Dry Fire Debate

Dry fire snap capsReading Tam’s blog this morning, I discovered that there is still a largely overblown fear of damaging firearms by dry firing a centerfire handgun.  ‘Damaging guns by dry-fire’ seems to be the gun hobby’s version of ‘I woke up in a bathtub filled with ice-water and one of my kidneys was stolen.”  While it may be possible, it is highly improbable.

I’ve carried a gun professionally since 1995.  In 15 years, I have personally dry fired dozens of guns, including Glocks, Sigs, and Smith & Wessons – thousands of times each.

In every police academy and agency I have been associated with, firearms training included dry fire training, mostly without snap caps.  These academies and agencies have trained thousands of cops.

To date, I have not encountered a single officer, agency, or academy instructor who has experienced or seen first-hand any damage resulting to any modern, centerfire handgun.  Although you should check your owner’s manual, I’m very comfortable with saying that modern pistols can be dry fired with little possibility of damage.

I have previously written about the benefits of dry firing on this site and at BlueSheepdog.  Feel free to read either (or both) of those articles to get a complete feel for my views on the subject.

Keep in mind, I am talking about modern, defensive handguns.  If you have an H&H double rifle, that may be a completely different tale.  Don’t dry fire with a rimfire gun either.  Rimfires can be damaged if you dry fire them.  As always, I encourage feedback in the comment section below.  If you have first hand experience with a problem that resulted from dry firing, please sound off.  Likewise, if you have been dry firing for years without problems, please share that also.

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About Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, police trainer and really bad joke teller. Check out his other writing on sites like Human Events, The Firearm Blog and BlueSheepdog.


  1. Kevin Delaney says:

    If you can afford the gun, i’m sure it won’t break the bank to get parts for it if something were to happen to it….Not that it anything ever would. I dont even know how may times i’ve dry fired, But I know I’ve never had any problems by doing so.

  2. I completely agree, with one exception. Rimfires. Some, but not all, rimfires will impact the outside of the chamber pretty good, eventually causing many misfires. As recommended, read the manual.

  3. Two comments:
    1- I agree with your post, but point out that .22s can actually be damaged by dry firing as the firing pin will eventually dent the chamber.

    2- It’s not so much the issue itself as the attitude of one of the participants: “If you don’t abide by my predjudices, you must be a total idiot”… Sorry, even if you had been right you’ve still persuaded me that you’re not worth paying attention to.

    • The author already pointed that out: “Don’t dry fire with a rimfire gun either. Rimfires can be damaged if you dry fire them.”

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