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Dry firing- why is it bad?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by RM, Jan 10, 2009.

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  1. RM

    RM Member

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    I periodically read that gun XYZ is OK to dry fire, or gun XYZ is not OK to dry fire. But what does dry firing do that may damage a firearm? Thank you.
     
  2. zombienerd

    zombienerd Member

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    Some guns with weak firing pins, or improper support can break/loose firing pins.

    I can't say I'm the most knowledgeable in this area, but any time you have a piece of metal brought to force (such as hammer -> firing pin), where that piece of metal is designed to impact another object (primer), and there is no primer for it to strike, the possibility for Over-travel is there, and can cause breakage, loss, or loosening (eventually leading to loss)
     
  3. Lone_Gunman

    Lone_Gunman Member

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    For most centerfire guns, it is not a problem. The biggest problem is with rimfires. Firing pin makes contact with the part of the chamber that the rim of the cartidge makes contact with
     
  4. John828

    John828 Member

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    If you are concerned, you could always get some snap caps. I dryfire just about everything except for rimfires. Most of todays firearms can withstand the usage. And unless you are dryfiring 1,000 times a day, you aren't going to hurt the gun. The worst that would happen is you might have to replace a firing pin in seven years or so (just a guess since I have never replaced one on a gun I bought new.)
     
  5. Macmac

    Macmac Member

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    It depends on the gun, and the way the gun is made. Many of what now is considered to be older guns could break off the tip of a firing pin if it hit nothing.

    The typical Mauser is famous for doing this.

    Most newer designs don't cause any problem at all dry firing, but never the less snap caps are still a good idea.
     
  6. texas bulldog

    texas bulldog Member

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    i have snap caps for most of my guns, though i do not always use them. dry-firing centerfire guns doesn't particularly concern me. on the other hand, my .22 revolver never gets dry-fired.
     
  7. ants

    ants Member

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    It doesn't hurt centerfire firearms. The normal procedure at the end of a course of fire in IDPA, IPSC, USPSA is to drop hammer the on the empty chamber after unloading and showing clear. The practice is done perhaps millions of time each day worldwide.

    Rimfire is a different story, as noted in Post #3 above.

    Antique or very old (or precious) firearms deserve careful handling.
     
  8. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

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    I have broken two firing pins dry firing. Both on Star pistols. One was a WWII 9mm model B and the other was a modern Firestar in .40 caliber.

    It can also be a dangerous practice if preformed carelessly because it habbits you to pulling the trigger indoors. I have never had an accident dry firing a loaded gun but I know people who have. Snap caps can stop both problems from happening.
     
  9. AirForceShooter

    AirForceShooter Member

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    use snap caps.
    They're cheap insurance.

    AFS
     
  10. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    "It doesn't hurt centerfires" is inaccurate, as a blanket statement. Certain centerfires -- even some centerfires with a reputation for decent quality -- are susceptible to dry fire damage. Some of the CZ pistols are known for the problem, as are certain revolvers with hammer mounted pins. Yes, chances are that your modern centerfire is immune to it, but it's always best to verify with the owner's manual or manufacturer.

    A very few rimfires are safe for dryfire as well. Some competition models even have a dry fire setting that renders it harmless to the gun. Most, though, can handle a small amount, like an occasional accidental snap at the end of a magazine or cylinder, but very much of it will damage the pin, the chamber mouth, or both.
     
  11. zammyman

    zammyman member

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    With well made firing pins that won't back off, really all you're doing is bottoming out the firing pin return spring. If you're dry firing to practice I'd recommend snap caps, otherwise I wouldn't worry about it (for center fires). My first gun ever, a Glenfield 22LR ended up with a blunt end firing pin that would light strike, even on that cheap gun it took years to get to that point.
     
  12. PLRinmypocket

    PLRinmypocket Member

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    Guns are always designed to handle the impact of the firing pin on the primer of a round (center-fire, or rim-fire).

    But guns are not always designed to handle a firing-pin not hitting the primer and instead stopping on some other part in the gun.

    Most guns can handle dry firing, but dry firing is never what a gun is primarily designed for and excessive dry firing will stress the firing-pin much more than firing a round. the soft primer is much like a buffer and much less stressful on the firing-pin than hitting a steel stop. That is why excessive dry firing is not recommended. using snap caps adds a primer-like buffer that reduces the stress on the firing-pin, so use them if you plan on lots of dry firing.
     
  13. lions

    lions Member

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    What about a 10/22? It doesn't automatically hold open the bolt after the last round so you dry fire the gun once every magazine unless you count the rounds as you fire. Did ruger build something into the gun to prevent firing pin damage or is it just not a big deal?
     
  14. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Maybe ol' Bill figured most of his customers could count to ten.
     
  15. ssjones

    ssjones Member

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    This was posted on a recent thread on the RugerForum.net (DA forum), sounded like pretty good advice:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ah yes, dry firing ... another one of my favorite subjects. Let's start with the mechanics of the gun. With exception of the bore and the chambers in the cylinder, your revolver doesn't know the difference between dry fire and live fire. The internal parts all get exercised the same except you are much more likely to damage a gun from dry firing.

    Dry firing to break a gun in is not wise. Yes, a few parts will smooth up but mostly what you are doing is wearing all the parts prematurely. Here's an analogy that is a bit over dramatic using 60 grit sand paper and assuming the surfaces of the sandpaper represent the mating surfaces of internal parts. Start by placing the sandpaper with the rough sides facing each other. This would represent a mating surface in your gun where both parts are rough. Rub the two pieces of sandpaper together and soon you will see both pieces have worn the roughness off each other. Both pieces will be notably smoother but way thinner, indicating considerable wear. Now place the rough surface of one sheet of sandpaper against the smooth back on another sheet and rub them together. This would simulate a rough part rubbing on a smooth part inside your gun. As you continue to rub them together, the smooth surface now becomes rough and the rough surface stays about the same. For internal parts, that means the smoother mating surface becomes rougher and wears, but not as fast as if both surfaces were rough. Last, place the sheets of sandpaper back-to-back with the smooth surfaces facing each other. You can rub a long time with minimal wear and in fact you will polish the surfaces. This simulates two smooth parts rubbing together. When you dry fire or live fire, the parts behave much the same as the sandpaper. If you start off by smoothing the parts mating surfaces, wear is minimized and the gun will last much longer. If you dry fire to break a gun in, don't expect it to last near as long.

    The reason why dry firing causes more damage is twofold. First, people tend to be a bit more aggressive when pulling the trigger in DA or cocking the hammer in SA when they dry fire. This makes the cylinder rotate very fast and come to an abrupt halt when the cylinder latch contacts the cylinder's lock notches. This peens the lock notches and the frame's "window" for the cylinder latch. It doesn't take long and the cylinder lock-up becomes loose. Additionally, the hand pushes a ratchet to rotate the cylinder. These two surfaces wear which retards cylinder timing (carry-up) and the faster you operate the gun, the faster they will wear.

    The second issue with dry firing is purely in the numbers. You are more likely to dry fire a thousand times than to live fire a thousand rounds so the revolver is subjected to more repetitions. Usually internal wear has more to do with how you dry than the number of times you dry fire. If you pull the trigger or hammer more slowly, you will minimize peening the cylinder and frame. Lubrication does not prevent peening.

    Now for "Snap-Caps". These have to be about the most worthless things ever made and even worse, they give the owner a false sense of security. Snap-Caps do absolutely nothing for the gun's internal parts. Yes, they do cushion the firing pin but they don't even do a good job of that. Ruger's firing pins are made of a copper and steel alloy that are nearly immune to breaking so it is very rare to see one break. Snap-Caps are worth using in the older single and double barrel shotguns where firing pins are more subject to breaking. In modern guns, they do absolutely nothing except to occupy space in the chamber instead of a live round.

    Ruger's manuals say it's OK to dry fire but what they really mean is you won't break parts (especially the firing pin) by dry firing. They do not address excessive or improper dry firing that causes wear or damage. Normal dry firing for training or doing a function test on your revolver is not a problem but sitting in front of the TV and clicking away countless times is. When I had my gunsmith shop, it was pretty common for customers to bring in guns with excessive wear. When I asked them how much the gun had been fired, I often got an answer like "I've only fired a couple boxes through it". My next question was about dry firing where I usually got some dumb look instead of an answer.
     
  16. PLRinmypocket

    PLRinmypocket Member

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    yes the 10/22 is designed to be OK during dry firing. there is a slot in the firingpin that only allows it to extend so far. that way the firingpin stops on the pin before hitting the barrel.

    as for snap-caps being useless...that depends entireslly on the firearm and the design of the snap cap. I wouldn't say they are useless, since they do have a use.
     
  17. usmarine0352_2005

    usmarine0352_2005 Member

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    What about semi-automatic pistols?


    Are most new semi-automatic pistols ok to dry-fire?


    I have a new Sig Sauer P220 Carry Elite and have been dry-firing it.

    .
     
  18. Atarian

    Atarian Member

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    So do you leave it cocked when you are ready to store it, or do you dry fire it? Which is worse - leaving the firing pin spring compressed for long periods of time, or the dry fire?
     
  19. Oro

    Oro Member

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    Basically no difference than revolvers. You will get some wear to the parts, but no damage to most any centerfire auto. Check your manual, but most will say, if they address the topic, that dry-firing is OK and will cause no damage. If I had a Sig 220, I would not hesitate to dry fire it to refine my trigger pull. It is a vital tool in learning to shoot well.

    The criticisms in the post ssjones quoted is mainly on those who rapidly, continuously snap off simulated shots with a double action revolver. There is much more going on in that scenario. Dry firing a DA revolver is not bad, it just shouldn't be done like a movie-hero kinda rapid fire way.

    Not really a question that can be answered without more info. What gun are you talking about?

    1) Springs wear from compression/release. You can store a spring as you like. 1911's are carried cocked and locked for decades without a problem. I know someone who unearthed a pair of 1911 magazines, stored loaded since WWII. Both worked fine after 60 years. Ditto for many guns.

    2) There is no consensus that dry firing is bad, so neither is really "worse."

    If you have a .22 pistol or rifle, then dry-firing is indeed worse than storing with a compressed spring. If you have a well-built Colt or similar auto, or a Ruger or S&W centerfire revolver, neither is going to damage the gun to any appreciable degree, and the skills (hopefully learned) of sight alignment and trigger control will be vastly more valuable than some negligible wear.
     
  20. Atarian

    Atarian Member

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    Hi Oro - I was thinking of a rifle in which there's no way to gently de-cock it, like a 98k or AR15, or a centerfire pistol with no external hammer.
     
  21. MilsurpShooter

    MilsurpShooter Member

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    Only reason I tend to not do it, heard from an old collector friend that it could bend, mark the shoulders of some firing pins. Don't know if it's true or not though
     
  22. expvideo

    expvideo Member

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    Rimfire guns are bad to dryfire. Centerfire guns are usually ok, but it's better to use snap caps if you can. Modern pistols like Glocks and Sigs can be dry fired as much as you want. It's really just older guns and rimfires that you need to worry about. I'm not sure why that is, just that it is the way things are.
     
  23. lions

    lions Member

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    Thanks .38 Special, but sometimes I like to shoot with my shoes on and that makes it tricky. I'll keep practicing though!
     
  24. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Hah! Maybe you should try a revolver; they only go to six!
     
  25. chriske

    chriske Member

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    I broke several firing pins dry-firing : S&W, Ruger, CZ, Norinco. Couldn't ALL have been flukes, could they ? I still think dry-firing, while no substitute for live firing, is good practice, but use snap caps or cartridge cases with the spent primers still in.
     
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