Dry fire a revolver?


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colorado_handgunner
January 18, 2012, 07:32 PM
Just a question from a revolver noob. Is it ok to dry fire a revolver without snap caps? What do you all say? Thanks.

Sent from my Customized Thunderbolt

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bikemutt
January 18, 2012, 07:50 PM
I've been told by reliable sources that dry firing revolvers with hammer-mounted firing pins is a bad idea. I don't know about the newer designs.

Really though, considering the cost of gunsmith services and parts, or worse the outrageous cost to ship a handgun back to a manufacturer for repair, the point has become moot for me; snap caps are a bargain at twice the price.

Starter52
January 18, 2012, 08:05 PM
I've been dryfiring my centerfire revolvers for 30+ years. I avoid the MKIII Colts because I've been told this is harmful, but everything else is OK by me. No snap caps.

briansmithwins
January 18, 2012, 08:06 PM
Ruger revolvers I would dry fire with abandon. It's the best way to break them in.

I agree to keep the dry firing of hammer mounted firing pin revolvers to a minimum.

BSW

JFrame
January 18, 2012, 08:11 PM
I've been told by reliable sources that dry firing revolvers with hammer-mounted firing pins is a bad idea. I don't know about the newer designs.

Really though, considering the cost of gunsmith services and parts, or worse the outrageous cost to ship a handgun back to a manufacturer for repair, the point has become moot for me; snap caps are a bargain at twice the price.


I agree with bikemutt -- the $10-15 one would spend for any caliber of Snap-Caps is pretty incidental to the value they provide. And if you buy a six-pack of .38's, they can also be used with any .357. I have the A-Zoom Snap-Caps in .38, .357, and .45 Colt (I got the .357 to practice more realistic loading and function drills).

I've also heard of people making their own Snap-Caps with carved-down pencil erasers glued into brass casings where the primers would go...


.

Trad Archer
January 18, 2012, 09:40 PM
Manual on my Ruger GP100 says it's okay to dry fire.

BRE346
January 18, 2012, 09:52 PM
Dealers often have a plastic disc on the back of the cylinder for custmers to dry-fire into. I cut out one from a cereal box. Works fine.

rikman
January 18, 2012, 09:55 PM
I was told by a S&W gunsmith that dry firing is a great way for an action job. Hasn't hurt any of my wheel guns...

bikemutt
January 18, 2012, 10:16 PM
I was told by a S&W gunsmith that dry firing is a great way for an action job. Hasn't hurt any of my wheel guns...
Any mention of snap caps? That being the OP's question.

Bobson
January 18, 2012, 10:45 PM
I was under the impression that it's okay to dry-fire anything except rimfire rifles/handguns, but I'm no expert, and I'm not sure my source was either. Personally, I would pick up some snap caps just to be safe.

TennJed
January 18, 2012, 10:56 PM
Any mention of snap caps? That being the OP's question.
I may be wrong but isn't "dry firing" pulling the trigger without ammo or snap caps? (empty chamber)

TwoEyedJack
January 18, 2012, 11:22 PM
One of my buddies had one of those pot metal Jennings. He dry fired it and the firing pin shot out of the barrel. oops.

rikman
January 18, 2012, 11:29 PM
Bike mutt

The S&W smith never mentioned them. I also have a friend that's a smith their & he's never mentioned having to use them either.

Rikman


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iLikeOldgunsIlikeNewGuns
January 18, 2012, 11:30 PM
I wouldn't dry-fire a .22lr,

otherwise, first check the manual, and if there's any question, call the manufacturer. Most centerfire revolver's are ok to dry-fire, but as others have mentioned, you can't go wrong with the cost and use of snap-caps.

ArchAngelCD
January 19, 2012, 12:28 AM
While it's true you can dry fire most centerfire revolvers without snapcaps I feel that means firing the revolver a few times, not several hundred times. If you are practicing by dry firing your revolver I would use snapcaps. When I first started shooting revolvers I did a lot of dry firing, somewhere in the 500X range a night and I would not do that to any revolver without using snapcaps... That's just how I feel, no reason to abuse your revolver.

bikemutt
January 19, 2012, 12:35 AM
I may be wrong but isn't "dry firing" pulling the trigger without ammo or snap caps? (empty chamber)
Good point.

I suppose it should be three-state:

Live-fire (duh)
Dead-fire (non-live, ie: casings, snap caps, etc)
Dry-Fire (empty-chamber)

MrBorland
January 19, 2012, 07:47 AM
I was told by a S&W gunsmith that dry firing is a great way for an action job.

Lordy. I expect such malarky from a guy at a gun show, but from S&W? :eek: There are manifold benefits to dry fire, but it's no substitute for a good action job by a good gunsmith.

While it's true you can dry fire most centerfire revolvers without snapcaps I feel that means firing the revolver a few times, not several hundred times.

ArchangelCD makes a good point - that there's dry fire, and there's dry fire.

I have a 3" M65 with a hammer mounted firing pin, and the smoothest action right from the factory I've ever felt. I've dry fired it a number of times without snap caps, but I'd use snap caps for anything more.

OTOH, I have several thousand trigger pulls on my newer 686 (frame mounted firing pin) without the use of snap caps and no trouble to date. YMMV, of course. ;)

Drail
January 19, 2012, 08:55 AM
BRE346, those yellow discs are to show "unloaded and clear" when the cylinder is closed. They are NOT meant to be used for dry firing. Any revolver that suffers firing pin breakage from dry firing would have had the same thing happen if fired with loaded rounds. Firing pins break from poor fitting or misalignment or bad heat treating. In live fire the pin strikes the primer. In dry fire the hammer strikes the frame. Which part do you think is weaker and will break first? I have repaired and dry fired S&W revolvers with hammer mounted firing pins for 25 years and have NEVER seen one break because the owner dry fired the gun. The few that I did replace broke because they were improperly fitted when manufactured. If using snap caps makes you sleep better at night then use them. But you're not going to prevent a broken firing pin by doing so. If it's misaligned or too brittle it's going to break whether you dry fire or not. Attempting to do an "action job" by dry firing is about like washing a 747 with one Q tip. What actually happens is that your hand becomes stronger from cycling the action hundreds of times and it "feels" like it is much easier and lighter and smoother. It's not because the action was improved. It's because your hand got an action job.

Revolver218
January 19, 2012, 09:10 AM
I believe S&W doesn't have any problem with dry firing their handguns with one exception......they DO NOT recommend dry firing any .22 LR revolver. I have a Smith 63 and 617 and won't dry fire either of them. I also have snap caps for all others and wouldn't dry fire w/o them. Cheap insurance.

CraigC
January 19, 2012, 09:32 AM
Really though, considering the cost of gunsmith services and parts, or worse the outrageous cost to ship a handgun back to a manufacturer for repair, the point has become moot for me; snap caps are a bargain at twice the price.
What he said!

Drail
January 19, 2012, 09:57 AM
I think you're still missing the point that if your firing pin is going to break it is not because you did not use snap caps. If the pin has a defect either from fitting or was not hardened correctly it will break at some point whether firing live rounds or from dry firing. Using snap caps is not going to change that. :banghead: And Revolver 218 made a very good point, rimfire guns are in a completely different class. I don't recommend dry firing them with or without snap caps.

JFrame
January 19, 2012, 10:33 AM
I think you're still missing the point that if your firing pin is going to break it is not because you did not use snap caps. If the pin has a defect either from fitting or was not hardened correctly it will break at some point whether firing live rounds or from dry firing. Using snap caps is not going to change that. :banghead: And Revolver 218 made a very good point, rimfire guns are in a completely different class. I don't recommend dry firing them with or without snap caps.

Rimfires are uniquely different from centerfires in that, without a loaded round, the firing pin will strike the opposing chamber or cylinder. As such, a snap cap (or empty casing, with an undented portion of the rim at the striking point of the firing pin) WILL make a difference, because it will serve as the cushion between the opposing pieces of metal that are not intended to strike each other.

The only problem I've found with rimfire snap-caps is that, AFAIK, they don't make any that can take the beating of a centerfire snap-cap (e.g., A-Zoom). The rimfire snap-caps tend to get chewed up very quickly, necessitating regular replenishing (or, as I said, just using empty casings, and rotating the casings to expose a portion that is still un-dented).


.

iLikeOldgunsIlikeNewGuns
January 19, 2012, 12:04 PM
^^ I can testify that this last post is very true :)

X-Rap
January 19, 2012, 12:27 PM
I only dry fire guns with Milspec/TDP firing pins and hammers and only if I can meticulously clean them afterwords.:rolleyes:

Seriously, I won't dryfire a 22, the firing pin on some will ding the edge of the chamber causing FTF.
I am not aware of any modern cf revolvers or autos that I own that can't be dryfired and you will be a better shooter for it.
If snapcaps make you feel better then have at it, just remember if you buy a used gun from me or someone of my ilk you are getting one that has had the hammer dropped a few times.:evil:

Friendly, Don't Fire!
January 19, 2012, 12:34 PM
I have dry-fired a number of S&W revolvers I have owned over the years, that's how I smoothed out the double-action trigger! I have never had any problem dry firing S&W revolvers without snap caps or anything else for that matter.

bergmen
January 19, 2012, 02:23 PM
I believe S&W doesn't have any problem with dry firing their handguns with one exception......they DO NOT recommend dry firing any .22 LR revolver. I have a Smith 63 and 617 and won't dry fire either of them. I also have snap caps for all others and wouldn't dry fire w/o them. Cheap insurance.

I've never seen anything from S&W that mentions dry firing, whether it is okay or not. None of my owners manuals mention it at all. Do you have reference to any official statement from S&W that advises this?

Dan

SwampWolf
January 19, 2012, 02:41 PM
The manual for a Taurus revolver I have warns against dry-firing it. I find snap caps to be cheap enough that I use them when dry-firing any handgun-why take chances if you don't need to?

cleardiddion
January 19, 2012, 02:42 PM
The manual for a Taurus revolver I have warns against dry-firing it.

For which model does the manual say that? I flipped through mine for my 856 and I didn't catch anything about not dry-firing.

SwampWolf
January 19, 2012, 03:12 PM
Quote:
The manual for a Taurus revolver I have warns against dry-firing it.

For which model does the manual say that?

Model 415. Quoting from the Taurus manual: "Dry firing is bad for this gun, whether the hammer block is engaged or not."

just for fun
January 19, 2012, 03:25 PM
It's just in the past few years I found out that your not supposed to dry fire the older Smiths with the hammer mounted firing pin! After doing it over 30 yrs. I guess I'd better stop! Don't want to break anything at this point! Changing it out would be child's play. Finding one (since Smith sold all their NOS) would be the hard part!

Drail
January 19, 2012, 03:30 PM
That's probably because the hammer block in a Taurus is so cheeseball that dry firing probably WOULD damage the hammer block and then some fool would accidently shoot himself and sue Taurus. Seriously, I like Taurus revolvers. I worked in a shop that sold lots of them right alongside S&Ws that were outside of a lot of customer's spending range. We had very few of them returned as defective but the lockwork was kind of crudely made and used thinner stock for parts than a S&W. But for the money if you just want a self defense revolver they fill the bill. If you're wanting to take it to the range and blow 500 rounds through it every week then you will be extremely disappointed. I put them in the same category as Charter Arms. Just for fun, I am curious as to WHO told you that it's bad to dry fire a S&W with a hammer mounted firing pin? In those guns the firing pin does not strike anything if no cartridge is present. The hammer simply hits the frame and the pin doesn't touch anything.

Driftwood Johnson
January 19, 2012, 05:23 PM
Howdy

You know the old saying it's not the fall that hurts, it's the short stop at the end?

It's the same story with firing pins.

I used to work for a company that made tiny electronic components. We tested them for vibration. Vibration is expressed in Gs, the same way gravity is. One of the old engineers told me one day that when an object is dropped onto a hard floor, the deceleration (the opposite of acceleration) forces approach infinity. That's why stuff breaks when you drop it on the floor. But if the blow is cushioned by something, the deceleration is much more survivable. It is also true that the smaller the component, the more Gs it can take. Remember those pictures of the astronauts being tested at 10 Gs or so? Tiny mechanical components can survive Gs in the hundreds or even thousands. But they usually don't survive infinite Gs.


Let's look at a Colt firing pin for a moment.

When the hammer slams to a stop on the frame, it is like dropping it onto concrete. Deceleration is way up in the thousands of Gs. Sorry, it's a little bit out of focus, but see that little tiny tip at the end? When the hammer slams to a stop against the frame, the firing pin wants to keep right on going. The only thing holding it in place is the tiny rivet that runs through it. If there is any invisible crack or tiny irregularity, it is right at the base of that tiny section that the tip will want to break off and keep right on going. This is a 2nd Gen Colt, but modern 3rd Gen Colts have a similar firing pin. First Gen Colts had a much more robust conical firing pin, but that is besides the point.

If the firing pin strikes a live primer or a snap cap, the deceleration forces on the tip of the pin get reduced dramatically. The tip is actually cushioned by the primer as it gets dented, slowing the firing pin down. For this reason, I never dry fire anything with a firing pin shaped like this unless there is something underneath, like a live primer or a snap cap to cushion it. Nope, spent primers in spent brass is no good. Within a few strikes, the primer takes on the shape of the firing pin tip and completely loses its ability to cushion the tip of the firing pin.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/firing%20pins/2ndgencoltfiringpin.jpg




I don't drop the hammer with firing pins that look like this without something under the hammer for the same reason. That one in front is a little bit over 100 years old and I don't want to find out how much stress it can take. True, it is simple to replace a firing pin like this, but why take the risk?

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/firing%20pins/Smithfiringpins.jpg



I would never dream of dropping this hammer onto an empty chamber. That hammer is 130 years old, and the firing pin is integral to the hammer. If it breaks, there are no more replacement parts.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v495/Driftwood_Johnson/firing%20pins/newmodelnumberthreefiringpin.jpg

Rugers firing pins are a different story. They are not long and thin. Most of them are hockey puck shaped, with the actual pin protruding a bit from the hockey puck. That was part of Bill Ruger's genius, replacing old fashioned parts with modern engineered parts that were more robust. It says right in the manual of every Vaquero that there is no problem dry firing them.

Contrary to popular opinion, there is no problem dry firing some of the better made rimfire pistols. There is a small pin that sits across the bolt in a Ruger Mark I or Mark II pistol. This pin limits the travel of the firing pin. With this pin in place, the firing pin never touches the breech face of the barrel. It always stops a few thousandths short. In the owner's manual to my Ruger Mark II pistols it clearly says to be sure to replace the pin after field stripping the gun. The manual warns that forgetting to put the pin in can ruin the gun. But no problem if the pin is in there. Same with my Single Sixes. The firing pin never touches the cylinder. There is always a slight air gap, so the pin never strikes the cylinder.

I have a few K22s. I'll have to take a good look and see if the firing pin ever touches the cylinder. I'll bet not.

I did buy an old High Standard pistol a few years ago. It was over 50 years old, and there was evidence of firing pin strikes on the barrel. But it still fires all the ammo I put into it.

Revolver218
January 20, 2012, 07:45 AM
Check the S&W site and select FAQ. Scroll down to the first section where the question is "Can I dry fire.....". The answer is yes, except for .22's, which they list. I hope this clears up the subject, as far as S&W anyway.

Lawdawg45
January 20, 2012, 08:49 AM
To semi-answer the question of the OP, back in the wheel gun era of law enforcement our department armorer recommended that with our new service revolvers, we take them home and "oil the heck out of them", place 6 spent cartridges in and fire away at the TV for a minimum of one hour. A practice I do to this day.;)

LD

Bobmar
January 20, 2012, 10:59 AM
In the current issue of "American Handgunner" Clint Smith has a story about "snao caps". Person using them used a live round by mistake. If you wish to make sure your weapon is safe have nothing an chambers. JMHO Bob

bergmen
January 20, 2012, 11:55 AM
Check the S&W site and select FAQ. Scroll down to the first section where the question is "Can I dry fire.....". The answer is yes, except for .22's, which they list. I hope this clears up the subject, as far as S&W anyway.

Thanks! I see that they are clear about centerfire handguns. It would be a lot smarter IMO to have it specified in the owners manuals like Glock and Ruger do in theirs.

Dan

Confederate
January 20, 2012, 02:18 PM
It's okay to dry fire most modern revolvers...even those with hammer-mounted firing pins. It's okay to dry fire Rugers.

It's NOT okay to dry fire .22s or any rimfire round. The firing pin comes too close to the edge of the recessed chambers. It may not hurt the firing pin, but it can chip away the edge of the chamber, thus lowering the gun's value.

On autos, again, avoid dry snapping .22s. And avoid dry firing cheap autos like the Raven, Davis and other guns. In many cases it's okay to dry snap the Davis because they don't work anyway...they're junk.

FTG-05
January 20, 2012, 03:00 PM
I dry fire my S&W 329PD all the time, like when I'm on the computer at home. I use snap caps I made out of resized brass and blue RTV in the primer pockets.

Good luck.

foghornl
January 20, 2012, 03:15 PM
It is dependent upon the exaact make & model of revolver.

Generally speaking here...do NOT dry fire any rim-fire revolver.

gspn
January 20, 2012, 03:38 PM
From the S&W website:
Can I dry fire my S&W handgun?
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.

gspn
January 20, 2012, 03:40 PM
Rugers website says this:

Can I dry fire my Ruger revolver?

Yes. All Ruger revolvers can be dry fired without damage, and dry firing can be useful to familiarize the owner with the firearm. However, be sure any firearm is completely unloaded before dry firing!

I imagine many other manufacturers have addressed this same issue...check their FAQ section.

Driftwood Johnson
January 21, 2012, 08:15 AM
In the current issue of "American Handgunner" Clint Smith has a story about "snao caps". Person using them used a live round by mistake. If you wish to make sure your weapon is safe have nothing an chambers. JMHO Bob

Howdy

That may be true with home made snap caps, but all commercial snap caps are made to look different than live ammunition. A-Zoom snap caps are made of aluminum and given a purple powder coat finish. If you use commercial snap caps it is pretty hard to confuse live ammunition with a snap cap.


http://www.midwayusa.com/product/534209/a-zoom-action-proving-dummy-round-snap-cap-45-long-colt-aluminum-package-of-6

FIVETWOSEVEN
January 21, 2012, 01:54 PM
I don't drop the hammer with firing pins that look like this without something under the hammer for the same reason. That one in front is a little bit over 100 years old and I don't want to find out how much stress it can take. True, it is simple to replace a firing pin like this, but why take the risk?

I understand your concerns about the old revolvers but the modern ones are fine. There are a few posters in here that have experience dry firing them for decades without a problem.

gamestalker
January 21, 2012, 02:52 PM
I've been dry firing my revolver's for over 40 yrs. and have yet to break a FP or have any other problems. Even the hammer mounted FP's have not had problems.
The only exception for me is a rim fire, revolver or other wise, I won't dry fire them even one time. I worked in a gun shop for quite a while, and one of the most common problems I recall seeing, was broken FP's on rim fire handgun's and rifle's.
GS

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