View Full Version : Dry firing a shotgun?

February 4, 2008, 02:36 PM
Is it safe to dry fire shotguns?


February 4, 2008, 03:06 PM
I don't have a specific all-encompassing answer to your question, but my Mossberg 930 owners manual specifically tells you to dry-fire it a few times after field stripping and reassembling to ensure that the safety and trigger are functioning properly.

February 4, 2008, 03:40 PM
Most pumps can handle at least limited amounts of dryfiring.
Side by sides and over-unders are a different matter. Without going into a model by model & action type by action type breakdown, I'd make the broad statement that the firing pins are totally different in general and you risk very real damage to the pins & potentially other small parts by dryfiring them.
How much and how soon varies, but if you keep it up it'll catch up with you sooner or later.

Snap caps can reduce the danger, and I'd recommend them in closing the actions after cleaning or shooting the guns when they're set aside for a while between shooting sessions. Leaving the pins/strikers/hammers compressed/cocked is not recommended for long term storage, and if you pull the triggers on empty chambers you risk damage.

February 4, 2008, 04:05 PM
There can be problems dry firing the old model 12 winchester's. I was told that by more than 2 dealers at a gun show.

On hinge action guns like the OU there have been instances where, upon loading, the gun isn't hinged far enough to reset the firing pins and upon closing the action it can discharge. This can happen at any loading, but if the gun is stored in the fired condition, the next one to use it may have the problem. I am referring mostly to youngsters, that aren't expecting the resistance in opening, and don't need the action hinged completely open to insert the load.

February 4, 2008, 04:45 PM
Yes, you can dry fire it but I would recommend using a snap-cap.

I don't store any of my shotguns with the firing pins cocked.

February 5, 2008, 11:40 AM
The dept. I work for we use Rem 870's. These get dry fired a lot. As we load them in cursier safe mode. In all the years that the dept. has done this I don't think we have ever broken a firing pin due to dry fire.

J F Cooper
February 6, 2008, 07:48 AM
I can only speak for SxSs, and they shouldn't be dry fired. There really is no need to dry fire.. I think the story on springs "takng a set" is pure horse hockey, Some of mine have been stored 50 years with the hammers back and work fine.. Sort of like the old wives tale, that sun light fades Case Colors.. JFC

February 7, 2008, 11:14 PM
Just about any MODERN day firearm can be safely dry fired. The pins are free floating and it's not going to hurt a darn thing.

February 8, 2008, 01:43 AM
The firing pin setups on side by side shotguns are quite a bit different from those in bolt & auto shotguns, for example.
In a double you can easily damage pins, pin bushings, and pin holes in the breechface, depending on design, heat treatment, steel quality, and so on.
Your statement about "free floating" firing pins is also overly broad.
IT IS NOT ADVISABLE IN A DOUBLE any more than absolutely necessary.

February 8, 2008, 08:39 AM
Since there is conflicting advice on whether or not dry firing will damage the firing pin on various guns why not just buy, and use, snap caps. They're not expensive and are well worth the price if the prevent damage to your guns.

I use them with all my shotguns and handguns - 'just to make sure....'

February 8, 2008, 09:26 AM
No problems exist with firing "centerfire" weapons that are of "quality". If you have some ancient safe queen that you don't plan on taking in the woods it might be better not to do so as much. Usually though dry firing has more purpose with handguns than shotguns.

February 8, 2008, 01:42 PM
When in doubt, contact the manufacture and simply ask the question to one of their gunsmiths. But still the use of quailty snap caps is always a good idea.

February 8, 2008, 02:19 PM
Crud. I just got a SxS and I have been playing with the hammers and dry firing like nuts. Hope I didn't screw anything up.

All in all it was mostly my understanding that most centerfires are okay to dry fire where as most rimfires it is a no no.

February 8, 2008, 02:40 PM
You may have peened your firing pins and you may have damaged the bushings (if your shotgun has them).
If you have a Chinese hammergun, the risks may be greater.
Continual dry-firing may end up in stuck firing pins, or broken pins.
These things are totally different from pumps & semiautos, the side by side uses smaller & less robust pins, and they also vary with FPs either being spring-loaded strikers, mounted on internal "hammers" themselves, or struck by external hammers.
That's a simplistic view, just don't dry-fire a side by side with an empty chamber any more than you have to.
I use snap caps to release the FP spring tension on my doubles after cleaning them & putting them away till next time.
Some makes will endure more dry-firing than others, but it's best just to not do it.


February 8, 2008, 03:14 PM
Get some Pachmayr snap caps.

February 8, 2008, 03:37 PM
I have been a gunsmith for over 20 years. dry fire on a center fire is not going to harm a firearm, rimfire is a totally different animal, think about it.The worst thing people do is put a round in the chamber and slam the slide or bolt closed. think about how a firearm loads a cartridge from the magazine.the cartridge is desinged to slide into the knotch in the extractor. more harm is done to a firearm this way than by dryfireing

J F Cooper
February 8, 2008, 05:17 PM
I disagree where SxSs are concerned and I;m not i a camp by myself,, Try going to one of the better gunshows, pick up a nice double and dry fire it, you won;t do very many before someone climbs your frame...JFC

February 8, 2008, 09:29 PM
We're not talking about magazines & cartridges, or any other reciprocating or repeating action types. You are the first gunsmith I've ever heard in 35+ years of shooting who says it's OK to dryfire a side by side shotgun. With all due respect, it doesn't sound like you know much about the double-barreled guns.
I've had to have the internal hammers replaced on one shotgun that destroyed the attached firing pins by dryfiring.


J F Cooper
February 9, 2008, 06:51 AM
The term "Gunsmith" is a very broad and often misused word.. I have seen many that have only the ability to switch parts in an 870 or throw a barrel into a salt blue..And know nothing of the SxS shotgun.. GF may well be a gunsmith, but I wouldn't trust him with one of my SxSs, as from his statement, he knows little about them.. JFC