Can I Dry Fire It? – Caring for Your Firearm

Firing Pin - Dry Fire

For 2017, we wanted to look for ways to better reach the average shooter and answer any questions they might have. Among that, we have started to pay close attention to online communities to sniff out those most frequently asked questions. Every day, rookie and veteran gun owners go to sites like this in search of answers to some of the most important questions. While some of those questions might seem easy to answer, we decided to pick out those that get asked more frequently and address them here. This week, we wanted to start off by addressing the common problem. Is it safe to dry fire your weapon?

It’s A Common Question

If you’re a member of one of these communities, you’ll find a wide variety of people asking this same question about a wide range of guns. Whether it’s a Glock, Sig Sauer, or a common household shotgun, it seems that everyone is wondering about the safety of dry firing their weapon. While individual models could vary, this is likely brought on by the old assertion that many firearms could be damaged when dry firing. But, does this hold true in the case of modern weapons?

Considering the Modern Firearm?

In general, modern guns are built so you can safely dry fire them. Despite this, it is important for us to warn you prior to fully answering this. Sometimes, a gun can get damaged during dry-fire drills. If it is, you bare the responsibility as owner, but that risk is usually not that big. The truth is, the part you put at risk when you dry fire is the firing pin. In old guns, that pin was prone to curving and breaking if there was not a primer for it to strike. Modern weapons use sturdier, longer pins, which means an almost non-existent risk of breaking. Not just that, but firing pins are inexpensive, so in the off chance you do break one, you can get a new one for little money.

Looking at the examples above, basically any firearm asked about is safe to dry fire. Glock offers a durable firing pin that can handle continuous dry fire drills -same with Sig Sauer. Similarly, the more common home defense shotguns, like the Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 are both built like tanks. They can take quite a bit of dry firing without damaging the firing pin. As I’ve already expressed, most modern guns can.

Exercising Caution

As indicated above, it’s important to remember that you should always exercise caution when dry firing a weapon. In some cases, a manufacturer will specially warn you not to dry fire their weapon. In these cases, doing so may actually void any warranty that you were granted by that company. Rather than take the risk, you might want to search that specific brand model and find out more information. In most cases, dry firing the gun will not actually damage anything, but the risk of voiding your warranty may not be one you want to take. Personally, I dry fire every gun I otherwise shoot at the range. But, you might decide to exercise more caution.

The Rimfire Exception

One more note of caution: the one type of firearm you might want to avoid dry firing is your trusted rimfire. Even with modern technology, some of these firing pins are too brittle to handle regular dry fire drills. In these cases, you should refer to the manual that came with the firearm. If it warns you not to dry fire a rimfire model, you might want to heed that advice at risk of causing damage.

Using Dry Fire Drills for Training

Of course, while some like to exercise caution, others like to engage in regular dry fire drills as an integral part of their training. Let’s face it: even if you have a large budget to spend on ammo, you can never really get enough range training. Rather than limit yourself to live-fire training, dry fire drills can actually be an important part of your routine. Since most modern weapons are fine when dry fired, you can use any of your regular weapons and get that extra bit of training. The key here is to make sure you are giving yourself the right training.

If you search online, you will find plenty of gun experts offering great advice on dry fire training. Depending on where you go, some of these are simple and some require more complex drills. At the very least, the one drill you should perform on the regular is drawing your weapon from the holster and firing off the first round. To do this, first perform the proper inspection to make sure the weapon is unloaded. Once you are sure it is safe, go ahead and cock it before putting it in your holster; don’t even bother inserting a magazine if it’s a semi-auto. From there, practice drawing and firing at your target. Just as you checked the weapon to make sure it was unloaded, also make sure to only point it at safe targets. Remember, you want to maintain good habits on and off the range.

Always Properly Maintain Your Guns

So, the real truth is this: most weapons can be safely dry fired. As with any gun, always exercise proper handling and obey the basic rules of safety. But, if you want to do that extra little bit to ensure your firearm lasts, consider regular maintenance first. More often than not, gun owners don’t have issues because they dry fired the gun. Instead, they find that they run into issues because they failed to properly clean and maintain their gun. Don’t ever fall into that trap, and you should be fine.

Are there any guns that you are curious about dry firing? Any that you know shouldn’t be used in this fashion? Let us know what you think and join the discussion below.