I peruse gun forums and Facebook groups on a regular basis and sometimes I see questions asked that deserve extra clarification or answers that are downright dangerous.
A question I saw just today, was this:
Is it safe to dry fire my gun?
Yes, you’re more than likely safe to dry fire your gun unless your firearm meets a short list of very specific criteria. It’s not safe to dry fire your gun if it’s rimfire, like a .22 lr or similar, or is older. If you have a modern day rifle or handgun, you can and should dry fire your gun to check its function after cleaning, as well as to practice getting trigger squeezes in when you’re not at the live fire gun range.
Let’s break this down a bit further.
Will dry fire hurt my gun?
Modern guns are made with modern metals and materials that are designed to handle much more than the older guns used to be able to handle. They’re also made differently with modern technology and are therefore safe for dry firing.
In fact, the first time I ever dryfired my gun was 20 years ago in Marine Corps Basic Training with my M16A2 service rifle.
We would sit down around a 50 gallon drum that was painted white with little targets spray painted on it all around. We’d aim in at those targets on that drum and, with an empty rifle, dry fire.
Those rifles were beat down by countless Marines, dry fired hundreds of thousands of times over the course of their lives, and were still for the most part functional. And, when they did break, rarely was it one of the pieces associated with dry firing the weapon.
I’ve also got countless rounds of dry firing under my belt with my handguns. Let’s not forget that I’m also the managing editor of concealedcarry.com and we’re huge advocates of dry fire practice over there.
The only thing many people don’t take into consideration when it comes to dry firing your gun, is spring wear. Your recoil spring count should be counted with your dry firing but many people don’t count it. So yeah, dryfiring your gun will help your recoil spring wear out a tiny bit faster.
But, the benefits of dry firing your weapon far outweigh the cost of a 10$ part.
What are the benefits of dry firing?
By dry firing in your home for just 10 minutes each day you increase your skill. When you dry fire it allows you the chance to develop your shooting mechanics and to really hone in on something you may be doing wrong.
In fact, I’ve been able to overcome my flinch (anticipation) because of dry firing.
You can line up your sights, work on your grip, work on your trigger control, etc., all in the comfort of your own home for free using the gun you’d be using anyway.
Or, you can purchase one of the many tools that’ll help you. These are tools like laser inserts, laser guns designed to feel like your real gun, and many more things.
Don’t mistake me, though. You don’t need anything other than the gun you carry or practice with, rifle or pistol. Dry fire practice is beneficial. Just do it.
In fact, according most pro firearms instructors, the number one thing you can do to get better and more proficient at shooting is to dry fire your gun.
How do I dry fire?
Dry fire practice is simple. The most important step is to ensure that your gun’s ammunition is out of it. It is called DRY fire practice, after all. After you’ve made sure and double checked that there is no ammunition in the gun, pick a target on the wall, like a light switch, ensure proper shooting mechanics, and squeeze the trigger.
Did your sights move off target?
Did you flinch?
Did you smack the trigger?
Was your grip firm?
You should be able to pick out anything that didn’t feel right, and fix it. Then, do it all over again. Do it for 10 minutes each day or a few times each week, and you’ll get better.
A tool I really like to recommend for this is the MantisX. You can read my review on it, here. But, suffice it to say that this little tool attaches to the rail on your gun and tracks muzzle movement by internal gyroscopes just before the shot breaks.
This, in turn, helps you to diagnose what you may be doing wrong in your dry fire practice. As a bonus, this one allows you to use it in live fire practice, as well, so you get double the benefit.
Dry fire to function check
I’m guessing you probably clean your guns from time to time, if not after every single live fire use. The best way to make sure you’ve put everything back together properly is to conduct a function check on your gun.
A function check is essentially dry firing your gun after assembly just to make sure that everything is clicking right. What that means is that you pull the slide back and release it to set the trigger. Then, you press the trigger, keeping it held down.
Then you rack and release the slide again and release the trigger. If all goes well you should hear and feel the trigger breaking and resetting with each pull of the trigger and reset of the trigger. I generally do this a handful of times just for good measure and to make sure everything is in proper working order.
Dry firing your gun is not only totally fine for most of the guns out there, it’s recommended by firearms instructors as one of the best ways to get better at shooting.