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Old October 7, 2007, 12:43 AM   #1
werewolf
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Why is dry firing a .22 revolver harmful?

Smith & Wesson says that dry firing a .22 will cause damage to the firing pin. Why? Doesn't the firing pin just hit nothing at all if there is no bullet in the cylinder? If it hits nothing but air why should it get damaged?
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Old October 7, 2007, 01:16 AM   #2
The Tourist
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It is possible for an inertia firing pin to hit the edge of a chamber on a rimfire firearm, doing some damage to both.

However, "conventional wisdom" opined that this condition was on older rimfires, and truthfully, I thought so myself.

Right now I have only two rimfire firearms and I have never dry fired them, nor really wanted to. However, I've been getting better about using snap caps, in fact, one came with my latest purchase.
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Old October 7, 2007, 06:26 AM   #3
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A centerfire revolver will usually not be damaged by dryfiring. With a rimfire, the pin could hit the steel cylinder that lies under the rim of the cartridge.
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Old October 7, 2007, 08:08 AM   #4
apr1775
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Remember that a 22 is a rimfire; meaning the firing pin strikes the rim of the cartridge. Repeated dry firing allows the firing pin to repeatedly strike the breech face. In a severe case the spot will become peened to the point where the chamber opening will be deformed which will make it difficult to chamber a round. This is not just for revolvers but nearly all rimfire guns.
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Old October 7, 2007, 08:12 AM   #5
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SO save a few fired cases and use them as dummies for dry firing. One part of the rim will eventually get beat down so rotate them. I have seen dry fire caps for 22 made from plastic, but I can't imagine they would stand up to much use.
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Old October 7, 2007, 09:54 AM   #6
werewolf
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I never had a .22 revolver before. I didn't know that you weren't supposed to dry fire them. I just bought a S & W 617 and I dry fired it about 150 times. Am I likely to have damaged it? How can I tell? I haven't shot it yet.
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Old October 7, 2007, 10:00 AM   #7
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Look at the chamber edges for evidence of pin impacts.

Also, open the cylinder. Hold the release rearwards so that you can pull the trigger. Look at the breachface to see if the tip of the firing pin still prodrudes enough to impact the cartridge.
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Old October 7, 2007, 10:06 AM   #8
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Looks OK to me. I don't think it's damaged. I'll find out when I shoot it. I don't understand why the pin would hit the edge of the chamber unless it was misaligned in the first place.
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Old October 7, 2007, 10:39 AM   #9
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Dumb question-- is it bad to dry fire ALL brands of .22 revolvers? I remember a S&W manual said not to, but I can't remember that the manual for my Ruger Single Six did. I don't dry fire it anyway, to be safe, but I've wondered.
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Old October 7, 2007, 10:42 AM   #10
KurtC
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When you have a moving part striking within a few thousands of an inch of another moving part, there is little margin for error. It doesn't always cause damage, but even the slightest variance in tolerances "could" cause damage. It is not a defect, just the nature of the beast.

It is a good idea in any firearm to use snap caps when dry firing. It eliminates any possibility of metal striking metal.
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Old October 7, 2007, 11:06 AM   #11
werewolf
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Thanks, Kurt. Can you put expended shells in the cylinder and dry fire a .22 safely then? They included one expended shell with my new gun, in a little envelope. I didn't know what it was for. I thought it was a test fire they did.
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Old October 7, 2007, 04:52 PM   #12
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Werewolf, that expended cartridge is a 'test shot' of sorts. The manufacturer packaged one with your gun and sent another just like it to a national database. They're samples, made to match against specimens recovered from crime scenes. You're not legally required to keep yours. I keep mine seperately from the gun with the bill of sale, in case the gun is ever stolen and I want to actively cooperate with law enforcement.

I've found that spent cartridges' shapes are often distorted, either by firing or handling. Sometimes they don't fit back into a chamber after they've been ejected. Sometimes they've jammed pretty good when I've tried to put them back in.

My advice is, don't fool with spent cartridges. A few bux for set of plastic snap caps is cheap insurance; the set I own has held up to a couple years of use. As a matter of courtesy don't dry fire anyone else's gun, of any caliber, without asking permission. If he says no, don't do it. When I'm shopping I'll take my snap caps along and offer to use them when I dry fire a gun.

Ruger says you can safely dry fire their .22 pistols all you like, because they've designed a firing pin stop into their bolt. The firing pin should never hit metal. I think other modern .22 pistols have similar features. I can't say about revolvers. Again, a set of snap caps is cheap insurance.
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Last edited by zippyfusenet; October 7, 2007 at 04:53 PM. Reason: typo
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Old October 7, 2007, 10:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
How can I tell?
Usually you can look at the chamber edges and see the peening. If the peening is very bad, the rounds won't chamber.
Quote:
I don't understand why the pin would hit the edge of the chamber unless it was misaligned in the first place.
It's a RIMfire gun, NOT a centerfire gun. The firing pin on a rimfire gun is aligned to strike the RIM of the cartridge.
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Old October 7, 2007, 10:48 PM   #14
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My very old Winchester Model 37 .22 rifle has a relief cutout so the pin will never hit metal with no round in the chamber. I think many (or most) .22's have this same feature.

BTW, the above mentioned Winchester was made in 1928. I have been shooting it since 1948, including dry firing many times. Ok so far.
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Old October 8, 2007, 02:01 AM   #15
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Call me whatever you want, but if a person is so bereft of understanding the difference between a rimfire and a centerfire they have no buisness pulling any trigger. Put the gun down and get education.
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Old October 8, 2007, 02:11 AM   #16
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In all of my 22 revolvers (and I'm guessing a lot of other modern 22s), the firing pin comes just shy of hitting the chamber's edge. It's easy to tell because dry-firing doesn't knock the carbon out of that area (Ah the joy of stainless, some day I'll clean those guns). So in this, case the tip of the firing pin is hitting nothing but air during dry-firing (seems okay). However (behind the scenes), the hammer hits the transfer bar, the transfer bar hits the firing pin (no transfer bar in S&Ws so hammer hits firing pin) and some part of the firing pin hits the frame or a bushing. All of this comes together very fast with a good force. This slowly work-hardens all of the steel components that make contact. This happens in both center and rimfire handguns. The snap cap, brass rim of a 22 LR or primer in a centerfire compress (hence the dent) when the firing pin hits them. This provides sort of a shock absorber effect as all of the steel components come together. Therefor work-hardening occurs at a somewhat lower rate. Typically this occurs in insignificant amounts, but it adds up over time.

In some revolvers, the hammer (or top of hammer as in a Ruger) comes to rest against the frame leaving just enough slack in the firing pin line that nothing is damaged. Most of the work hardening occurs where the hammer hits the frame.

Although their manual may say not too, I've heard that a S&W engineer had said you could dry-fire their guns (or maybe just revolvers) until the cows come home. And I tend to believe it. I've seen other posts say they heard the opposite from S&W. Maybe it just depends on who answers the phone at S&W. I have had the bushing around the firing pin on S&W 686 loosen or move and cause problems. From dry-firing or heavy 357 loads? I don't know. But S&W fixed it at no charge. And the peening on the frame of Ruger SP101 from the hammer is purely cosmetic.

Am I advocating dry-firing a rimfire firearm? No, and I get sort of a guilty feeling when I do it. But, I'm not too concerned when I do it on my S&W rimfire revolvers. However, I really don't like doing it on anything else that I have. I only do it on my Ruger Mark II to relieve spring tension (don't like storing anything cocked).

If you're going to do it, consider the manufactures recommendations and the value of the gun versus how much any peening marks might depreciate it.

This is just an engineers opinion.
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Old October 8, 2007, 03:06 AM   #17
werewolf
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"the firing pin comes just shy of hitting the chamber's edge"

That's what I thought.

"Although their manual may say not too, I've heard that a S&W engineer had said you could dry-fire their guns (or maybe just revolvers) until the cows come home. And I tend to believe it. I've seen other posts say they heard the opposite from S&W. Maybe it just depends on who answers the phone at S&W."

I remember getting contradictory info from S & W on a completely different subject years ago, namely whether or not it was OK to use .38+P in an aluminum frame revolver for emergency use - like duty use - only, as opposed to practice shooting. One S&W guy said "don't even put +P's in the same room with your Airweight!", the other said, "Sure, no problema."

Anyway, thanks for the info, guys. I won't dry fire my new .22 any more, and I'll let you know if it still works OK when I get to the range. If it doesn't, I'll send it back to S & W and deny everything! But seriously, if it was that delicate and critical I think there should have been a prominent warning accompanying the new gun, but there wasn't.
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Old October 8, 2007, 12:10 PM   #18
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I don't think it's really that delicate and critical. Over the long haul (not sure how long that would be) it might fatigue something, most likely the firing pin. You probably didn't do anything functional damage to your S&W 617. Definitely beware of dry firing older guns. I once (30 years ago) had a Browning Challenger (.22 LR) that seemed to have rather soft metal. It deformed rather easily.

Anyway enjoy your S&W 617. I used to have one. It was a nice gun and I wish I still had it.
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Old October 8, 2007, 12:15 PM   #19
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I've dry fired my Ruger MKII more times then i can remember, never a problem ... but maybe i should stop
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Old October 8, 2007, 03:04 PM   #20
Tom2
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Lot of obsolete or antique guns with simple mechanisms will allow the firing pin to impact the edge of the chamber. I had an old Remington single shot rifle that had been dry fired enough to peen the edge of the chamber slightly, but not too excessively, I fixed the edge of the chamber with a needle file so a round would chamber easily. Guess it depends on the design. Heck, I would think that if the hammer nose stops short of hitting the rear of the cylinder, then it may not be any worse than dry firing a centerfire without a dummy. But to have the nose of the firing pin come close enough to the chamber or cylinder to reliably fire the rimfire but not hit bare metal on an empty, requires close tolerances and perhaps some inexpensive designs just did not have that much precision in the tolerances.
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Old October 8, 2007, 08:00 PM   #21
werewolf
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Here's what S&W has to say:



FAQ


Q: Can I dry fire my Smith & Wesson?

A: Yes, except for the .22 caliber pistols which includes models 22A, 22S, 422, 2206, 2214, 2213 and 41.

.22 caliber revolvers such as models 17, 43, 63, 317 and 617 also should not be dry fired.

Q: Why can't I dry fire my .22 pistol or revolver?

A: Dry firing a S&W .22 pistol or revolver will cause damage to the firing pin.

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/w...tionId=10504#1
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Old October 8, 2007, 08:06 PM   #22
werewolf
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Also found this on "Yahoo Answers":



"Is it okay to dry fire your gun?
I just bought a Ruger 10/22.

How bad is it to dry fire the gun? anything good about it at all?"



http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...4182114AA8nFeE
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Old October 8, 2007, 08:12 PM   #23
brickeyee
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Most of the ruger semi autos have a firing pin stop that prevents chamber damage.
In a 10/22 it is the cross pin in the breech block that holds the pin in position.

In rimfire weapons without a firing pin stop you can damage both the pin and the chamber.
It happens enough there are tools available to try and swage the metal back instead of just removing it.
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Old October 8, 2007, 08:16 PM   #24
werewolf
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Brick - So are Ruger .22 revolvers safe to dry fire, too? Zippy and 357Plan said they are.
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Old October 8, 2007, 10:08 PM   #25
walter in florida
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22RF dry Fire, I say no

I bought a used 22RF that was dry fired one too many times. It was the only cheap 22RF I could find (H&R,622) at the time. It had dents in all the chambers and hammer was messed up so bad that I had to replace the hammer. I was lucky to find a like new hammer for 10.00 on Ebay. I got three 22RF revolvers and I do not dry fire any of them, I heard the Ruger can be dry fired, but I do not know.
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