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View Full Version : Why not dry fire a Rimfire?


baddarryl
December 12, 2013, 11:37 PM
I have heard this, but why?

JohnKSa
December 12, 2013, 11:42 PM
If a rimfire does not have a firing pin stop of some sort, the firing pin will hit the edge of the chamber and cause peening damage since there's no shell rim to absorb the striking energy as there would be during the normal firing process.

The peening damage can progress to the point that a round can't be chambered due to the amount of metal that has been deformed into the chamber by the peening processing.

There are methods for remedying the damage, but if the damage has progressed too far, the repair may be more expensive than the value of the gun warrants.

Before dryfiring a rimfire, it's best to insure that the manufacturer indicates that the gun can be dryfired without fear of damage. This information is often in the owner's manual.

Because dryfiring can cause damage to some rimfires, it's safest to use the general rule that rimfires should not be dryfired unless you know for sure that the particular gun in question is an exception to the rule.

Bart B.
December 13, 2013, 10:08 AM
Keep a bag of once-fired rimfire cases. Use them in your chamber for dry firing. Each one will go 4 or 5 times if you index it so a non-struck point's aligned with the firing pin.

Pahoo
December 13, 2013, 10:24 AM
but why?
I can think of more reasons why one should not as opposed to why one should. There are many that are safe to dry-fire and the manual even states so. There are just as many that should not be dry-fired. With or without a manual or permission, I cannot keep track of so them, I do not without the aid of a Snap-Cap or spend case as Bart has mentioned. On a previous post, one of our members even listed plastic wall anchors as a workable snap cap. ..... ;)

Just me but even with the owner's permission, I seldom dry-fire. ..... ;)

Be Safe !!!

doofus47
December 13, 2013, 10:41 AM
JohnKSA is right. I dry fired my first biathlon rifle, a Marlin 2000, to practice and I ended up deforming the chamber just enough to make my life miserable. I couldn't tell from looking that anything was wrong, but I couldn't extract a spent shell to save my life. I replaced my extractor and my ammo.

My gunsmith cleared up the issue for me and told me to never do that again. Snap caps are cheaper than gunsmiths.

kutz
December 13, 2013, 11:31 AM
What about dry firing a Kimber conversion?

MTT TL
December 13, 2013, 12:18 PM
I saw a destroyed heritage revolver that had been fired repeatedly on all chambers. The preening was impressive to say the least.

What about dry firing a Kimber conversion?

For a 1911? No worries. The firing pin is set up very similiar to a regular 1911. The issue is when the pin/ hammer falls on to an unprotected chamber.

mcb66
December 13, 2013, 01:33 PM
You can't dry fire a MK1 Ruger. Apparently later models can handle it though.

WardenWolf
December 13, 2013, 01:44 PM
mcb66, not true. You can. Mark I, II, and III all use the exact same bolt and bolt parts, including the firing pin stop / return spring base that prevents it from impacting the chamber (the original Mark I manual shows that part going in upside down; it doesn't fit that way). I know way more about these guns than I would like to, thanks to having to troubleshoot my father's Mark I, which is now wearing a Mark III mainspring assembly, recoil spring assembly, and firing pin. Fitting those parts to a 1972 gun was fun, and required a bit of filing to both gun and parts to account for tolerance differences.

All modern rimfires that I know of can be safely dry fired. It is only the older ones that had a real problem. If you pick up an old classic, you should assume they shouldn't be dry fired.

mcb66
December 13, 2013, 01:47 PM
That's odd. When I sent my new to me used MK1 back to Ruger due to not firing they would not repair it. They said the damage was due to dry firing. They offered to replace the whole weapon at costs. I let them.

Spats McGee
December 13, 2013, 01:51 PM
You can't dry fire a MK1 Ruger. Apparently later models can handle it though.
That's interesting. I don't know whether it was the Mk1 or the Standard, but I know that some of the older ones: (a) had a 9-rd magazine; and (b) did not have a bolt hold-open feature. It was really easy to lose track of shots fired (9 is a strange number for a magazine) and accidentally dry-fire those.

WardenWolf
December 13, 2013, 01:54 PM
Well, my father's is technically a Standard and it has bolt hold open. I'm guessing earlier ones didn't, though.

Slopemeno
December 13, 2013, 03:51 PM
The Ruger semi-auto Mk-1, II's etc all have a pin that restrains the firing pin from hitting the edge of the chamber. Look in the exploded view- it's part number 37.

WardenWolf
December 13, 2013, 03:55 PM
Part #39, the return spring stop, does as well. Notice that in the old diagram it's upside down, like I mentioned in my earlier post. The part that bends goes into a groove on top the bolt.

Yeah, I know the Mark I too well. . . I'm glad my Mark III hasn't required me to take it apart yet.

I don't know why Ruger does this, but they will sell you the springs, just the springs, for the recoil spring assembly and mainspring housing. Even though those assemblies are peened or welded together and CANNOT be taken apart and reassembled to replace the spring. You have to buy the entire assembly if you need new springs.

Spats McGee
December 13, 2013, 04:00 PM
Well, thanks! That's good to know.

g.willikers
December 13, 2013, 04:32 PM
It's kind of hard to avoid dry firing an empty semi auto, sometimes.
Especially if there's no hold open after the last round is fired.
Or, quite often, if there is one but it doesn't always work.
If dry firing on an empty chamber isn't a regular thing, any damage to the opening to the chamber can usually be dressed with a small round file.

CTS
December 13, 2013, 04:41 PM
The bolt hold open on a Mark I or standard is the safety. It does not lock open on an empty mag but you can pull it to the rear and lock it. That was one of the big selling points of the MKII was that it locked open on an empty mag. The very early models did not have a firing pin stop and this must be the one they would not service. That was only a few years before they installed the firing pin stop. Some of the Mark I's if using the Mark II 10 round mag will lock on the mag but not all and it is just hanging on the follower, it wasn't intended to be that way.
As a matter of fact, step 1 in disassembling a MarkI or standard from the manual: Unload gun, remove magazine. Cock the bolt and snap the trigger to make sure the hammer has fallen. Verbatum.

southjk
December 13, 2013, 04:42 PM
All modern rimfires that I know of can be safely dry fired. It is only the older ones that had a real problem. If you pick up an old classic, you should assume they shouldn't be dry fired.

Forgive me if I don't take your word for it. It's very clear in the manual for my brand new M&P 22 to NOT dry-fire.

From page 24:
WARNING: NEVER DRY-FIRE YOUR PISTOL,
DAMAGE WILL RESULT.

tangolima
December 13, 2013, 06:45 PM
Rim fired guns with properly fitted firing pin, without excessive absolute protrusion, are safe to dry fire. There is no magic there.

-TL

Guv
December 13, 2013, 07:16 PM
Be careful if you dry fire a Buck Mark Browning. Some hit the chamber, some don't.

JohnKSa
December 13, 2013, 08:25 PM
If dry firing on an empty chamber isn't a regular thing, any damage to the opening to the chamber can usually be dressed with a small round file.It is true that this will address the issue, however it's generally better to use a specialized tool to swage the metal back into place rather than simply filing it away.All modern rimfires that I know of can be safely dry fired.It is true that modern rimfires are generally more likely to be safe to dryfire than vintage models, however it is not true that all modern rimfires are safe to dryfire.

It's best to consult the owner's manual or the manufacturer before dryfiring ANY rimfire, modern or not.Rim fired guns with properly fitted firing pin, without excessive absolute protrusion, are safe to dry fire.That's essentially saying that a rimfire designed to be safe to dryfire is safe to dryfire.

If the firing pin doesn't protrude far enough to reach the breechface then dryfiring it won't damage the breechface. If it does protrude far enough to reach the breechface (and many of them do by design) then it will damage the breechface.

Your assertion implies that any rimfire with a firing pin that protrudes sufficiently to reach the breechface does not have a "properly fitted firing pin". I suppose that, in one sense, there's merit to that view, however, in reality it doesn't change anything from a practical standpoint.

Some rimfires are safe to dryfire, some are not. The best way to figure out which is which is to contact the manufacturer or read the owner's manual.

Cowboy_mo
December 13, 2013, 09:27 PM
Don't know about the newer ones but I can tell you NOT to dry fire an older Marlin 39A unless you want the firing pin to break!

You can ask me how I know this if you want to:eek:

tangolima
December 14, 2013, 08:14 AM
Firing protrusion should be between 0.025" and 0.044". Measure the protrusion. Refit it if needed. Take it to a gunsmith or do it yourself. Why spend time being philosophical about it?

-TL

baddarryl
December 14, 2013, 12:27 PM
Thanks for the responses everyone. I checked my manuals (Marlin 795 and 981T, Browning Buckmark) and found no warnings not to do it, but for good measure going to avoid it as a practice.

JohnKSa
December 14, 2013, 01:38 PM
Firing protrusion should be between 0.025" and 0.044". Measure the protrusion. Refit it if needed. Take it to a gunsmith or do it yourself. Why spend time being philosophical about it?A couple of reasons I can think of off the top of my head.

1. If it were that simple, why wouldn't the manufacturers take those steps during the manufacture of the firearm? Firing pin protrusion (minimums and maximums) are commonly speced/controlled during the manufacture of centerfire firearms, so we know it's not a complicated problem to solve. But they often don't solve it in rimfires. Why? An answer to that question is critical to understanding whether or not it is prudent to refit the gun to control firing pin protrusion as a general remedy to prevent breechface damage from dryfiring rimfires.

2. Aside from the potential for breechface damage in a rimfire, dryfiring stresses other parts in the firearm. A manufacturer who designs and builds a rimfire, knowing in advance that they are going to recommend that it not be dryfired, has little incentive to reinforce the firearm to prevent damage due to the normal stresses of dryfiring. So refitting the firing pin to prevent breech damage may very well prevent breechface damage, but it doesn't address any of the other issues that can arise from dryfiring a design that was never intended to be dryfired.

My general advice would be that in the cases where a rimfire can practically/economically be refitted to control firing pin protrusion, it would be a reasonable precaution to take to prevent damage from accidental dryfiring, but shouldn't be viewed as a green flag by the owner to dryfire to his/her heart's content.

Panfisher
December 14, 2013, 03:27 PM
Many years ago in college our rifle team dry fired about as much a live firing. Anschutz 64's if I remember right, I suspect that if there was ever a rimfire rifle safe for dryfiring that was it. Those habits have been really hard for me to break, I dry fire most firearms I own to some extent or another. For some reason though firearms with external hammers I generally don't dryfire don't know why maybe just seems wrong to see the hammer falling knowing its empty.

SteelChickenShooter
December 14, 2013, 03:32 PM
Apart from reading the owner's manual only. Go to the manufacturer's website and see if they have a FAQ section. Sometimes I find answers there in case an item of interest was not covered in the manual. I've also had some good results when I asked a specific question via phone or email to a customer support line. So if your manual does not stipulate one way or the other on dry firing, check out these alternatives.

JohnKSa
December 14, 2013, 09:07 PM
Many years ago in college our rifle team dry fired about as much a live firing. Anschutz 64's if I remember right, I suspect that if there was ever a rimfire rifle safe for dryfiring that was it.Rifles specifically designed for traditional match target competition are very commonly designed to tolerate dryfiring because it is an important part of practice/training.

WardenWolf
December 14, 2013, 11:13 PM
Southjk, wow, I'd honestly call that a design flaw. There is NO excuse for that in any modern design. I can't believe S&W would design their .22 version of the M&P that way, particularly when all it takes is making the firing pin a little shorter to prevent it.

osbornk
December 15, 2013, 10:13 AM
Southjk, wow, I'd honestly call that a design flaw. There is NO excuse for that in any modern design. I can't believe S&W would design their .22 version of the M&P that way, particularly when all it takes is making the firing pin a little shorter to prevent it.

But how many rimfires are a modern design? Most of the new guns currently made were designed decades ago. Many people complain when changes are made and they search out used rather than buying new.

HKFan9
December 15, 2013, 11:59 AM
I don't know where people got the idea most modern rim-fires are safe to dry fire. The only one off the top of my head I know states it completely safe is the Ruger in the MK series.

I dry fire guns too but generally know its bad practice on a rim-fire, but I understand its hard for some people to take no for an answer... up until it costs them money, then they just complain and blame everyone else.

I ship and receive guns for warranty repair work all the time. Customers think because the gun has a warranty it will cover anything but generally they are rudely mistaken. I just had Ruger charge a customer $140 for a repair. Ruger is a great company to deal with up until you do something you weren't supposed to do. They don't have a written warranty technically so it is solely up to their evaluation if it will be covered, 97% of the time they will, but its people who don't listen or read the manuals that learn it the hard way.

You can't say its a design flaw of the handgun for the MFG to specifically state NOT to do something. How many of you go into your file options on your computer to "Safely Remove your Hardware" before simply pulling your thumb drive / camera cord / whatever other computer accessories you use? 99% of the time you will probably be fine, the person it happens to will learn a lesson the hard way, I used to work in tech support, I know.

CTS
December 16, 2013, 10:53 AM
10/22 also plainly states it is safe to dry fire.

SteelChickenShooter
December 16, 2013, 05:16 PM
I had an older 22 auto loader when I was a kid. I had a habit of pulling the trigger only to find out it was empty after a string of shots. No bang- just click.
After cleaning and cycling the bolt, I'd also pull the trigger because I thought it would relieve spring compression. One day the firing pin broke- I guess that's why. On some of my 22's now, after cleaning, I'll insert an empty case and pull the trigger on that.

Omaha-BeenGlockin
December 19, 2013, 11:12 AM
Basically(generally) if its not a Ruger---don't dry fire it.

Pahoo
December 19, 2013, 11:27 AM
I think the issue is, what your "mindset" might or should be. In my position or usage, mine is to generally to avoid it and when I do, provide for some mechanical protection. ..... ;)

At a recent gun show, I observed two fellas, perhaps in their 20's, come down a handgun line-up on a table and dry-fired at least a dozen guns as they walked along. I looked at the dealer who by now, was glaring at them and without me saying a word, he returned my glance and said; "I know" !!!
Even at that, the dealer did not say a word to them .... :confused:

Respect and;
Be Safe !!!

Wyosmith
December 19, 2013, 11:54 AM
OK, here is the "Gunsmiths answer":

Some of the 22 bolt actions were not designed correctly and their pins will strike the edge of the chamber and make a burr if there is no shell in that chamber. Same with ill designed break actions. Don't ever buy one of these.

With pumps and lever actions the design is VERY poor if the firing pin strikes the chamber. Good American made designs are set up so the pin has a stop shoulder on it so it cannot come that far forward. I have had to replace a few firing pins on marlins and Winchester 94/22s but they were damn few.

All well made 22 auto loaders are by design made to be dry-fired at least one time per magazine load.
Why?
Well---- most 22s DO NOT lock open on the last shot.
So when you are out shooting the gun goes "click" every time it runs out of ammo. Right?

Do some of them break firing pins?
Yes some do.
Is it because of "dry firing"?
No,not as a rule.

It’s because they are being used and used and used. Like most machines, gun will wear out and have parts break after enough time.

The real truth of the matter is simple.
MOST 22s are not made to the same standards of ruggedness as (for example) military arms. A few are, but most are not.

Most are light duty machines and that's too bad, in that for years our 22s got far more shots fired through them than out center fires ever did.

But the market demanded cheep guns and that what the companies gave us as a rule.

Some (like Ruger) did a good enough job that their 22s seldom break, but most others made cheep guns that will break after 1/4 to 1/2 million rounds. Some of the popular ones today will not go 50,000 rounds without things wearing out and breaking. I know, I fix them as part of my living. Not just firing pins either. Lifters, extraqctors, ejectors shell latches and feed pawls. I get to see them all.

So in a nut shell the answer is simple.
Guns are machines and the will break down and/or wear out someday. Some will break down after 3-5 generations of use and some will break down after only 3 years of use.

Buying a better gun is always a better idea than buying a flimsy gun. I do understand that money can be very hard to come up with, and a cheep gun that works today may be better than no gun at all.\

But if there is any way to get a better gun, you are ALWAYS ahead to buy the best you can get than you are to pay me (or other smiths) to fix it later, and then later again.
After a few “agains” you will have a gun so worn out that it’s not practical to fix it anymore, and at that point all you money is wasted.

If there is ANY WAY to buy a good gun, ALWAYS do so!

In a few years you’ll forget about that money being gone and the good guns will be working strong when your grand kids are raising kids of their own.

JohnKSa
December 19, 2013, 11:50 PM
All well made 22 auto loaders are by design made to be dry-fired at least one time per magazine load.
Why?
Well---- most 22s DO NOT lock open on the last shot.
So when you are out shooting the gun goes "click" every time it runs out of ammo. Right?Your basic reasoning is decent but clearly your argument doesn't support your premise.

Your argument is that MOST .22's don't lock open on the last shot and therefore ALL well made 22 auto loaders are made to be dryfired. Clearly many .22 semi-autos do lock open when empty and therefore the manufacturer wouldn't have to assume that the gun is going to be regularly dryfired.

You could support a premise that any well-made .22 that doesn't lock open when empty is made to be safely dryfired using that argument.

That said, I do have a basic problem with the idea that any well-made .22LR should be safe to dryfire.

Going back to your argument about semi-autos, couldn't we just as easily say that any semi-auto .22LR that doesn't lock open on the last shot isn't well-made? It's a relatively new thing (this thread is my introduction to that particular claim) to assert that the reason rimfires often can't be safely dryfired is because the ones that aren't, aren't well-made.

The whole issue here is that rimfires work very differently than centerfires.

1. Generally speaking, more firing pin energy is required to reliably set off a rimfire cartridge than a centerfire cartridge.
2. The rimfire firing pin must be aligned in such a manner that it is "aimed" at the chamber edge while a centerfire firing pin is aimed at nothing at all if there's no chambered cartridge.
3. The rim thickness of a .22LR is about 0.04"

So the firing pin has to come forward with more energy than a typical centerfire firing pin and must strike the rim of the rimfire cartridge in such a way as to pinch the rim between the firing pin and the chamber with sufficient force to deform the rim and crush the priming compound.

BUT, to be well-made (according to your general theory of rimfires) if there is no cartridge chambered, the firing must also be reliably stopped in less than 0.04" so that it doesn't touch the chamber, and whatever method is used to stop it must deal with the extra energy in such a way that neither the firing pin nor the arresting parts are significantly stressed.

All this has to happen in a gun that is generally smaller in size and that most people consider should cost less than a typical centerfire.

It's clearly a more stressing design problem than the centerfire situation. In other words, to be well-made, by your standards, the rimfire must actually be better made than a typical centerfire.

I understand what you're saying about bad designs and well-made, but I think it's overstating the issue somewhat. Sure, cheap rimfires are almost certainly not going to be safe to dryfire, but there are also good quality rimfires that aren't designed to tolerate dryfiring.

I don't think it's reasonable to impose that as a litmus test of what rimfires are well-made and which ones aren't.

James K
December 20, 2013, 12:20 AM
Interesting about not dry-firing the Ruger Mk I. I have a Ruger Mk I Bull Barrel that I have owned since the 1960's and have dry-fired it thousands of times, maybe tens of thousands of times, with no damage to the chamber or the firing pin.

As for firing pin protrusion, there is no fixed rule, since breech faces differ. Usually the breech is counterbored for the case head, and the firing pin is set up so it does not protrude beyond the counterbored area. In fact, it should not come even with the bolt face.

Still, if you want to be extra careful, use snap caps. If using an auto pistol or a rifle, where the gun cannot be cocked without having the snap cap come out, simply cut away that part of the rim of the snap cap where the extractor engages; that way the snap cap stays in the chamber as the action is worked.

Jim