired handguns, like Glocks, can be challenging to dry fire because after each trigger squeeze you must manually reset the slide by “racking” or cycling it. Thus introducing a potential training scar of racking the slide after each trigger squeeze.

The Glock E-Trainer (short for easy trainer) is installed without any tools or disassembly and prevents the trigger from “breaking” thus allowing repeated trigger presses without having to be reset by racking the slide.

It does remove the feeling of the takeup, break, and reset but can be used to great effect to train multiple shot drills, reloads, and other manipulations. Furthermore, when installed the firearm is rendered inert and safe. Currently only available for Glock handguns as the name implies.

Price: $24.44
Summary: Slip it onto your Glock and you will no longer need to manipulate the slide to reset the trigger.
Link to purchase: Click here

DryFireMag – For repeated trigger presses on Glocks and some others

The DryFireMag solves the same problem as the Glock Easy Trainer, specifically allowing for repeated trigger manipulation without racking the slide.

However, it replaces your magazine which makes it difficult to train reloads unless you purchase multiple of them.

It does, however, simulate a trigger break and reset although different from your trigger's normal break and reset. It also has an audible click sounds for each trigger squeeze which an equal number of users love and hate.

Furthermore, unlike the Glock E-Trainer the DryFireMag is available for select Glocks AND Smith And Wesson M&P handguns.

Price: $98.99+
Summary: A magazine replacement that allows for repeated trigger presses without racking the slide. Available for select Glocks and M&Ps.
Link to purchase: Click here

Laser Cartridge Inserts – For accuracy-related feedback

A laser cartridge insert (most generic term for what many may call laser ammo or laser bullets) is a caliber-specific device that is inserted into your chamber and projects a laser when your firing pin comes forward simulating a shot.

The main advantage of the laser cartridge insert over the other options I've included in this section is the ability to provide accuracy-related visual feedback. Knowing if you hit your intended target is an important part of dry fire practice.

When used with a single action or striker-fired gun you will have to rack the slide after each shot to reset the trigger, but when used with a double-action or double-action / single-action (DA/SA) firearm you don't have any need to reset the trigger.

Price: $59.95+
Summary: A simulated cartridge inserted into the chamber that “fires” a laser when struck by the firing pin of the gun.
Link to purchase: Click here

Three Laser Training Dedicated Pistols

LaserLyte Trainers, SIRTs, and the SF-Series

LaserLyte Training Pistols

LaserLyte makes three dedicated laser training pistols. A full size (think Glock 19), a compact, and a j-frame snub nose. I'm personally not a huge fan. The triggers do not feel realistic (except maybe the revolver) and there is no functional magazine or rail. The compact has a grip that is awkwardly thin and doesn't compare to any real gun.

That said, these are the lowest cost option in this category but I recommend spending another $50 and getting a SIRT. Further, I've noticed they don't work reliably with the LASR software when the batteries aren't brand new.

Price: $149.99+
Summary: Laser dedicated training guns that are more economical but lack as realistic a feel as competing products.
Link to purchase: Click here

SIRTs from Next Level Training

The SIRTs dominate this category in my opinion. They have more brand credit and for good reason. SIRT stands for “shot indicating resetting trigger” and true to the name the triggers feel very realistic with true takeup, break, and reset.

The SIRTs are currently available in 5 models, 4 of which mimic actual, real firearms. The 110 which is comparable to a Glock, the 107 which is comparable to a M&P, the Sig20 which is comparable to a full size P320, and the Sig20C which is comparable to P320 Carry.

The fifth model is called the “Pocket Pistol” and is similar, though not as near of a replica, as the other models, to a Glock 43 or M&P Shield.

All but the pocket pistol have removable weighted magazines and all models have a functional rail and a “take-up” laser which is a quality training aid for advanced users or instructors. Oh, and the batteries seem to last near forever.

Price: $209.95+
Summary: The gold standard (in the author's opinion) of this category. Functional rail, removable magazine, realistic trigger, modeled after specific make of gun, and a great overall value.
Link to purchase: Click here

Training Guns from Smart Firearms

This product from SmartFirearms has come a long way. It does have a removable magazine and a realistic feeling trigger. It comes in several models as well to please Glock and M&P users.

The ability to project a laser (which I consider a must-have feature) means purchasing an additional accessory that doesn't come with the gun (an additional $119).

However, potential features that make this unique is the ability to have a computer “shot sound” with each trigger press and a “mode” in which the gun sounds an alarm should you accidentally slip your finger into the trigger guard. Changing modes to enable or disable those features requires a degree in rocket science but I'm told future models will be easy to operate.

Price: $239.00+
Summary: A dedicated dry fire training pistol. A laser module is an additional expense but it has a functional rail and removable magazine.
Link to purchase: Click here

Two Options That Just Take Air

Airsoft & Cool Fire Trainer

Airsoft Training Guns

Pictured above is my lovely Glock 19 Gen 3 Officially licensed airsoft pistol from Elite Force Systems. Umarex / Elite Force make and sell a number of airsoft guns that may be the exact same as your actual carry gun (link below). This gives you an extremely close replica to your actual training gun.

Plus, as an airsoft gun you get some recoil. It isn't the same as live fire recoil but it still allows you to practice sight acquisition and recoil management in a way you can't with the dedicated laser training devices mentioned above.

I also love that in addition to using this for dry fire practice I can use it in force on force training at the range in classes I teach with my students.

One thing to remember is you can only use this with airsoft BBs so you need a target and backer and that is your accuracy feedback. You also need an ongoing supply of air.

Price: $99.00+
Summary: Airsoft guns give you some recoil and can be used with an actual, physical target. They are also useful for force on force training.
Link to purchase: Click here

Cool Fire Trainer

The Cool Fire Trainer is a conversion kit that replaces the barrel and the recoil spring in your actual firearm. They are available for 60+ models of firearms and allow you to practice with your actual gun. Your sights, your trigger, your magazines, etc.

The barrel is “charged” with CO2 air and when you press the trigger the gun recoils. Again it isn't the same as real recoil but its pretty good for dry fire. If you want a laser you need to purchase an additional add on ($100) which I consider a critical component.

It is hard to get better quality dry fire “realism” than the Cool Fire Trainer but consider that the air “tank” is only so big and depending on the gun you will get between 15 and 30 shots on a single charge. The constant recharging is the downside to this product.

Price: $329.00+
Summary: A conversion for your actual firearm that uses air to create recoil. Laser is an optional add on.
Link to purchase: Click here

UTM / Simunitions

This is the only product in this article I don't yet own but I have had the pleasure of using. UTM makes conversion kits for your real firearm that adapt it to fire UTM rounds. UTM makes several types of rounds but none are deadly.

They have traditional “blanks” that don't fire any projectile (both silent and noisy options) and they have marker rounds which do fire a projectile and similar to airsoft; if fired at a human protective gear is critical.

When fired you experience actual recoil and an ejected cartridge. Ammo feeds from the magazine just like live fire.

The conversion kits aren't much more expensive than other product options in this article but you also have the ongoing expense of the ammunition.

Price: $299.00+
Summary: A conversion for your actual firearm allows it to fire UTM training ammunition.
Link to purchase: Click here

My Conclusion

I don't think there is a single product on this page that you can purchase which will enable endless perfect dry fire of all kinds. As budget allows having a few of these products in your tool belt is probably the best approach. Hopefully this comparison helps you decide on the next tool you can leverage to increase your shooting skills from home!

Let me know which of these products you have, what you think about them, and if you have any questions, in the below comments!

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5 Responses to Comparing Dry Fire Guns – The Best Tool For At Home Practice

  1. Lawrence Licata March 19, 2020 at 7:00 pm #

    I always use my EDC Beretta PX4 Compact for dry fire exercises. I utilize the Mantis X to gauge accuracy.

  2. John March 21, 2020 at 4:56 pm #

    I have used 3 SIRT pistols, barrel block in 9mm and .380 and laser cartilage in dry fire practice. Hope to use these in small classes as an instructor. Great products.

  3. Larry March 24, 2020 at 5:19 pm #

    I use a laser as part of iTarget. While It has limitations, it has been the best thing that I have purchased with respect to shooting skills improvement. With direct feedback it has allowed me to pinpoint where my problems are. My speed and accuracy made significant gains after a few days.

  4. techs March 30, 2020 at 7:45 pm #

    I am more inclined to put an extra $300-400 toward a second/replacement pistol than spend it on a training gun. I use MantisX to train a “quiet” hand, and a laser cartridge with G-Sight to train accuracy and manipulations to the first shot. Followup shots and strings of fire more or less need to wait for range time. With careful shopping I can assemble 9mm rounds for about 10¢ (plus my time), so about a year and a half of live fire for the cost of an M&P SIRT. I’m fortunate to usually have time and access to a weekly range session.

  5. John Castiglia May 31, 2020 at 10:56 am #

    I have all these solutions and IMHO the best is the Coolfiretraining kit. Many different firearms supported and adding new ones all the time. Your firearm, your sights, your trigger, your mags. The recoil is very realistic. Filling the barrel with CO2 is a bit of a pain. Yes you heard right you get maybe 12-17 good shots, but for me that is good. I use it with the LASR app for a complete dry fire set up. LaserLyte trainer is just OK, allows you to make multiple shots but the trigger is crap, no ability to practice reload drills. SIRT is OK, I have both pistol and AR versions. Rifle is OK, haven’t used it in a while. pistol is OK but for the price for a trainer (again limited to a Glock or M&P). Airsoft is a little better because to can get a trainer that matches your gun, you can practice reload drills the nice thing about airsoft is the magazines hold the CO2, but if you have any trigger work to you normal gun you won’t be able to practice with that. DryFireMag. Only comes in Glock or M&P, it just allows you pull the trigger without racking the slide. It does not reset the firing pin so using it with a LaserAmmo cartridge will not work. Go with the CoolFireTraining pistol, It costs but its well worth it!!

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