Why Is Dry Firing Bad?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing Forum' started by ninjatoth, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. ninjatoth

    ninjatoth New Member

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    Just from a mechanical standpoint, from those of you who know a lot about the inner workings of guns-why is dry firing bad, why do some people swear by it that it will wreck your gun, and others swear that it does nothing harmful? I dry fire my Ruger revolver now and again because Ruger says that it's ok to do, and I will dry fire all of my center fire guns now and again such as my empty Mossberg 500 to release the pump when doing drills or my 1990s S&W 9mm. I have dry fired my old Winchester 94 rifle here and there when it was empty and I didn't know it was while I was target shooting, but I don't make a habit of it on a gun like that because I can just de-cock the hammer at any time. So what's the deal, dry firing- good or bad?
     
  2. donthav1

    donthav1 Active Member

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    the one thing I can say for sure about dry firing, it eventually will ruin the firing pin on rimfires, whether it's a revolver, semi-auto, or bolt action rifle.

    beyond that, I can't offer anymore info
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2014

  3. motorcyclenut

    motorcyclenut New Member

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    That is generally what I have heard as well. Okay on center fire, not okay on rim fire. Would like to hear from someone who has experience (actually ruined a firing pin while dry firing).

     
  4. mikecu

    mikecu New Member

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    It's okay to dry fire Glocks.
    You have to in order to take them apart.
     
  5. donthav1

    donthav1 Active Member

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    my family has an old single action .22 revolver that has a bunch of visible strikes on the cylinder from the hammer being dropped on empty chambers. when I rebuilt the gun a couple years ago, I didn't replace the firing pin because I thought it might still be ok....it wasn't. the first cylinder I tried had a light dusting of strike marks on the shells, the firing pin was worn so blunt it wouldn't even put a dent on the rimfires.

    so yeah, I know first hand dry firing rimfires will cause damage.
     
  6. John_Deer

    John_Deer New Member

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    Dry firing almost any gun puts no more wear on the firing pin that just shooting the gun. Dry firing a rimfire will eventually put a divot in the barrel where the firing pin strikes end of the barrel.

    If you come across a gun with a tiny divot that causes light strikes don't think the gun is ruined. There is a tool that repair the divot in just a few minutes.

    Of course there are unusual gun designs that do not handle dry firing well. Read the owners manual or contact the manufacturer before doing a lot of dry firing with any gun.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2014
  7. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired

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    They make snap caps (even in .22lr) for those who need a piece of mind for dry fire.

    The down side, I've seen where people who thought they were using a snap cap actually used live ammo (by mistake and not paying attention).
     
  8. wknight40

    wknight40 New Member

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    Were they actually using snap caps or were they using spent brass. Snap caps usually are a different color and a lot lighter than ammo. If using snap caps it is also a good idea to keep them separate from you ammo to prevent this confusion. Also as always even when using snap caps it is still a loaded gun and needs to be treated as such. Just sayin.

    As for dry firing the military is constantly dry firing the M16/M4 platform during training to teach trigger control. This has been going on for years without any problems. Depending on the type of cheap parts that maybe in some of the cheaper guns it may break parts that you would not think of having a problem just from the extra use. Had a trigger bar creak on a SCCY 9mm. Caused a hang fire. Of course SCCY replaced it for free as they usually do with there products. About the only wear I can honestly see happening might be the firing pin wearing at the hole before it strikes the primer. This should be minimal and would not stop me from dry firing.

    As for rim fire I only have one. It is a Heritage Rough Rider. It is single action only and the safety will not allow the hammer to strike the cylinder but allow proper trigger operation. So in this case as long as the trigger bar holds out I feel it is safe to dry fire though I do not make it a habit. Just a few times before range use to get used to the trigger.

    Each gun is different so as mentioned consult your operators manual.
     
  9. mahall

    mahall New Member

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    I think this(dry firing) falls under the reasonability. and common sense category! If you dry fire daily and often as to practice drawing, your going to probably do damage pretty quickly to your firing pin! But an accessional dry fire for cleaning or other maintenance reasons is a no brainier! I dry fire my guns at least once after cleaning to help assure that it's functioning properly!
    And many guns has to be dry fired before you can even field strip! So I don't encourage a daily ritual of dry firing but obviously sometimes it's needed!


    Like guns, love people!!
     
  10. JonM

    JonM Moderator


    Never use snap caps in a rimfire. The rim is solid metal and will do more damage to a 22lr than dry firing. The rim of a live 22 round is soft brass. Only use spent 22 cases for dry firing.

    All ruger 22lr with the exception of early 22 bearcats can be safely dryfired unless the manual says dont. Ruger designs them with short enough pins not to hit metal on empty.

    All modern centerfire it does no damage and is an urban myth. Early revolvers espescially sw revolvers were claimed to have issues with the pin snapping off were actually caused by poorly timed cylinders and nothing to do with dry firing.

    Some sa xd/xdm pistols had and have too shallow relief cuts in the firing pin for the roll pin holding it in. These will break whether your dry firing or not. This is a defect but an artifact of tolerance stacking. SA needs to make that cut a bit longer. Most xd/xdm have no issues as such.

    A lot of these myths gain legs because the owner doesnt understand how his/her gun actually operates and why it broke.
     
  11. mahall

    mahall New Member

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    Plus, I was taught the more your gun stays in your holster the better! Most all deadly gun accidents happens when the gun is out of the holster!


    Like guns, love people!!
     
  12. JonM

    JonM Moderator

    Unless your carrying a glock with a clipmagazine a barrel shroud and a thing that goes up. Then they just go off randomly....
     
  13. Mercator

    Mercator New Member

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    Dry firing a modern centerfire semiauto is fine. Most modern DA revolvers are also safe to dry fire. Rimfire - look in the manual. Ruger Mark, yes. Hammerli Trailside, no. Kel Tec PMR, (AFAIR) no.

    Plastic 22 snap caps should be safe to dry fire, although the manuals say nothing.
     
  14. Quentin

    Quentin New Member

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    I dry fire my centerfires and over decades have had just one broken firing pin, the tip broke off the pin of my Star PD 45ACP. This was 10 years ago, Star parts were hard to find as they were out of business so I had to get a new firing pin fabricated. The gunsmith said his pin wouldn't break but I don't take the chance now. I've read this is a problem with Star due to design and poor metal in the small parts.

    Anyway, it shouldn't be a problem with well made centerfires. My Colt Government Model has been dry fired more than any gun I have with no breakage. Star should have copied it better!
     
  15. ninjatoth

    ninjatoth New Member

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    Thanks for the responses, I have thought about asking from time to time and wanted to ask but always forget, then last night I was watching Youtube and an older guy had a S&W .38spl that didn't look that old and he was making the statement that you should never dry fire a gun like that because the firing pin is attached to the hammer, and I just wondered what would possess someone to say that. My opinion is that wouldn't the firing pin take on less stress being dry fired than live fired so why would dry firing do even more damage to the gun than live firing?
     
  16. Mercator

    Mercator New Member

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    The striker pin attached to the hammer may hit the frame and break.
     
  17. ninjatoth

    ninjatoth New Member

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    But wouldn't that be a possibility regardless of whether it's being dry fired or live fired?
     
  18. Mercator

    Mercator New Member

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    Good question! This is a familiar warning from the older generation shooters who dealt with those firing pins all the time. No testing, no science, just the lore... A lame but honest answer!
     
  19. DeltaF

    DeltaF New Member

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    Look at the manual. If it doesn't say anything about dry firing, it's probably not an issue.

    We dry fire semi automatics and revolvers all the time on our range. It's part of making the line safe. All center fire revolvers though.

    Try telling a POST instructor on a police range you aren't dry firing your weapon with the rest of the line cuz it might break something

    Your ears will be burn. They will be on FIRE. Saw it happen once. Never saw that person again either....

    And all our POST guys are old school. 85% of them are also armorers.


    Sent from my iPhone using Firearms Talk
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2014
  20. ninjatoth

    ninjatoth New Member

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    A broken firing pin is my biggest nightmare, i'm a bit ocd and everytime I get done dryfiring, live firing or cleaning my revolver, before I load it up with defensive ammo and put it away, I always cock the hammer and decock it with my finger on the trigger and watch through the gap to make sure the firing pin is coming through the frame. Am I the only one that does this or am I just weird? I literally have nightmares about my gun not going off when I need it the most.