View Full Version : The Dry Fire Myth
Death from Afar
April 23, 2006, 06:26 PM
Every now and then - and in several threads in this forum, we hear of people warning aboiut the perils of dry firing a shotgun. When we enpty a shotgun of course, unless we are counting shots, you will pull the trigger on an empty chamber. Why is it that dry firing is considered bad for the gun? beats me...
April 23, 2006, 06:56 PM
I had an older shotgun one time. I picked it up and dry-fired it while pointing it to the floor. The tip of the firing pin went scooting across the floor. It apparently broke when dry firing it. After a bit of a search, I was able to find a replacement.
April 23, 2006, 08:00 PM
I think the key word there had to do with the age.
Dry firing will not hurt the modern, mass produced weapons. If you really are concerned, buy some dummy rounds or snap caps.
April 23, 2006, 08:13 PM
It hasn't stopped me from dry practicing with any firearms that I own.
April 23, 2006, 08:15 PM
But as has been explained it has become old wives tales.
If you own the old type of gun that could be damaged it is real.
I believe one of the reason's the dry firing rounds are good. They are produced and sell. So they must fill a void.
One of the problems was part of the hammer was supossed to hit the round (firingpin) and not hit the gun, after a time the hammer would break, because it happened people avoided the dry firing.
Same thing with a firing pin that was not of correct strength and broke when it was struck.
So make the decision, you have new equipment it is not as bad, the old stuff still is.
Buy the dummy round or make your own, like they did years ago. Put a round that has been fired in the cylinder. Some will say that is not good either.
Sales is the answer, we now have a product, so use it. Dummy rounds were thus created.
April 24, 2006, 03:16 PM
I have never had dry firing cause a problem. But you still get a lot of those people telling you not to. :rolleyes:
April 24, 2006, 03:31 PM
Whether live firing or dry firing your gun you are putting wear and tear on the gun. Oh well, that's the price we pay for using them.
April 24, 2006, 05:39 PM
I have also read of incidents involving dry firing where people have forgotten to unload the firearm first.
April 25, 2006, 12:13 AM
the conventional wisdom was that dry firing a rimfire firearm was harmful because the firing pin may dent the breach face. An expensive repair. For centerfire arms, the worse thing that could happen is a broken firing pin or worn firing pin spring. A relatively simple and cheap repair.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many guns were rimfire. Perhaps this is were the old saw about "dry fire is bad" comes from?
April 25, 2006, 10:29 PM
The myth about dry firing being bad for your gun was no myth. It was very real. It still is, for some guns. It comes from way, way back, and was generally true until fairly recently.
Dry firing a percussion gun (no cap) can damage the hammer, the nipple, or both. With the advent of cartridge guns, many of the early ones were rimfire, and as has been posted, could suffer damage from the firing pin hitting the wall of the chamber.
centerfire guns also could also be damaged from dry firing, but for a slightly different reason. During actual firing, the tip of the firing pin (whether hammer struck or spring driven) is stopped by the primer. While this seems like a hard blow, to the metal of the firing pin, it is actually rather soft.
With no cartridge in the chamber (dry firing), the firing pin is stopped by the steel of the breechface. This steel on steel contact is a hard blow. This hard blow causes stress in the metal of the firing pin, and can lead to fracture failures, due to crystalization of the metal. Like work hardening, the metal of the pin can get brittle and snap.
How many snaps does it take (to get to the center of a tootsie pop?)? It depends on the quality of the steel and it's heat treatment. Older guns, those from the beginning of the cartridge era up through WWII do not generally have as good steel and heat treatment as those made today. As the parts for many of the older guns are hard to find (or impossible), it is NOT a good idea to dry fire these guns.
I have an old Ithaca double, (grandfather bought it new in 1909), and I never have, nor never will dry fire that gun. With that gun, I never need to. It has a third position on the safety, so that when in the third position, and the gun broken open, you pull and hold both triggers, while closing the gun, and this lowers the hammers without snapping.
I also have a Ruger Blackhawk revolver bought new in 1983, and in the manual Ruger specifically states that "dry firing will not harm this gun".
So I would recommend NOT dry firing older guns without snap caps, and not worrying about guns made in the last 40 years or so. If you have any concerns, just don't do it.
April 25, 2006, 10:34 PM
whatever you do, dont try to run snap caps through the action of a pump gun. I beleive snap caps are a waste of time and money unless your shooting and old,old double barrel weapon.
April 25, 2006, 11:49 PM
With no cartridge in the chamber (dry firing), the firing pin is stopped by the steel of the breechface.
How do ya figure? It's coming out of the breech face, not stopped by it. It extends into thin air until drawn back by the return spring.
April 26, 2006, 09:33 PM
I have seen 2 shotguns lose their firing "pins" dryfiring them. The pins are a seperate part inserted in the hammers. The sudden stop of the hammers on the frame doesn't stop the inertia of the pins.... the pins go South at times.. at least in a lot of older shotguns
April 28, 2006, 06:47 PM
"How do ya figure? It's coming out of the breech face, not stopped by it. It extends into thin air until drawn back by the return spring."
The TIP of the firing pin extends into thin air. The rest of the pin, which is larger in diameter than the tip is what strikes the inside of the breechface or bolt. Some of the pins are long, (like in the bolt of a pump), some are short (like in a double). The stress (over time) can crystalize the metal, and eventually it fails (breaks), usually close to where the pin changes size, resulting in the "tip" breaking off.
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