For Dry Fire Unloaded is Good. Inert Is Better

I want to answer two questions. First, why is an inert gun better than a cleared gun for dry fire practice? And secondly, what tools can you use to make sure your gun is not only clear, but that it's impossible to make a mistake and unintentionally shoot a round in dry fire?

The best practices for conducting safe dry fire usually go something along these lines:

  • Unload the gun fully.
  • Triple check that it is clear of any ammunition.
  • Don't allow live ammunition in the environment where you conduct dry fire.

I agree with those ideas, but I've known too many people who have cooked off a round during dry fire despite being fully committed to following those rules. Mistakes happen, and I think a “higher law” approach isn't difficult to execute.

Unloaded is Good. Inert Is Better

police training with a completely inert handgun

Law Enforcement officers conducting dry fire training with inert guns.

When it comes to dry fire, the safety rules and practices emphasize unloading the gun and making sure it stays that way, which sounds like a good idea.

I think the better approach is rendering the gun temporarily inert simply because it prevents the possibility of human error.


Inert [in-urt]: having no inherent power of action, motion, or resistance (opposed to active).

In the case of a firearm, when we use the term inert, we mean completely incapable of firing a round or projectile.

No matter how well you unload the gun or check to make sure you've unloaded it, should ammunition find its way into your firearm before you complete your dry fire session, it can and probably will fire.

Since rending the gun inert is easy (more info below), I think we need to upgrade the industry best practice for dry fire away from just “unloaded” toward “inert.”

When your firearm is inert, you have absolute confidence that you won't experience a negligent discharge. To render your gun inert, you need to install something that creates a specific beginning and ending to your dry fire practice session.

In other words, you begin dry fire practice by inserting the device and end by removing the device.

If you get distracted in the middle of a dry fire practice session and attempt to load your gun with live ammunition, you won't be able to because you've rendered your gun inert.

Methods to Render Your Gun Temporarily Inert For Dry Fire

Several methods, some cheap and some expensive, render your firearm temporarily inert for dry fire. Of course, you could use a dedicated training gun such as a SIRT pistol, but if you want to work with your actual firearm, here are some options:

The BarrelBlok $12.99:

barrelblok devicein glock handgun

The BarrelBlok is effectively a caliber-specific sized polymer stick that goes into your barrel via the chamber and protrudes from the end. It makes it absolutely impossible for ammunition to enter the chamber and renders the firearm perfectly inert. In addition, the BarrelBlok and (RifleBlok) come with 3 MagBloks which go into your magazines to facilitate effective and realistic dry fire practice.

An added benefit is that BarrelBlok acts like a dummy round, providing a strike face for the gun's firing pin.

The LaserDot Cartridge Ammo Insert $59.95

Laser training cartridge for dry fire

The LaserDot, or any number of comparable competing products, is a caliber specifically sized laser cartridge that goes into your chamber like ammunition. LaserDot is rimless, so it won't extract when the slide cycles. Like BarrelBlok, LaserDot prevents a live round from entering and seating in the chamber and renders your firearm perfectly inert. It also provides a laser projection to enhance your dry fire practice. You can combine the LaserDot Trainer with MagBlok to enhance your training.

The Cool Fire Trainer $295+

The CoolFire Trainer is a CO2 air-based recoil system installed into your actual firearm. It replaces your barrel and recoil spring. Turning your gun into an airgun allows for great dry fire practice with felt recoil. With the CoolFire barrel installed, your firearm will not chamber a round and is completely inert.

Make The Commitment

Please commit today to upgrade your safety practices by fully rendering your firearm inert when conducting dry fire.

Yes, unload your gun.

Yes, conduct your dry fire away from live ammunition.


About Jacob Paulsen

Jacob S. Paulsen is the President of provides in-person and online firearm training for American gun owners. The Company is currently teaching in-person classes in 25+ states with a team of more than 55 instructors. Jacob is a NRA certified instructor & Range Safety Officer, USCCA certified instructor and training counselor, Utah BCI instructor, Affiliate instructor for Next Level Training, Graduate and certified instructor for The Law of Self Defense, and a Glock and Sig Sauer Certified Armorer. He resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with his wife and children.


  1. Dave on March 16, 2022 at 9:20 am

    One reason I have always preferred laser inserts like the Mantis system over just regular dry fire. There is no feasible way to have an unsafe weapon with an insert.

  2. Joanne McAuley on March 17, 2022 at 9:42 am

    Thank You for the information ! I work a lot and don’t have spare time to practice or the extra cash to use live ammo when I do get range time. The laser Dot system sounds like something I can work with to improve my weapon safety and accuracy .

  3. Skip on March 22, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    O,K,. other than “snap caps” what about making a revolver inert, too?

    • Jacob Paulsen on March 22, 2022 at 7:11 pm

      Skip, I think dummy rounds are the best tool for making the revolver inert.

  4. Gene on April 3, 2022 at 8:45 pm

    Dry Fire Mag has magazines available that render the gun unable to fire a round but also so that each trigger pull does not require racking the slide.

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