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Old May 2, 2005, 02:41 AM   #1
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Dangers of Dry Firing?

Apart from the accidental discharges that could occur from dry firing a pistol, I tried to find some information about whether or not dry firing a pistol without a snap cap will cause structural harm and ruin the function of the pistol. So far, it's mixed: some say never do it without snap caps or you'll break the firing pin, others say it's totally fine.

Yes, I know it's probably safer to use snap caps because this forces you to check the chamber for a cartridge.

From what I gather, damage from dry firing seems to only damage rimfire firearms because the firing pin ends up smashing into some part in the breach. I don't own a rimfire, but I have a centerfire Keltec P11. So far as I can tell, dry firing without a snap cap in a centerfire pistol will result in the firing pin hitting nothing but air. Apart from weakening the firing pin spring, I don't see how that could actually damage the firing pin itself.

Thanks in advance for the info.
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Old May 2, 2005, 10:01 AM   #2
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What does the manual for your gun say?
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Old May 2, 2005, 10:06 AM   #3
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From what I understand, it depends on the design of the particular firearm. As you mentioned with rimfires, it is not recommended. Ruger brags about their single action models being able to be dry-fired forever w/o damage.

Firearms such as Colt's SA with a firing pin pinned on the hammer don't stand up well to dry firing, but guns with hammer firing pins that are a machined part of the hammer (one piece) do better. The shooting intructors I have dealt with recommended regular dry-fire practice w/ 1911 style weapons, so I'm guessing it's not a problem with them. At least I haven't had a problem yet.
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Old May 2, 2005, 02:50 PM   #4
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Thanks 20cows. And the manual for my gun says not to dry fire, but it doesn't say why, nonamesleft. The manual also says not to keep a round in the chamber, to only use clean factory ammunition, and to never cross fences or streams with it loaded.

These are, of course, safety recommendations so that the idiot who does these things can't sue the company when they hurt themselves. Keltec will just say "look right there, we told you not to do that". I'm wondering if the "do not dry fire" is a safety recommendation or if it actually causes damage to the pistol.
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Old May 2, 2005, 02:50 PM   #5
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In Ruger's manual for the DA Super Redhawk, it says that dry-fire will not damage the firing pin. I still use snap-caps for all my guns, but I wouldn't worry about dry-firing without them. Dang, snap-caps are 'SPENSIVE!
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Old May 2, 2005, 02:58 PM   #6
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For my Ruger P97 it doesn't say dry-firing will hurt it, or not hurt it.

The only thing I see in the owner's manual is where it states to be sure of your target and keep muzzle control "even when dry-firing"....

This to me means I can dry-fire w/out worry of damage....

I hate to assume
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Old May 2, 2005, 03:34 PM   #7
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modern rifles and shotguns are okay for it i believe, a lot of shotguns have it in the recommended checklist in confirming the safety's functionality.

in terms of handguns, unless the manufacturer guarantees dry-firing will not do damage, i try not to dry fire anything but striker-fired weapons. if my understanding is correct, striker guns have the pin mounted on a sort of spring suspension that prevents the striker from getting abused under extreme stress in the normal functioning of the weapon, hot or not.
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Old May 2, 2005, 04:06 PM   #8
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snap caps may be expensive, but when it comes to things like fire arms dont take any chances. especially if its your CCW. invest in some snap caps and have fun.
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Old May 2, 2005, 08:45 PM   #9
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We usually put an old cigarette butt in where the hammer falls, that gives everything an easier time, and if you forget it's there, it usually falls out when you rack the slide.
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Old May 2, 2005, 10:32 PM   #10
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There's dryfiring and there's dryfiring...

For some folks, dryfiring means checking the function after cleaning, or maybe snapping the trigger a couple of times at the range to check for flinching, or hauling out a firearm once in awhile to practice a bit--or maybe all of the above.

For some folks, dryfiring means 100 snaps or more a night, every night.

Most modern centerfire guns, and even a good number of modern rimfire guns are safe to dryfire (1st definition). There aren't many that will stand up to dryfiring (2nd definition) indefinitely. If your definition of dryfiring is definition 2, you're just the person they make snap caps for.
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Old May 3, 2005, 05:54 AM   #11
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Apart from the accidental discharges that could occur from dry firing a pistol,
You can't get accidental discharges from dry firing a pistol or other gun. If the gun discharges, it is not dry. It isn't accidental if it does discharge. That would be a negligent discharge.
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Old May 3, 2005, 10:28 PM   #12
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I always heard that Ruger revolvers were "indestructible", but after having broken two transfer bars in different guns, I no longer believe it.

Some guns, most notably Winchester and Marlin leverguns, have a very heavy hammer strike, and the firing pin slamming forward on an empty chamber can and will break the tip of the firing pin off. Cushioned by a primer or snap cap, they can last a lifetime. On an empty chamber, the inertia causes the tip to try to keep going, and sometimes they do just that.

I broke one in a Winchester using empty shells, but the primer gets mashed down within maybe 3 hits and does little or no good after that.

I've dry fired Smith & Wesson DA revolvers a lot over the years and have never broken anything, but recently I've heard of firing pins breaking in other peoples guns.

May be time to get some snap caps.
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Old May 12, 2005, 05:44 PM   #13
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I have a CZ-52 pistol and when i dry fired it the firing pin broke. I guess it just depends on your pistol.
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Old May 12, 2005, 08:31 PM   #14
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The CZ-52 pistol's firing pin will not stand up to dryfiring.
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Old May 12, 2005, 11:10 PM   #15
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Broke a firing pin on a Star dry firing

Broke a firing pin on a Star dry firing. Wouldn't risk it on a good shotgun. Don't sweat it on some other guns.
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Old May 12, 2005, 11:39 PM   #16
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Found in situations like this, it is always better to be safe than sorry. When in doubt its usually better to be cautious...use a snap cap, they are very inexpensive and easily obtained.
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Old May 13, 2005, 09:53 AM   #17
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Dry firing

With center fire guns the striking action on the firing pin propels the pin forward where it would normally strike a primer to retard its momentum. Without a primer or snap cap to cushion the stoppage the pin travels fully forward and the tip momentum reaches higher velocity and a sudden stop. The compression action of the primer would normally slow the primer and put it under compression stress rather than elongation stress. One reasonthe S&W hammers were always less susceptible to breaking pins was the pin being loosly held to the hammer with a rivet which allowed some stress energy to be absorbed by the floating and rotational action of the pin. When the pin is part of the hammer as with the older Colts the elongation stress is not dissipated with the rotational action. Hope I made that clearer than mud.

Of course with rimfire weapons the firing pin would strike the rim of the cylinder potentially peening the cylinder or either breaking or peening the firing pin.
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Old June 16, 2005, 03:14 AM   #18
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hey yo

I had a 22/22mag ruger revolver once and the intcruction booklet said that I could dry fire it all I wanted all it would do no harm. BS! you know being 15 and loving guns I would play with it all the time and I would dry fire it and one day it broke. the firing pin I mean. it barely touches the cylinder, but it touches it enough to brake it. this was a singlr six so if you have one, dont dry fire it without shells or something in it.
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Old June 16, 2005, 01:33 PM   #19
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Dry firing rimfire

As others have touched on, the firing pin of the centerfire lands in the middle of the chamber, which if it's empty, holds just air.

On the other hand, the firing pin of the rimfire lands on the edge of the cartridge, at the rim, which is supported by the cylinder. Dry-firing the rimfire can not only damage the firing pin, but it can damage the cylinder.

When I called up S&W to ask about dry firing my 617 (.22 rimfire revolver) empty - they said not a good idea.
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Old June 16, 2005, 03:15 PM   #20
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I think it really depends on the gun. You actually have to dry fire Glocks to take field strip them. I think that it is actually the firing pin that breaks as there is "over travel" when there is no primer to strike against. I guess you could liken it to doing a snap kick in the air versus actually kicking someone. The impact keeps your leg from extending fully and straining your knee joint.

Some guns can handle dry firing but I guess it is best to follow the manual for the guns you have.
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