Dry firing guns. Always bad?

When I was in the military we had M16s and HK G3s. Every day at the end of our guard duty we would be ordered to cock the gun twice with magazine removed and fire in the air. These guns were dry-fired thousands of times and yet they seem to perform ok at the firing range.

When is it bad to dry fire a gun?

That was always the mantra when I was a kid. But military rifles are dry-fired for days at a time before a single round goes down range (by the Marines, at least). I can’t think of an instance where this would be harmful to the weapon, unless it would over-extend the pin in older guns, but perhaps a resident expert can enlighten us.

You shouldn’t dry-fire rimfire guns. Centerfire is OK as long as the gun is in good condition.

Rimfires like .22 are bad to dry fire. Centerfires are probably okay. Some manufacturers/models (e.g. Ruger 10/22) say it’s okay in their rimfires, but I still try not to.

If you need to dry fire RF or even CF, it might be a good idea to get some snap caps

There isn’t a hard and fast rule on this. Generally, one should not dry fire rimfire guns; the pin will peen the chamber mouth leading to problems. OTOH, if your rimfire is a Ruger, you can dry fire it without peening the chamber. Older shotguns, especially doubles, should not be dry fired as the little piece in the breech face through which the firing pin passes can be peened. Modern day centerfires and military guns should not be harmed by dry fire.
Snap caps are cheap insurance, though, especially if you are dry firing an out of production or expensive gun. For a couple bucks, you eliminate even the possibility of damage.

The other thing is that some older or weirder guns aren’t designed to be dry fired. I think the old Soviet-era Czech CZ-52 pistol will break the firing pins if you dry fire it too much.

I came in here to mention those too. I got them for my Ruger KP95DC so I could cycle and fire it without risk of damage. I figured since they made those there may be a slight risk of damage, but as others have posted it seems to only be an issue for some specific types of guns.

Isn’t it safe to say that every gun is different, and that in general one should not dry-fire, and err on the side of safety, until they can confirm otherwise?

Yes. That’s why I and others have promoted the use of snap caps.

Did the same as the OP with HK G3s during my military service, and this was common practice. For the last few years I’ve been transfered to the Home Guard, and hence have been issued a G3 again, but now the mantra is to not dry fire, as we have to check the firing pins at the weapons depot whenever not on a firing range, for safety reasons.

Dry firing a G3 without a firing pin is a really bad idea, as it can basically make a complete mess out of the trigger mechanism, requiring much frustration from an out-of-touch unlucky soldier to assemble it again :slight_smile:

Some guns absolutely require dry-firing. It is the second step in disassembling a Glock or a Springfield XD, for instance (the first step, of course, is making certain that the weapon is unloaded).

The manual will always tell you whether or not it’s OK to dry-fire.

Maybe they will. Lots of manuals that I have right here simply don’t address the topic at all.
Your advice is worth fuck-all, of course, to those who own any of the countless millions of out of production arms, made who knows where and when, got from folks who never had a manual themselves. Snap caps are so cheap and durable that there is no reason not to use them. Even guns that don’t require them aren’t harmed by their use as far as I am aware.

I have snap caps and even the small red plastic .22 LR dummy loads.
I also do make up my own dummy rounds for practice. Snap caps are great but can be a little spendy, and I want a cartridge for training that will chamber (feed from magazine and eject properly so I make them.
I am a reloader so I have all the tools needed but want to stress that my dummy loads have cases that are drilled (hole drilled through and through the case side-wall) so that there is no possibility of a powder charge and the primer pocket is filled with glue from a hot glue gun. The cases are marked but the markings wear off fast. Caution is always very much needed.
The new Kali approved handguns are a PITA to practice with and if one has a number of dummy’s, used properly can do a lot of practice in the home basement.
Drawing and firing drills generally are not permitted on indoor ranges and I do not do them as part of my Concealed Carry Class unless I am one on one.

Actually, your pistol (same as mine, save that stainless slide) is probably one that you can dry-fire thousands of times with no problem.

Say what you will about Bill Ruger, but you have to give props to his company for making absolutely reliable and indestructible automatic pistols.

I researched the shit out of guns in my price range and purpose, and I was very very happy with what I ended up with.

I was sad to sell it, but I did. Have you ever had anyone else shoot it? I took a few friends to the range, and one was limp-wristed and it jammed, the other had a death grip on it and it jammed, but it jammed on me only once, and I cleaned it after every session like it was my job.

After I sold it, I went to the gun shop to try out a Sig. The guy racked the slide and I couldn’t release the slide lever, even with both thumbs. He released it with ease, with one thumb, and I left dejected. I haven’t been in a gun store since. I also have less of a need for a gun now, but man that was embarrassing.

I’ve had mine since 1998, actually. I’ve put something like 2500 rounds through it, and with the exception of a few short-loaded Russian steel-cased rounds, it just does not jam when I fire it. Some people tend to limp-wrist it, I think, and it jams on them. I did have to replace the recoil spring assembly a few years back, but that cost like 25 bucks and required no gunsmithing.

It’s not the sexiest pistol, and not super-accurate either, but it is adequately accurate for a defensive pistol. The one thing that it does have going for it is that it just flat-out does not jam and always fires. It’s a freakin’ tank.

If I were in the market for another pistol, I’d be looking at one of the better M1911 makes- Kimber, Wilson Combat, etc… on the assumption that this would be it for pistols for me.

I really think that the dangers are over-stated. Every gun owner I know, including me, has dry fired countless times and never had a problem. Now this doesn’t mean the risk is zero, but for most modern firearms… I would doubt that you run into any problems.

Although excessive dry firing would but extra wear on the gun, which is pointless and just a bad idea all around. Kind of like pulling the trigger on a power drill with no intention to use it. Anything with moving metal parts has a fixed lifespan.

Many moons ago, I worked in a pawn shop that did a lot of gun business. One time, 3 of us were in a small room where we tested guns. I don’t remember the details but something went wrong with a 22 we were testing. Then, incredibly, the guy next to me (who wasn’t holding the gun) stuck his finger in the trigger guard and pulled the trigger. The next thing that we knew, we had a hole in the ceiling. His excuse was that he always did that to make sure that the gun wasn’t loaded. :smack: Our comeback was to yell at him for a few hours. And yes, the gun should have been put on safe immediately. I wasn’t holding it either. I yelled at the gun holder too.