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How To Dry Fire A Gun And Is It Safe?


Brother against brother. That's the type of reaction that you will get anytime the subject of dry-firing comes up. Some of us baby our firearms, yes us meaning some of you and myself, while others want to achieve the highest potential results that their firearm has to offer. 

The argument in support of dry firing is mostly about trigger control. I completely understand this argument, and honestly, it makes sense;...somewhat. So the theory behind the argument for dry firing goes that if you only shoot live ammo then your hands will build up muscle memory for poor trigger control. 

Some support that believers of this theory rely on is the fact that when you fire a live round, the recoil of the shot pushes back on your hands and that the force of that recoil causes the muzzle to rise, and that's all true. Then the theory goes on to say that you must counteract the rise of the muzzle with a downward resistance to bring the muzzle back into alignment with the target. Most of us call that simply recovering after a shot. 

The theory of dry firing goes on to conclude that if the only practice that you do is with live ammo then you are training your hands to always perform with that physical downward resistance every time you pull the trigger. ? Huh? Ain't that what you want? Proponents of the dry fire argument state that "physiological reactions travel through neural pathways and cause you to perform without a conscious effort". So they call that "muscle memory", which happens to be one of my least favorite phrases on Earth because muscles do not have memories! 

The dry fire theory in effect should prevent you from pushing down the muzzle to counter the muzzle rise in the event that the trigger doesn't click quiet when you anticipated it too, thus enabling you to stay on target. So in support of the dry fire theory, you should be able to establish a fluid trigger pull so that your sights are kept on target, and that you should dry fire practice more than you should be shooting with live ammo. I am just going to shut up at this point.

In full support of our friends that do believe that dry firing makes you a better shooter, I will admit that there are benefits to dry firing, although most are related to drawing your firearm rather than shooting it. The advantage that I see from dry firing is that your shooting skills will undoubtedly diminish without some sort of practice, so something is better than nothing. But I do see a true benefit with improving your safety habits and shooting fundamentals by drawing and dry firing your firearm. 

Shooting fundamentals that you can really hone in on by drawing and dry firing are the feel of your grip, the comfortable extension of your arms while controlling your hands, shoulders, and arms in a proper stance, and dry firing also gives the great opportunity of improving upon the speed of acquisition and recovery of a target. Drawing and acquiring your target is of great benefit in training your eyes to focus on the target through the sights. I'm sure that there are other benefits in support of dry firing, such as building the muscles to be able to maintain a steady hold with your firearm. Oh, and the cost is a benefit. A day at the range could get pretty expensive, and dry firing doesn't do anything at all. 

Romanian TTC Tokarev - C&R Eligible (2)


The very first thing to do is to unload your firearm. Remove any and all live ammo from view and especially from reaching range. Dry firing is basically going through all of the motions of firing your gun, just without the ammo. There are a few tools that you can use for dry firing like dummy rounds or a chamber flag, but for the most part, all that is required is you and your firearm. 

Don't take anything for granted or create bad habits by dry firing. While dry firing, practice your firearms safety rules. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, treat all firearms as if they were loaded, keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to fire, know your target and what lies around and beyond, and so on. 

FN Scar 20S .308/7.62NATO Semi-Auto Rifle


We have discussed how to make dry firing safe for us personally, but what about our firearms? 

I am biased against the theory of dry fire practice but when it comes to presenting the practical facts, I am on board with the truth. So as far as the question of "is it safe to dry fire a firearm", I have my own opinion and it closely resembles what the NRA says on the subject matter as well. The NRA takes the position that dry-firing most centerfire rifles and handguns is perfectly safe, but excessively dry-firing a rimfire gun is a bad idea. 

The firing pin of a centerfire gun is designed to strike a primer located in the center of a cartridge's base. When no cartridge is present, the firing pin strikes nothing. With a rimfire, though, the firing pin is positioned to strike the soft brass rim of the cartridge. When no cartridge is present, the firing pin strikes the hard steel of the breech face. Repeated dry-firing of a rimfire can eventually peen the firing pin, dulling it and causing misfires. Dry-firing offers convenient, easy practice, but if you are going to dry-fire a rimfire gun, invest in some snap caps first. These dummy rounds will cushion the firing pin's fall. (NRA.org 7.2.14)

Zastava Arms ZPAP M70 AK-47 762x39 Semi-Auto Rifle


I am against dry firing as a means of practicing, but that is my opinion because I learn best with the "baptism by fire" technique. That is the way that I learn and achieve when it comes to firearms. Some folks may learn better through a methodical mental process, or by hands-on simulation, as is the theory behind dry fire practicing. 

I suppose that I am either too old or perhaps just too stubborn to add dry firing to my firing practices, because I don't want any confusion when I am firing and I already know how my gun is supposed to feel and react when it is fired. If dry firing helps you and you see that it makes you a better shooter, by all means, click away!

We have established that dry firing is simply going through the motions of firing with the absence of ammo and that it can be safe for both ourselves and most of our treasured firearms.

Happy Practicing Everyone! With or without Ammo!

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