Is Dry Firing Bad for my Firearm?

What is Dry Firing
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Is Dry Firing Bad for my Firearm?

It's easy for anyone, especially long-time gun owners, to use specialized phrases and terminology without realizing we're doing it.

Anyone who's ever heard military members spout off acronyms can attest to how confusing this can be to the uninitiated.

With so many new gun owners coming into the fold in the past few months, it’s a good time to dive into some of this technical language, starting with a commonly heard one: dry firing.  

And it's important to acknowledge up front that it’s not just new gun owners who may be unfamiliar with the ins and outs of dry firing.

Even if you've been around guns for a while, it's possible you've heard the term but never gave it much thought. Regardless of your experience level, it's a good idea to become familiar with it.

What is dry firing? How do you do it? Should you even do it? These are all valid questions, and you're certainly not the first to have them.

What is Dry Firing?

Despite the name, dry firing your firearm does not mean shooting it without it being oiled.

In fact, dry firing has absolutely nothing to do with liquid at all — in the simplest terms, dry firing is the act of pulling the trigger on your unloaded firearm as if you were actually intending to shoot it.

Dry firing is a valuable tool in your arsenal as a shooter. It can help you familiarize yourself with your firearm and help make you a faster, safer and more accurate shooter.

Dry firing is an essential training practice that every gun owner should utilize, regardless of how long you've been shooting.

Why Should I Dry Fire?

It's important as gun owners to regularly engage in training with our firearms. Since not everyone has somewhere readily available to go shooting at all times, dry firing can fill in the gaps between sessions nicely.

But more than that, dry firing can also be a supplemental training aid that takes you from novice to expert much faster than actual shooting alone.

With dry firing, you're getting in additional repetitions. This is valuable training time with your firearm.

During these reps, you're getting more accustomed to how your gun fits in your hand. You're building muscle memory; you're learning how and where your trigger breaks; and you're developing better trigger control.

When you practice with your gun by dry firing it, you're helping yourself become a master of your gun and intimately familiar with every aspect of your firearm.

Is it Safe to Dry Fire?

There are a couple of considerations to keep in mind about the safety of dry firing.

The first pertains to the safety of pulling the trigger inside your home; the second is about whether dry firing is safe for the firearm itself.

But the short answer to the question is yes: dry firing is safe.

As long as you adhere to the rules of gun safety, you should be safe to dry fire your firearm within your home.

Take the time to double and even triple check the gun to be sure it's not loaded, and make sure you're pointing the gun in a safe direction.

In fact, it might be a good idea to have a dedicated space specifically for your dry fire practice within your home that's away from everything else.

This is helpful for keeping damage to a minimum should you accidentally fire the gun, but it also helps you mentally focus on the task at hand and make the most of your training time.

A dedicated space helps to facilitate better learning in any training environment.

As to the question of whether dry firing will damage your gun, despite what some people might tell you, most modern firearms are safe to dry fire.

Unlike in archery, there isn't an issue with the distribution of force, so while dry firing a bow can destroy it — a firearm, not so much.

There are certainly exceptions to this, so check with your manufacturer to be on the safe side.

In fact, that's always good practice regardless of what gun you have or what specialized purpose you’re considering using your gun for.

Take the time to find out what your gun manufacturer says about various uses for your gun. It's better to be safe than sorry.

There is, of course, an exception to every rule.

With dry firing, that exception is rimfire guns. Rimfire ammunition works differently than centerfire, and based on this difference in firing, there could be an issue with dry firing a rimfire gun.

However, thanks to modern innovations, there are training enhancements you can use that allow you to safely dry fire a rimfire gun.

Some of these training aids are available for centerfire guns as well, but they aren't necessary for safe dry fire practice and simply serve as aids.

How do I Dry Fire?

The important thing to remember with dry firing is not to overthink it. Keep it simple and take your time.

Work on the fundamentals of proper grip, sight alignment and trigger control.

Sometimes, people work on dry firing after drawing their gun from their holster, but when you're first starting out, stick with just putting the gun on target and pulling the trigger.

Watch for any wiggle or front sight movements, and try to adjust your grip and trigger pull to avoid this.

Work slowly until everything looks the way it should, and over time you can increase your speed. Once that becomes a little more second nature, you can add in things like drawing from concealment and changing magazines.

It's also a good idea to have some targets or a specific spot to aim at so you can work on acquiring a good sight picture and point of aim.

The thing about dry firing is that it's a way for you to practice the important parts of firing a gun without having to use up precious ammo or range time.

It can build your fundamentals so that, when you do go to the range, you're better off and can focus on what you want to.

There are plenty of GunTubers with excellent videos covering the mechanics of dry firing, and we definitely encourage you to look into those for some pointers on how to proceed.

How Often Should I Dry Fire?

Honestly, it’s not a bad idea to practice as often as you can.

Even sponsored professional shooters with no limits on range time or ammunition practice dry firing, so that should tell you something.

Dry firing isn't something you do instead of actual shooting; it's something you do to supplement your range time.

You can schedule a specific time to do it in a specific setting, or you can do it while waiting for your spouse to get ready for dinner.

You can do it as a warm up and cool down as part of your daily fitness routine, or it can be something you use to mentally refocus during work hours.

The ways that you can work dry firing into your day are only limited by your own imagination, and that's part of what makes it such a great training tool.

It can be done anywhere and at any time.

What Do I Need to Dry Fire?

There are actually a wide variety of training tools you can use to dry fire your gun, with new ones being released all the time.

Everything from paper targets to phone apps are available to assist you in maximizing your dry fire practice time.

There are magazines made specifically for dry firing, as well as fake rounds or "snap caps" to give your firing pin something to strike.

You can also find an array of laser options and interactive targets to help you pinpoint any mechanical errors you might make.

Each of these are quite helpful and can be easily incorporated into your routine or training space.

Most can even be set up in a kitchen or bedroom, so very little space is required. However, keep in mind that none of these are actually necessary to dry fire.

Think of them as extra toppings for a sundae — they're great to have, but they only supplement the actual item.

The thing itself is the dry firing, and that can be done with nothing but your unloaded firearm.

All you need to do is check to make sure it's unloaded, point it in a safe direction and squeeze the trigger.

After that, simply rack the slide to make it ready to fire again and repeat to your heart's content.

Take your time, stay safe and have fun with this new training option. You will not regret it.

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