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Old September 4, 2008, 01:35 AM   #1
Driveout02
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Dry Firing Center-Fire Rifles

I've heard that dry firing guns is just a bad habit in general, but is it not true that it's bad for rimfire, but not so much center-fire? Would dry firing a high powered rifle (i.e. .270, .30-06, etc.) harm the firing pin?
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Old September 4, 2008, 01:46 AM   #2
JohnKSa
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Nearly any modern centerfire that is good quality can be dry-fired without fear of damage.

However, rimfires (unless equipped with a firing pin stop) will typically peen the chamber edge if they are dry-fired.

There are exceptions, it's wise to consult your manual or the manufacturer.

Ok, my personal opinion on dry-firing in general.

Assuming that your manufacturer/manual gives you the green light to dry-fire, then you should be aware that there's dry-firing and then again there's dry-firing.

If you want to dry-fire 10 or 20 times before hunting season or maybe practice for a few minutes the night before the range trip then don't worry about it. Go ahead and dry-fire away.

If you intend to snap the gun a hundred times a night, every night, as part of a dedicated practice program then it would probably be wise to invest in some snap caps. They cushion the drop of the firing pin in the same manner that the primer of a fired round does and eliminate the stresses associated with dry-firing.
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Old September 4, 2008, 04:42 AM   #3
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I think dry firing is a really good idea. It gives you an opportunity to practice your technique without going to a range or even buying ammo. Being able to pull the trigger without a shot going off, you can really concentrate on your front sight, or crosshairs and see if you are staying on target. This is a very effective learning tool. I regularly practice by dry firing my AR, and I say practice, because I include firing position and use of a sling, not just pulling the trigger.
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Old September 4, 2008, 09:05 AM   #4
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I have been told by very experienced, veteran shooters that dry firing centerfires is not a problem. I agree with the previous poster though, if you are going to dry fire a lot, the snap caps wouldn't be a bad idea.
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Old September 4, 2008, 11:50 AM   #5
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I suppose if it were a very expensive rifle like a trap or target rifle then I would want some snap caps. My dad has a BT-100 single trap gun and the trigger actually comes out and you can release the hammer and clean/oil the moving parts so no snap caps required.
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Old September 4, 2008, 11:59 AM   #6
johnwilliamson062
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+1 JohnKSA
I have asked a number of gunsmiths this question, and they have all told me dryfiring is really not much of a concern. What the response I usually get is something like "do youknow how hard it is on all those components to fire with a cartridge in? 50,000 PSI, punching through the brass, etc. How could it possibly damage the rifle to eliminate those things?"
Of course if you are talking about doing it 100 times a night (almost 40,000 times a year), you are going to see some wear.
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Old September 4, 2008, 12:21 PM   #7
petru
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I have been collecting and shooting rifles for over 50 years and I could write a book on how much damage dry firing does to most if not all firearms. The cheaper the gun the quicker the damage sets in.

I have in my possession a high grade Mauser 98 rifle with double set triggers and in the rifles past the first thing a person wanted to due is dry fire such a gun. The firing pin safety shoulders are peened because of the dry firing that took place in the past by people who thought no damage would take place.

When your hear a firing pin slam forward in the bolt it is jammed forward under tremendous spring pressure and something must stop the forward motion. The firing pin when it slams to a stop inside the bolt rather than being cushion by the live primer of a loaded round simply sustains repeated damage over time. Just a little at a time assuming the firing pin does not break right away, which it will over time as the metal crystallizes.

It must be remembered that much of the steel that went into firearms in the past and in the present is not often as hard as people think. It does not take much abuse to get wear to set in.

I have seen pistol firing pin plates cracked in two because of dry firing.

I have seen pistol slides cracked at the rear end because of dry firing.

I have seen pistol slides mushroom out on cheaper automatics from dry firing.

I have seen firing pin holes enlarged because of dry firing.

I have seen numerous firearms break their strikers because of dry firing.

The cure is simple but human beings being what they are they will not even consider buying even a cheap set of snap caps and if the do have them they never get them out and use them.

I have also made simple snap caps for rifles cartridges simply by drilling out an empty case and tapping it and putting in a nylon screw. The screw is put in from the mouth of the cartridge case and turned in with a long screwdriver. When the end of the nylon bolt gets chewed up (it takes a lot of dry firing to do this) simply turn the screw in some more and file the end flat against the head of the cartridge case.

I have never ceased to be amazed that people by watching the Hollywood movies really believe guns are indestructible. The amount of abuse I have seen over the last 50 years would easily fill volumes of print but it would be to painful a book for me ever to consider writing.

With the bulk of the population in the U.S. now working behind computers most people have totally lost their mechanical knowledge of how machines work and wear so gun abuse is now worse than it ever was in the past. In the past the person that abused guns usually knew he was doing it but just did not care. Today sadly people are not even aware of the wear and tear they put on their guns.

You would not believe the amount of guns I have looked at “in the field” that never had even a drop of oil on them to lube them or protect them and never mind any grease put on extreme pressure points, in this day and age its almost unheard of.
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Old September 4, 2008, 12:59 PM   #8
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.SERIOUS ACCIDENTS THAT HAVE HAPPEND BECAUSE OF DRY FIRING: HERE ARE JUST A FEW:/

1. A buddy of mine liked to dry fire his military FN/ABL rifle, a rifle noted for being very well made and very rugged. He claimed it was un-breakable until he unknowingly broke the firing pin (early 1 piece firing pins were noted for this in this rifle). The broken tip had wedged itself in the firing pin hole (the pin was of the tapered type which made it all the worse). When he loaded the gun with a full magazine and let the bolt ram forward the gun unexpectedly went full auto and emptied itself nearly blowing off his foot.

2. The very famous Gun Writer Jack O'Connor who was noted for not being very mechanically inclined like to dry fire his guns too. A 1903 Springfield sporter he had broken its firing pin as well (this gun is also known for breaking firing pins). When he slammed the bolt forward the gun fired out of battery and the bolt came back so fast that it almost severed his thumb.

It must be remembered that many, many firing pins in bolt guns are tapered and when the stop shoulders of the firing pin become worn and peened the firing pin then starts to jam itself into the firing pin hole every time you dry fire it. This will eventually crystallize the pin and it will break off and jam itself into the firing pin hole which sets you up for a serious disaster.

Again firearms are machines, nothing more, they are not indestructible, and if you take good care of them many can last for decades. Abuse them and they can cause you serious problems.

IN CLOSING I MUST WARN THE DEAR READER ANY GUNSMITH THAT TELLS YOU DRY FIRING WILL NOT HURT A FIREARM IS A GUNSMITH I PERSONALLY WOULD NEVER TRUST TO WORK ON ANY OF MY FIREARMS.

As a matter of fact down through the years, when I was a very young man, I had so many "so called gunsmiths" screw up my guns that it forced me to start to learn how to repair and modify them myself.

As a matter of fact just last year I had a walther ppk pistol re-blued by a guy in Minverva, Ohio. I am sure if you are from this area you know who I am talking about. I had to stand there and listen to this guy tell me that he was every bit of the "8th wonder of the world" when it came to working on and re-bluing guns. He ended up busting the cocking piece on the Walther (which the manual states should not be taken out of the gun anyway) and his blue job was far from the quality job I hand expected (he loves to grind on them with sand paper). The gun had so little blue wear on it that if he had just degreased it and dipped it he would have saved himself a lot of work and time and he would have never had to bust the cocking piece either has he said he had to remove it to grind on the gun when he refinished it.

Now you know why I place such little faith in anything many gunsmiths tell me.
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Old September 4, 2008, 03:12 PM   #9
jmr40
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Dry firing will cause no harm to most modern centerfires. There are exceptions and you need to check the owners manual or the manufacturer. The Kel-Tec pistols are one exception I am aware of. Ruger p345's can be damaged while dry firing with no magazine in the gun, but Ruger actually encourages dry fire in their owners manual to provide cheap practice. It is not reccomended in any double barreled shot gun that I am aware of as well as many of the older guns.

I have guns that have been dry fired tens of thousands of times with no problems. If I break a firing pin tomorrow I figure it would have broken at the same round count or sooner if live fired as many times. I could never have afforded that much ammo and my skill level is much better because of it.
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Old September 4, 2008, 03:20 PM   #10
Oli
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Exactly. If a firing pin is meant to break, it will break, whether or not the gun is dry fired.
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Old September 4, 2008, 05:48 PM   #11
johnwilliamson062
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Quote:
I have guns that have been dry fired tens of thousands of times with no problems. If I break a firing pin tomorrow I figure it would have broken at the same round count or sooner if live fired as many times. I could never have afforded that much ammo and my skill level is much better because of it.
Exactly. Smart man, that guy.
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Old September 4, 2008, 06:21 PM   #12
AK103K
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I've dry fired many rifles and handguns over 45+ years and in all that time, I only ever broke one firing pin on a heavily dry fired M1A I used to shoot matches with.

I normally do use a snap cap in just about everything these days. The only ones I've ever had troubles with have been the old red plastic type in 308. They never wanted to chamber in any of my 308's and I went to A Zoom as soon as they came out. They work flawlessly, and last a lot longer too.
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Old September 5, 2008, 01:23 PM   #13
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I'm curious - when and where are you all doing all this dry firing? At the range? In your backyard or garage? If it's the latter, what happened to the philosophy of treating every gun as though it were loaded, and never point at what you do not wish to actually shoot?
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Old September 5, 2008, 01:37 PM   #14
petru
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Exactly. If a firing pin is meant to break, it will break, whether or not the gun is dry fired.
If one looks at various firing pins most if not all are cushioned by stricking the primer. Dry fire a gun and the pin slams into the inside of the bolt. Some pins have shoulders and some simply are tapered which lets them slam into the firing pin hole which eventually elongates it.

If the shoulders that stop a pin become too beat up this lets the pin stick in the firing pin hole which promotes crystalization and breakage and the enlargement of the firing pin hole which can lead to primer flow back and piercing.

Also when a pin sticks in the firing pin hole it does not have to break off to let it stay there as on some models like the FN/ABL rifle it may cause the gun to go full auto even if the pin is not broken but just stuck in the elongated firing pin hole. '


On bolt guns its even worse as the gun may fire before the bolt is locked resulting in a catastrophic blow up and the bolt rocketing back with such force that if the bolt stop fails the bolt can be propelled back into the shooter causing serious injury and or death.
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Old September 5, 2008, 01:52 PM   #15
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"what happened to the philosophy of treating every gun as though it were loaded, and never point at what you do not wish to actually shoot?"

Good point. I always have assumed that implicit in the rule is a statement to the effect that the gun is loaded *until you personally have determined that it is not*. Otherwise, how could you ever look down the barrel to see if your cleaning job is done, etc.

That said, when dry-firing, it is wise to make certain that no live ammo is anywhere nearby, and I still would point the gun in a direction that at least no harm would come to living things if the unthinkable happened.

Tim
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Old September 5, 2008, 02:52 PM   #16
Oli
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Ok Petru, it makes sense.
I'm not advocating dry firing on a regular basis, but to get an idea of the trigger feel. More than that a snap cap is the way to go...

I just checked my wingmaster closely and the pin is cushioned by the firing pin retractor spring. So am I right thinking that on this particular gun there wouldn't be any damage by dry firing it ?

It's hard to tell on my m14...
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Old September 5, 2008, 04:25 PM   #17
johnwilliamson062
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Quote:
I'm curious - when and where are you all doing all this dry firing? At the range? In your backyard or garage? If it's the latter, what happened to the philosophy of treating every gun as though it were loaded, and never point at what you do not wish to actually shoot?
1. A refrigerator in my basement
2. A basement wall. I don't dry fire much, usually only a few shots after cleaning to make sure everything is moving smooth.
3. Since I disassembled the firearm just minutes before, and do not clean in the vicinity of ammunition, I am also fairly certain it is unloaded. I always point at something I can't shoot through anyways.
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Old September 5, 2008, 05:13 PM   #18
AK103K
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I dry fire all over the house. Rifles, handguns, everything. Pop in a snap cap and have at it.

I fully understand the safety rules and for the most part follow them closely. I dont get silly or overly anal about them though. If your reasonably competent and paying attention, you'll have no troubles. I think some people get a little carried away with things, and some like to be the PC police and chastise you over every perceived infraction.
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Old September 5, 2008, 05:26 PM   #19
Brad Clodfelter
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Quote:
Nearly any modern centerfire that is good quality can be dry-fired without fear of damage.

However, rimfires (unless equipped with a firing pin stop) will typically peen the chamber edge if they are dry-fired.

There are exceptions, it's wise to consult your manual or the manufacturer.

Ok, my personal opinion on dry-firing in general.

Assuming that your manufacturer/manual gives you the green light to dry-fire, then you should be aware that there's dry-firing and then again there's dry-firing.

If you want to dry-fire 10 or 20 times before hunting season or maybe practice for a few minutes the night before the range trip then don't worry about it. Go ahead and dry-fire away.

If you intend to snap the gun a hundred times a night, every night, as part of a dedicated practice program then it would probably be wise to invest in some snap caps. They cushion the drop of the firing pin in the same manner that the primer of a fired round does and eliminate the stresses associated with dry-firing.
John,

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Excellent info.

Brad
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Old September 5, 2008, 08:11 PM   #20
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To all you guys who like to dry fire. Its your rifle and your responsibility. Look to me for no sympathty when something goes downhill. I use snap caps for all that I own. They are easy enough to make, just need a spent round to make them from.
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Old September 5, 2008, 09:47 PM   #21
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I personally don’t think that dry firing would Corse any damage, but I do dry fire with a spent round of that caliber just in case
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Old September 6, 2008, 12:31 AM   #22
T. O'Heir
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"...how much damage dry firing does to most if not all firearms..." Absolute and total rubbish. Dry firing a centre fire(and only a centre fire) damages nothing. Dry firing has long, very long, been a training technique for practicing and teaching sight picture and trigger control.
"...It's hard to tell on my M14..." Unless you have a class 3 rifle, you don't have an M14. In any case, the U.S. military used dry firing as part of the training. Dry firing an M1A won't hurt it either. With or without snap caps.
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Old September 6, 2008, 02:23 AM   #23
petru
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Quote:
I just checked my wingmaster closely and the pin is cushioned by the firing pin retractor spring. So am I right thinking that on this particular gun there wouldn't be any damage by dry firing it
It all depends how much you dry fire it. I can bend a little and agree with one of the above posters who said if you dry fire only a couple of times or once in a great while you probably won't break anything but doing a lot of dry firing demands snap caps as I have yet to see any gun that will not eventually sustain damage from excesss dry firing.
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Old September 6, 2008, 04:21 AM   #24
Brad Clodfelter
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Some guys like to use snap caps or empty cases. I myself have just dry fired without. I don't do it all the time, but I have yet to damage any of my guns doing so. I
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Old September 6, 2008, 08:36 AM   #25
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at the risk of sounding like a broken momma record

Don't forget...all guns are loaded until you remove all rounds and clear the chamber.

An acquaintance of mine put a hole in his foot during a dry fire exercise several years ago. Several rules were broken, but it all started with rule #1.

now returning to your regularly scheduled programming...
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